Capital AudioFest Part 5: Audio Technica ATH-AP2000Ti and WP9000

Audio Technica has long been a major headphone manufacturer, though the true high-end, or ‘summit-fi’ of the headphone world has never seemed to look upon them particularly favorably.

It’s not because they make bad headphones, quite the opposite in fact. the ATH M50x has started many budding audiophiles on their path to the headphone hobby, and they have a large selection of other headphones for pro and consumer use, many of which have been excellent. In general, actually, I don’t recall off the top of my head ever hearing an Audio Technica that sounded bad, rather, some of them felt as if they’d been tuned for different markets than audiophiles from North America.

Such is often the case with large companies who tune headphones with very specific markets in mind, but the result has been that many North American audiophiles generally associate Audio Technica with lower-priced headphones and entry-level sound, which is not the case at all.

The ATH-AP2000Ti I heard at the show is one such example. The room was one of several run by Jessica and Aaron Sherrick of Now Listen Here, as well as Tenacious Sound, and the headphones were AT headphones I’ve never seen before in an eye-catching polished mirror-finish. Some skimming online indicated that the price point is around $1,250 USD, which puts them squarely in the middle of Audio Technica’s lineup.

Drivers are 53mm dynamic with a modest 44-Ohm impedance and 100dB sensitivity figure. There isn’t much on paper that really makes these standout other than a ‘diamond-like carbon coating’ on the diaphragm. There was a small nameless DAP and a Unison Research tube-based DAC/amp hooked up to a computer, so I took a listen to both setups, as well as coming out of a lightning adapter on my iPhone 8.

Well I’ll be… this thing sounded pretty nice. I say this having just come from a wonderful experience with the new Aeon 2 headphone downstairs. The sound was fairly linear, close to a Harman curve-type target tuning, but slightly more relaxed with perhaps a touch more bass and low-mid warmth. I detected a general absence of severe ‘closed back’ resonance in the low mids, along with a slight warmth, and the treble was clear and present. I didn’t get the chance to do a ton of long listening, and as usual, take the show impressions as a snapshot of a moment, but really, I think these headphones have quite a bit of promise at the price point, and I wouldn’t mind getting a pair in to see how they stand up to other headphones in a similar price range.

Tenacious also had a pair of new, unreleased-in-the-USA WP9000 headphones, which were unfortunately not at the room when I showed up. Although I missed the chance to listen, I managed to grab a few pictures of the display and a promise of more information on the headphones. I’ll keep you all updated as I know more, as word at the show was these were competitive flagship material. Time will tell.

Up next: final wrap up and a few thoughts on new trends in headphone listening.

Capitol AudioFest