Audio-Technica ATH-L3000 Headphone Reviews

Headphone Details
Manufacturer Audio-Technica Model ATH-L3000
Headphone Type Closed Circumaural Headband Type Double
Weight (g) 380 Driver Type Dynamic
Enclosure Material Wood Isolation (dB) 10
Impedance (ohms) 48 Cable Length (cm) 300
Frequency Response (Hz) 5 - 45000  
Connector 6.5mm Street Price US$2000
Buy from Amazon.com  
Average reviewer scores
Bass Extension 9.9 Bass Impact 9.6
Bass Quality 9.6 Mids Quality 8.9
Highs Quality 8.6 Soundstage 7.3
Detail 8.3 Portability 3.9
Isolation 6.9 Comfort 8.7
Durability 8.4 Improvement With Amplification 7.9
Value for Money 7.9    
Overall Score 8.8 Total Reviews 7

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Reviews by our members

Review by Senior Member Iron_Dreamer on 23 Jul 09  16:12
Individual review
Bass Extension10
Bass Impact10
Bass Quality9
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality8
Detail9
Comfort8
Durability9
Value6

The L3000 is known as one of the top headphones ever made, and as the others have spelled out so well, for good reason! While an initial encounter with the L3000 might leave one impressed by their build quality and prodigious bass, further listening reveals that there is much more to them.

I was most surprised by the depth, separation, and detail of the midrange. Subtle details that I'd never noticed with any of my previous headphones (SA5000, W5000 included) were evident on some well-known recordings. The L3000 is certainly much more revealing than its' reputation as a bass king would lead one to believe. The midrange also does not sacrifice superb timbre for detail. While it is not quite as impressive in that respect as the MDR-R10, it is certainly amongst the elite ranks.

And of course the bass is consistently impressive, in that for having as deep and powerful a bass response, it never sounds bloated, sloppy or overdone. It is certainly the best bass of any headphone I've ever owned, with a combination of texture and slam that is truly impressive. That said, bass is not imposed onto recordings that are by nature bass-light, and nor do bassier recordings become overwhelming.

The only real "flaws" of this headphone, if you could call them that (only by comparison to the other elite headphones) , are a very slight high-end roll-off, and a soundstage that is smaller than most rivals. The soundstage is very intimate and inviting, but not as impressively large and airy as headphones like the Qualia 010. Nor does the L3000 do the very highest of highs the justice that headphone can, but for all the L3000's strenghts, these drawbacks are relatively minor.

Physically, these headphones are very impressively put together, and the most confidence-inspiring of all Audio-Technica's I've dealt with. However, their solidity does mean that they're a bit heavier, which only makes a noticeable difference in comfort for 3+ hour listening sessions. Otherwise, the A-T wing system and great leather pads make for a very comfortable listening experience. The leather also makes for better isolating properties than any other closed A-T's I've used.

Overall the L3000 is a superb high-end headphone, best suited to the playback of amplified or electronic music. Though it does sound very good with acoustic and orchestral music, I feel those genres are best left to headphones with the open, airy sound (like the electrostatics, Qualia, K1000, etc.). Build quality, comfort, and presentation are certainly what one would expect from a true high-end product.

My Ratings:
Bass Extension: 10
Bass Impact: 10
Bass Quality: 9
Mids Quality: 9
Highs Quality: 8
Soundstage: 7
Detail: 9
Portability: 2
Isolation: 6
Comfort: 8
Durability: 9
Improvement with Amplification: 8
Value for the Money: 7

Review by Senior Member j-pak on 30 Aug 07  08:51
Individual review
Bass Extension10
Bass Impact10
Bass Quality10
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality8
Detail8
Comfort9
Durability9
Value7

Associated equipment at time of review:

Source: North Star M192, M-Audio Transit (lineout to portable amp)
Amp: Melos SHA-1, Maxed M^3, MisterX XP-mini
Other headphones: AKG K1000, Grado HF-1, Sennheiser HD580

The L3000 is a seductive headphone that is very musical, they handle every genre except for very large symphony music exceptionally well. Next to the K1000 they are my reference headphones.

Bass - extension, texture, quality, quantity is all perfect. The bass is actually very balanced with respect to the rest of the spectrum, but they still possess incredible bass impact. The bass is not boomy, instead very textured and detailed.

Mids - highly detailed midrange which sounds very good with male and female vocals. Reproduces electrical guitar better than any headphone I've heard. The perfect balance, they aren't really laid back or pushed very forward.

Highs - the highest highs are slightly more laid back compared to the rest of the frequencies. Makes for excellent long term listening. Not as dark as the classic Sennheiser line.

Soundstage - above average in size, somewhere in between a Grado and a Sennheiser. Imaging is its real strong point which is razer sharp.

Detail - very good detail retrieval but not quite as revealing as my K1000.

Comfort - very comfortable, the wings support most of the weight. Leather earpads can get hot after many hours of use.

Isolation - great isolation. With music playing at the lower volumes I listen at I can't hear anything going on outside (with my window open).

They scale very well with better source and amps. I was without my main setup for a while and it was a big step backwards in quality using portable components.

The L3000 have become hard to find on the used market and have gone up in price. I still feel they are a good value if you can audition them and you really like the sound. Audio Technica Japan will still service them, and their service is supposed to be second to none. They've brought me many hours of listening pleasure. They aren't the last word in transparency but they're very inviting and addicting to listen to.

Review by Senior Member KrooLism on 25 Mar 07  03:06
Individual review
Bass Extension9
Bass Impact10
Bass Quality10
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality8
Detail7
Comfort9
Durability9
Value7

Had a listen to these at the Sydney Head-Fi meet on Mar 24 2007.

Amped through multiple high end sources.

Past reviewers have rated the bass extension as a perfect 10 with the impact and quality being nines. I've rated the opposite. I've heard bassier headphones, but in terms of impact and quality, this one is definitely one of the best out there.

Mids, Treble and Soundstage I've rated as an 8. Partly because I prefer open headphones and I can feel the "closedness" on the headphones.

Detail is rated a 7 compared with K-1000's which IMO is the perfect 10.

Though the leather is not very isolating (5), I found this headphone incredibly comfortable and durable.

As with all headphones, they all improve with amplification.

7 rating for value for money. I would definitely buy one.

Review by Senior Member 909 on 18 Feb 07  14:13
Individual review
Bass Extension10
Bass Impact9
Bass Quality10
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality9
Detail9
Comfort9
Durability8
Value9

In general, the ATH-L3000s are upfront with an intimate soundstage. These headphones are amazing especially in the overall presentation and musicality. One way to describe the L3000s is clear, focused, and dynamic, which conveys a lifelike listening experience without fatigue.

These headphones are able to keenly key in on each aspect of the sound without taking away any other. Although, the focus is a tidbit more on the highs and the lows, it doesnít overpower the mids and the low level details are certainly easy to hear.

Most headphones have difficult getting drums right, the L3000s come the closest in a dynamic headphone. They have a nice and natural visceral impact while remaining taut and completely under control with beautiful tonality. Itís not just quantity, but quality.

In fact, all instruments have a realism and lifelike quality. When an electric guitar needs gut wrenching crunch they deliver in spades. Chimes, bells, clocks, cymbals, horns and brass, pianos, acoustic guitars, strings, male and female voices, etc, etcÖ are all taken to this same level, which really gets the listener engaged in the music.

The ATH-L3000s are my favorite dynamic headphones and the best Iíve heard for rock and jazz. The L3000s are great for classical as well, but concession must be made to the R10 in that genre as well as big bands and large orchestras.

Iíve heard quite a few of the top dynamic headphones such as the W5000, K-1000, RS-1s, GS-1000s, HP-1 & HP-2, PS-1 and the R10s among others.

Review by Senior Member mulveling on 10 Jan 06  10:17
Individual review
Bass Extension10
Bass Impact10
Bass Quality9
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality9
Detail9
Comfort8
Durability9
Value9

I absolutely love these headphones. Of all the cans I've owned, the L3000 is my favorite. The build quality, look, feel and even smell are all world class, but I'll be focusing on the sound in this review :)
My system is currently: Meridian G08 -> HGA Silver Lace -> Singlepower SDS w/ NOS tubes -> L3000

Overall Balance:
On the dark side of neutral. Not dark enough to be considered heavily colored, but the HP1000 and W2002 are closer to neutrality. The L3000 is slightly darker than the HD650.

Bass:
Best bass in a headphone - ever. It goes deeper than any other can. There is a LOT of it, but it's very well behaved. It can be as tight and snappy as the HP1000 (and I consider this the HP1000's strength) when it needs to be - like with fast/prog rock - and it can be big, voluminous, skull shaking, and absolutely immersive when it needs to be - like during some orchestral movements. The immersive power of the L3000's bass is what makes it more speaker-like in this respect than any other headphone. If you love bass, no other headphone will do.

Midrange:
Lush, warm, smooth. A high-end AT trademark, the midrange is very forward and intimate. Vocals are very present and realistic. None of the honkiness or cavernous sound that can plague lower-end closed ATs is detectable (I've heard traces of this on the A100Ti and the W10vtg). The L3000 and W2002 have easily the best midrange of any AT cans - in fact, they have the best midrange in any can I've heard, period. The HP1000 also has a very liquid midrange and comes close, but not quite. The HD650 seems to place a layer or grit and grain over the midrange. The K1000 midrange had even more grain. The W5000 just isn't as refined as its predecessors.

Treble:
While slightly recessed, the treble is still well extended and has incredible "sparkle" - more so than the HP1000 and HD650 w/Zu. It's also completely smooth and grainless; clearly besting the HD650 and giving nothing up to the HP1000 in this regard.

Soundstage:
Medium sized; between the Grados and the Sennheisers (580/600/650). Along with its forward midrange, this gives the L3000 the ability to render a very intmate, mid-sized venue presentation. Intimacy is the key word here. Imaging within the soundstage is fantastic. In Diana Krall - Livin In Paris, it sometimes feels like you're in the same room with Krall (at least moreso than with other headphones ;)).

Technical Ability:
Instrument separation and resolution are tops. Only the W2002 with its matching HA2002 amp can keep pace. Lesser headphones will blur notes together when the music gets fast and complex. You'll have to go to high end speakers (> $2.5K) to do much better than the L3000 in this area.

Genre Synergy:
The L3000 handles all genres of music equally well. Jazz, rock, vocals, classical, acoustic, etc. There's nothing they won't handle exceptionally well - as opposed to other all 'rounder cans, which are merely "good" on some genres, and "very good" at best. They're true all around performers. These can be your one and only headphone, even if you listen to a wide variety of material. While the W2002 can keep up with the L3000 in many technical categories, here's where they fall short - the W2002 is a more of a genre specific headphone.

Emotional Effect & Fun Factor:
The L3000 is the best at conveying the emotion and power within music, thanks to the rare combination of bass slam/impact, intimate presentation, pleasing balance, and technical ability all in one headphone. This is traditionally one of the greatest advantages loudspeakers have over headphones, however IME the L3000 can keep pace with and even best most (if not all) speakers in the under $2K/pair price range (and some much more expensive speakers too). The L3000 is actually a great value, well worth the price of admission IMO.

* Please note that my review is based off comparisons to the headphones I've owned or auditioned extensively. You can check out that list in my profile.

Review by Senior Member Snufkin on 24 Dec 04  02:25
Individual review
Bass Extension10
Bass Impact9
Bass Quality10
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality9
Detail8
Comfort9
Durability7
Value8

While this is a very expensive headphone I find that it really is a "package" product. In some cases you really do pay for sound quality alone, and aspects like looks, build or just overall presentation, appeal and attractiveness of a product can suffer.
All the way from the box it's packed in to the sound of the headphone is top notch. They smell great, feel great and sound fantastic. If you took away the presentation I'd say the headphones would be worth significantly less, but they're a true connoisseur's product.
True, they aren't the most "technically" superior headphone I've heard, but there's something about the sound that's supremely enjoyable to listen to - they don't let a poor recording get in the way of a good song, but the details of the poor recording are still presented.

Review by Senior Member ayt999 on 17 Dec 04  01:33
Individual review
Bass Extension10
Bass Impact9
Bass Quality9
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality9
Detail8
Comfort9
Durability8
Value9

I've owned these headphones for about a year now and still is one of my favorites despite getting other headphones in the meantime. the sound is colored, but it gives the headphone warmth and is very pleasant to listen to. the sound is very balanced and although the speed could be improved slightly, it definitely has the audio-technica flavor that I like a lot.

Audio-Technica ATH-L3000
Audio-Technica ATH-L3000