Audio Technica’s Entry Level Trio: SJ11, SJ33, and SJ55

sj_11_33_55_01

For once, let’s do a piece on gears that won’t actually make your wallet run away. Here are three fairly entry level headphones from Audio Technica, the SJ11, SJ33, and the SJ55 ($39.99, $49.99, and $59.99, respectively). Some may think that “hey, that would make for a nice birthday gift for my kid”, but for the true music enthusiasts, a great music is still a great music regardless of the headphones.

Now, don’t get all pessimistic about these yet, as they actually sound pretty good and musical, overlooking their white boyband look for a second (if you need matching colors with your leather jackets, they are all available in black, by the way). The tonal balance doesn’t try to do anything weird or funny, and even on the least priced SJ11, I am getting good bass, good vocals, and good vibes from the music. And listening to casual pop tunes, I couldn’t care if the soundstage image is coherent or have a good proper center image. Good vocal presence, nice bass punch with no boominess, no over enthusiastic treble. I am slightly bothered by the plasticky timbre and the fragile plastic housing of the SJ11, but hey, they are $39.99 headphones! Now, if casual pop and indie is the music you listen to most of the time, perhaps you can put that LCD-2 for sale and get a nice new laptop in return.

The SJ33 is one step up from the SJ11 and you actually get gobs of sonic upgrades over the latter. Though the SJ11 was nice, I think the SJ33 is the minimum that Headfonia readers should go for. Yes, I know you all love your music very much, but I doubt you can live with a $39.99 plastic headphone with a plasticky timbre, regardless of how nice its tonal balance actually is. The SJ33 takes the same basic recipe that works on the SJ11, adds better treble and bass extension, a more audible soundstage, and a less plasticky timbre. Instruments actually sound pretty nice with the SJ33, you know, those guitar plucks? Throw in a nice acoustic recording like Kings of Convenience’s Declaration of Dependence, or the superbly recorded Jazz at the Pawnshop, do a little sales pitch among your colleagues (it’s very important to talk as if you are an expert in headphones who know what you’re talking about), and you’ll soon have a few people in your office toe-tapping to the sound of these SJ33s.

The SJ55 is the biggest and the baddest model (supposedly) of the three. Even more prominent treble and deeper bass gives the most Hi-fi sensation of the three. I probably would’ve taken this as my favorite cans from the group (the $59.99 price tag doesn’t lie, those Audio Technica guys know their products), BUT (an it’s a very big one), I find the treble to be a tad over enthusiastic for my ears. Actually it’s more to the lower treble, the high vocal range, because every time the vocal gets loud, I find myself squinting my eyes because of the loudness of the vocals. It’s as if Norah Jones is standing next to you, but she’s singing with the same volume and intensity as if she were performing in a small jazz club. You’d like to tell her to take a few steps back because no matter how smooth her voice is, your ears simply can’t take it.

I can back down the volume level a little and that would put the vocal in good levels, but the rest of the instruments just ain’t got the same groove at that volume level. I don’t know though, the SJ55 is really nice and Hi-Fi sounding, and that issue with vocals are probably just my ears’ fault. The good thing is that they actually don’t try to push the treble to be over enthusiastic, because that would’ve been really nasty. But seriously, the SJ55 is really nice, and since it is the most HD800-like of the trio, I’d probably learn to live with Norah’s voice (actually Norah’s Come Away with me is a very forward in the vocals, with the other recordings the vocal is very good on the SJ55).

The good thing about these Audio Technicas are as follows:

  • They actually have a decent speed/pace. You can be playing Muse, Prodigy, or Rage Against The Machine, and still be getting a fairly good pace and energy, unlike the more laid back Sennheiser PX100-II or HD202.
  • They are forward sounding, without being in your face ala Grado. I know that some people, perhaps also because of the music choice, can’t stand the laid-back Sennheiser sound (again such as in the PX100-II or HD202).
  • The bass is awesome for the price. Punchy, fairly tight bass that doesn’t get boomy. Another score over the PX100-II, HD202, or the Jays V-Jays even. The SJ11 gets a little loose compared to the two bigger brothers, but I know that you’ll probably be getting the SJ33 at the minimum.
  • They are closed-back. While they doesn’t attain to the level of open-ness that you get from a PX100-II or the V-Jays, I know people have been asking about a good entry level closed-back headphone.
  • Genre bandwith. As high end headphones continue to have a polarizing sound that limits the music genre you listen to, perhaps we should all be listening to Audio Technica SJ55s instead.
  • Superb sounding from an Ipod. No worry about amplifier synergies, getting separate DAC boxes, silver recables, lossless WAV files, et cetera. Gosh, I wish things can be this simple with the HD800.

By now, have I convinced you that you need to go out and place an order on Amazon for an SJ55? I know you started reading this article with some pessimism, but now you really want to give at least one of these babies a try, just to see if I’m really talking the truth. Damn right I am talking the truth. Get the SJ55, sell the rest of your headphone gears, and you can finally go back to a normal life like everybody else. And next time you see a guy trying out the AKG K701, you can tell him that you’ve been there, done all that, and ended up with the ATH-SJ55.

Long Live Music!!!

PS: Despite constantly referring to Norah Jones throughout the article, I actually listened to quite a lot of albums through these headphones, even a Benjamin Zander Mahler 5th recording.

With every step in price comes a better build quality. The SJ11, to be frank, is quite plasticky and fragile. I bet the PX100-II can withstand more abuse than this one.

The SJ33 is larger and better build, plus it's less flimsy than the SJ11 and looks like it can take in more abuse as well.

The SJ55 comes with the best build quality, obviously. High quality matte finishing, beefier build, though its dimensions remains the same as the SJ33.

They all fold nicely. Not a big fan of white? Don't worry, you can get them in black as well.

Audio Technica’s Entry Level Trio: SJ11, SJ33, and SJ55
5 (100%) 2 votes

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169 Comments

  • Reply May 4, 2011

    Jeffrey

    Would you recommend the SJ55 over the way more expensive sennheiser hd25?

    • Reply May 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      No, not quite there yet.

  • Reply May 4, 2011

    Dennisk

    Im in the market for a closed back budget headphone. Mainly because i want something that doesnt leak sound when im listening to music in public.

    At home I use a pair of Akg k501 which i love, but for portable use they are no good.

    Does the sj33/55 leak sound, or should I go for the Aiaiai Tracks instead?

    Thanks in advance!
    -Dennis

    • Reply May 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      The SJ33-55 leaks less than the AIAIAI Tracks. They also isolate better.

  • Reply May 4, 2011

    JotaIGz

    Funny that I am having a similar experience with the koss portapro and the LCD2; at this very moment I am enjoying Terry Riley’s Shri Camel over the portapro way more than with the LCD2

    • Reply May 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      It’s all about the music man.

      It’s funny how these entry level cans are often less polarizing than the high end ones.

  • Reply May 4, 2011

    Dhani Nugraha

    Mike, which one would you recommend if a v-Jays owner were to get another pair of headphones that’s just as much fun?

    • Reply May 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      The SJ33 is good, but the SJ55 is even better. All three of them have roughly the same signature, just different levels of refinement.

  • Reply May 5, 2011

    putente

    How would these SJ55 (and/or the SJ33) compare to the AKG Q460 (K450)?

    Thanks.

    • Reply May 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      I haven’t quite compared it yet, sorry.

  • Reply May 5, 2011

    Malochantilly

    Thanks Mike!
    There will be a review of the new fostex 7h-tb?

    Bests,
    Marco

    • Reply May 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes, definitely. The 7H-TB is something definitely worthy of a review. I
      mentioned about it briefly in the Fostex HP-P1 article.

      I am doing two multiple headphone articles at the moment, so the 7H-TB
      review won’t come out until another two weeks from now (at the soonest).
      I am also doing a review on the Sony ZX700, which supposedly does a lot
      of the things the $500 Z1000 headphone does, but with a more affordable
      price at $100+.

  • Reply May 5, 2011

    Anonymous

    “Get the SJ55, sell the rest of your headphone gears, and you can finally go back to a normal life like everybody else. And next time you see a guy trying out the AKG K701, you can tell him that you’ve been there, done all that, and ended up with the ATH-SJ55.”

    Loved that line. Any chance I should replace my current dog-walking headphones, the px200-II, with the SJ55? How do they compare with older ATH models like the ES55,ES7,FC700,etc

    I’m headed to NYC in a week, so I’ll probably give them a listen at Audiocube’s B&M store.

  • Reply May 5, 2011

    Anon

    Hey Mike, have you ever heard of Denon D1001 or Creative Aurvana Live (same driver)? How are those compared to the ath sibilings?

    • Reply May 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      Too bad, I’ve never compared these to the CAL and D1001.

      • Reply May 5, 2011

        Anon

        oh but you’ve heard those? what do you think about them (d1001/cal) ?

        • Reply May 6, 2011

          Anonymous

          Sorry, haven’t heard them either the D1001 or the CAL.

  • Reply May 5, 2011

    yoav tzfati

    Hey mike, great review!
    how would you compare them to the superluxes? are they worthy of home use?

    • Reply May 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      Well the Superluxes are full size, these are portables. I think primarily those are the difference. I’d take the HD660 if I dont need a portable, otherwise I think the SJ55 is just as good, but different presentation.

  • Reply May 5, 2011

    Erik Wijnands

    You could add a new category to the site and call it “wallet friendly reviews”. Excellent USP for Headfonia me thinks. 🙂 I noticed that, since you got the Pro700Mk2, it seems your mentality towards headphones is changing? I got the impression you’re less about the technicalities lately and more about the musicality. This review aknowledges that I guess. 🙂 Sometimes we forget to listen to the music instead of the equipment.

    I do think though, that these ATH’s are about as good as most headphones you can get in this price category. I personally see no reason to recommend them over a, for example, K518DJ, PX100 or similar. I think the differences are marginal. You could buy them solely based on appearance though. I heard some people buy headphones because they look cool. Crazy, right? 😉

    • Reply May 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Erik,
      Yea I think your observations are spot on. I actually was thinking about
      the same thing. Create a “wallet friendly” category and put all the
      different headphones under $100 on that section. 🙂

      Yes, I think you’re right. I think I’ve changed quite a bit as a
      reviewer. I used to think that reviews must cover all technical aspects
      of the headphone’s sound. But as time goes, I find myself only
      discussing what headphone works with what music when I talk with my
      friends. Ultimately I think people, even me included, get tired of
      digging to deep into the technicalities. We simply want to listen to
      music and have the energy of the music properly delivered.

      Yes, in a sense, the K518DJ, K518LE, PX100, PX200 yes, can be just as
      good. But again there is always little differences, and the choices we
      have on headphones these days should give us a solution that can fit our
      specific criterias.

      Now briefly,
      In comparison to the ultra portables (PX100 and the likes), the SJ33 and
      SJ55, being closed and bigger in driver, delivers a better, punchier and
      tighter bass, and this is good for bands like Muse, Linkin Park, or the
      likes.
      In comparison to the K518LE (I think it’s comparable to the SJ55), the
      SJ55 has a better treble response, so you can hear better sparkle on the
      instruments, while being roughly just as good with the bass (the K518LE
      may be a little more powerful).

  • Reply May 5, 2011

    Ahmad_yusran

    How would these SJ55 (and/or the SJ33) compare to the V-jays? i really want to buy v-jay

    • Reply May 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      The V-Jays is open design. So it leaks sound and doesn’t isolate outside
      noise. The SJ33/55 isolates much better, and as a bonus you get a
      punchier and tighter bass.

  • Reply May 5, 2011

    Chris

    I have a question, what would you recommend for bands like Evanescence, the SJ33 or the Akg 404?

    • Reply May 6, 2011

      Anonymous

      At the moment I’m leaning more toward the SJ33. I think the extra treble
      should be just right for their recordings. (I’m listening to Fallen at
      the moment)

  • Reply May 6, 2011

    Ling Wen Hoong

    I am new in Headphone world, I currently own a ATH-M50 with a Hippo Box Headphone Amp (I bought it in a bundle). Currently thinking getting one of these for more portability, would you recommend SJ55 over other portable headphones ? how but comparing with some same price range in-ears ?

  • Reply May 7, 2011

    Matt

    Hey
    Great review, just a quick question, I am contemplating getting the SJ55 or the superlux HD668B. I listen a lot through my portable on the move, and a fair amount of time through my amp at home so aiming for a mixture of portability and quality. Just wondering which would be more advisable to purchase, or if there were any others yo believe would be more suitable?
    Thanks

  • Reply May 11, 2011

    Jack

    Hi Mike, do you plan on doing a comparison of the SJ55 with your other portable headphones?

    • Reply May 11, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Jack,
      No, not really. I dont think we should be too “formal” on this one. Anyway which portable are you thinking of comparing with? Perhaps I can do a brief comparison for you.

      • Reply May 12, 2011

        Jack

        Oh that would be great. I was thinking about the K181 DJ and M50. Now that I think of it, are these even considered portable? Hehe.

        • Reply May 12, 2011

          Anonymous

          Yes, that’s the problem. I dont think they are that portable compared to the SJ55.

          • Reply May 12, 2011

            Jack

            Ah alright then. Well, I’m on the lookout for closed portables. How does the Px200-II compare?

            • Reply May 12, 2011

              Anonymous

              Jack, I think someone asked that same question earlier. Would you mind searching down the comments?

          • Reply May 12, 2011

            Jack

            Whoops sorry, next time I’ll read before posting. Thanks!

  • Reply May 13, 2011

    Ling Wen Hoong

     Hi Mike, can you do a brief comparison of SJ55 with AKG k518 DJ ? My friend own K518DJ, and I have a briefly use of it. I haven use SJ55 yet, hence I wanted to know how much different between them 🙂

    • Reply May 14, 2011

      Anonymous

      Briefly,
      I think the K518DJ has more bass, less treble, less vocals. The SJ55’s
      bass is okay, but the treble sparkle is there and the vocal is also better.

  • Reply May 13, 2011

    Wu Chyi W.

    Hi mike, nice review!
    After reading your website for a long time, I decided to break the silence and post a comment here.
    I’m new to the headphone world. And currently debating between the sj33/55 and the sennheiser HD202.
    Since you recently reviewed the senns, how would these compare to the HD202s?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Reply May 14, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hey Wu Chyi,
      The HD202 is very faithful to the Senn HD650 signature. Laid back, dark,
      slightly bassy.
      The SJ33/55 is more forward, more engaging, livelier treble, tighter
      punchier bass.

  • Reply May 14, 2011

    Jannis Gundermann

    Really nice write up, thanks!

    I’m currently looking for a secondary headphone to leave at work so that I don’t have to carry my ATH-M50 around with me all the time.

    Since I really like the M50 sound, how would the SJ55 compare to it?
    Does the SJ55 offer a similar level of noise isolation as the M50 does (I will be using these in a noisy office)?

    • Reply May 14, 2011

      Anonymous

      Jannis,
      If you go for the SJ55, I think it will give you just as a good
      isolation (more or less) as the M-50. I recently tried the Marshall
      Major headphones and also find the noise isolation to be quite good.

      • Reply May 14, 2011

        Jannis Gundermann

        Thanks for the reply.

        Would it also be fair to say that the SJ55 sound signature is similar to that of the M-50?

        • Reply May 16, 2011

          Anonymous

          Not quite. The M-50 is dark and laid back. The SJ55 is more forward and
          engaging.

          • Reply May 16, 2011

            Jannis Gundermann

            Good to know, I think I will just buy it and have a look myself but overall it sounds like a promising entry level headphone.

            Thanks again for the  info.

            • Reply May 16, 2011

              Anonymous

              Yes, it is quite promising indeed.

              I didn’t think of it much at first, but after listening to it, I begin
              to appreciate them as a solid entry level recommendation.

  • Reply May 16, 2011

    WL

    Hey, nice review. How long is the SJ55’s headband compared to the K518’s? I have a rather big head, and the K518 couldn’t completely cover my ears, even when they were fully extended.

    • Reply May 18, 2011

      Anonymous

      I realize the K518 was a bit limited in the headband extension, but I
      really didn’t do a headband comparison between the SJ55 to the K518 so I
      can’t say. It fits my head comfortably, a little more than the K518s,
      but I can’t say if it’ll fit your head.

    • Reply May 30, 2011

      Anonymous

      K81 dj were a vice on my head, so despite how I liked the sound, I couldn’t wear them very long… these on the other hand are quite comfortable (unlike some of their ATH brethren *cough* ES7).

  • Reply May 20, 2011

    Ling Wen Hoong

     Suggestion for entry level in-ears 🙂 

  • Reply May 22, 2011

    Mtklesel

    Got the SJ-55 after the review, was not disappointed, very impressed with the overall sound. They seem pretty sturdy though I hope they dont break, Im abit unlucky with breaking headphones.

    Thanks for the heads up.

    • Reply May 23, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks for writing back. Glad you are enjoying the sound.

  • Reply May 29, 2011

    Theklamoth

    Great review Mike.

    If you will, could you compare the SJ55 to the Sennheiser Hd238?

  • Reply July 6, 2011

    sgpao

    Nice review, kinda set on buying these cans (SJ55). Question though, do amps improve the sound quality of these babies? Say for example a FiiO E11?

    • Reply July 6, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Sgpao,
      I don’t think an amp will improve it as in adding detail and widening
      the soundstage, but it *may* help with things such as improving bass
      impact and bass control.

      I personally think these are the kind of headphones you should just plug
      into a DAP and forget about the rest.

  • Reply August 7, 2011

    Anonymous

    I recently bought sj 33 and I can almost say that this baby can kick butt.  I found sj 33 to almost simillar but with less bass than fanny wangs.  Can you confirm my observation?

    • Reply August 8, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes, but I’ve never listened to the fanny wangs. 🙂

      • Reply August 8, 2011

        Donunus

        The fanny wangs are almost identical to the original beats in the sound department

        • Reply August 8, 2011

          Anonymous

          Thanks, Donunus. That’s fairly interesting considering the feud they had over the design.

    • Reply August 8, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes, but I’ve never listened to the fanny wangs. 🙂

  • Reply August 8, 2011

    Anonymous

    Lastly, I would like to ask how do  sj 33 and sj 55 go against Sennheiser HD 428 to HD 448 family in audio quality.  Can these two sound as good as $150 headphones like beats solo or solo hd and Bose AE or OE family for example.  And just for kicks how these two fair against Sennheiser HD 518(no way the two audio technicas will win). 😀

    • Reply August 9, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes I really think I should do a review of the Senn HD4x8 series. For now I can’t really answer your question, sorry.

    • Reply August 9, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes I really think I should do a review of the Senn HD4x8 series. For now I can’t really answer your question, sorry.

  • Reply August 9, 2011

    Eskimoo

    aside from portable small cans vs bigger cans, i just wonder how will ATH SJ55   fares against Denon P372 , K420 K430, K404, K403? Later two represent SJ11&33 rival.
     eyeing Denon and K4xx right now, any sonic performance comparison will helpful ~

    my reference will be K420 warm, airy, musical and quite fun
    thanks in advance

    • Reply August 10, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Eskimoo,
      I can’t make any comparisons as I’m pretty clueless about all of those other headphones.

      • Reply August 11, 2011

        Eskimoo

        uh oh …. 

        • Reply August 11, 2011

          Anonymous

          yes.

          • Reply August 11, 2011

            Eskimoo

            from your analysis, SJ33 SJ55 suitable for all around? which genres of music do these SJ-sound signature excels?did comparison with K701 meant SJ55 excels in acoustics song like AKG’s characteristics?thanks

            • Reply August 12, 2011

              Anonymous

              Hi,
              I don’t think you should take the comparison to the K701 too seriously. Clearly the two belong in different categories.

              What I meant was that higher end headphones, for instance the K701 (and likewise the Sennheiser HD650 or the Beyerdynamic DT880), are often good with certain music and not so with others. The SJ-55 is not a technicalities giant, but it works surprisingly pretty good with many different music.

  • Reply August 30, 2011

    mick

    So how does the SJ55 compare to the Jays V-Jays?

    • Reply August 31, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Mick,
      Mind browsing the older comments? I believe someone asked that before.

  • Reply September 18, 2011

    Anonymous

    I change my stand.  SJ 33 is far superior to Fanny Wangs and Bose AE.  Just  tested both last week.  Clarity is way to superior in SJ 33.  SJ 33 is one of the best cheap headphone on this planet.

    • Reply September 19, 2011

      Anonymous

      That’s good to hear. Yes they are a really good cheap headphone.

  • Reply September 26, 2011

    ConfusedDude

    Does SJ55 have echo effect ? Sorry for my English skills …

    • Reply September 26, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes, a little reverb. Almost impossible to not get a reverb on closed headphones. One of the closed headphones that’s free from that effect is the Sennheiser HD25-1.

      • Reply September 26, 2011

        ConfusedDude

        What about PX 200 II, echo exist ? I checked my old UR20 (closed back) and i cant hear any echo. Again sorry for poor english :/

        • Reply September 27, 2011

          Anonymous

          PX200-II also has some echo. You should check out some of the semi-open models, the V-Jays the PX100-II, the Grado SR60 they are much better in that.

  • Reply September 30, 2011

    Afiqmozac

    Hi, i have used the sj33 headphone for quite a while now and have been really satisfied with the sound quality so far. i have been thinking for an upgrade to a higher end headphone just for future prospects and have been asking few people about this. Since my budget isnt really that big, they suggested that i go for koss portapro. How do these two compare?? Would there be much difference?

    • Reply September 30, 2011

      Anonymous

      Okay the portapros are highly legendary headphones in the sense that they are very enjoyable headphones that sell for relatively affordable amount of money, back in the days when there weren’t that many good entry level headphones around.
      But the landscape has certainly changed today, and there are many other choices in the same ultra-portable category. Not to say that the Portapro is bad now, but there are just other choices.
      I did a comparison on those headphones a while ago and you’re free to check it out here: http://www.headfonia.com/ultra-portable-shootout-px100-px200-portapro-k404-v-jays-tracks-oldskool-and-hd238/

  • Reply October 12, 2011

    Lukman

    hi headfonia
    how does the SJ 55 compare to the new superlux 661???
    i’m asking because the roughly about the same price in here

    • Reply October 12, 2011

      Anonymous

      The Superlux is a little better in technicalities, but the bass is less punchy and it doesn’t fold.

      • Reply October 17, 2011

        Lukman

        so if im gonna paired it with fiio E6..i will get better overall presentation with the 661 compare to the SJ’s

        • Reply October 17, 2011

          Anonymous

          With the E6, go with the 661.

          • Reply October 18, 2011

            Lukman

            ok thx alot mike…still waiting for your review on the 661.
            and i dont think they’re available yet in our beloved country

  • Reply October 17, 2011

    AdamL

    i’m thinking of buying the SJ55, it sound to be about just what i’m looking for, only question is noise isolation.
    as i’m uprading from cx300 (old) iems, im wondering if isolation is enough. alternative would be k518DJ/LE/519 (afaik these are the same just diff look). I heard those have great, iem like isolation. you said SJ55 isolation is “more or less” the same. plz elaborate on this 🙂
    I travel by train very frequently. these are real loud trains 🙂

    • Reply October 17, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi AdamL,
      I really don’t know how to elaborate more on that. I’ve tried them both the AKG K518DJ/LE and the SJ55 and the isolation is more or less the same. The AKG may have been slightly better though.

  • Reply October 22, 2011

    Julian Leonardo

    I listen to a wide range of music. mostly songs in the top charts; Classic Rock, Alternative, R & B, Reggae.  few bands; Jason Mraz, Bruno Mars, Shine Down, 5 for fighting, Mr Big, Beyonce, Cee Lo Green, Night Rangers, Creed, Jay Sean, Flo Rida.

     I’ve never owned a good pair of head phones. I’d like good base and when I listen to rock songs with lots of drums and high hats, it should sound clear. Would you say the SJ55 is the best set of  headphones for under $70  for what I need?

     Thanks,
    Julian

    • Reply October 22, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes Julian, I think the SJ55 will play good with your music. Mraz, Mars, et cetera. 

      • Reply October 25, 2011

        Julian Leonardo

        I read in a previous comment, you’ve said that the SJ55 has tighter and punchier base than the v-jays.  Does the SJ 55 outperform the V-Jays in other areas? or are the v-jays similar to the SJ55 in all other areas ? What does the v-jays do better than the SJ55 besides the portability factor?

        • Reply October 25, 2011

          Anonymous

          Hi Julian,
          Well the V-Jays and the SJ55 are two different designs, and they have their own, different sound presentation — so that’s the first thing that you have to put in mind. The Bass is better on the SJ-55 but the V-Jays is very enjoyable because it has a more open sound (simply due to the design). Other than that I think everything boils down to their own individual presentation.
          If you tend to listen to fast paced music with lots of strong beats, then the SJ55 would probably be the better choice. If you tend to listen to medium/slow paced songs, acoustics, ballads, relaxed music, then the V-Jays would be the better choice.

  • Reply October 26, 2011

    Nicholas Khoo

    Hi, I was curious about the isolation level of each of the above? How do they fare in particularly noisy places? (trains, outside noise etc.)

    • Reply October 26, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Nicholas,
      The isolation is good on the SJ33 and SJ55. With the SJ11 it’s there but not so much.

      • Reply October 28, 2011

        Nicholas Khoo

        Also, which model is better for distinctness (ie. details within songs) ? I’m not much of a bass head, but I want a relatively wide soundstage.

        • Reply October 28, 2011

          Anonymous

          Hi Nicholas,
          You mean among this three Audio Technicas? They aren’t exactly technical giants, you’d be better off with something like the ATH M-50 if you want technicalities at a relatively affordable price. Or something like the Superlux HD668B.

          Among the three, the SJ-55 has got to be the most technically capable.

          • Reply October 28, 2011

            Nicholas Khoo

            Okay, I asked because I wanted balance between both quality and portability.

            • Reply October 28, 2011

              Anonymous

              Portable headphone with good instrument separation, perhaps the DT1350, but still it’s not going to give you the same instrument separation that you get on the big headphones.
              Custom IEMs like the JH5 however will give you that distinctiveness you are looking for while remaining very portable.

  • Reply November 1, 2011

    Ryan

    hello mike 😀 , is the SJ55 worth for replacing the PX100-II? i don’t do heavy bass, or whatever BOOM BOOM BOOM 🙂 , is it worth it?

    • Reply November 1, 2011

      Anonymous

      Ryan,
      The SJ55 will give you a less natural sound than the PX100-II, but it will give you better isolation and a punchier bass section though not necessarily more boom-boom.
      You decide if it’s worth it. 🙂

      • Reply November 1, 2011

        Ryan

        i see, guess it is worth trying.. and i love the design :p 

  • Reply November 5, 2011

    Julian Leonardo

    I finally got the SJ55 today to replace my lost my cheap $10.50 Philips SHS5200 headphone.  most of the major headphones are not available for purchase in stores where I live so I bought this sorely  based on the review on this site and couple of other forums. 

    This is my initial impression, The highs are too bright it almost sounds kind of squeaky and screechy, Lacks bass (my cheap $10.50 Philips SHS5200 had better bass). Very uncomfortable, it gives me a head pain after couple of minutes of wearing. 
     I don’t understand why people review this as a great headphone. This head phone sounds ordinary. I wish I got a new set of  $10.50 Philips SHS5200 which was better in every way. the cheap Philips was more comfortable, better base and portable than the SJ55 . Based on the reviews, I really expected  so much more from these headphones. For now, I feel like my $70 was gone to total waste in wane. 
    I’ll post an update after using this for at least one more week so it gets burned in .  I Really hope that ill be able to adjust to it and the sounds get better after some burn in.

    • Reply November 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      That’s too bad Julian, sounds like the Philips matches your music better.

    • Reply November 16, 2011

      Cray

      hey Julian, so how was it after a week? I bought the SJ33 and at first it sounded lacking but after some burn in it sounded very excellent! The bass was very good and highs are clear, also at first the headphone did feel uncomfortable but just adjust it properly and you should be comfortable for 2-3 hours of listening.

      I’m pretty sure your SJ55 should sound even better than my SJ33.

      • Reply November 28, 2011

        Anonymous

        Hi Cray, After using the SJ55 for couple of weeks, I find the discomfort a lot less. The sound is very detailed. I could clearly hear the minor details in the music.  There seems to be a slight improvement in the bass. However the treble/highs are painfully bright.  Especially when I listen to a songs where singers pronounces  words with the letter “S”, it sounds really bad and very painful to listen. 
        There is very little base. For example the Track, “Chop Suey! by System Of A Down ” sounds so boring due to the lack of bass in fact I almost hear no bass in it.  However you could hear the  bass in  very bass heavy tracks like “Hello-Club Edit by Martin Solveig & Dragonette”.  I think these cans has the power to produce a strong bass. I don’t know, may be its the way the drivers are tuned. These cans are unbalanced. The lack of bass in rock music and the extra bright treble is still the main issue for me. I would definitely not recommend these to any one.

  • Reply November 5, 2011

    Cray

    Hi, I’m planning to get the sj33 because I’m on a limited budget, does the sj55 really sound much better than the sj33? I’m gonna use it on mp3 320, well maybe some flac but mostly mp3 320. Will I hear a big difference? or do I need lossless audio to hear difference between the 55 and 33? Thanks.

    • Reply November 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Cray,
      The difference is pretty distinct, and no you don’t need a lossless file to tell the difference. But both are fun headphones and are not meant in any way to be technically superior, reference headphones, so I would probably just stick to the budget.

      • Reply November 5, 2011

        Cray

        Thanks, I think I’ll just go for SJ33, I’m still using my ATH CKM30 which I bought about a year ago which is ok but lacks bass for me. I’d like to try these headphones anyway.

  • Reply November 6, 2011

    mikudev

    Hi, I just brought the sj55 after trying it out with DT231, AHD501 and Grado SR60i. Since all of it is within the same price range in my local store, I end up picking up SJ55 because it has better vocal than the others and the music sounds crispier. I’m now wondering does the SJ55 required any burn-in? This is my first headphone I brought replacing the standard iPod earphone.

  • Reply November 8, 2011

    Tyo

    which one do you prefer most , audiotechnica sj11 / sennheiser px-80 / sennheiser HD-218 ?? im looking for a headset that can play all genre (from rock , pop to rnb) and a good looking headset, and i use blackberry to play my music not with the amplifier or something.. i like sj11 design btw 😀 .. need your advice.. thx

    • Reply November 9, 2011

      Anonymous

      Tyo,
      Haven’t tried the HD218, but the HD238 is better than the other two you mentioned. Isn’t the HD 2X8 higher priced than the ATH SJ11 and PX80?

      • Reply November 9, 2011

        Tyo

        Of course HD238 is better than two of them because in my country the price is double than them hahahaha.. let me make it simple like this, what would you pick for your best headset in range below 50$ ??

        and which one is the winner (based on your ear experience) between ath-sj11 vs px80 vs px90 and ath-sj33 vs px100-II vs superlux 660 ? can you give them a rank from the best till the poor one ?? thx and sorry for to much asking 😀 really appreciate your answer

        • Reply November 10, 2011

          Anonymous

          Below $50, at the moment it’s probably the Superlux HD661.

          And as for the ranking, it’s not as simple as that. One headphone would have a strong point on one area and weak on another. Likewise the next headphone. This is why we almost never made a ranking.

          • Reply November 10, 2011

            Tyo

            superlux hd661 sounds promising, but its quite big for me actually 🙁

            1 last question.. which one should i take, ath sj11 or sennheiser px80 ?? i like listening to fast &  rock song like avenged sevenfold, red hot chili pepper and some accoustic song

            • Reply November 10, 2011

              Anonymous

              If you don’t need the headphone to be closed, then the PX80.

  • Reply November 8, 2011

    Tyo

    which one do you prefer most , audiotechnica sj11 / sennheiser px-80 / sennheiser HD-218 ?? im looking for a headset that can play all genre (from rock , pop to rnb) and a good looking headset, and i use blackberry to play my music not with the amplifier or something.. i like sj11 design btw 😀 .. need your advice.. thx

  • Reply November 13, 2011

    Eun

    I decided to trust your review and get a pair of SJs. I chose the 11s as my local store didnt have the 33s and the 55s were a bit out of my budget. To my surprise its better than my current in-ear creatives, which were more expensive. Too bad it doesn’t come with a carrying pouch, would hate for it to get dirty. Thanks for your review, helped me a great deal 🙂

    • Reply November 14, 2011

      Anonymous

      I’m very happy to hear that, Eun. 🙂

  • Reply November 16, 2011

    Tyo

    finally i bought the sj11 instead of px80.. this is my first headphone experience , before this i only use IEM from local product (dbE pr-18 for 20$) that sounds good enough for me.. this sj11 worth every money i spent ! very light and small so easy to carry. And the sound is very good to me, because this is the most expensive headphone i have ever buy so i have no experience to high end headphone .. i like bass sound in this sj11 because it is not to bassy like the px90 i have ever heard. maybe the biggest problem for the high frequency, because when i hear avenged sevenfold song that have melody guitar played very high it kinda make me closed my eyes because its very sharp ~__~ thanks for your review and answering my question before..

  • Reply November 16, 2011

    Cray

    After a week of using the SJ33, I’m very satisfied with the way it sounds ^_^.  Some would say burn in is a myth but I’d say it holds true for these headphones, the difference is big even after just a couple of hours playing music to it.

    These headphones are fun, simple, nice looking and nice sounding, thanks for the review and reply headfonia. It helped me make the right choice in buying these headphones.

    • Reply November 17, 2011

      Anonymous

      I’m glad you’re liking it, Cray.

      As for burn in, I think a few hours is all that is needed. From the FAQ #17: http://www.headfonia.com/faq/

  • Reply December 13, 2011

    Johanes Lee

    Great review, Thank you.

    • Reply December 14, 2011

      Mike

      You’re welcome.

      • Reply December 18, 2011

        Johanes Lee

        Hi Mike,

        Almost make a bad choice when buying this headphone. The seller recommended SR60 over SJ55. But Seiko Matsuda sound funny on SR60 (played on my mobile phone), and SR60 is more like house builder’s tools than an audio device.

        Now I can listen to all my music collections on my Android mobile and Laptop. Software used: Andless (Android) and Banshee (Linux Laptop), I even turn the equalizer off (on Banshee).

        Again, thank you for your review.

        Have a nice weekend.

        • Reply December 19, 2011

          Mike

          Glad you enjoy it Johannes. Thanks for sharing with us. 

          • Reply March 14, 2012

            Johanes Lee

            Wallpaper for SJ55 fans 😀

            Size 1600×900

        • Reply January 5, 2012

          Guest

          If you try Audio Technica AD700 …. seiko matsuda sounds awesome!

  • Reply December 14, 2011

    Evol1961

    thanks sir for the review, really helps!

    it’s just my second time i’ve tried to use a headphone beyond 2500PhP (around 50$) range, one being my brother’s Beats Studio (which sucks being one-dimensional, all bass as in i thought all the notes are the same)

    tired of all the common stalls here in our country (Philippines) selling Philips headphones, while my other workmates already had the Senn’s or the Sony’s, want to try something different, saw this review (being redirected from the highly-regarded M50), and bought the SJ55, all i can say is WOW!

    this baby hits the right spot! deep, punchy bass, combined with treble that wasn’t harsh (my Philips SHS4700 ear-clips has very annoying and harsh treble), and i really have a good time following the bass notes these phones produce, and poof! i can play songs on my mp3 to my guitar!

    and it’s pretty portable, can play straight out of my Motorola Defy with no worries.. really good buy, again, thanks for the helpful review

    • Reply May 24, 2012

      Jeriel Glenn Tejano

      we’re the ame! I also came from Philippines and just got my SJ 55 yesterday,, but I havent tried beats though,,,,, malapit lang ba ang headphone na ito sa beats? o talagang maganda ang sound quality ng beats

      • Reply December 6, 2012

        Anuj Upadhyay

        ya right i told u already!!!

  • Reply January 18, 2012

    Aaron Goh

    I bought a pair of SJ-11s about a month ago, and the headband has already snapped T.T Feels quite plasticky, though i gotta give it to them for the looks. However, if you listen to loud music and are concerned about the details, you probably don’t wanna get the SJ-11s. They suck when it comes to details and the overall sound is quite trashy, where most instruments aren’t so prominent and end up becoming background noise. Usually you’d only hear the drums, vocals, and bass, but other than that everything else is pretty much the trash.

  • Reply March 19, 2012

    Tech84

    Nice, I just got  SJ33 yesterday and it sounds OK. How long do I need to “burn” it?

  • Reply March 26, 2012

    Adel Murad

    I just bought a SJ33 based on your guide and I’m loving it, seeing that I upgraded from a generic Philips HIFI headphone, you can really tell the difference. I’m having some issues with a slight discomfort while wearing it though. I feel pain around the area of my outer ear which meets the ear piece and can only stand wearing it for about an hour then I got to take a breather every once in a while. Would this be resolved with frequent use seeing that my prior headphone was not an over-ear portable. Hope to hear from you or anybody thanks.

    • Reply March 26, 2012

      Mike

      Glad to hear that you’re loving the sound, but sorry to hear about the comfort issues. Unfortunately it’s hard to get both good sound and good comfort in a limited budget, and the SJ-33 is just a fun entry level headphone. 

      Perhaps you can try loosening the headband pressure by using some thick books put in between the cups. 

  • Reply April 14, 2012

    Mike

    Just okay, it’s a good all rounder but perhaps it won’t wow you with one particular area.
    Perhaps try the AKG K518DJ/LE for that.

    • Reply April 14, 2012

      Lim Ken Min

      what about ath ws55? looking for closed back and noise isolated headphone with bass and nice beats.

    • Reply January 23, 2013

      Tylan Cariño

      excuse me mike, what would you prefer for a more punchier bass? ath-cks55 or sj55? thanks 🙂

      • Reply January 24, 2013

        Mike

        The CKS-55 is an IEM right? The SJ-55 a headphone?

        I don’t know how to answer that.

  • just bought sj11 for my daughter, online, never test the sound before. for conclution, i hate it.

    the sound not really musical, acceptable for multimedia content, which is not serve my needs. compared to 1/2 priced iem, the sound simply crap, sound like improvement/tuned $5 multimedia pc headphone+mic. remembering me to cheap 5.1 surround speaker, i think it’s normal japanese sound character. it’s my 1st time deal with over ear headphone (prefered by my daughter).

    basically, compared to my chepo ref in ear, rating 4+/10 in sq in other review (i have more than 1 actually):
    1) too much bump at vocal freq area, make voice harsh, flat stuck inside your head, not at least infront your face.
    2) lack air & soundstage, i know it close back, but my ref iem also closed (& i have airy open back iem, which is i hate to wear outdoor)
    3) lack seperation, eg: bass drum – bass guitar. same freq instrument considered same inst.
    4) no musical warmness
    5) for credit, i can say, i like the sparkle & little harsness (which is par with my ref iem)
    6) equalizer can fix some problem, but still make me feel it sound cheap (& using equalizer telling it’s cheap, not price, but sound)

    for someone that not easy/no opportunity to test (like me), i’m really depend on review like this (actually not much for AT), but i’m dissapointed. please classified/clear state/compare to ref headphone (& iem)

    * source: rockboxed clip, xperia arc-ics, itouch4, iphone4, ipad, dell v130.

  • Reply September 13, 2012

    Guest

    Isn’t that would be better with sj11, which has the greatest bass sound (sj11- more on bass, sj33-more on high sj55-all)

  • Reply December 22, 2012

    johnchuck

    Bought the sj55 last year from your recommendation since i was in need of some headphones. People in library always complaining about load music from ibuds. These are awesome headphones for the price. The only thing that would make these perfect is if they had a bit more bass. Should i be looking at getting an amp to boost the bass on these?? If so which is good pairing with these and an ipod touch.?

  • Reply January 5, 2013

    Need Gud Headphones

    […] It sounds better than Sen HD 201. You can check this link for the comparison of different ATH's: Audio Technica’s Entry Level Trio: SJ11, SJ33, and SJ55 | Headfonia they have clearly mentioned SJ33 are much better than PX100-II, HD202 and the Jays V-Jays. | […]

  • Reply January 23, 2013

    Tylan Cariño

    excusse me kind sir, but which would you recommend, i wanted something wwith a very punchy bass and im thinking of getting sj-55 but i saw at’s ath-cks55 sooo what would it be sj55 or cks55 O.O

  • Reply January 23, 2013

    Tylan Cariño

    excuse me kind sir, i want something with a very punchy bass so i thought of getting sj55 BUT i saw AT’s ath-cks55 sooo what should i get ??

  • Reply January 23, 2013

    Tylan Cariño

    excuse me kind sir, i want something with a very punchy bass so i thought of getting sj55 BUT i saw AT’s ath-cks55 sooo what should i get ?

  • Reply February 8, 2013

    Su Shi

    Hi, I bought an SJ33, sound is ok, and I can wear it for hours without hurting my ears, sound isolation is also pretty good. But it’s irritating when I am hanging it around my neck since there’s no cushion in the headband(or whatever you call it). Any idea where I can buy a replacement headband w/ cushion?

    • Reply February 8, 2013

      Mike

      You really should check with the Audio Technica dealer on that.

  • Reply June 26, 2013

    mike

    solid performace, and solid build these are great headphones for studio listening http://addnow.co.uk/brands/audio-technica

  • Reply July 28, 2013

    Rawr

    Which one would you recommend, the SJ55 or the Superlux HD661 as a good all-rounder? I currently own a HD202 and I would like a new headphone with a good balance of bass, mid, and high 😀

    • Reply July 29, 2013

      Mike

      The SJ55 is more different than the HD202 than the HD661 is, that’s probably the one you should try.
      Good balance of bass mids and high are hard to obtain at this budget. 🙂

      • Reply July 29, 2013

        Rawr

        Thanks for the reply! I can finally be at peace and purchase the SJ55. 😀

  • Reply August 1, 2013

    droidsg

    ATH-WS33X vs ATH-SJ55 which headphone can produce better sound quality?

    • Reply August 2, 2013

      Mike

      I haven’t tried the WS33X, sorry!

  • Reply September 1, 2013

    Abhinav Singh

    Hi! Are these on-the-ear or over-the-ear headphones?

    • Reply September 2, 2013

      Rawr

      On-the-ear sir.

      • Reply September 2, 2013

        Abhinav Singh

        Thanks!

    • Reply September 2, 2013

      Mike

      Hi,
      They are on ear.

      • Reply September 2, 2013

        Abhinav Singh

        Thanks, man!

  • Reply October 24, 2013

    kartik mutya

    Hi! which one has a better sound quality ath sj-55 or ath ws-55?
    and which one of these has better bass?

  • Reply December 8, 2013

    Bramantio

    i miss my sj55, had sold it and then bought m50 but to be honest sj55 was more enjoyable than m50

  • Reply January 2, 2014

    Sourav Kundu

    Thanks for this well written article, I’ll go with the SJ-55. 😀

  • Reply January 16, 2014

    Rohitashwa Barthwal

    Which one is better SJ33 or Sennheiser HD202 ?

    • Reply January 17, 2014

      Mike

      The HD202 has a more refined, bigger sound.

      • Reply January 17, 2014

        Rohitashwa Barthwal

        And what about Sony XB400?

        • Reply January 17, 2014

          Mike

          Not too familiar with that one, sorry.

          • Reply January 22, 2014

            Rohitashwa Barthwal

            Thanks

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