Here at Majorhifi, we tend to prefer headphones that embody the whole package: good looks, good fidelity, and a pretty well-rounded sound. Of course, some headphones come along and offer something entirely different that still delights our ears, requiring us to re-evaluate what we consider to be a “good” headphone. The Audio Technica ATH-WS1100iS is one such specimen. But weighing in at a price of $229.00, just what kind of sound are we looking at?
Audio Technica ATH-WS1100iS Review
The WS1100iS comes packaged with some literature, a leatherette carrying pouch, and a removable cable with a built-in mic and remote. The packaging is modest, but the build is one of obvious quality.
With ample pleather padding on the headband and earcups, these headphones stay comfortable while isolating a good deal of sound. The durable design is bolstered by the inclusion of aluminum extenders.
|Driver Diameter||53 mm|
|Frequency Response||5 – 40,000 Hz|
|Maximum Input Power||1,000 mW|
|Weight||281 g (9.9 oz)|
|Cable||1.2 m (3. 9′) with mic & control|
|Connector||3.5 mm (1/8″) stereo mini-plug, L-type|
|Sensitivity (Microphone)||-44dB (0dB = 1V/Pa, 1kHz)|
|Frequency Response (Microphone)||100 – 10,000 Hz|
|Polar Pattern (Microphone)||Omnidirectional|
As these specifications show, the WS1100iS offers a wider-than-average frequency range, a low nominal impedance, and decent volume levels. The driver is also a little oversized – something not too uncommon on bass-centric headphones – revealing a low end with some natural-sounding “oomph” in the low end.
The lows are deep and full, with a strong character that can sometimes overshadow the rest of the frequency range. From first listen, it’s plain to see that is definitely a bassy headphone. And while the word “bassy” may conjure up visions of Beats By Dre, the bass on the WS1100iS has some massive impact while keeping things relatively clean – there’s only the slightest bit of bleeding in the lows.
The midrange of the WS1100iS sounds kind of thin or off-kilter. There’s just something about it that doesn’t sound right…like the mids are trying to be part of the upper low end. While the sound isn’t terrible, it’s not terribly accurate, either. Male vocals are simply meh, and we would never recommend these headphones if you’re looking for high fidelity in the mids.
While not as much of a failure as the midrange, the high end on the WS1100iS isn’t as complete as we’d like it to be. Despite the missing detail, the sound isn’t terrible – just be aware that there may be some clipping in the upper limits of the high end. Female vocals don’t really suffer, though, so it’s not a total loss.
Quite surprisingly, these headphones imparted a decent sense of space and depth to the music we played. Sure, it’s nowhere near as open-sounding as an open-back headphone, but the soundstage on the WS1100iS is fantastic – the clarity and separation no doubt helped along by the overall dynamic sound.
It’s relatively inexpensive, it looks good, and it’s soooo bassy. This isn’t the headphone to bump some Beethoven to, but it’s a strong performer wherever there’s a need for a driving beat. Indeed, the solid low end and not-too-too-shabby high end easily lend this headphone to certain listening tastes where more laid-back ‘phones just can’t hack it.
As mentioned above, if you’re a classical music junkie, this probably isn’t the headphone for you. Likewise, if your preferred sound is laid-back but articulate, I would recommend the brighter-sounding, detail-heavy MSR7 – also from Audio Technica and also costing $249. Now, if you’re a basshead…and you’re sick to death of woolly, undefined bass that bleeds all over the place, the Audio Technica ATH-WS1100iS may be the answer to your prayers. Not only is this headphone going to deliver some fantastic sound in the low end, but the mids and highs aren’t horrible either – resulting in a fairly articulate sound that is heavy in the low end. Or, if I had to put it another way, think of this headphone as the bass lover’s MSR7 – one badass headphone with good looks and a sweet, sweet sound.
Grab Audio Technica ATH-WS1100iS at the lowest price at Audio 46 when you use discount code “majorhifi” during checkout. It is also available on Amazon at a competitive price from authorized retailers.
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