Audio Technica ATH-A2000Z Sealed Around-Ear Headphones Measurements


Click on graphs image to download .pdf for closer inspection.

Raw frequency response plots show a headphone quite close to the Harman target from about 40Hz all the way up to 2kHz. Remarkable! Unfortunately, above 2kHz, things begin to go awry. The peak at 4kHz is somewhat high, which I felt gave them a sharpish character tonally. The drop after 4kHz is probably a good thing to steer energy away from the piercing 5-8kHz area, but response 5kHz and above is a ragged mess. This clearly makes its appearance in the 300Hz square wave and impulse response.

30Hz square wave is quite swayback evidencing the fall in response phase shift below the primary driver resonance.

Generally speaking, the 300Hz square wave has good shape with a right sized initial transient and horizontal overall wave shape subsequently. The problem is that it's noisy...quite noisy.

The impulse response shows us a significant lack of discrimination between the initial impulse and subsequent noise. This evidences to me my listening experience of very grainy, though not overemphatic, cymbals.

THD+noise plots are quite good but for some rise in distortion at low levels, and an alarming increase in distortion at the top as it reaches the measurement limit.

Impedance plots show a nominally 48 Ohm headphone with a moderate primary driver resonance centered at 90Hz. Also note the resonances at 2kHz and 4kHz paring up with the peaks in frequency response.

Isolation at -20dB is good for sealed headphones of this type.

Audio-Technica U.S. Inc.
1221 Commerce Dr.
Stow, OH 44224

Revanna's picture

The girlfriend and I have recently tried both these and the A1000Z at an audio fair (HEM in Stockholm, Sweden), and she's actually enjoyed both quite a lot, which is unusual since she rarely really cares for specific qualities in headphones - now I've got the chance to pick one of these (A2000Z) up for $400, which seems like a decent price point considering they're usually 6999 SEK here after tax and markup (that being $775). The A1000Z being 3999 SEK ($443) on sale right now, usually 4999 SEK ($550).

From listening when connected to my phone, I found the A1000Z to sound a bit smoother and to have more presence in the low end, while the A2000Z felt sharper and more defined in the treble - anybody have experiences with both here?

donunus's picture

Did you also get to listen to the a1000z? Those are supposedly smoother based on a few impressions I've read here and there.

ADU's picture

Thanks for another interesting review.

Looking at the graphs (esp. FR), these look pretty rolled off in the bass for closed HPs, and also rather punchy in the treble. Reminds me a little of the M70x, which was also a bit U-shaped.

Did you ever follow up with AT on the open R70x? That appeared to have a more neutral response than either of the above.

Also, did you try EQ-ing the A2000Z?

darkswordsman17's picture

For some reason the Audio-Technica "house sound" of their closed circumaural has always been to my liking. I think its a mix of their brightness (which gives that false sense of extra details, which after hearing just the A900s, basically all Sennheiser's I had tried to that point, including HD-280/555/595/580, sounded "veiled" in comparison), and I think its due to their housing, where the closed ones bounce some reflections off the inside of the cup and it passes through the outer grille section (in the housing, the driver sits in the middle and then there's an ~1 inch wide paper or mesh grill that surrounds that). I think this could account for some of the things you're seeing. It kinda gives a false sense of extra soundstage and would agree with the person I saw (on Head-Fi I believe) that said that's likely the cause of the "romantic" sound of Audio-Technicas higher end offerings that for some people is quite pleasing.

I became quite enamored with the W5000s myself (detailed, "speedy", good bass texture and quality, sometimes very nice mids), but they just had too many flaws (that headband, lacking horizontal swivel makes fit awful which ruins the bass; wearing a hat improves the fit though) and finnicky for such a high end headphone. I dabbled in mods (Tyll did you ever hear a Fitz modded W5000?) that helped (used to post on Head-Fi, think I actually made pics of things I did), but sold them as I had to downsize (period where I was moving a lot).

I eventually ended up with a project that I was going to contact you to see if you would like to measure them and see how they sound since you started the DIY testing but had been holding off as they've been my only real full size headphone for too long. I took an A700 frame (they swivel both horizontally and vertically, which helps immensely with the fit), put W5000 drivers in them (with healthy dose of tak, I completely removed the internal plastic baffles even), W5000 earpads, then I hacked up (literally just cut with a knife and some wire cutters) some D2000 earcups (meant to be holdovers for easy access to the inside for tuning and then eventually get some nicer wood cups made), and D2000 cable (another holdover, but dual entry and was cheap). They look, well, like you'd expect, but I think they sound pretty good. Have been wanting to find out if they really do or if I'm just too into the W5000 sound as I definitely don't claim to have great objective ears (and plenty of people don't find the A-T sound appealing in general), and simply lack the experience let alone tools that people like Tyll do.

The bass has come out substantially but don't overwhelm the mids (and I think shows the A-T drivers are capable of some good bass, almost wonder if its similar driver to the L3000s, since those were lauded for their bass). To give you an idea, the difference compared to stock is about like cranking the bass on the JH Audio Angie's (I have a pair of the universals I've been using for portable, and I feel like the modded W5000s are actually pretty similar but I think they sound better, not sure if I'm crazy or not though) cable all the way up is although I feel like its better integrated and doesn't feel like a "hump" in the bass like a lot of bass boost and the Angie cable kinda does. I also did something that somewhat adjusts the mids, which helped with the occasionally "honky" sounding mids of the stock W5000s. Strings I think sound especially good (good guitar riffs and sustain often give me those good goosebumps).

Even for Audio-Technica fans, they're pretty frustrating as they have some compelling products (M50, ES7/700, ESW9 in particular; their limited edition stuff is often enticing but too many flaws to be worth the prices they ask), but often fall a bit short from being really good, and them making consistently great stuff across the range. And with how many other companies have stepped up in the past decade, they're basically relegating themselves to niches. Even their unique designs have become much less so. And the thing is, with more effort, it feels like they could have been leading the charge in the modern headphone market popularity, as in a lot of ways they kinda initiated a lot of it (the ESW9 was one of the first premium feeling portables, now there's lots of them; their limited edition models had premium looks now there's a lot more).

tony's picture

Audio Technica have quite a Fan Club built-up, even Michael Fremer the Vinyl Analog promoter made a visit to AT's offices and did a Video of the place.

I know a House Builder that "loves" AT stuff, thinks it's the best!

Lots of people fall into outfits "True-Believe" groups, even Schiit has a active group.

Me?, I'm a Tyll group Fan Club Member!! ( since 2011 )

Nice Reporting, again.

Video works!, even that one with JA & Vivid guy who can't seem to look JA in the eye when talking.

Tony in Michigan

ADU's picture

Me?, I'm a Tyll group Fan Club Member!!

Sign me up!

Btw, remember way back in the Focal Utopia thread, when I told you I'd try to recommend some nice YouTube vids (since I don't really have any equipment to suggest)? Well, I can't think of a better way to start than with this new track by Ailee...

Ailee is (imo) one of the best female R&B vocalists in Kpop (a genre I've been listening to quite a bit lately). And I think this is one of her best tunes so far. Hope you'll enjoy.

tony's picture

Wow, beautiful.


The gear today is quite good, I don't feel a pressing need for better.

MQA might provide us with consistant access to the "promised" Mastering level of Quality ( like this Ailee artist's work ), then top gear like Utopia will be useful.

However, I feel the need for smoothing out lesser stuff that I have in my vast library. ( even luxurious Tubes can't help early Bob Dylan but are quite helpful for 78's ).

Kpop, good find.

Tony in Michigan

ADU's picture

Glad you liked. Since you enjoyed the one by Ailee, I picked out some other down-tempo Kpop tracks for you to peruse.

Kpop is like anything else. There's some good. And also quite a bit of not-so-good. The genre has come along way since Psy's "Gangnam Style" (which is approaching 3 _Billion_ with a "B" views on YouTube) several years ago though. And most of these tracks are pretty good imo. Hopefully you'll enjoy a few as well.

I'm splittin these into two posts because there appears to be a limit to the number of links or characters allowed per post. Ailee's MV is also included for completeness.

Part 1

Ailee - "Reminiscing"

Amber ft. Gen Neo - "On My Own"

Cheetah ft. Hanhae - "Blurred Lines"

Eddy Kim - "The Manual"

Fei - "Fantasy"
This MV is age-restricted (due to some sexy hooping, I guess). The original MV has the best sound imo. But here's another live version that's almost as fun if you don't feel like opening a YT account. This starts a bit loud...

4Minute - "Cold Rain"

Gain - "Truth or Dare"

Gavy NJ - "An Obvious Melo"

HyunA - "Morning Glory"

HyunA - "Run & Run"

Jieun - "False Hope"
This MV contains some brief imagery that may be disturbing to some viewers.

Jiyoon (aka Jenyer) - "I Do"
This recording will probably test some ears with its brightness. But it's a little unique in that it has a more country-ish vibe. So thought I'd include it for a bit of variety. If you're not into country or high-pitched vocals though, feel free to skip to the next Jiyoon track (which has a tamer hip-hop vibe). Jiyoon and HyunA were both part of the recently disbanded group 4Minute btw (see "Cold Rain" above).

Jiyoon ft. Jiggy Bros. - "Magnet"

Ladies' Code - "Galaxy"

The Legend - "Nail"

Continued next post...

ADU's picture

Part 2

Lim Kim - "Rain"

Loona/Haseul - "Let Me In"

Miso Kim ft. Sangji Koh - "Love U, Love U"

Reddy ft. Jay Park - "Think"

Red Velvet - "Automatic"
One of my favorite newer groups. Red Velvet does a mixture of different styles geared towards both younger, and older viewers/listeners. It's their R&B/hip-hop inspired tracks (like the one above, and next two below) that really knock me out though...

Red Velvet - "Cool, Hot, Sweet Love" (FMV)

Red Velvet - "One of These Nights"

Stellar - "Mask"
Another adult-oriented group I like. Most of Stellar's recent videos are on the steamier side. These two are reasonably tame though.

Stellar - "Insomnia" (Dance Practice)

Taeyeon - "11:11" (Acoustic)

Taeyeon - "Fine"

Tiffany - "I Just Wanna Dance"

2NE1 - "Goodbye"
This group was hugely popular, and recently disbanded last year. This was their farewell video, and one of their best songs imo (though it lacked the group's 4th member, Minzy).

Zico - "I Am You, You Are Me"

Anyway, that's a little taste of the "softer" (and better imo) side of Kpop. : ) If you like jazzy vocals, you might also enjoy some of Mamamoo's music. Most of their tunes are a little bracing on my ears though.

I'll try to hit you up with somethin different next time we cross paths, Tony. Not sure what it might be, but hopefully somethin good.

happiness_ur's picture

perfect review

hinotori2772's picture

I recently got the ATH-A2000Z at almost half the price and I'm quite happy with it... while I find your review a bit biased you're probably right it's a bit overpriced at $650 but what other high end closed back headphone is a better choice in the price range around $500-$600 ... all the recommended closed backs I can think of are in the $1000-$2000 price range... my reference point for the moment is Sennheiser HD700 (for which again I got a good bargain from last year - I know it's not the most loved HP around either but I like it very much) - so I'll be very happy to get a closed back that sounds as good as HD700 in terms of details and resolution... and ATH-A2000Z comes almost close enough.

From closed backs I also have Audeze SINE which are pretty damn good too (if not better in clarity and detail), of course, but ATH-A2000Z beats them with better (more open) sound stage, IMHO, and also SINE is not that comfortable being an on ear model. I got both SINE and ATH-A2000Z at roughly the same price (very lightly used in almost mint condition) I also happen to have Audio Technica ESW9LTD (closed back wooden portable) but they sound very different from ATH-A2000Z and are no match in terms of quality and resolution, I think (they're also much cheaper too)

I really like the roughly polished Titanium housing, actually... it's a good finish IMHO since any small scratches will not be quite visible... wood also looks fine, of course, but it's better to have some diversity... the firmly attached cable is frustrating at this price point but is not a deal breaker especially since the provided cable is quite nice and seems very durable... and also should not be a great effort to recable these if need be.

I bought this headphone since I need a good closed back to use in the office and at home at times the open headphones (which I prefer - Sennheiser HD700, HiFiMan HE400i) might disturb the others. I'm not willing to spend $1500 - $2000 for a Ether C or Audeze LCD-XC (I'd be willing to spend that much on a quality open back, though) so ATH-A2000Z seems like a good compromise... can someone suggest other closed back model as good as ATH-A2000Z or better but in the price range of ATH-A2000Z or lower

ADU's picture

Fwiw, I posted a similar question in another recent thread, and one suggestion (by Tony in MI, I think) was to close up a Senn 600/650. Have you considered the Oppo PM-3, or maybe the NAD VISO HP50 though? I don't know if these would sound or fit any better than what you've already got though.

EQ-ing is also an option, if you feel that the tonal balance is not quite right, or to you liking on your current HPs. An EQ is (unfortunately) an indispensable accessory with my closed and rather abrasive-sounding AKG K553s, because they have a pretty bad bright spot in the upper half of the mid-range.

Maybe the best advice I can give you is to find a pair of closed cans that are reasonably neutral, and that fit you comfortably, and then EQ them to sound how you want. Perhaps one of your current HPs would work for that, or maybe one of the others suggested above.

There are also a few more options to consider on the IF Wall of Fame...

Also, if the SINE clamps too tight, you might try leaving it on dummy head when not in use to "break in" the headband a little faster. That seems to help some folks with the Beats Solo 2.

That's about all I can think of right now.

sszorin's picture

You saved serious money by not buying Audeze LCD-XC. These headphones have a major, major flaw which make them unlistenable. There is a distortion in the upper mids frequencies. Imagine listening to headphones and hearing constant sound of a hacksaw sawing a piece of metal added on to the sound of music.

sszorin's picture

If you bought ATH-A2000Z at half price than you got a deal of the year. There are no better closed headphones at this price, and there will not be this century and beyond. You should keep quiet and count your blessing and great luck instead of agitating for something better. If you are not happy with them I'll buy them from you for $300.

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sszorin's picture

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