Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Audio- Technica ATH-WS77 "Solid Bass" Headphone Review

The Audio Technica ATH-WS77 is situated firmly in the middle of Audio Technica's "Solid Bass" headphone line, with the on ear ATH-WS55's comprising the low end and the over ear ATH-WS99's comprising the high end.  The ATH-WS77's sport a rich and warm, bass and midrange centric sound signature that is sure to please anyone who prefers a warmer sound signature in their headphone.  Audio Technica wasn't joking with the "Solid Bass" marketing moniker as these headphones primary focus is of course the bass and the midrange and the seamless blending between the two.  Of course, with any headphone in this price range, a few drawbacks are present.  However, if you are looking for a portable on/ over ear headphone with a very warm sound signature and lots of bass and mid range presence, you may want to seriously consider the ATH-WS77's.  In the crowded market and price bracket that these headphones are located within they stand out quite a bit and easily smite other popular and similarly priced headphones such as the Beats Solo HD's with their outstanding sound quality.

While the superb sound quality is an area that I will delve into in a moment, there are a few minor drawbacks to the ATH-WS77's in regards to accessories and a couple minor build complaints.  Firstly, accessories: there are none.  I find this to be a bit unfortunate as these are a $150 dollar set of headphones that are marketed as being portable, yet there is no supplied carrying case, bag or pouch to speak of.  There is no 1/4 inch adapter in the box either, which is not that big of an issue because these headphones are portable but all you get with your purchase is the box, the headphones and some paperwork about the warranty and safety information.  I would classify the ATH-WS77's build quality as "passible" or "adequate" but not spectacular. They are fairly light weight (which is good for comfort) but there is a certain creakiness to the plastic when they are stretched to be placed on the head. Another very minor gripe I have is that the sliding headband adjustment mechanism is not notched and the ear pads sit a bit loosely on the ear cups and have a tendency to shift around very easily.  Overall, I think that the cable is adequate.  There are strain reliefs around the 3.5mm termination jack and where the cables enter the ear cups which is nice to see.  However, I find the cord to be a tad bit too short.  It's also important to note that the cable is non detachable and it is a Y design.  One area of the build that I do like is the metal (presumably aluminum?) ear cup faceplates, compete with a shiny chrome Audio Techica symbol.  Combined with an aesthetically pleasing chrome strip around the ear cups, the ATH-WS77's look very, very nice.

Comfort is another area where the ATH-WS77's are just average.  Audio Technica claims on their website that the ATH-WS77's are over ear headphones.  I believe that the ATH-WS77's are somewhere in between an on ear and over ear design.  The ear pads are larger than most on ear headphones but are smaller than the typical over ear design. The pads are "pleather" essentially a synthetic leather but they are relatively soft.  The clamping force is just right. Just enough so that the headphones don't fly off your head when the bass response inevitably leads to head banging (I am looking at you Sennheiser HD 439's!) and not so much that the clamping force hurts your ears.  As with most pleather ear pads, a little bit of ear sweating occurs with extended listening sessions.  I will say that the ATH-WS77's are plenty more comfortable than most on ear headphones on the market, but at the same time they aren't as comfortable as many over the ear headphones.

Finally, the sound quality.  The ATH-WS77's redeeming feature and the thing that keeps making me listen to them even amongst my plethora of other headphones. The bass and the midrange are simply put, absolutely spectacular, even from the moment I first plugged them in. A week later and a thorough burn-in and the bass impact, response and presence is enough to send shivers down my spine when listening to Daft Punk's Random Access Memories album. The bass response on these headphones is pretty much unparalleled by similarly priced competitor headphones, such as the Beats by Dre Solo HD's and the Sony Extra Bass line.  The bass extends extremely low without significant roll off, it's extremely punchy and hits hard and does relatively well with faster, complex tracks without muddying too much.  The bass is relatively tight but likes to let loose and really slam you with bass in the low ranges. Moving into the midrange and the blending between the bass and the mids is completed in an almost seamless fashion.  The midrange is relatively equivalent to the bass in terms of prescence and is very warm. There is a very, very slight amount of recession in the upper mids, but over all the ATH-WS77's present mid range tones as well as vocals very well. The upper range is a bit sparkly but it initially doesn't seem so in the face of the very prevalent bass and mid range.  Despite this sparkle, sibilance is usually kept so a minimum although a occasionally a bit of it creeps in now and then. Sound stage is relatively limited which is to be expected in a closed back headphone, however the sheer depth of the frequencies help to give a certain aspect of expansiveness to the sound.

I must admit that when I saw "Solid Bass" plastered across ATH-WS77 box in gold I was a bit nervous of what was to come.  Typically "bass centric" headphones as I like to call them, tend to be all about the bass and less about the rest of the frequency spectrum, and even with that many "bass centric" headphones possess bass that is muddy, bloated or both.  Enter the ATH-WS77's, a gleaming light in the world of bass heavy headphones. The fact that Audio Technica was able to achieve such amazing bass response yet maintain clarity throughout the entire frequency spectrum is an incredible feat to say the least. Aside from a average build quality and few other very minor drawbacks, the ATH-WS77's more than make up for them with it's absolutely stellar sound quality.  It's also important to mention that the ATH-WS77's are easily driven by portable devices without (surprisingly) a significant decrease in bass response. If you are in the market for portable, bass and mid range heavy warm headphones, look no further. Get the ATH-WS77's!

CLICK HERE for the Audio Technica ATH-WS77 Product Page
CLICK HERE for the Audio Technica ATH-WS77 Amazon Product Page

2 comments:

  1. great review there!! that's exactly what i thought about the ws77. btw, i own a senn hd 439, and i do agree that it falls off easily when headbanging. anyway, is there any chance you could compare them (ws77) with the akg k 518 le??

    ReplyDelete
  2. Unfortunately, no. AKG has not responded to my review unit inquiry and I have never listened to the AKG K518's. I am getting some Audio Technica ATH-M50's in soon and will be doing an article comparing the ATH-M50's, Sony MDR-7506's and Sennheiser HD 280 Pro's, so look out for that post if you are interested. If for any reason AKG decides to send me some K 518's for review, I will be sure to compare them to the WS77's.

    ReplyDelete