Audio-Technica ATH-AD700 Headphones

Reviewed by Tilce | 6 February 2011
Genre: | Publisher: Audio-Technica | Developer: Audio-Technica
TOG Score
Members (av.)
The Good
  • ‘Proper’ Audio Headset with widespread acclaim
The Bad
  • Separate microphone lead, Reports of low bass.


Audio-Technica ATH-AD700 Headphones
A review by Draadnor

Introduction

Every gamer spends money on a decent video card but not everyone spends money on decent sound.

Games have evolved to not only look great but to sound great too with developers putting in a lot of work on getting the sound / ambiance right.

Background
This wasn't always the case and I've had a variety of cheap (and not so cheap) headsets over the years.
I play FPS games mostly so need really good positional / surround sound. This wasn’t always the case and I’ve had a variety of cheap (and not so cheap) headsets over the years. I was using my Sennheiser HD435 Vegas 2-speaker headphones for a while but because my current motherboard came with 5.1 surround outputs I bought a 5.1 headset called the Medusa 5.1 from the UK. These were definitely a step up from stereo headsets but the band broke a while ago just above the swivel joint (had to glue it together) and just recently it completely died. Didn’t even get 2 years out of them!

It was time to get a new set, but what to get? Should I get another 5.1 or look into this seemingly miraculous 2-speaker virtual surround sound? I wear glasses while playing so the headphones have to be comfy - I also have a big head (most hats don’t fit well either ). I prefer to be able to hear what’s going on around me in the house (kid crying, phone calls, pager, wife yelling etc) - Medusa was poor for this due to the closed style. Also need a microphone. I generally won’t be using them for music or movies. At this point I thought of spending about AU$120 - $150.

My motherboard is an ASUS P5E and has a Supreme FX 5.1 surround sound card (ie., 4 x 3.5mm connectors, Mic, Front, Middle, Rear) using the Soundmax Blackhawk drivers. Also running Vista Home Premium 64.

The Contenders
these were the ones I gave some consideration too
It was time to Google, and these were the ones I gave some consideration too - even if they don’t fit all the criteria:

Zalman ZM-RS6F+M $45
PRO’s = Seems ok. Also cheap. Plugs into current sound.
CONs = Heavy - 318g



Plantronics Gamecom 777 $75

PRO’s = All-in-one solution, Has Dolby Headphone, can plug into normal sockets.
CONs = Known for the band breaking / cracking.

Logitech G35 $132
PRO’s = Has Dolby Headphone. Happy with other Logitech devices I own / had.
CONs = Report of being tight on the head, Closed design.

Razer Megalodon 7.1 $175
PRO’s = Has Razer Maelstrom™ Audio Engine (similar to Dolby Headphone?), Open design
CONs = Over expected budget.

Audio-Technica ATH-AD700 + Zalman ZM-MIC1 $158
PRO’s = ‘Proper’ audio headset, widespread acclaim
CONs = Seperate microphone lead, Reports of low bass.

Well it was obvious I had to go to the forums to get advice. This is where I learned about Dolby Headphone and CMSS by Creative. Both technologies used to simulate surround sound on 2 speaker headphones.

I now had a dilema, my current sound card (really a form of onboard sound) didn’t have either of these technologies. Looks like I either went with a 5.1 headphone, or I was up for a sound card as well (despite not having had a sound card since very, very old Soundblaster days). Thanks to ‘subtle’ encouragement from Drac and Phatfred I went down the soundcard route and selected the Asus Xonar DX for AU$102 as it has Dolby Headphone (although I also considered the Xonar DG until I found out it was PCI – and I intend for this soundcard to go into future PC’s). In for a penny in for a pound – ordered the Audio Technica ATH-AD700 (AU$149) + Zalman microphone ZM-MIC1 (AU$9).

Specifications

ATH-AD700
• Type: Open-air Dynamic
• Driver Diameter: 53 mm
• Magnet: Neodymium
• Voice Coil: Copper-clad aluminum wire
• Frequency Response: 5 – 30,000 Hz
• Maximum Input Power: 500 mW
• Sensitivity: 98 dB/mW at 1 kHz
• Impedance: 32 ohms
• Weight: 280 g
• Cable: 3.0 m (Single/Hybrid-PCOCC)
• Connector: 1/8” (3.5 mm) mini stereo, gold-plated
• Accessory Included: Detachable 1/4” (6.3 mm) adapter
ZM-MIC1
• Sensitivity: -40 ± 3dB
• Impedance: Max. 2.2 ㏀
• Standard power supply: 2.0 V DC
• Current consumption: Max. 0.5 mA
• Sensitivity reduction: Within-3dB at 1.5V
• S/N: More than 58dB
• Directivity: Omnidirectional

Results

I got the Asus Xonar DX first and after removing the old soundcard and deleting drivers got it up and running. What a difference, even with my old Sennheisers it was amazing how much clearer it was. After fiddling with settings it was time to try it in game so I loaded up Left for Dead 2 and checked that the audio options were set for 7.1 speakers and started a game. WOW I could hear so much better than ever before and in ALL directions including up and down. Definitely recommend a seperate audiocard to the standard onboard sound.
it has added a new level to the game.
Shortly after my Audio-Technicas turned up and it was better again. They seem to have a wider space sound to them. Difficult to describe really – think this is what ‘Soundstage’ means when I read other reviews. Very comfortable to wear – even with glasses on. Has a long cable (3M) that easily reaches the back of my PC. Also tried playing Deadspace with them (a game I’ve played through twice before ) and it has added a new level to the game. There is much more clarity and you can hear more. Sounds you hear, like kicking a can at your feet, really sound as though your kicking a can at you feet. The ambient sounds throughout the ship are just so much better – tinkling of metal contracting, scabbling of claws in ventalation shafts etc.

The Zalman microphone turned up later on and works well - at least that’s according to other gamers.
Conclusion

Buy it.

No seriously, great sound is worth spending some money on (I went over my expected budget here at AU$260) but make sure your soundcard supports it – I’ll never be able to go back now! 

What do you think of Audio-Technica ATH-AD700 Headphones?
Post a review below!

Member reviews

Top Review - Binary-Ninja |
| 7 February 2011

Nicely summed up , lots of good info ,

- JJ |
| 7 February 2011

very nice, I will bear this in mind next time I get permission from the Minister of Finance for another purchase :)

- NackaJeem |
| 8 February 2011

I also went from the Medusa 5.1 headphones to a set of the Audio-Technicas. A big step up in my opinion. I didn't believe you could get accurate sound positioning with just two drivers. I was mistaken. Sound positioning is excellent when using Soundblaster's X-Fi CMSS 3D software when I'm gaming. They're also very comfortable. I use an Auzentech Prelude soundcard, it has the X-Fi chip licensed through Soundblaster. I have a Zalman clip-on mic that I just ran down the headphone cable, taping it every few inches to stop it snagging on anything. The headphone cable runs down in front of my shoulder, placing the mic just at the side of my face. It's secured with a couple of small bulldog clips, other players can hear me in-game without any trouble. Being an 'open' design, I just need to mute the headphones and can hold a conversation with my wife whilst still wearing these headphones. The downside of that is you can hear external sounds more easily than with a 'closed' style headphone set. The difference this setup has made to my immersion in-game is just awesome. A mate wanted to see what Battlefield Bad Company 2 was like and was pretty insistent that I use my speaker setup as he didn't like headphones. I convinced him to don the Audio-Technicas and have a play around. He was gob-smacked at the sound quality and the level of detail he could pick up. He couldn't believe the difference a decent soundcard and good quality headphones made. You can literally hear someone running up behind you trying to stab you. Yes, these headphones are pricey but in my opinion, they're worth every cent. If you have the spare cash, get an Asus soundcard and a pair of these Audio-Technicas. PCCaseGear in Melbourne have them for $150.00.

Oops - NackaJeem |
| 8 February 2011

Sorry, forgot to rate the product. PS. I have no problems with the level of bass.

- nietzsche |
| 8 February 2011

I have the G35s, and regarding: "CONs = Report of being tight on the head, Closed design. " They aren't tight on the head. I have a big head, people compliment me on it all the time :P and they fit me fine. I would say cons of the G35s: the lead tangles unbelievably easily. One of the worst leads I have seen for knotting and twisting. Many games don't do 7:1 for headphones properly, but those that do sound amazing. Some games like Monday Night Combat will have no sound if you use G35s on default settings because they can't do 7:1, you have to change windows settings to 5:1. Also closed design - sometimes I can't hear the phone ringing when I have them on and the volume high :D

- Kamii |
| 8 February 2011

I have been using the exact same headphones and mike for a year and a bit and it is a fantastic set of equipment. Marathon sessions of gaming and my ears don't burn from the weight. The sound is outstanding. I have no problems with the mic either. A thoroughly good review for a very good set of headphones. Well done.

- Inglorious Nub |
| 11 February 2011

Best ever owned!! Supported by Xonar STX. Just pire ear candy!!

Seems OK. Aggamemnon - Aggamemnon |
| 12 March 2011

As I said above - they seem ok! Personally I am looking at the Logitec G35. I'm not really worried about the cord tangles. Fit, comfort and do they really give true spatial positioning - these are my concerns. So far the only real cons that I can find with the G35 is the initial run of Logitech drivers that had an unfortunate habit of making the gunshots sound a bit tinny. However I have contacted Logitech about this issue and hopefully this will be rectified shortly. They work just fine with the Win7 drivers though. Nice review though and I shall certainly look into them if I ever find the time.

- Jigoku |
| 13 March 2011

X-Fi, ATH-AD700s, Zalman mic; this has been my setup for around the last four years. It's nice to see people are finally cottoning on to the gimmick of surround sound headphones and the worthy investment of a decent set of stereo ones instead. If you aren't getting good bass, which due to the open air design is inherently a "problem" over closed headphones, you may want to try adding a headphone amplifier into the setup. While they are an easy pair to drive, the amp might give the extra power boost you need. Or if you want to go ghetto, grab a hairband and stretch it between the two pads. This will make them a tighter fit on your head, reducing sound leak.

Zalman - oscarian |
| 20 March 2011

I used this set for about 5 years. They have a long cord that gives you a lot of freedom of movement for a corded headset, and they are comfortable enough you can wear them for 6-8 hours. Except yeah, they a tad on the weighty side. Beware the clumsy disease though, I ruined one of the headphone input jacks by getting the cord wrapped around my foot and getting out of my chair too quickly. /Osc

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