HarmonicDyne has been under the radar, but they have a good selection of headphones. The last one I had the pleasure to listen to was the open-back Zeus headphones. Now I have been able to check out their Athena model, which is a closed-back reference headphone that costs only $149. Can HarmonicDyne come out of the woodwork and deliver another great set of headphones?
What You Get
- Athena Headphones
- Stereo Cable
- 3.5mm to 6.35mm Adapter
- Souvenir Coin
- User Manual
- Storage Bag
Look & Feel
The Athena has a respectable build for the price. It features a simplistic design but it stands out enough to make an impression. I particularly like the mirrored surface on both ear cups and the vents that surround it as well. Its frame holds up nicely and helps stabilize the headphones when worn. HarmonicDyne gives the Athena some really comfortable earpads too, not just on the ear cups, but on the headband as well. I had no problem wearing the Athena for many hours, which works great for long critical listening sessions.
There is a 50mm dynamic driver within the Athena. Its principle is unique with its semi-closed design due to the M-shaped side venting system. It leaks out more sound than your typical closed-back, but less than what you’ll hear from a semi-open-back headphone. An ultra-fine voice coil and high-flux magnet enclosure also help enhance the Athena’s performance. You shouldn’t find these headphones very hard to drive with only 34 Ohms of impedance. I found any simple audio interface or even a simple dongle adapter to provide efficient power to the Athena.
Closed-back mixing headphones have certain expectations for them. While they might not feature the most dimensional or immersive depth, they can always be relied upon for pinpoint accuracy and stereo articulation. Now we have the Athena that comes along and gives us one of the best soundstages and spatial imaging that closed-back reference headphones have to offer. Normally, you might expect something more linear for a mixing headphone, but the Athena offers a more engrossing sound field. This will give you an easier time recognizing the exact placement of the sound elements, as the Athena offers up enough space and separation to be more revealing with its layers.
The instruments and effects stack on each other with grace, identifying exactly where everything sits in an easily discernable way. There is an impressive amount of width showcased here as well, with extra venting that expands the soundstage in a more open manner. The headspace is noticeably more outward, and the imaging encompasses more of your surroundings, almost like it’s in a dome. It’s a very surprising experience for a pair of reference headphones.
I felt there was a very soft and smooth timbre to these lows, but the Athena doesn’t skimp out on frequency content. There are some stunning details to be had, like the subtle vibration of the sub-bass that you can just notice from beneath in the very bedrock of the sound signature. This response exhibits some depth and impact, but not in a way that produces slam. Nothing in the lows gets in the way to throw off the balance of its frequency response, but the Athena also knows how to have some fun. The mid-bass has some meat on the bone but never makes a considerable impression in terms of scale. It’s a tight response that brings clarity and discipline to this realistic bass tone.
Nothing about the midrange makes a huge impression on me, as is the case with a majority of reference headphones in this price range. The mids should feel the flattest in the sound signature, and the Athena definitely accomplishes that. It finds a way to succeed with this timbre while also adding a slight emphasis on warmth and full tonality. Vocals have a specific, commanding presence to them, but don’t bloat the mix. The mids exude this smoothness throughout its timbre, and that also exists here in the midrange.
The highs reveal themselves in a natural way and never feel overemphasized and hard to listen to. Everything goes down smoothly, and the Athena doesn’t need to sacrifice much in order to achieve detail in the treble. There are little bursts of crispness at times, but the timbre mostly appears reserved and realistic. Good articulation is met within their response, highlighting some noticeable height and ringing tones.
A lot of what I heard with the HarmonicDyne Athena left me with more than a good impression. For a pair of affordable reference headphones, the Athena really brings everything it can. I think the venting system helps a lot by making the soundstage and imaging stand out more as part of the headphone’s overall character. Everything falls into the right place, and its profile offers more than just a flat response. It might be hard to come by something like the Athena, but it should definitely be in consideration for one of the best closed-back headphones under $200.
The HarmonicDyne Athena is available at Linsoul.