Audio Technica R70x Professional Open Back Reference Headphones
Comfort & Ventilation9.0/10
- Provides a wide & spacious, neutral sound profile
- Dual-sided cable provides an even amount of energy to each ear cup
- Accurate imaging
- Lightweight, breathable build design & ear cups
- No burn-in time required
- Harder to drive than the HD600
- Not as easy to Find a replacement for the 2.5 mm proprietary cable
- Not ideal for use in public
- Circular ear cup design isn't an absolutely perfect fit
If you’re looking for a pair of headphones to mix/master audio with or just want to experience audiophile-level sound quality, our Audio Technica R70x Review will help you pinpoint exactly why you should or shouldn’t grab a pair to add to your collection.
You’ll be able to see where they shine, a few drawbacks, and how their overall performance and build design will help you determine whether or not they’re the right pick for you. They’re often compared with the Sennheiser HD 600 which are considered by many to be the sub-$500 flagship, since they both share an open back design and usually retail for a similar price.
Our hope for you is that our extensive research on this model saves you the time and effort needed to do it on your own. We hope you enjoy!
Audio Technica R70x Professional Review
Features & Technical Specs:
- Open back, circumaural ear cup design
- Features a 3D wing support headband design
- Designed for professional-grade referencing
- Carrying pouch included
- Dual-sided, detachable 2.5 mm screw lock proprietary headphone cable
- Driver size: 45 mm
- Frequency Response: 5 – 40,000 Hz
- Impedance: 470 Ohms
- Dimensions: 4.9 x 10.2 x 12.8 in
- Weight: 7.40 ounces (without cable)
Before we dive into the full review, it’s important to mention that these feature an open back ear cup design which is best-used for specific types of listening.
These won’t be ideal for listening out in public since the expected sound leakage (whatever audio you’re listening to) probably won’t be appreciated by the people around you (unless you’re taking requests from the crowd).
This model and design is intended to be used in the studio or at-home, away from the busy and noisy environment outside. You could think of them as being anti-noise-cancelling if that helps you picture the concept in your head.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s dive into the actual meat of these ‘phones and how they stack up in comparison to the competition.
Lightweight & Breathable For Extended Comfort
Weighing a meager 7.40 ounces means these ‘phones extremely lightweight, especially when you consider their sonic performance.
The 3D wing support headband is designed to form to your specific head shape. If you’ve never worn a pair of headphones with this style of headband, it might feel a little awkward at first but once you get used to the feel, you’ll probably forget that you’re even wearing them.
Since they’re so lightweight, you can keep them on for hours at a time and even all day if you enjoy marathon listening/mixing sessions.
That being said, the design isn’t quite perfect, which brings us to the next build design aspect – the ear pads.
Circular Ear Pads
Technically these are circumaural (around-ear) ‘phones, but whether or not they actually fit perfectly around your ears will depend on a few things.
If you have bigger ears, they may not actually sit all the way around them. If you have medium to smaller-sized ears, they should fit comfortably.
Another factor to consider are the round ear pads. Our ears aren’t exactly round (as you know) which means that you can’t necessarily expect a perfect fit. Since the ear pads are removable, if you can switch them out with oval-shaped replacement pads if you decide the fit isn’t up to par.
Open back headphones are well-known for being more breathable than closed back ‘phones. The honeycomb mesh housings not only improve overall ventilation, but also have a major effect on audio quality (which we’ll cover in more detail below).
Although these do fall a bit short in the area of ear pad design, they make up for it by being extremely lightweight and comfortable, all things considered.
Dual-sided 2.5 mm Proprietary Cables
Another major aspect of the build design are the cables used to connect your ear cups to the digital storage device your music will be playing from. These ‘phones use what are called proprietary cables.
Proprietary cables are essentially cables specially made by the headphone manufacturer to fit a specific model of ‘phones. The dual-sided 2.5 mm cable included with the R70x is unique to this pair which means if you happen to lose the proprietary cable, it will be harder to find a replacement cable.
Despite the slight drawback of utilizing a 2.5 mm proprietary cable, it does have a substantial benefit. The dual-sided cable (running directly into each ear cup) provides an even amount of power to each side.
It’s a lot more common for ‘phones to have a single wire carrying the signals being sent, but less isn’t always more. Headphones with a single 3.5 mm cable run a wire through the headband which can lead to channel imbalance and overall loss of quality.
This is another sign that points to the attention to detail by the designers of these cans. It’s also another positive feature that will have an effect on the level of sonic performance.
Studio Application & Sonic Performance
If you’ve never tried a pair of open back headphones, you’re in for a treat. When it comes to comparing open back vs. closed back headphones, the difference in audio playback (and quality) is one of the main reasons the R70x are designed as reference ‘phones for mixing/mastering tracks in the studio.
When you need to hear a completely unadulterated, accurate sound signature – open back is the way to go. You’ll notice the sound profile really opens up and sounds differently than your average pair of closed headphones.
This pair aims to provide an extremely detailed, well-balanced, and spacious atmosphere for a true-to-life listening experience – and succeeds in doing so.
Rather than feeling isolated from the room and the audio you’re listening to, you’ll experience what’s called accurate “imaging”. Imaging is the term used to describe how well a pair of ‘phones reproduces playback in comparison to how the actual instruments/vocals sound live.
This is why they’re perfect for mixing and mastering – they provide accurate imaging that’s detailed and evenly spaced out – which allows you to hear what the audience will hear when you release your track.
Many audiophiles prefer this type of sound profile because it allows you to experience exactly what the producers and musicians behind the music intended for us to hear. Let’s go into more detail on how well these headphones execute this goal.
Treble & Mid Separation – Consider This
The sound profile of this model (although accurate) has been noted as being overtly neutral and flat. It may not be quite as transparent-sounding as the Sennheiser HD 600 but does perform exactly as advertised.
Clear treble and mid-range frequencies aren’t overshadowed by a booming bass or distractingly muddied separation. This will tend to vary by the specific genre you’re listening to.
For example, keep in mind that while listening to music that has multiple complex layers (such as metal or electronic mixes) – there is a slight tendency for the detail separation to become less audible.
This isn’t to say that they necessarily lack in detail separation, but when compared to similar models, they do leave slight room for improvement.
Not Enough Bass? – Addressing The Concerns
The very minor drawback on detail separation has less to do with a bloated bass and more to do with how the bass is represented. The relationship between each level of frequencies remains well-balanced, contrary to the belief that offering a wider bass response means that it must be inaccurate or distorted.
In fact, some users have reported a slight lack of bass response which comes with a caveat worth mentioning. As we just went over in the section above, these weren’t designed to produce skull-shattering low-end frequencies.
Instead of lacking a powerful bass response, they provide a crisp, and accurate response. The users reporting a lack of bass response are most likely used to listening to headphones that overly-accentuate the low end frequencies.
When it comes to describing a headphone’s sound signature, there is an element of subjectivity which will be affected by your expectations. Here’s the bottom line – you can’t achieve a well-balanced sound profile if the lows, mids, or highs noticeably stick out from the rest of the group.
If this is your first experience listening to a pair of open back ‘phones, it’s important to realize that they will sound differently than your other pairs because they were designed with a specific purpose in mind.
If you are someone who’s looking for a pair that produces heavier low end frequencies, the Sony MDR-1000X might be a better overall fit for you.
How Much Burn-In Time Is Needed, If Any?
Oftentimes headphones of this style require what’s called “burn-in time”. When you buy a pair of new shoes, most people like to wear them around until they start forming to the shape of your foot. (They don’t fit and feel the same straight out of the box as they do after a week or so.)
As you start to wear them more and more, they become more comfortable since they’ve gone through the initial break-in period. A similar concept often applies to open back headphones except the “burn-in time” is referring to their audio playback as opposed to fit and feel.
Burn-in time varies depending on the specific model and make but the R70x don’t require any burn-in time at all. You’ll experience the same level of audio quality right out of the box as you will a few months down the road.
This is a plus for most, unless (for some reason) you enjoy waiting to warm up the inner components before you can get your audio buzz.
Advice For Optimal Performance
Another important feature worth mentioning (from the technical specs we listed at the top) is the abnormally high headphone impedance. It sits right around 470 Ohms which means it will be more difficult to drive.
In most cases, simply plugging them into your average laptop, portable player, or desktop jack won’t provide the adequate power needed to drive them.
Pairing them with a quality headphone amplifier won’t change the neutral sound profile but is highly recommended if you want to listen at higher volumes. It’s also highly recommended because you won’t be able to fully-experience the warm, accurate sound profile if your devices are turned all the way up but won’t go any louder (when you need them to).
If you’ve ever tried listening to an open back pair of reference headphones without a powerful amp, you’ll know exactly where this advice is coming from. For example, the FiiO A3‘s amplifier output impedance isn’t powerful enough to fully drive the R70x.
Only being able to get 50% (or less) of the total possible volume output has the potential to persuade first-time users to return their purchase without realizing the reason for the disappointing lack of output. Matching amplifier impedance with headphone impedance is a surefire way to ensure you get the right equipment.
For this specific pair of ‘phones, an amp such as the Audioengine D1 USB DAC would be a great match since it’s output impedance is well within the recommended range.
The Final Verdict & Our Recommendation
Before we get into a final list of pros and cons, let’s reiterate the basics of everything we’ve covered in our Audio Technica R70x Review thus far.
We know that the audio playback and sound signature is extremely neutral and accurately-representative. The wide bass response is clearly present, but doesn’t distract from the rest of the mix.
You can bet that the lightweight wing tipped headband system and comfortable ear padding will enable you to keep listening for as long as you want. For some, the circular ear pads might be a minor drawback but that’s only if you’re extremely nit-picky and everything has to be perfect.
With an impedance of 470 Ohms, you’ll want to pair them with a powerful amplifier in order to get the best results. (Believe it or not, sometimes the technical specs do actually matter.)
Overall, if you’re looking for a headphone model that’s capable of performing as both a studio reference for mixing/mastering and a personal audiophile-grade pair of cans – these might be right up your alley.
To see the main factors taken into account, take a look at the review table below to see our final rating (out of 10), why it deserves that rating, and a few additional pros & cons to consider.
If you’ve already made up your mind, click here to see more regularly-updated customer reviews, star ratings, and pricing info on Amazon.
Thanks for stopping by to read our review, we hope it was helpful and that you enjoyed reading it! If there’s anything you’d like more clarification on, feel free to ask us below. If you have experience with the Sennheiser HD 600 or other open back pairs of headphones and want to chime in with your thoughts, drop a comment below.
If you enjoyed this review, but would like to see how it compares against other headphones for mixing, check out some of the other Best DJ Headphones For Mixing and Performing here.
Sonic Elevation: Ride The Waves.