Avantone Planar Red/Black

I was introduced to these headphones by a user who was curious about them because there were so few reviews or impressions (I could only find a single Amazon review and two Youtube videos). So, after some research, I decided to take the plunge ($400 through Amazon) so that I could try them first hand and post a detailed impression/review.

All listening was done using the stock cable through PC streaming Tidal > RME ADI-2 fs > Topping A90 (medium gain, volume bouncing around noon).

BUILD:

From the photos I could find online, I would have sworn that these would feel cheap and plastic. But, to my surprise, I don’t think there is ANY plastic used in the build. The honeycomb grills, the headband support, and the 3.5mm connections are all metal. Even with the material choices, the weight isn’t bad by any means. This is definitely helped by the generous width of the headband.

The pads are a soft memory foam velour and are more of an “around ear” fit than an “over ear” fit. This might not be the best fit for everyone but at least the pads are connected by Velcro so theoretically, you could replace them with just about any style of pads that you want. Overall I’d say these are a very comfortable set of cans.

It comes with two cables- one 3.5mm to 3.5mm, and one dual 3.5mm to 3.5mm. I was curious as to why neither side of the dual 3.5mm had a left or right indicator, and its because it doesn’t matter. I’m not sure how it’s wired exactly, but you can plug the single 3.5mm into either side and it’ll work in stereo same as the dual 3.5mm. Whatever, either way, I’m not a fan of the cables. Although they didn’t contain any kinks or unusual bends, they’re just too stiff for my taste.

SOUND:

Imaging and soundstage:

Extremely “V” shaped. Like standing in a hallway, facing the wall, and having the band play on either side of you. Soundstage is almost non-existent because there is no forward presence. As sounds move from side to side, it passes through the center of your head. What is good though is the horizontal imaging. There is really good depth and instrument separation. When listening to King Krule’s “Out Getting Ribs”, each instrument has a clear depth and clarity. I would’t buy these if you’re looking for a good vocal performance as you really want that forward presence to help separate the vocals from the instruments.

Highs:

So this is where I had the most trouble. On certain tracks like Sylvan Esso’s “Hey Mami”, the claps and the pitch of her vocals were a little piercing to to the point that I had to turn it down. But while listening to Andrew Bird, his high pitched whistling was fine. Not sure if it’s just the recording quality or what but it seemed like every other song I was reaching 1990 Pro levels of treble. No sibilance, just a lot of *cough cough “detail”.

Mids:

Amazing. Metalcore tracks such as Silent Planet’s “Tiny Hands” and The Devil Wears Prada’s “Submersion” are clear and detailed. Vocals come through without being dominated by either drums or guitar. On the track “Pretty Things” by Tülpa, the piano is clean and positions forward against the bass notes. These really excel in the midrange performance.

Lows:

Planar bass, baby! Really nice and extended low end. Synth heavy tracks like Rüfüs Du Sol’s “Eyes” and Deadmou5’s “Strobe” have never sounded this good. I wouldn’t consider this “slam” but it is super detailed and fun.

CONCLUSION:

So, these will not be for everyone. I enjoy them because they remind me of a SendyAudio Aiva/1990 Pro hybrid with some 6xx sprinkles. The build is great and they look fantastic. I’ve been wanting to sell my Aivas and I might replace them with these. For the most part, they are pretty good monitors as they don’t really push any biased eq. For the price, I might recommend the Sundaras over these but it definitely depends on what you’re looking for.

Hope this was helpful to anyone looking for information about these headphones. If you have any questions, just throw me a comment and I’ll answer the best I can.

13 Likes

Thank you for your even-handed impressions. The ones over at HF, when I last checked a few days ago, were largely extolling these to high heaven without mentioning anything negative about them (small or large) other than one user having an build issue (screw or the part holding the headband together came apart). With regards to the sound quality, the impressions over at HF veered close to marketing speak to me.

From your review, it seems like these are competent cans for monitoring, which makes sense given Avantone’s focus on the pro market. For sibilance, I’d imagine one who mixing would like to know if the vocals are coming in hot in order to level them down a bit.

As for the v-shaped sound of these cans, I’d imagine there would be a dip or recession somewhere in the mids. Did you find any there?

2 Likes

Yeah the mods are quite a bit recessed. Vocals tend to give behind the treble quite a bit.

3 Likes

I’ve ordered these.

I’m going to get to the bottom of how these sound because the impressions are ALL over the place with these on the internet. They’re either the spawn of the devil or the most natural and neutral headphones in existence. Wider than the Sundara or so narrow you wonder if they’re broken.

I’ve had enough. ENOUGH.

The audio chain will be:
Source: Amarra Luxe with Tidal integrated
USB cable: Audioquest Forest USB cable
USB cleaner: iFi iPurifier 3
DAC: Schiit Bifrost 2
XLR cable: Audioquest Mackenzie XLR
Amplifier: RNHP

MidFi heaven.

I’ve heard the Sundara and I really dislike the tonality of that headphone - much too bright both objectively and subjectively. Sounds thin, whispy, ghostly even.
I’m hoping the Avantone Planar is less transparent in that way. I need body and substance to notes. I’m a fan of that aspect of the Nighthawks for reference. I find the HD650 /w KISSMOD a little unexciting for the music i listen to but I begrudgingly admit they’re refreshing to listen to now and then to cleanse the sonic pallet.

4 Likes

How do these sound to you?

Have not received yet. Will return with impressions.