Audio-Technica ATH-W5000 Headphone Reviews

Manufacturer Audio-Technica Model ATH-W5000
Headphone Type Closed Circumaural Headband Type Double
Weight (g) 340 Driver Type Dynamic
Enclosure Material Wood Isolation (dB) 10
Impedance (ohms) 40 Cable Length (cm) 300
Frequency Response (Hz) 5 - 45000  
Connector 6.5mm Street Price US$800
Buy from  
Average reviewer scores
Bass Extension 8.0 Bass Impact 7.6
Bass Quality 8.2 Mids Quality 8.0
Highs Quality 8.4 Soundstage 7.0
Detail 8.6 Portability 1.6
Isolation 5.6 Comfort 8.4
Durability 8.2 Improvement With Amplification 7.6
Value for Money 6.2    
Overall Score 8.3 Total Reviews 5

Please log in to add your review


Reviews by our members

Review by Senior Member Welly Wu on 02 Mar 10  04:36
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality9
Mids Quality10
Highs Quality9

Audio Technica ATH-W5000 Review

The Audio Technica ATH-W5000 “Raffinato” are the current top of the line pair of closed headphones within the company's headphone portfolio. The MSRP is $1669.95, but the street price is approximately $650 - $700 USD.


* Striped ebony housing provides superb acoustic characteristics
* Ear pads cushioned in leather feature A-T’s ultra-comfortable total ear fitting design
* 53 mm drivers (equipped with neodymium magnet systems) designed exclusively for the W5000
* Driver unit incorporates a Permendur magnetic circuit with exceptional magnetic characteristics
* High-quality 8N-OFC (oxygen free copper) voice coils for ultra-efficient signal transfer
* Lightweight magnesium alloy frame
* Double Air Damping System for deep bass reproduction
* 3D Wing Support provides stable, comfortable fit
* Y-cable features an elastomer sheath that helps prevent tangles
* Includes padded, protective hard-shell case for safe, convenient storage
* Gold-plated ¼” (6.3 mm) stereo connector provides exceptional corrosion resistance, superb conductivity, low noise

Fit and Finish:
I had no problems with the fit of the ATH-W5000 “Raffinato” headphones and there are no sound leakage or slippage issues. Others have reported fitting issues due to the 3D Wing Support upon the shapes of their head.

Sound Quality:
These headphones exhibit an accurate timbre reproduction compared to live music. For example, keystrokes upon pianos have a percussive sound while cymbals have enough shimmer without sounding splashy. On Diana Krall's The Very Best of Diana Krall CD, the piano that she plays sounds realistic and her sultry voice comes through with luscious warmth. They possess a very high degree of transparency to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of any style of music. In terms of overall presentation, the ATH-W5000 sounds neither overly warm or neutral: they just sound open and natural except in the upper mid-range which sounds slightly warm especially when reproducing female vocals. The “Raffinato” possesses a very high degree of resolution; overall, resolution and detail retrieval are top drawer compared to the AKG K 701 headphones. Renee Fleming's Sacred Songs CD showcases her majestic vocal range and she sounds silky smooth and refined while effortlessly filling the sound stage with glorious music. On the matter of sound stage, the ATH-W5000 paint a very wide, tall, and deep canvas to showcase the musicians. Within that expansive sound stage comes precise imaging that is spot on. Each musician and instrument occupies its own airy space. On one hand, Ms. Fleming's is a soprano and trebles sound smooth, well extended, and airy with just a touch of warmth in the uppermost echelons. On the other hand, bass notes come through clearly with a very high degree of textured resolution and speed. However, they lack weight and slam compared to other headphones and there is some roll-off on the deepest bass notes. Macro-dynamics are hyper fast so as to keep tempo with the music. Finally, listeners need not turn up the volume by much to hear their music at comfortably safe levels. The ATH-W5000 “Raffinato” are easily the very best pair of cans that I have had the pleasure of ownership.

Review by Senior Member chunkage on 02 Jun 08  03:57
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact8
Bass Quality6
Mids Quality7
Highs Quality8

The W5000 has ebony cups, leather ear pads, and a satin lined hard case - the opening arguments in an overall convincing product. These are luxury headphones that try for a sound that's "just right." Fans of bass boost or squeaky treble can apply elsewhere.

- The W5000 is exceptionally soft, and the black leather is rather cooling. It doesn't clamp onto your ears as tightly as other phones, which may play a role.

- Despite the closed architecture, these phones offer good (but not sterling) clarity combined with a tasteful bass. The bottom part of the pads are angled up to effectively funnel the music - which seems to work. I couldn't locate any sound on the 0-50hz bandwidth; bass is present, but easily powerful enough to handle a range of music. But as a bonus, the sonorities in classical music are true and concise (a virtue most other closed phones can't claim). That said, the sound can be a little fickle until you find the right source and amp.

- Is wood an issue? In terms of elegant looks, absolutely. But there's little evidence that ear cup material will improve your listening experience. The drivers and overall design play a vastly more important role - even cup size, which increases sound stage.

- Some have claimed that the W5000 can be rather loose-fitting (or have "rattling") - but not for my pair. In fact, the dual wire assembly on top allows the user to adjust the pressure - a feature shared with with other Audio-Technica phones. Given the potential build-up of heat, it's nice to have the option to "loosen up."

- "Wing support" works considerably better than it did for the AD2000, which was flimsy in comparison. Two soft supports rest on top of your head, reducing downward stress. The effect is subtle, but silent and effective.

- The W5000 has an impressive ability to play a variety of music well. There's plenty of sound without having to depend on an amp.

- Soundstage and imaging can vary somewhat, depending on how the phones sit on your years. Although closed phones, their sound seems more open than you'd guess - but don't expect the expansive soundstage of a K701 or DT880.

- Despite the flight case that accompanies the W5000, this cannot be considered a "portable" phone. On the other hand, its good looks make it perfect for display.

Review by Senior Member Iron_Dreamer on 01 Jul 07  12:39
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality9
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality9

After a year of listening to the Sony MDR-SA5000 almost exclusively, a headphone finally came along tempting enough to challenge it. Also a Japanese top-production-model, one has to wonder if the model-number for this headphone was designed to take a shot across Sony's bow.

The result? When listening to the W5000, I have no desire to listen to the SA5000, because I feel I am not missing anything, and taking in a more enjoyable listening session to boot.

The W5000 takes the foundation of great detail retrieval the SA5000 is well-known for, and builds a more coherent, realistic, and ultimately rewarding sound upon it.

The bass goes to a typical depth for high-end headphones, though not exceptional. Bass performance is full and impactful without being overbearing or masking higher frequencies. Though very tight and well controlled, the bass is also very textured and detailed.

As good as the bass performance is, I feel the midrange is the true strength of the W5000. It is certainly the best midrange of any headphone I've owned, with a presence and realism that is thoroughly engaging. It is often said that the midrange is where the music lives, and this is quite evident when listening to the W5000, as instruments and vocals across the spectrum spring to life and involve the user. The midrange does not have as upfront a presentation as most Grado headphones, though it is certainly not laid-back.

The high end does not disappoint either, with a very clear and detailed, yet surprisingly smooth performance. The treble response extends right up to the limits of my hearing, and presumably beyond, though despite the lack of audible roll-off I have not heard the sound become harsh, sibilant, or grainy. As much as I had thought the SA5000 had a smooth treble, the W5000 exposes the SA5000’s slightly hardened treble presentation.

Due to the aforementioned issue of coherency, the soundstage, though not the widest, is very continuous and precise. The soundstage does project beyond the earcups, and is more above-average in height and depth than width. While it is not as surreal to listen to trace with as say the CD3000 or K1000, the virtual venue it provides for acoustic music is very enveloping, intimate, and believeable.

The W5000 is well made with a mix of hard plastic and metal complementing the beautiful wooden earcups. It seems it will hold up well over time, as one would expect from a product in this price class. The included case is hardly industrial strength, but gets the job of keeping the headphones safe done well, and does not look unattractive either.

The pads are very soft leather, which contributes to the W5000's excellent comfort. The only issue I have is one of heat-build up, endemic to all closed headphones. Some have reported that the headphone doesn't apply enough pressure to get a good fit, while I find the low clamping force conducive to comfort, so be warned: YMMV. Acoustic isolation is rather low for a closed headphone, better than the CD3000, but worse than the DT770, for instance. However, it is still much better than open headphones for listening despite background noise, and of course minimizes leakage.

Due to the W5000's low impedance and high efficiency, an amplifier is hardly necessary, and I recommend you only bother with a higher-end amplifier when using them with a non-portable source. The loose fit, large size, relatively high cost, and wooden cups make them less than ideal for portable use, though it's certainly not impossible.

I initially balked at the W5000's due to its price; however my time with them so far has proven them to be more than worthwhile. Between the sonics, build, looks, and comfort, they are the real deal.

Update: Having used these headphones recabled with a balanced amp for a while, I can report that they do show some worthwhile gains from balanced drive. The bass becomes a bit more immediate and impactful than when driven single-ended. Also, the soundstage is noticeably wider with better instrument separation.

My Ratings:
Bass Extension: 8
Bass Impact: 7
Bass Quality: 9
Mids Quality: 8
Highs Quality: 9
Soundstage: 7
Detail: 8
Portability: 1
Isolation: 3
Comfort: 9
Durability: 8
Improvement with Amplification: 7
Value for the Money: 7

Review by Senior Member humanflyz on 16 Jan 07  13:05
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality8
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality7

This is what my setup looks like:
Lavry DA10-->W5000 (I'm using the Lavry's headphone amp)

1) Bass extension: Very good, I didn't feel like I missed anything in the bass region. On Massive Attack's "Angel", which has some really really low bass in the very beginning, the W5000s were able to extend enough that I heard the low rumble.

2) Bass Impact: The impact is of the tight, snappy kind, not the subwoofer-like punch. The sense of "snap" really adds to the overall PRaT of the W5000s.

3) Bass Quality: The bass quality is overall very good; bass is textured, not muddy and thumpy. It has really snappy impact; but not enough to satisfy the bass-head, because bass lacks the body that bass-heads crave.

4) Mids: This is my biggest complaint about this headphone. There is a weird coloration in the upper-midrange that creates a hollow sound, especially for vocals. Female listeners sound "echo-y" and plastic, and male vocals lose some body. Acoustic instruments can sound downright brittle on some recordings. But other than this coloration, the midrange is very good; it is placed forward into the soundstage, thus making things very exciting and immediate. But I just can't get over that coloration in the upper-midrange.

5) Highs: Like the bass, the highs are very extended. It is not shout-y or too forward.

6) Soundstage: For a closed headphone, the W5000s have pretty good soundstage. Compared to open headphones, the size of the soundstage is a lot smaller, but the imaging of the W5000s is very good: it is very precise so you know exactly where each instrument is coming from. And for a closed headphone, there is a lot of air between the notes.

7) Detail: The W5000s have excellent detail retrieval: you will hear pretty much everything on the recording. Granted, it's not the best I've heard, but it comes really close.

8) Comfort: These feel very comfortable, provided that you can get a good seal, and this depends on the size of your head. If you have a small head, it will be somewhat hard to get a good seal, because the W5000s are pretty large.

9) Isolation: Although they are closed, the isolation is not that great. You can still hear ambient noises from outside. But on the other hand, these phones leak very little, if at all.

10) Improvement with Amplification: Volume-wise, the W5000s work fine even out of an iPod. However, with good amplification, they go to another level. But due to their low-impedance and high-sensitivity, they will tell you exactly how much noise your system might have.

11) Value for money: Personally I think they are over-priced at their current retail price. But they do inspire pride of ownership, and if you happen to like their sound signature, they do make a very nice pair.

My overall impression:
It may sound like that I don't have anything good to say about them, but that is not the case. I think the W5000s are a pair of excellent phones: its technical abilities are great. It has very good extension, impactful and textured bass, great PRaT, an exciting upfront sound, and great looks. However, the midrange coloration that I mentioned make them sound plastic-ky and hollow on a lot of my music. However, some people prefer that type of sound signature, and for them I would imagine that the W5000s are excellent. But these are just not for me.

Review by Senior Member slwiser on 14 Aug 06  04:23
Individual review
Bass Extension9
Bass Impact9
Bass Quality9
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality9

I am using these headphones with the Audio-Technica amplifier that they built for this headphone, the AT-HA5000.

My review needs to be understood as being influenced by that amplifier. The AT-W5000 is a beautiful sounding headphone when powered by this amplifier.

Bass extension is excellent, 9
Bass impact is powerful, excellent, 9
Bass quality is very much under control of the amp at 9

Mid Qualities are not hidden at all by the bass at 9
Highs are very well controlled with no sibilance at 9
Soundstage is as good as I have heard. Since I have not heard those most talked about I have to reign in my enthusium a bit here at an 8

Detail of this headphone is almost unbelievable for me. It is more detailed than the Ety4s at a 8 maybe I should have given it a 9 but I didn't.

Portability is rated at 3 since I can take it to work it is not really not made to be carried around. But since it is so good it almost pulls you into wanting not to part with them so they have to be at least somewhat considered portable just because of their hold on me.

Isolation is very good since I can listen while my wife is watching TV without either of us having a problem. I think it isolates better from inside to outside as opposed from outside to in. Here I give it a 7

Comfort is rated at an 8. We could always be a little more comfortable while having headphones on.

Durability is rated at an 8

Improvement with Amplification: Since I prefaced this review with the note about this being a review using the Audio-Technica AT-HA5000 amplifier I have to give this an 9 which is very good for a headphone that has such great response normally.

Value for money is very subjective: I have to give it a 9 from me since this headphone sounds almost like Live music to me and for those others who have had the pleasure of hearing my setup.

Overall there may be better, more technical and detailed headphones available. But the ATH-W5000 and HA-5000 just rings out ones emotions for you to experience the venue, composer's mind and artist's emotions. It moves me to a place that you would have to experience it to understand what I am saying. Music without emotion is not what music is suppose to be. Music is suppose to take you in a place where realities otherwise not possible to experience are made reality.

Audio-Technica ATH-W5000
Audio-Technica ATH-W5000
Audio-Technica ATH-W5000