An affordable planar headphone can be somewhat hard to come by. Some of the more popular models reach around that thousand dollar range pretty often, like the Arya from HiFiman, or the LCD-3 from Audeze. When I first saw the Avantone Pro, I thought it would definitely be in that area, but my ears perked up when I found out they were $399. I started to get excited and thought that we may have another planar headphone I could possibly convince friends and family to buy. I love the sound signature of most planars, and always look forward to seeing what a new model has to offer. This is a brand new headphone is from a manufacturer I’m less familiar with, which sets my expectations with room to be dazzled. So let’s see if the Avantone Pro can get that confident recommendation.
What You Get
The Avantone Pro comes with some interesting materials. In the box, you’ll find the headphones themselves neatly resting in its foam insert. Removing the panel reveals an eco-friendly carrying bag to store the rest of the contents. I would have preferred the Avantone to come with some sort of hardshell case, but instead, you get this shopping bag with long handles and a button. Avantone supplies two different cables, a 5ft dual 3.5mm headphone connector, and one 3.5 auxiliary cables. They also come with a 6.3mm adapter as well.
Look and Feel
On the first impression, this planar sports an unorthodox build style. The cups have a rounded rectangular shape, as you would see on models like the Stax L700 or the Campfire Cascade. From my knowledge, this is the only planar that features this kind of design, making it stand out in appearance. The hexagonal, bee-hive-like grill is also a nice touch, and the grill-holes are larger than usual. The amalgamation of parts used to complete the headphone use what feels like high-grade materials. It gives the headphone a deceivingly expensive look.
One of my favorite aspects of this design is how flexible it is. The headband stays at a fixed position until you put the headphones on your head. The headband will immediately adjust to the right place to provide the best comfort possible. Mixed with the lightweight build of the ear cups, the Avantone Pro delivers one of the best fits for the price. It never feels like the ear cups are clamping to your head, the cans just rest there while still maintaining security. I listened to these headphones for hours without adjusting them at all, and never felt any ear fatigue.
The Avantone Pro’s defining feature is its open-back planar principle. One of the goals of the pro is to deliver a reference style, studio-quality sound, and this planar aims for accuracy, detail, and clarity. The driver uses a neodymium magnet with a 21-micron diaphragm. The thinness of the diaphragm gives the headphone that lightweight feel, contributing to one of the Avantone Pro’s best attributes. It should also feature very little low-level distortion.
In the case of the Avantone Pro, and most planars for that matter, don’t let the low impedance fool you. To do the headphones justice, it’s recommended that you use an amplifier or some kind of audio interface to drive the Pros. For this review, I used the iFi IDSD Signature, which I felt gave me the best representation of what the Avantone Pro sounds like to its greatest potential.
When you have an open-back planar, you expect something high-class from the soundstage. The Avantone Pro delivers on that expectation in various ways. For a planar less than a thousand bucks, I’m pretty impressed with how well the Avantone produces a spatially accurate image while separating the sonic elements with a serene elegance that some more expensive headphones would kill for. The Avantone Pro accomplishes an articulate sense of layering that leaves enough headroom for all ranges of frequency to show off detail retrieval. Instrumentals are separated with noticeable air between them, which is great for getting analytical with the mix.
As far as for studio reference, the Avantone produces a more than worthy accurate stereo field that will highlight the intricacies of each track. The depth of the stereo field will give you that holographic sense of space. It’s a good imitation of what listening to small studio monitors might sound like. I was listening to the new album by The Avalanches, “We Will Always Love You,” and I couldn’t get over just how graceful all of the harmonies sounded on each track. They appear in the Avantone with excellent spatiality and precise positioning that surrounds your ears with reflective bliss.
If you’re using the Avantone Pro for reference studio monitoring, then the flat, natural bass response is well-tuned and uncompromised. However, if you’re looking for some more kick, you’re going to need to boost that low-end with an EQ. Using the iFi IDSD Signature I switched on XBass and experienced a more immediate depth and resonance. It’s assuring that the more you put into the bass, the more you get out of it, with dynamic responses that reflect the range of each track well. One track on that new Avalanches album called “Oh the Sunn” had this deep groove that gave me that pumping chest feel that is rare to get on most headphones, but it all depends on your playback system. Otherwise, this low-end mainly has the duty of bringing you a natural representation of bass but can wear different colors if you want it to.
Going along with the goal of obtaining an accurate sense of each range, the mids present a fittingly neutral response. On the other hand, the resolution here is on a completely different level. Especially when throwing on a great vocal, the Avantone Pro gives you all the details you need to hear without any coloration. The full range is placed right up front for instant fidelity, establishing a fine source of reference for the track.
Nothing says a great planar to me like a spectacular treble. You’ll definitely hear the most coloration here, with elements of sparkle and airiness, but still, sound accurate to the mix. The Avantone Pro achieves this sense of space here where the headphone gets to demonstrate all of its headroom like you’re getting this complete sound signature that appears limitless. Reverb tails are perceived and felt throughout the highs, making for some sizzling effects. The track “The Only One” by Transit has these hi-hats and tambourines that sound so energetic and crisp that does the track great justice with a blissful presentation.
For a cheaper planar, I am really impressed by the quality here. $399 gets you an excellent reference headphone that closely resembles the likes of having small monitors right in front of you, with it’s accurate and holographic soundstage and detail retrieval. Listeners who want to drive the Avantone Pro with an amp, or make adjustments with an EQ will also be satisfied, as the headphones will deliver a dynamic sound signature that will respond to whatever you put it through, despite the lower impedance. If you’re looking for an open-back headphone for studio mixing and want to spend a little less cash than on something like the Beyerdynamic DT1990, then the Avantone Pro is a good bet for an all-around great planar.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Soundstage, accuracy, dynamic sound signature, comfort, price
Cons: No hard case
|Transducer Type||Planar Magnetic|
|Diaphragm Type||21 Micron PET|
|Transducer Size||70 x 95mm|
|Maximum Power Handling||5W RMS|
|THD||<0.1% @ 100dB|
|Sensitivity||104dB/1mW(at Drum Reference Point|
The Avantone Pro is available at Audio 46.
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