A respected microphone manufacturer turns its ear toward headphones
Review by alex Hawley
Audix unveiled an impressive fourteen new products at NAMM this year, including new over-ear and in-ear monitor lines. Already a leader in mic manufacturing, headphones represent a new venture for Audix, albeit not a surprising one due to its rich heritage in transducer development. The headphone line includes models A140, A145, A150, and A152—all closed-back designs with unique sound profiles intended for different uses, from studio reference monitoring to hi-fi listening to gaming. For this review, I’ll be focusing on the A150 and A152 Studio Reference Headphones.
Audix A150 Studio Reference Headphones are designed for accuracy, with a smooth, balanced linear response throughout the entire frequency range. The transducers are 50mm, phase-coherent dynamic drivers with rare earth alloy magnets, 103 dB sensitivity, 30 ohm impedance, and a frequency range spanning 10 Hz-30 kHz. The headphones feature a detachable 3.5mm cable with a threaded 1/4” adapter. Various cable options are available; the included cable is a 1.8 meter (about 71 inches) black, nylon-wound, high-density three-conductor affair filled with 96 strands of braided, silver-coated, oxygen-free copper (OFC). The 1.5 meter audiophile option ($99) is a coppery, plush-wound, high-density, three-conductor line with 400 strands of braided eight-core OFC. Audix was kind enough to send both for me to try, in the form of shorter prototypes. A 200 strand four-core middle-tier cable option is also available ($59). I’m pleased Audix chose to include a nice long cable!
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It’s clear that comfort is high on the list at Audix, and quite justifiably so. The A150 is very lightweight, with plushy soft ear cups that swivel 90º for easy single-ear monitoring and storage. The A150 has a generous adjustment range for a comfortable fit, and the cups are large enough to fully enclose my ears comfortably without putting pressure on them. This is great! I have larger ears than most people, and it’s hard to find headphones that fit my head as well as these—they’re snug and comfortable. Even in longer mixing sessions, I didn’t suffer any physical fatigue from wearing them. The tight seal provides excellent isolation from outside noise bleeding in, and playback material bleeding out.
The black A150 has a sleek and attractive aesthetic, with the newly redesigned Audix logo outside both ears. The headband is covered in the same soft cushioning as the ear cups. All headphones in the line will ship with a semi-hard black nylon case, which safely houses the headphones in a flat position (with a pouch for the cable), offering plenty of protection and making them easy to pack and travel with.
I would describe the sound of the Audix A150 as smooth and deep, with an impressive sound stage. Over several endurance mixing sessions and some pleasure listening, my experience was quite inviting and far from fatiguing. The low end, to me, is the most impressive part; it’s punchy and far-reaching. Bass guitars are present, with excellent definition and clarity, while some boomy kick drums translate with every ounce of gravity that I typically hear from studio monitors. In that sense, the healthy low end is very impressive. The low midrange is mostly clear, with only a small amount of washiness throughout the 150-300 Hz range. That dreaded muddy range translates with more precision than most headphones, again benefitting from a very deep and pronounced low end.
I found the midrange to sound very balanced, without any significant honks or valleys jumping out. The upper midrange is very smooth as well, which contributes to its pleasing and non-fatiguing quality. Guitar-driven material translates naturally, with maybe a touch of roundedness in the 2k-4k range where I’d expect slightly more bite. Vocals have a balanced and lifelike sound. The high frequency response is again very smooth, providing enough air to feel open, but leaning slightly to the warmer side as a whole. Content like high-hats and cymbal splashes have detail and clarity but aren’t overbearing.
The imaging is exceptional. Well-mixed material sounds three-dimensional, with excellent separation between instruments. These headphones are accurate enough to mix confidently through and are very well suited for tracking, thanks to their great isolation. In addition to studio uses, I find them very pleasing for everyday listening. I wouldn’t hesitate to make them a daily listener, although Bluetooth connectivity would be desirable for that application. Bottom line: the sound quality and comfort get two thumbs up from me!
Visually identical to the A150, the Audix A152 is based on the studio reference A150, but with extended bass response. This makes it a suitable choice for DJs, gamers, and audiophiles who enjoy a deep and accurate bass response. It employs a 50 mm dynamic driver, again with rare earth alloy magnets, 103 dB sensitivity, and 30 ohms impedance. The frequency range is listed as 8 Hz-28 kHz.
In listening back to a range of material, the extended bass is certainly quite deep, but not dramatically different from the A150 which already has a deep low end to begin with. The overall response is slightly different on the A152 though, offering a bit more of an open top end and a somewhat more scooped feeling, but it’s not too dramatic.
The reproduction of subharmonic material is quite impressive, making it a great candidate for post-production sound designers or electronic musicians. It feels slightly more emphasized for cinematic reproduction, and due to this, they’re slightly more fatiguing—but the extended response sure makes them exciting to listen to!
Price: $249 (A150 and A152)
More from: audixusa.com