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Austrian Audio Hi-X65 vs Audio Technica ATH-R70x: Open-Back Over-Ear Headphones

The Viennese audio manufacturer Austrian Audio introduces its third headphone, the Hi-X65. In addition to the closed models Hi-X55 and Hi-X50, the Hi-X65 is now also available to represent the open design. Author Raphael Tschernuth has listened to what the Hi-X65 can do.

Anyone who deals a little with the headphone market is sure to be familiar with the Japanese company “Audio Technica” – not least because of our test of the Audio Technica ATH-MSR7NC. Their first open headphones recently appeared in the Pro Audio segment. We are, of course, curious and want to know whether the Pro series is also suitable for relaxed listening at home.

Specification

Austrian Audio Hi-X65Audio Technica ATH-R70x
Reasonably neutral sonic signatureSound is neutral without being boring
Very comfortable fit.Understated, minimal look
Excellent detail and separationSound comes across as detailed and accurate
Mid-range is a bit reservedHigh impedance requires a powerful amp
Quite pricey Cable is annoyingly long

Specification

Austrian Audio Hi-X65Audio Technica ATH-R70x
$CHECK PRICECHECK PRICE
ModelHi-X65ATH-R70x
BrandAustrianAudio
ReleasedMay 2021May 18, 2016
Dimension200 x 170 x 85 mm11.4 x 10.4 x 55 inches
Weight 310 g210 g
Earpiece ConnectionWiredWired
TypeOver-EarOver-Ear
FoldableNoNo
Frequency Response5 Hz to 28 kHz5 – 40,000 Hz
Sensitivity110 dB99 dB
ColoursBlackBlack
Driver 44 mm 45 mm
Driver TypeDynamicDynamic
ANCNoNo
Impedance 25 Ohms470 Ohms
Controls NoNo
Audio Connector3.5 mm TRS Male3.5 mm TRS Male
Cable Length3 m3 m

Design & Ergonomics

The Austrian audio design’s approximately 80 centimeters long red Velcro tape can be conveniently cut into smaller pieces and reused as a cable tie. Inside are the pre-assembled headphones, well padded with black foam. In contrast to the two closed models, the Hi-X65 comes with two cables of different lengths. A three and a 1.2-meter long cable, each with gold-plated 3.5 mm plugs, is compatible with the standard AKG adapters. Such a gold-plated 6.3 mm adapter is also included.

The cable is connected to the left auricle, the 2.5 mm plug can be plugged in, and is secured by a rotating mechanism. The cable is sheathed with black plastic and makes a strong impression with its four millimeters in diameter. The kink protection and the metal connector housing also meet professional requirements and thus contribute to longevity.

The headband is made of sturdy but flexible metal. With the help of ten grid points per side, the bracket can be adjusted to the right size. The memory foam used is evidently of very high quality. It is used both for padding the underside of the bracket and for the auricles. These can both be rotated backward by a little more than 90 degrees and also buckled, with which the Hi-X65 can be folded up very small for transport. The fact that all important components are made of gray metal gives the listener a stylish appearance on the one hand and promises longevity on the other.

In contrast to the Hi-X55, the outer walls of the Hi-X65 ear cups have a perforation and are therefore acoustically open. They were processed with an etching process to make all edges round and supple during manufacture. Inside the ear cups, large white L and R letters provide information on putting the headphones on correctly. With 310 grams, the Hi-X65 is roughly in the middle of the field. Long work should therefore also be possible without symptoms of fatigue.

The Audio Technica ATH-R70x is therefore entirely earmarked. No complex packaging, no extravagant look. Functionality is more important here. The low weight of the handset is immediately noticeable. The open headphones weigh in at just 210 grams.

This is achieved on the one hand by omitting unnecessary design elements, on the other hand, by the clever choice of the materials used. First and foremost, aluminum was used here, which, despite its restrained appearance, gives the headphones the appearance of high quality and stability.

You will look in vain for rails for size adjustment and a headband. Instead, the Audio Technica ATH-R70x uses a special “3D wing system”. There are two small head cushions on the temple, which protrude inwards like wings and are extremely movable in all directions.

The housing frames consist of a carbon and natural resin mixture, which is light and, at the same time, stable. The 45-millimeter drivers are partly carbon fiber and are held in place by an aluminum frame. The back of the earpiece is adorned with a honeycomb-shaped, perforated cover, which allows a frank view of the listener’s inner workings.

The ear cushions of the Audio Technica ATH-R70x are made of a soft, velvet-like fabric. The exchangeable cable measures three meters is routed on both sides, and has a special feature: it can be plugged in on any side, i.e. there is no right or left side.

The trick: a stereo signal is sent on both sides. The required signal is assigned in the handset. The cable ends are provided with a lock mechanism.

Sound

The built-in 44-millimeter driver is an in-house development by Austrian Audio. The membrane, coil, and magnet system are identical to the Hi-X55 or Hi-X50; only the acoustic friction/damping elements have been slightly changed. The driver delivers a magnetic field strength around 20 percent higher than is typical in this price segment. As a result, the Hi-X65 is more comparable to the much more expensive Beyerdynamic T1 or AKG K872 models in this regard. The underlying technology is called “Hi-Excursion”, from which the “Hi-X” in the name is derived. The strong toroidal core magnet achieves high sensitivity and linear behavior with a large stroke. The system consists of an aluminum coil with a copper jacket and, thanks to its low weight, can process pulses extremely quickly.

The harmonic distortion of the Hi-X65 is less than 0.1% (@ 1 kHz). With a resistance of only 25 ohms, it is suitable for a wide range of end devices and does not make any special demands on the performance of the headphone pre-amp. Austrian Audio specifies the frequency range between extremely low 5 Hz and very high 28 kHz. The sensitivity of the Hi-X65 is 110 dB SPL / V.

The Hi-X65 is tremendous fun to work with and pulls the listener right into the mix. Suddenly instruments appear with almost three-dimensional plasticity; you have the feeling that you can grasp the sound and shape it at will, just like a sculptor.

Due to the circumaural design, the stage appears very wide, and the Hi-X65 reveals an enormous gradation in depth. The important transients are mapped precisely but not intrusive or even annoying. Reverberation rooms, especially extremely short ones, are represented with a very fine definition. Every tiny detail in relation to panorama and the tonal balance of the different frequency ranges can be heard. But that also means that streaming services that only offer their music in MP3 format will sometimes not have much fun.

The Hi-X65 reveals every detail – for better or for worse. Unwanted artifacts are relentlessly uncovered, especially when it comes to mastering tasks.

These headphones are the perfect complement for my measured workplace. Even if the travel activities are limited, additional monitoring is always welcome, especially if it gives as much insight into the recorded material as the Hi-X65.

Audio Technica ATH-R70x- The frequency response of the Audio Technica ATH-R70x corresponds to the current hi-res headphones with a range of 5 Hertz up to 40 kilohertz.

However, its comparatively high impedance of 470 ohms demands a lot from the headphone amplifier and makes it appear less suitable for smartphones. However, this is entirely within the scope of its intended use. Due to its open design, it is hardly suitable for use on the go anyway.

When the Audio-Technica headphones are put on, they are barely noticeable. Due to its low weight and the pleasant contact pressure, it is anything but intrusive. 

The sound of the Audio Technica ATH-R70x is so very different from what it sounds like. A full and powerful sound matches its light look. The sound is differentiated and clear right down to the lowest registers.

The open headphones are completely spared from overemphasis. Rather, more filigree bass lines can be clearly understood instead of becoming boggy.

The over-ear headphones also put pressure on the mids and give all instruments enough space to unfold. Whether acoustic guitar, strings or brass – there is no sharpening, no preference.

Vocalists also do well with the Audio Technica ATH-R70x. Voices retain their natural character and place well in the mix, both solo and with accompaniment.

The highs are clear with a tendency towards brilliance, but there is no exaggeration or “polishing” here. Sibilants are pleasant and pools also get enough shine without hissing.

Pulses are accurately reproduced across all frequency ranges. The sound stage, in particular, is presented in a surprisingly realistic manner.

Conclusion

Austrian Audio did everything right with the Hi-X65. The design and quality have been through down to the smallest detail, and the implementation was extremely successful. All components make a robust impression and are designed for durability.

The Hi-X65 impresses with its high level of dynamics and very precise transient mapping in terms of sound. Although he is very suitable for analytical work, the fun of music is not neglected either. The Hi-X65 are exciting headphones that reveal new worlds of sound, are at home in many styles, and have a lot more to offer than their price suggests.

If you don’t want to travel with the Audio Technica ATH-R70x, you are sure to find good headphones for the living room and office. Visually, artificial designers keep it rather simple and not a teaching piece. Nevertheless, there is no doubt about the high quality. Its lightness and light-heartedness ensure a lot of joy in the music, even when worn for a long time, which it conveys to the ears in a very transparent and balanced way. The good spatial representation is the icing on the cake, which convinces us of its sonic qualities.

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