Audio-Technicais a name that's familiar to virtually everyone in the pro audio industry, and to many audiophiles as well. Since 1962, the company has been offering a wide range of products including phono cartridges, microphones, mixers, accessories - and headphones.
The Audio-Technica ATH-PRO5VA (suggested retail price: $119) is part of the company's professional audio headphones lineup, although they're also suited for consumer use. In fact, the distinction between "consumer," "professional" and "audiophile" headphones is often blurred these days.
• Read more audiophile headphone reviews on this resource page.
• Read a Bowers and Wilkins P5 Headphone Review from Andrew Robinson.
The ATH-PRO5VA is a closed-back design with swiveling earpieces that completely cover the ears and an adjustable cushioned headband. The earpieces are a circumaural design (they completely surround the ear), providing substantial isolation from outside noise.
The ATH-PRO5VA utilizes 40mm-diameter drivers with neodymium magnets, and has a high 103dB sensitivity, giving it the ability to deliver loud volume levels even when you are listening to devices with relatively modest output, such as an iPod. The ATH-PRO5VA's coiled connecting cord is terminated in a one-eighth-inch phone jack. A one-quarter-inch adapter is supplied.
The sound quality is rich and dynamic, thanks in large part to the comparatively large 40mm drivers. Unlike the case with many headphones, the bass here does not sound artificially boosted to give the illusion of "more bass." If the bass is on a recording, it's reproduced with punch and impact; if it isn't, you're not going to hear what the recording lacks. The headphones sound clear and clean, even when pushed to volumes that you really shouldn't subject yourself to. Like all good headphones, they sound spacious and dimensional, delivering an immersive listening experience in the true sense of the word.
The highs are clean and detailed. It's easy to hear sonic subtleties like studio reverb on vocals, the shimmering decay of a cymbal and the overtones of a well-miked acoustic guitar, but the ATH-PRO5VA does not deliver the detail that top-level headphones can provide (including some of Audio-Technica's more expensive models). The headphones' sonic limitations are subtractive, meaning that you might not hear every single subtlety on a recording, but the ATH-PRO5VA doesn't add any stridency, bloated bass or exaggerated treble. The sonic character of a particular recording comes through clearly, and the headphones are excellent for use in home recording studios to assess the quality of a mix.
Everyone has differently-shaped ears, so the comfort of a set of headphones can vary among individual wearers. Some online buyers have noted that the headphones bother them after extended use, while for others it's a non-issue. In any case, at $119 retail and with street prices for much less, these headphones have to be considered an excellent bargain.
Read The High Points and The Conclusion on Page 2