Wednesday, June 22, 2005

'De-hardening' the ATH-W2002

The Audio-Technica ATH-W2002 is one of the few headphones out there which manages to look and feel like a work of art, and also sounds the part too. It features very resolving drivers and excellent technical performance, and on the art side also features Echizen lacquered earcups made of Asadazakura (cold weather cherry tree, more densely packed) wood. It's biggest failing is a tendency to sound rather hard in the midrange, and since this isn't really a routine 'tuning' of headphones, it explains the reason why many people say on Head-Fi that it's hard to match.

I know that many audiophiles have a dislike of EQ because it can introduce additional distortion into the sound. But using it sparingly is probably not a big deal, especially given a studio-grade EQ. Many amps do add their own flavour into the sound so do act as a mini-EQ in their own right, and rather than dropping thousands on trying different amps to see which flavour you like, it does make sense in situations like the ATH-W2002 where it does noticeably deviate from "completely agreeable". There's also an increasing contingent of audiophiles these days who use computers as their primary source... in which case sophisticated EQ is much more readily available.

Some people say the W2002 lacks bass. This is probably down to their perception concentrating on the hard midrange. The W2002 isn't bass heavy, but if the lows are examined on their own it's not exactly anaemic.

Just a ~2db smooth trough centered around the 1.5khz range makes a large long-term difference in making the W2002 sound a lot smoother. I also like a bit of bass added into that, but that's down to preferences. You can do a lot more with EQ, but this is the simplest 'fix' to start with that I know for the W2002.

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