So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Audio Technica ATH-AD300
- Solid sound quality, cheap, comfortable
- Difficult to find
Brilliant value for money, the AD300s will make a worthwhile purchase for those looking to take the next step in audio quality.
Price$ 129.00 (AUD)
Headphones are a tough thing to buy. For some, the concept of spending more than $50 on a pair boggles the mind, whilst a persistent few are happy to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars to get a top quality audio setup. There is however a middle ground, which offers the average consumer affordable audio technology that is really a big step up from what they are used to hearing.
When people think headphones, they think Philips or Sony, but there are several big name audio brands that specialize in the production of headphones. Audio Technica is one of the more prominent of these, and the ATH-AD300 is one of their entry level products. Audio Technica are renowned for their high quality DJ and studio products, but the AD300's prove they have the necessary skills to satisfy the home audio market as well.
The first thing to understand about the AD300s is that they are not a portable unit. They have full over-ear cups, and a two tiered headstrap. Whilst they could be worn outside, they won't be fitting in any bags, and the fact that they are open design headphones means you'll be hearing every jeer and insult the multitude of passers-by will all but definitely be hurling at you.
The open design however also means there is significant sound leakage. The main difference between open and closed headphones is how the speaker is shielded, and on an open design sound tends to leak out, making it very audible to people in the nearby vicinity.
Of course sound quality is what is really important with headphones, and anyone who might be affected by leaking sound shouldn't be complaining about the AD300s. For their price point they sound very good. The best way to describe them is a soft listening headphone. The sound wasn't as punchy and in your face as some more expensive models we've heard, but that is in no way a bad thing. It comes down to personal preference.
When placed next to similarly priced models from more general home entertainment companies the difference is clear; the AD300s blow the others away. The sound is crisp, with solid differentiation between instruments. The soundstage is very impressive (soundstage is a term used to describe how three dimensional the sound feels), which is a characteristic of open headphone design. Bass response was above average, and the mid and treble ranges sounded great. This model doesn't do anything outstanding, and obviously won't compare to Audio Technica's more extravagant models, but in terms of value for money it competes very well.
The design is quite comfortable, although the open style may feel a little strange to some people. It sits quite widely on the head, and for people used to tight headphones it will feel quite out of place. The cups themselves are padded with a furry, velvet-like substance that is quite smooth against the skin to begin with, but we wound up getting itchy ears after long listening sessions. This became less of a problem after a few days of use, and we began to find the AD300s extremely comfortable.
It is worth noting that chain stores such as Dick Smith will generally only stock headphones from name home entertainment brands such as Sony, and so to locate other brands such as Audio Technica or Beyer, one must go to a specialty store. There are several prominent online stores that will stock these products, so don't despair if you cannot find them immediately. After a little looking they should be easy to locate, and they are definitely worth the effort.
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