Audio-Technica ATH-P5 Headband Headphones - Black Reviews
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Audio-Technica ATH-P5 Headband Headphones - Black

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Let this be a warning to all, don't look at just specs!

May 21, 2004 (Updated May 22, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Quality driver, plays well at loud ranges, better than average mid-range.

Cons:Crap with portable players. Needs a lot of power.

The Bottom Line: It is a unit that looks like it's for portable audio, but it is better suited for home use.


I just picked up the Panasonic SX430 and was a J&R looking at the vast array of headsets from Koss, Sony and Sennheiser.

Of course, the mantra is that the headphones that come with the portable unit stinks and you should always use your own set of cans. So, since I was not able to play the portable in the store, I went by specs.

The P5 has a strong set of specifications, especially compared to a set of Sony MDR-CD280's that was selling for double the price.

The AT P5 has a large 40mm Neodymium drivers, that are 10mm larger than the Sony's (which are larger by far). They play the full spectrum of music and have a Impedance of 40 ohms and sensitivity of 100 dB. The Sony's had very little written on them, but they were only 30mm drivers, sort of disappointing for such a large headset.

So I took the AT's thinking I was getting a great deal with my portable and rushed home to play them. Boy, was I wrong.

Firstly, the specs I should have payed closer attention to should have been the impedance and the sensitivity. Of course, being in a busy, huge megastore with friends urging you to make your decision and leave is not the ideal environment, but I failed the test.

The Panasonic runs their headphones at 16 ohms and 40 ohms is a much greater load, meaning that more power is required to run the AT's than with a 16 ohm speaker. There is just more resistance. The sensitivity is also pretty low for a speaker, a good set should be in the 115 dB range.

This meant that the AT's did not play as loud as the Panasonic in-box headset. The first CD that I played was Jazzamatazz, V2. It has a strong synthesized bass beat and I was not hearing it with any great impact on the Panasonic/AT combination. Reverting back to the speakers in the box, the bass livened up quite nicely and the impact was heavier (this is a rap based CD afterall). I then tried a dance CD (Micro-Tech Mix) from Moonshine Records. The same effect. The stock headsets presented a more forward effect than the P5's. The AT's were more laid back, with a softer treble and weak bass. I had to crank the sound to 70% before I heard any solid volume.

So I changed tactics and hooked both to a boombox that my brother has (I am at my brothers in NYC so I don't have access to my stereo).

Now, did a difference come. The Sony boombox has a much higher power rating (the portable CD player is rated at only 40 mW per side, while the boombox is probably 3 times that. While the AT's were quieter at the same level, they could be played much louder without breakup. Actually, the P5's only began distorting at 90% of the boomboxes volume, and probably because the Sony was using cheap op amp transistor and it was that which was distorting, not the speaker. The sound was much more forward (although not as much as the stock headphones), but they sounded more detailed. Being a semi-open design and only large enough to cover my ears on the surface, they were leaking all sorts of sound and I was surprised that my brother knew I was listening to India.Arie's Acoustic Soul, even though the sound was not that high.

Overall, the AT P5's have a pleasant sound that can be played loud, but they are inadequate for portable audio, unless it has either a strong output or if you are willing to carry a headphone AMP with you where ever you go. The acoustics are polite and the treble is dulled softly at the top, but it has a nice mid-range that the mass marketers are still missing to a degree. However, it could not overcome it's resistance to power and hence does not work out well in an environment that is noisy.


Recommend this product? No


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