W1000X Grandioso

In the midst of all the “hot” releases surrounding the custom IEMs, the new flagship cans, as well as the new generation orthodynamics, it seems that this brilliant headphone from Audio Technica is not getting the attention that it deserves.

I am very amazed in everyway with the Audio Technica W1000X. But let’s start with the build quality. I have never seen the current flagship W5000 in person, but the W1000X is one of the most impressive headphone I have ever hold in my hand. No one will ever mistake the W1000X for a cheap cans. Its built is so elegant that it makes both the Hifiman HE-5 and the Alessandro MS-Pro look almost ghetto. The difference is not even close. If you take a Honda Civic and compare it to the flagship Lexus, the difference is still greater in the W1000X to HE-5 or MS-Pro. Surprising, really, considering both the HE-5 and the MS-Pro sells for roughly the same price as the W1000X, depending on where you live. (The Alessandro MS-Pro is actually the most expensive, but it does look the most grunge of the three)


Whenever I listen to the Hifiman HE-5, I somehow wish that some leather pads can be retrofitted to it, to improve its comfort. Not only does the pads doesn’t fit nicely, the weight of the headphone also gets annoying. The MS-Pro is a bit different. Almost identical to the Grado RS-1 in shape, the MS-Pro is very lightweight. It is no fuss to put on, and once you put it on your head, it just stays there. Though the bowl pad are not the best thing in comfort, I still prefer the overall feel of the MS-Pro to the HE-5. Enter the W1000X. Leather pads. Light weight. Improved Audio Technica designed wing support system. All these combination gives you a headphone that is not only very comfortable, they also feel very luxurious. The experience of wearing the W1000X can only be bettered by the Stax Omega 2, the Sony R10, and the Sennheiser HD800.

W1000X Grandioso
4.67 (93.33%) 3 votes

  • manaox

    Its pretty. Also makes me want a hamburger really bad.

  • Vince

    Love to hear how the W1000X compares to AT’s other “flagships”, the original W1000, and the W5000…

    • Mike

      I really want to compare it to the other flagships as well. W1000 is a bit tough, but W5000 may be possible. You want to send me a copy of the W5000, vince? 🙂

  • stefanusj

    great review, as usual, always neutral and always makes me want to try it myself. you should also review Denon D5000 and D7000, MarkL modded will be better. Because wanna know your opinion vs W1000 vs HD800

  • glac1er

    I listened to Mike’s W1000X setup yesterday. The review has pretty much nailed it. It has a full and smooth frequency balance with body and authority like the HD650 while besting the Senns in many ways. Still, this is a closed headphone and sounds like one, having a very different presentation from the airy and open sounding HE-5. I’m sure there will be polarizing opinions when choosing between them.

  • willy

    Great review. I feel like it's going to be a good match for Yamamoto HA-02 aestheticly and sonicly.

    • Roystenwong

      is the best matching

  • wenl

    Awsome review, have you try pairing W1000x with hm801/602? I’d love to know how good their synergy goes, thanks Mike!

  • greg

    Hi Mike & glac1er, would you care to elaborate more on how these compare to Sennheiser HD650? Thanks

    • Hi Greg, been a while since I last listened to the W1000X (the review dates January 27, 2010, I don't think I listened to it much after that). Both headphones have a first class sound, but here are some of the differences I can remember:
      1. Open vs Closed. Ultimately open designed headphones are free from any housing reverbs, in this case it is the HD650. As nice as the W1000X is, Hadi can't fully enjoy the sound since he's very sensitive to those kind of reverbs.
      2. Weight and Impact. The HD650 has a bass weight and impact that few other headphones can match. This also includes the W1000X.
      3. The soundstage image of the W1000X is much more clearer than the HD650.
      4. The W1000X has a more romantic presentation, and it'll be good for slower accoustic and vocal stuff. The HD650 is more impactful and has better PRaT — this will be a natural advantage for classical music and symphonies.
      5. The W1000X's treble needs a little tube action to get to proper levels. The HD650's treble is much safer and would be fine from any solid state amps.

  • Jim

    Hi Mike,

    Based on typical ATH house sound and elaborating your review, it seems that ATH-W1000X has speed, detail retrieval, forward midrange & treble, impact (the 3D soundstage is a plus).

    Then do you think it's better than Grado/Alessandro or any other cans you've tried for rock & punk with upfront sound presentation while engaging/fun?


    • Jim, the W1000X is a wonderful headphone, but doesn't nearly have the energy and speed for Rock or Punk. I think the decay is a little on the long side too. It works great for classical, accoustic, jazz and other pieces like that.

      I thought the AD2000 is supposed to be the ATH headphone for rock, though I've never heard it myself. Currently the HE5, the HE5LE, the LCD-2 are all the top headphones for rock.

      • Jim

        Do you think W1000X is great for mainstream pop, RnB, hip-hop?
        Any other fun cans do you think suitable for these genres? Not Grados please, they hurt my ears and head.
        I initially thought that ATHs are typically fast & aggressive along its product range, sorry if I’m mistaken.

        Based on your review of HE5LE and LCD-2, I guess they’re dark cans and not forward sounding/aggressive/fun.
        What makes them good for rock in your opinion?

        • Hi Jim,
          The W1000X would be okay for mainstream stuff. I think the refinement of the W1000X won’t be felt on regular mainstream recordings. ATH makes several different line ups, each with different sound signatures. The AD open full size, the W wood closed, the ES, the ESW, the M, to name a few. The W1000X is not too agressive, and I feel that it’s better for Jazz and Instrumentals and such. The AD2000 is supposedly the Audio Technica headphone for Rock, though I’ve never heard it personally.

          The HE5LE and the LCD-2 has better attack, PRaT, impact, and also speed than the W1000X. Those qualities are what make a good Rock headphone. Yes, they’re more dark sounding than bright, but I don’t think a rock headphone has to be bright sounding. Also, please don’t mix up dark sound with laid-back (that’s Sennheiser). The HE5LE, HE-6, and LCD-2 are dark, but they are still quite forward.

          • Jim

            Great opinion Mike, thanks.

            Well maybe I was mistaken that every rock cans should be bright, forward, & aggressive (as what people usually associate Grado to; it’s probably the best rock cans from most people’s vote though it’s really uncomfortable IMO)

            Yeah it’s true, I don’t like Sennheiser’s laid-back/distant sounding, I couldn’t reach the excitement of most mainstream stuffs and rock. Front rows in a concert is so much fun.

            • Thanks for sharing Jim. Rock needs to be forward and agressive, but perhaps not bright as many newer rock recordings are already quite bright.

              Have you tried the HD25-1? It is one of the best headphone for Rock.

              • Jim

                Ok, I got your points, thanks.

                Thanks Mike, but I'm not interested in HD25-1 since it's not full size, not over the ear, and maybe my personal phobia of Sennheiser signature (veiled perhaps as what people always mentioned).

                I guess I'm on the verge between ATH AD2000 or HE-6, but the problems are:

                1. I'm afraid that AD2000 lacks refinement of current flagship cans (though it got rave reviews few years back).

                2. HE-6 is said to perform its full potential on very expensive desktop amps, it's much harder to drive than HE-5LE based on Head-Fiers' initial impressions, some even said that it needs speaker amps rather than headphone amps 🙁

                Sorry to distract your W1000X article 🙂

                • You gotta pay for these off topic inquiries Jim. 😉

                  I think your points regarding the HE6 and AD2000 is quite valid.

                  The HE6 works quite well from the Matrix M-Stage and the Hifiman EF5 amps though, both being reasonably affordable amps. My personal favorite is the EF5 with the HE6. You can read more about it on the HE6 first impression article. Don't worry about that "HE-6 is said to perform its full potential on very expensive desktop amps". In a sense every headphone will sing if plugged in to expensive desktop amps, but you really don't need to go that far to enjoy the sound.

      • You can "fix" the long decay and "tighten" things up to a certain extent by opening up the cans and applying pieces of Dynamat or similar material on appropriate surfaces, e.g back of driver (cut hole for vent), along sides of wood cups, sides of the driver cage, sides of the metal housing. No need to overdo it though.

        It's similar in principle to the markl mods for the Denon.

        • Mike

          Thanks. Yes you can do that to just about any closed headphones.

        • Mike

          Actually, about the long decay, I'd like to see it more of the headphone's character and not a weakness. I think they have done a good job of producing a good, coherent tuning on this headphone and I'd rather not change anything about it.

          • I totally understand. I loved tonality of the W1000X, but not the slow speed. I wanted better capabilities for rock and pop. The modded cans still retain most of their original romantic character. It's not like you can turn these into Grados. 🙂

            • Mike

              That's awesome Marv. How do you feel the treble is for rock and pop?

              • Marv / purrin

                It’s definitely not a laid back can in terms of the treble (which can be good for rock/pop), but it’s so so incredibly smooth. The treble isn’t the most extended, but that’s probably expected given the large driver. Some pop tends to be recorded hot and the W1000X’s handle it well. The phones are plenty detailed and can reproduce the resolution from my best setup (PS Audio PWD DAC – > Apex Peak.) I’m really enjoying these right now.

                I just threw the dynamat mod idea out there for those folks who like rock/pop – this phone is definitely a viable option with the mods. I didn’t overdo it to retain some of it’s original character.

                Also, the W1000X’s maybe worthy or a re-cable.

                • Anonymous

                  I think the Apex amp is what helping you deal with the treble, because when I reviewed it, me and my friends couldnt handle the treble for pop recordings. We were using the the Auditor/Phonitor amps, Beta22 amp and the Grace. We did think that a tube would be the best pairing for that headphone – so I think you have a good set up there.

  • Barun

    HI Mike,
    I see you have talked about a lot of wood cans in your website. E.G. All the ATH models and the best Orthodynamic models. But have you tried the Fischer Audio FA-002 Wood Master Edition model. I'm using the red wood(8 stepped Ampitheater) version for about 3 months now. And they sound awesome out of my LD MK III( 6H30P DR ,WE403B and Tung Sol 6AK5). My DT990, HE5 sound no where close to what these babies can do. They are the first headphones I've got which give out a holographic, full bodied representation across all the frequencies. The imaging capabilities of these headphones are simply dead accurate. Please try to do a review of these cans as they are deserving of an article on your website.


    • Mike

      That is quite a praise for the Fischer, Barun. I will definitely look into it. Thanks!

  • T.F.O.A

    Hi Mike, i auditioned the w1000x for like 15 mins yesterday, i love how it sounds it’s just the treble once in a while gets a bit too loud for me, the bass and vocals are just perfect, do you know any other headphone that might fit my tast? doesn’t have to be w1000x price range, but sounds similar (though the treble issue could be because of the amp that the store uses) thanks.

    • Anonymous

      I had that same impression with the W1000X too.

      Aside from the W1000X I’ve also listened to the W2002 limited edition, and though the overall sound is mellower (less attacking treble too), I think overall the W1000X was the better, more well rounded headphone. (For instance the W2002 is really weak with bass).

      Perhaps you can try out the Denon D5000? I’ve never listened to it, but it’s supposed to be a fairly bassy headphone so the treble level may be lower.

      BTW I’m planning a W1000X vs W5000 article in the close future.

      • T.F.O.A

        Forgot to mention, i also tried the denon ah-d7000 and as crazy as this might sounds, the d7000 treble sounds even brighter than the w1000x, so the z1000 eh? I’ll look around if i can audition that, do you know any good amp that can go with the z1000 or w1000x? I’m planning to get the matrix mini-i, or do you think the matrix mini-i will be enough?

        • Anonymous

          I see.

          The Z1000 should be more moderate in the treble. It is also not that hard to drive, so you can pair it direct to a Dac/Amp box or a good portable player.

          • T.F.O.A

            Ah ok, so the matrix mini-i should work with the z1000 then, now then the other question is, anything like the z1000 but cheaper? it’s ex for $500! And this is gonna be my first entry to headphone.

            • Anonymous

              What is your budget? The Z1000 at $500 is cheaper than the W1000X.

              Why not start with a $100 headphone for your first one?

    • Anonymous

      Also try the Sony Z1000. It’s not quite the W1000X sound, but it’s a better all-rounder.

  • T.F.O.A

    Oh right, another question, do you think if i use a ‘dark’ headphone amp, like say the rsa sr71a, the treble problem on w1000x would be fixed?

    • Anonymous

      The SR71A is dark but not rolled off in the treble, so I think the treble would still come out. The best solution is to EQ down the treble, if you’re using a computer source.

  • T.F.O.A

    Well, my budget is around $250-$300, and one that the matrix mini-i can drive.
    Do you have any suggestion? I like how the w1000x sounds but again it’s costly.


    • Anonymous

      Have you listened to the M50? i suggest you start with that first. Get a relatively affordable amp like the JDSLabs Cmoy. Should be a good pairing.

      • T.F.O.A

        I did, and it sounded pretty good, but i’m thinking of getting a DAC anyway, that’s why i’m thinking of getting a headphone around $250-$300, any suggestion?


        • Anonymous

          HD600? i dont know, there are so many choices on that price bracket.

          • T.F.O.A

            Ok, i’ll give that one a try this weekend, i mean one that sounds like the w1000x, but with less treble.


            • Anonymous

              As I mentioned earlier, the w2002 sounds like a w1000x with less treble.

  • T.F.O.A

    Ok thanks a lot mike, btw where did you get your athw2002?

    • Anonymous

      It’s a limited edition discontinued model, and it was someone’s headphone, not mine.

  • Guest

    Do you prefer this or w5000? I have already got ed8,t5p,d7k and want to try something different.

    • Anonymous

      Working on getting a unit for review right now.

      Word is the W5000 is more refined but more picky in amplifier and set
      ups, less bass. The W1000X on the other hand is easier to enjoy, better
      bass section, but less refined from the W5000.

      You should put the Sony Z1000 in that list.

  • Katun

    What a great review! A very under appreciated headphone like this needs some attention. And in fact, I have a feeling I’ll be picking up a pair of these on Monday. I really hope they do well with the EF5. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

    • Anonymous

      Sound signature wise they should pair well with the EF5.

      • Katun

        Thanks. I’ll definitely be getting these then.

        Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait a few weeks longer, as I just spent it on the SRH940 and the Pro 700 MK2. Winner stays and challenges the W1000X!

        • Anonymous

          Not so sure about how the Shure and the Pro700 will go about challenging the W1000X.

          • Katun

            Me either, but you never no with me 😉

          • Anonymous

            Ever tried the Sony Z1000, Katun?

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  • joe

    mike..i had the chance to audition these cans today, and i am REALLY..REALLY impressed.. i’m really wondering why these are not popular.. i’m pretty sure that my current saving will be allocated for these now.. but, have you tried the w5000? i wonder how would the w1000x compare to the flagship model..

    • Anonymous


      I was going to do a W1000X – W5000 comparison but I think other things have took over it now. Word is that the W1000X is much more likeable, the W5000 being thinner sounding and is very picky about the amp and source.

      The guy in Stereo Singapore even recommended the W1000X over the W5000.

  • karrrrrrrrr

    mike, how do you compare this w1000x to ad1000prm?
    How about the bass department?

    • Anonymous

      W1000x’s bass is bigger and more impactful than the AD1000PRM. I think the W1000X is currently one of the most balanced and well rounded headphone in Audio Technica’s high end line up.

  • TTGL

    Hi, do you think the Fostex HP-A3 will work well with these? or should I look towards another amp/dac combo.


    • Anonymous

      It’s been a while since I listened to the W1000X but yes I think it should work well with the Fostex HP-A3.

  • Hi Mike, can you compare the mids on the W1000x to  K701/702? Which is best for vocals? thanks

    • Depends on the type of vocals and people’s listening preference. But overall the W1000X should be the better headphone for vocals. In fact the majority of the woody ATH headphones are good for vocals.

    • Depends on the type of vocals and people’s listening preference. But overall the W1000X should be the better headphone for vocals. In fact the majority of the woody ATH headphones are good for vocals.

  • Ertai

    Hi Mike, I would like to ask if the W1000X would pair with well with Govibe Portatube. Thanks

    • I actually have never tried that combo..

  • Kukye

    After reading your review it seems the W1000x sounds exactly like the ATH AD900.

    It shouldn’t be used for rock as it gets too sibiliant, brittle at loud and even medium levels.

    It is however TERRIFIC for classical, jazz, intsruments, and “easy” music etc., and puts to shame many headphones that should sound good with them, like the KOSS ESP which I believe the owners had in mind for them.

    After listening to the AD 900 it actually puts the Koss ESP to shame.

    However, I do find female voices not sounding as “sexy” as I would like them. They sound a little muffled. The KOSS ESP points this out and in return puts these phones to shame with female voices.

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