Type: Over Ear
Amp needed: Yes
Type: Over Ear
Amp needed: Yes
So I am very early on in my X65 journey. I am a little over 15 hours in and I’m gonna give my first impressions vs the HD600, my daily driver.
The unboxing is exquisite. Very. Very premium. Every headphone should be like this, it screams quality. The hand checked verification card is just great, the unboxing could not be a better experience. I’d buy these again for the unboxing alone if my wallet would handle it.
The comfort and fit is nice. Not as clampy as the HD600, but still nice. I have a small head and I don’t need to move the adjustments at all and it fits and seals well. I do wish velour pads were an option. I don’t like leather that much but this is subjective. Comfort is great, but I prefer the HD600. The X65 weigh more than the HD600, but to me and my weightlifting lifestyle, it’s a non-issue. The leather does isolate more than the velour and I was surprised at the isolation for an open back, they still leak sound a lot so… be weary. The same if not more than the HD600. Comparable to my HE500 I used to own, leaks more than the DT 1990. The cups are nice and deep and very roomy (for me, again, this is subjective)
Sound wise, (I am a simple guy who likes metal music and gaming, I don’t like audiophile terms that much but will do my best here to explain)[Without EQ] They’re fine without EQ, I think overall sound is better on the HD600 without EQ, it does feel like more bass is present with a slightly better punch.The mids sound a bit recessed in some areas and just right in others. Vocals sound good but lacking somewhat, electric guitars sound slightly distant. It sounds like everything is there, just lacking the “intangibles”.Treble is just right imo. It sounds more present than the HD600 but not sibilant like the DT1990 I also used to own.[With EQ] Take everything I said and add those “intangibles”. The bass gets slighty more punchiy with more nuance, electric guitars have that body behind it, mids sound more full, and the treble gets slightly better. I’ll have my current EQ below at the bottom. Suffice to say, with eq, it’s great. I think without EQ, some of the mids sound scared, they’re there and you can tell it’s there, they just need a confidence boost.
Soundstage and Imaging: Good. They’re headphones. Headphone soundstage (imo) is almost always over-exaggerated or overemphasized. The soundstage is wide enough. More wide than the HD600, on par with the 1990/Ether 2 if memory serves correctly. Imaging is solid, not as 3-bloby like the HD600 and I have no issues with playing Halo Infinite or Stardew Valley (the latter is being slightly disingenuous to real gamers).Instrument separation is also great. No issues on that front either. I didn’t think the HD600 was bad (still don’t) but there is clearly more separation between instruments.
Detail is great in my opinion. I don’t feel like I’m losing out on anything being presented in music or what have you.
So far overall, I really like them. I just wish there were velour pads for them. I don’t think the leather pads are bad or anything, I just prefer velour feeling wise. I contacted Austrian Audio and they said they had no plans to make velour pads anytime soon.
Will make a more in depth review in a week or two.
My EQ Profile: I am using my ears to this, no measurements. My ears like what they hear, not what is seen on a graph… mostly.
Bass shelf +3-4 dB (I usually stick with +3.5db) @ 100 hz
Peak Filter: 1.5kHz Q 1.5 + 4 dB
Peak Filter: 3.5 kHz Q 2 + 4-5 dB
High Shelf: 11000 kHz + 1.5-2dB (I like a little more sparkle)
My Austrian Audio X65 review: 1 week ownership:
(This is my 1 week review of the Austrian Audio X65. Please note comparisons with the HD600 and X65 are with EQ. I will have a small section in the beginning without EQ on both, and the majority will be with EQ, as I tend to EQ everything, including the HD600. My EQ profile will be at the end for both the HD600 and X65)
Well it has been quite a week with the HI-X65 by Austrian Audio and I believe I’m ready to make a review on them. Please note I am not an experienced audiophile by any means, I am a simply guy who works out, listens to metal music, and plays games. I do not really like audiophile terms, nor do I believe that amps/dacs play a major role in overall sound quality. I believe all SS amps sound the same and dacs are over-blown in terms of audio perception, same with soundstage and all that in headphones. So let’s dive in with that all out of the way!
First: The unboxing:
Like I mentioned in my first impressions, it still stands. The unboxing is really friggin’ good. More flashy than the HD600 but not extremely over-done. It’s the perfect amount of premium. It’s like adding salt to foods, too much or too little can ruin a meal, but the right amount leaves a fantastic impression. Comes with a long and short cable, the short I think is like 4ft and the long is closer to 10 feet. Both use a 2.5mm locking connector to 3.5mm termination, includes a quarter inch termination jack. Cable is nice in my opinion.
Comfort/Fit: Probably even more subjective than sound is the fit. I personally found out the box to be quite nice, but the leather took a toll on my head at first and the clamp wasn’t extremely strong, still stable, but not overly-clampy like the HD600 (that I absolutely love). I did bend the metal headband on the X65 to make it clamp a bit more and it’s good now. The leather also seems to have “broken in” and now it’s fine, but still retains that leather feeling that I wish I could swap for a velour style. Austrian Audio told me in a DM on Instagram that they had no intentions on making velour pads so… good luck! You can remove the pads and put either the Dekoni or Brainwavz velour over the pads, however, the L and R foam or filter under the pads is glued or adhered to the structure. Removing that probably voids the warranty so I’d advise against that.
With the current band bent, I can head bang without issue, just not like the HD600.
[Without EQ - HD600] - Tonally nice, a bit “thick” sounding in the midrange with good extension in the treble. Not sibilant like the DT 1990 I owned or dark-sounding like the Ether 2 that I also used to own. If you’re opposed to EQ and only want that good mid-range, the HD600 is still you’re choice between these two. The bass rolls off and is noticeable on Korn’s debut where they love to put that <100 hz action into their music. It’s been beat to death, but without EQ, it’s in-offensive and not going to rub anyone the wrong way unless you really, really want that low end.
[Without EQ - X65] - More treble (still not sibilant in my opinion), more extension in the low end (really solid extension if you ask me) , and some slight wonk in the mid range. Around 1.6k and 3.5k on my unit. Without EQ, I do think it’s solid still, but guitars sounding slightly distant and vocals lacking slightly.
[With EQ - HD600] I don’t add much EQ, but I boost the low end and the air, as well as 400 hz. It thickens the low end (1) quite a bit and makes bass more prominent, but sounds stuffy and a bit intrusive. Not saying that negatively, rather just what it sounds like. It’s my EQ so like I tuned it myself to my ears, I like how it sounds, even if the description used sounds negative. With EQ, it’s basically as good as it gets (or so I thought!). Instruments are nicely separated and placed well. I don’t have issues with imaging in gaming or anything, but the stage is “small”.
I really have nothing more to say on the HD600, it’s a staple in the audiophile community for a reason. And it still should be.
[With EQ - X65] Oh boy, does this thing take EQ well. So, while it has good extension, with a decent boost does it move some air on that low end. Again, referencing Korn here, on the song “Ball Tongue” and “Falling Away from Me”, the sub and impact is extremely well controlled (in my opinion) and doesn’t bleed at all. On the song “Hollow” by Rivers of Nihil, the absolutely crazy double kick drum (or whatever it is, again, I just like music) is well defined and well controlled. The driver seems fast enough to keep up with the speed and I can notice and hear each strike. I found the HD600 slightly less in this area (not by much). “Chocolate Chip Trip” -TOOL has noticeably more impact (2) and is almost too much sometimes. A final notice here is “Scream” by Avenged Sevenfold, they’d said sub is in here and I did notice it on other headphones, but with EQ on the X65 (even without EQ to a certain point) it is prominent but not over-powering.
Mids on the X65 when eq’d are a joy. Upping those ranges listed above really makes guitars come alive and vocals ever more present. I think EQ’d, I like the mids here more than the HD600 (3). Everything just sounds “right”. The song “Third Eye” by TOOL has a section 7:55-8:45 where a lack of 1-2k is noticeable, (Hifiman) and with EQ it nails that section. Guitars sound full, full of body and life. Piano strokes on “Warmness on the Soul” - Avenged Sevenfold are prominent and delivered well. Overall, I like the midrange.
Highs/Treble is more noticeable on the X65 vs the HD600 but I think that has more to do with the increased soundstage more than anything. They’re not sibilant, but are more noticeable. Cymbals and higher frequencies again are noticed, but not overpowering or shimmeringly-sibilant. I’m quite sensitive to higher end frequencies (specifically 6-9k) and I have no issue on the X65. “Fear Inoculum” and “Chocolate Chip Trip” can irritate me on some headphones (DT1990) and they don’t on here at all. If you like the highs on the HD600 but wish that they were more noticeable, yea, this’ll do it. There is a peak I think ~6k but it doesn’t bother me to much, but YMMV.
Soundstage, Detail and Imaging/Separation: These have incredible imaging and instrument separation. Again, “Chocolate Chip Trip” - TOOL (or basically all of Fear Inoculum) makes use of this to a T. Instruments are clearly defined in their own space and I have no issue discerning them at all. “Exist” by Avenged Sevenfold has tons of things happening at once and not once do I feel instruments blend together in a negative way as to lose track of them. Imaging in gaming is also solid, no issues playing Halo Infinite or anything else. Soundstage is wider than the HD600, but like I stated in my impressions, they’re headphones. You’re not going to get phenomenal soundstage, but it is wider and it is nicer to have more room. There is also more detail (4) in these than the HD600. In the song “Revenga” by SOAD, at 2:11 there’s a feint clicking noise amidst Daron’s monologue and I never noticed it on the track until this headphone showed up. Detail is great and I have no complaints here.
Vocal seperation here is also superb, if a song has multi or layered vocals, the X65 has no issue displaying them. It’s really beautiful to listen to when it happens. Like "Die Alone (In Your Lovers Arms) by Holding Absense is just bliss on this headphone. (and also the HD600, just less so).
Conclusion: These are great headphones, but do need EQ to fully shine, if you’re okay with EQ these are your “mid-fi” cans to look for. I like these more than the HD600, 560s, DT 1990, Ether 2, etc. I’m kinda an Austrian Audio shill at this point and I’m fine with that. They nailed it with these headphones, and am excited to see where they go from here.
(1) - Not sure if it’s distortion or just how it sounds on my rig. But the lows do seem thicker and “bloated”.
(2) - More impact could be because the X65 seal better than the HD600 due to the leather pads, creating more isolation and therefore less “air”. But the impact is better regardless
(3) - Personal preference, but the drivers seem slower on the HD600, creating a thicker sounding midrange vs the faster drivers on the X65.
(4) - I really have no idea what detail is, but this is my interpretation of it: Hearing more of music that wasn’t noticeable or present in other headphones or audio sources.
3.5 db shelf @ 100 hz.
1.5 db peak @ 400 hz, Q = 1.4
+2 db high shelf @ 10500 hz
X65 EQ -
4 db shelf @ 105 hz
1.5 db peak @ 400 hz Q = 2
+4 db peak filter @ 1.6khz Q = 1.5
4.5 db peak filter @ 3.5 khz Q = 2
2 db high shelf @ 10500 hz
Wonderful, robust build headphone, au pair or second to only DT770. Nice, industrial look. Excellent comfort. Medium weight (at cca. 300g) but comfortable. Soft headband and pads. Robust and flexible mechanism. This is how headphone should be designed. Open back. You’ll hear the environment and they will hear you. Bass is almost perfectly neutral. Open back that goes down to 20Hz without roll-off. About 1dB rise in upper bass. Midrange is very good. About 2dB rise in lower mids and big 6dB drop in the upper mids about 1.5kHz. It is a Hifiman style dip that does not disturb the tonal balance. Treble is excellent. 3.5 dB drop at the lower treble and 2dB rise at 6 kHz and 1dB in upper treble and air. Adding air while cutting hard edge on vocals. It can get sibilant, though, but nothing too spicy. I would describe tonality as bright neutral. EQ is not necessary. Also sounds great with Optimum HiFi.
It has hard, fast transients. Fantastic clarity. I think there is no such resolving driver under 1000 EUR. (Maybe LCD-2?) Has good soundstage, precise imaging. Dynamics are fantastic, it has almost Fostex level punch n’ slam. As of value, I think it’s worth the blind. Best of Hifiman tuning, Focal technicalities, Beyerdynamic build and Sennheiser QC for the price of HD600.
Is there anything they can’t do?
They can’t give you that slow muddy sound (ala K371). O:-)