You know a headphone is expensive when it has a serial number. Audio-Technica’s ATH-W3000ANV headphone review sample was #1505 (the MSRP for the headphone is $1,299.95, though street pricing may be considerably lower). As befits a 50th anniversary model, these headphones came in a deluxe leatherette finished box with a slipcase and a handwritten note from Audio-Technica’s founder, Kazuo Matsushita. Audio-Technica even included a small velveteen bag to hold the headphone cable, but none for the headphones themselves (I guess A-T figures the ATH-W3000ANVs will spend most of their time on your head.) While I was impressed by Audio-Technica’s attention to detail, I was disappointed with the re-use possibilities of A-T’s packaging—nothing to do but put it in the attic with the other fancy audio component boxes. I think most people would have preferred a nice wooden box like the one that comes with the Audeze LCD-2 and LCD-3 planar magnetic headphones that could be repurposed and reused.
Considering their size, the Audio-Technica ATH-W3000ANV headphones are remarkably light. Every time I picked them up I marveled at how little effort it required. The ear cups, which are made from traditional Japanese Echizen lacquer-finished Hokkaido Asada cherry heartwood, are partially responsible for the ATH-W3000ANV’s lack of weight. The wood ear cup can be thin because of the wood’s intrinsic strength and the shape of the ear cup itself. When I tapped one with my finger I heard the same midrange “tonk” sound I’ve heard when tapping the side of a premium solid wood acoustic guitar, except with the ATH-W3000ANV the “tonk” had no ringing because it’s better damped than a guitar. Any sympathetic resonances that are generated by the ATH-W3000ANV’s ear cups will be from wood, not plastic or metal. Do wooden-bodied headphones have a more natural and organic sound than those that use other materials? Audio-Technica obviously thinks so, and after spending time with these ATH-W3000ANVs, I believe they have a point.
• The ATH-W3000ANV uses a newly designed 53 mm wide-range driver element.
• The ATH-W3000ANV employs special high-power driver magnets.
• OFC 7N ultra-high-purity oxygen-free-copper used in the voice coils.
• The ATH-W3000ANV has isolated left/right internal wiring.
• The ATH-W3000ANV frame is constructed from magnesium for exceptionally low weight and high rigidity.
• Lightweight frame designed to suppress unwanted vibration.
• The headband design uses Audio-Technica’s signature 3D wing support system for a great fit and long wearing comfort.
Ear Cups and Ear Pads
• The ATH-W3000ANV uses traditional Echizen lacquer-finished Hokkaido Asada cherry heartwood housing, which is said to afford, “magnificent natural playback.”
• The ear cushions are hand fabricated from luxurious Spanish lambskin for “long-listening comfort.”
Signal Cable and Connector Plug
• Signal cable with PC-OCC (pure crystal, Ohno continuous casting) conductors and a highly elastic Elastomer sheath.
• 6.3 mm gold-plated stereo plug.
• A fabric, draw string-equipped cable bag
• There will be only 2000 units made worldwide.
• Like all 2012 Audio-Technica Limited Edition products, the ATH-W3000ANV features a 50th Anniversary logo and commemorative certificate signed by company president, Kazuo Matsushita.
Ergonomic High Points and Low Points
When I first tried to put the Audio-Technica ATH-W3000ANV headphones on they didn’t fit. In fact, the top halves of the ear cups didn’t even make contact with my head. Instead the ear cups angled away, only making a tight contact at the bottom edges. I could push the headphones onto my ears until they made a good seal, but the second I relaxed the pressure they reverted to their original unusable position. I took the headphones off and carefully examined the design.
The Audio-Technica ATH-W3000ANV headband is unique among over-ear headphones I’ve seen. Unlike most headphones, which have some provisions for headband adjustment and rotation on more than one axis, the Audio Technica ATH-W3000ANV headphones have a far more limited range of motion. They only rotate horizontally and instead of an adjustment scheme they have a pair of hinged pads that rest lightly on either side of the top of your head. Two magnesium rods formed into a wide-C shape make up the entire A-T headband. I don’t believe that Audio-Technica designed the rods to be adjustable.