Audio Technica ATH-AWAS review

Audio Technica ATH-AWAS.

Comparisons. 

 

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Vs Focal Stellia

To date, the Focal closed-back flagship has been my benchmark in terms of closed-back headphone performance, and this being the case they’re extremely interesting to compare with the ATH-AWAS. Whereas the Stellia is all bombast and dynamics, the ATH-AWAS applies a more delicate, deft brush-stroke. Tonally, the Stellia has a sharper, more metallic edge to its voice and loses out to the Audio Technica’s more natural, organic tone. The Stellia certainly sounds more like a closed-back headphone and doesn’t manage to cope with cup resonance and controlling bass ‘boom’ as well as the ATH-AWAS. However, The Stellia nudges ahead of the ATH-AWAS in terms of ultimate resolution, as well as image structure and clarity – it’s a more immersive net experience. 

Audio Technica ATH-AWAS.

Audio Technica ATH-AWAS.

Vs ZMF Eikon

The big ZMF dynamics sound a little wonky side-by-side with the ATH-AWAS, the linear frequency response of the Audio Technica points-out some peakiness around the 5kHz-mark in the Eikon. Sub-bass is more prominent and better-extended in the Eikon, but it feels lacking in treble energy and detail versus the ‘goldilocks’ highest octave of the ATH-AWAS, whose treble balance continually impressed me in terms of never once sounding harsh nor fatiguing, while always impressing as a superbly resolving pair of headphones.

Vs Fostex TH909

Another Japanese flagship, the TH909 is an aesthetic match for the ATH-AWAS with its incredible hand-laquered Cherry birch finish, but definitely creates a more aggressive, ‘look-at-me’ vibe with its fiery red cups. It’s a more aggressive-sounding headphone as well, with more bass quantity, a forward mid-range, and snappier treble. The TH909 is livelier, more drama-filled listen compared to the ATH-AWAS, and being open-back it naturally delivers greater staging in terms of both height and width. Fans of a more finessed tone will lean towards the Audio Technica, while those looking for a more engaging experience will probably prefer the Fostex flagship. 

Vs Astell&Kern AK T5p V2

The ATH-AWAS wipes the floor with the similarly-priced portable Beyerdynamic/Astell&Kern closed-back. Tonally, the AK T5p can’t hold a candle to the Audio Technica, whose natural timbre and mid-range body make the AKT5p sound boxy and hollow. 

Audio Technica ATH-AWAS.

Audio Technica ATH-AWAS.

Vs Audio Technica ATH-ADX5000

When I reviewed the ATH-ADX5000 last year I was singularly impressed with the incisive, detailed nature of the open-back flagship of the Audio Technica range. It’s a technically brilliant pair of headphones, and it also makes for an interesting headphone to complement its wooden, closed-back relative. Moving from the ATH-AWAS to the ATH-ADX5000, it’s almost shocking how much extra bite and detail there is in the ATH-ADX5000. It’s no doubt a spicey-sounding treble, and honestly probably too much for some. The ATH-AWAS sounds like a layer of silk has been layered over its top-end, by comparison, making for a smoother, less fatiguing listen. 

The ATH-AWAS actually doesn’t sound that closed-back compared to the open-backed ATH-ADX5000 in terms of soundstage width, which is as much a compliment to the ATH-AWAS as it is an observation on the ATH-ADX5000’s relatively intimate staging. Both headphones offer similar levels of bass quantity, although the ATH-ADX5000’s bass is superior in terms of texture, speed, and decay. These two Audio Technic models make a terrific spiritual match for one another, offering enough difference in terms of both form-factor and voicing to consider having them to sit alongside one another in a collection. 

Head over to page 4 to read more about the AWAS.

4.3/5 - (26 votes)

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Hailing from Sydney's eastern beaches, Matty runs his own beer business, 'Bowlo Draught', as well as working in creative advertising. When he's not enjoying his hifi and vinyl collection at home, he can probably be found rolling-up on the green at his beloved Bondi Bowling Club.

12 Comments

  • Reply July 21, 2020

    Dylan

    Nice review. You need to add the WP900 to your reviews to complete the story.

    • Reply July 22, 2020

      Matty Graham

      I definitely plan on arranging a full review for these – I was super-impressed after a quick five-minute listen. Watch this space!

  • Reply July 22, 2020

    Gray

    Great write-up mate. Would love your take on Sony’s MDR-Z1R. I’m aware there’s a review on the site but it does not go into that much detail.

    • Reply July 22, 2020

      Matty Graham

      Cheers mate, I appreciate it. It’s been a good few years since I heard the MDR-Z1R – I had about 20 minutes listening to it on a Ragnarok V1/Yggdrasil stack. I remember being wow-ed by the build and design, and impressed by its laid-back and smooth-sounding signature. It’s actually a headphone that I’ve always wanted as a part of my personal collection, but I’ve never got around to it. Thanks for reminding me to check it out again!

  • Reply July 22, 2020

    Disha Shengale

    Thanks for the review Matty. This is one excellent pair of headphones. But I guess it’s a bit too costly at the $1899 price range and there are plenty other models that can match the quality of it.

    • Reply July 22, 2020

      Dylan

      Judging by the headphones you link to in your website, I think you might have a problematic understanding of the term “quality” unless one considers the “boAt Rockerz 400 Bluetooth Headphone with Super Extra Bass” a quality item.

  • Reply August 6, 2020

    Tibor

    I hope you will treat us with better pictures here as well. These cans are so gorgeous, it has to be something to hold them in own hands. The craftsmanship is stellar.
    I did lost a bit of interest in headfonia few years ago, but now I really enjoy it again.
    Thanks to you. Good job, great articles. You have our praise.
    Thank you
    Tibor

  • Reply September 7, 2020

    Headphone connoisseur

    I have a pair and am impressed by the organic Timbre. Something even my stax sr9 can’t replicate. Great review.

  • Reply March 2, 2021

    Josh

    Nice review and after reading a couple on the AWAS it’s a headphone on my shortlist especially after getting the AP2000ti a few months ago which has become one of my favorite headphones. These sound like they’d compliment them well since the AP2000ti is on the brighter side of neutral and these seem to be a bit warmer in tone which I like.

    Speaking about the AP2000ti that’s a headphone I think should get a review because it sounds really good with a lot of detail and surprisingly good bass. While they are on the bright side they aren’t harsh sounding to me but some female vocals can get close to being a bit much but so far haven’t crossed that line yet.

  • Reply March 19, 2021

    Dean

    I never heard about ATH-AWAS headphones type, and I’m shocked by knowing how amazing it is! thanks a lot for sharing such a unique knowledge with us, have a good day!

  • Reply June 23, 2021

    sszorin

    I can not understand why nobody has done a comparative review of ATH-AWAS and ath-W3000ANV. There just isn’t one on the whole planet-wide internet. It is very annoying because this comparison should have been made right at the time when AWAS was introduced to the reviewers and the audio-tech consumers.
    Are AWAS just a tweaked headphones version of W3000ANV ? Or, are they a further development of W3000ANV and an improvement ?
    It is clear that ATH-AWKT’s “ancestor” are ATH-W5000 and that the AWKT exhibit a substantial improvement of W5000’s sound but, is it the same with AWAS in relation to W3000ANV ?

  • Reply July 8, 2022

    Wayne

    Hi Matty, still using the wp900 now connected to a dfly cobalt dac. I really enjoy this setup a lot. If I get the awas expecting more of the same, but better imagery and soundstage, would I get that ?

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