Audio-Technica Pro700MK2 Review – Another for the Basshead Set

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I’m a basshead. I say that loudly and proudly, even though some folks believe basshead and audiophile are mutually exclusive. Obviously, I’m not in that camp. But sometimes, I break away from audiophile listening and just want to crank up the bass and listen to some phat beats (don’t worry, I felt just as bad typing that as you did reading it). So recently, when I was in search of the biggest, most powerful bass I could get for the buck, I ended up getting the Audio-Technica Pro700MK2 after reading several impressions that mentioned “seismic” bass quantity with quality to match.

So, does the Audio-Technica Pro700MK2 live up to the hype? Read on to find out.

Accessories: The Pro700MK2 ships with two cables, one 4ft long and straight, with a recessed plug (for iPhones) and an 8ft long coiled cable with a threaded for use with the screw on ¼” adapter. Both cables are threaded at the point where they connect to the headphones themselves. Finally, Audio-Technica also includes a drawstring leather pouch for transport.

Design and Build Quality: The Pro700MK2 headphones are made for DJ use and as such, they feel quite durable and able to withstand a good deal of punishment and transport from gig to gig. The removable cables are threaded, which keeps them from being pulled out unexpectedly.

Comfort: Here’s where things sort of fall apart for the Pro700MK2. Now comfort is an entirely subjective thing and not everyone is going to have the same experience I did but I couldn’t stand to wear these for long without modification to the pads. The problem is the pads are too thin and there’s a small bump at the center of the metal driver covers (which you can see in the pictures) which presses into my ears. If the pads were thicker or if the bump wasn’t there, this wouldn’t be an issue, but it is.

But I do understand that these aren’t built for consumer use and are thus not really made for long term comfort. As a consumer, I was forced to perform a completely reversible mod in which I cut a spare Cat-5 Ethernet cable to size, taped the ends together with some electrical tape and stuffed them underneath the rim of the pads. The result is more space between my ears and the drivers which makes them much more comfortable and gives me increased isolation and arguably a slightly more open sound, but that may just be a placebo effect.

Isolation: These isolate fairly well and sound leakage is minimal.

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Sound Quality

Burn in: These were burned in for upwards of 50 hours prior to review.

The Pro700MK2 has gained something of a reputation for being very powerful about the bass regions. One review even compared them to strapping two subwoofers to your head. Well I can safely say that these don’t have the kind of massive bass I was expecting but that’s only because the claim was exaggerated. They do have gobs of bass, with a very nice emphasis on sub bass and lacking a mid-bass hump. The amount of bass is superior to just about every headphone I’ve tried, including the bass heavy Klipsch Image One and has pretty good texture and detail in spite of the relatively soft impact.

The midrange is slightly recessed and slightly warm but remains well detailed and sounds a little less recessed than its elder sibling, the M50. Vocals are smooth and there’s no sign of sibilance. Instrument separation is solid and the midrange rarely sounds congested but there is some grain evident within it that makes them sound a bit dry and, perhaps, “scratchy” at times but the mids are mostly smooth on the whole and what little grain I did notice was minimal.  Treble presentation is less forward than that of the M50 and strays from the typical Audio-Technica house sound that I’ve grown accustomed to, namely forward and energetic. Instead, the treble presentation is a bit dry and less forward than I was expecting but the upside of this is that they’re not very fatiguing over long periods.

The soundstage is wide and deep enough for a closed-back headphone, sounding a bit more spacious than the M50 but still has a relatively “closed in” sound that I don’t think any fully closed headphone can ever get away from. Imaging is decent, neither really poor nor great, but should be adequate for DJ monitoring. The presentation is somewhat dark, almost to the point that it sounds rather opaque but I actually don’t mind it. I’ve said time and time again that I enjoy darker, warmer sound signatures and because of that, I’m more willing to excuse the dark nature of the sound signature. But nonetheless, I can’t imagine these will appeal to people who don’t like this kind of sound, unless they’re in it for the big bass, like I was.

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The Audio-Technica Pro700MK2 is available from Amazon and a number of other online retailers for prices as low as $140. At that price, I think they’re a good deal for a fine pair of DJ headphones but consumers might want to look at the usually cheaper and (at least in my opinion) slightly better balanced M50. The M50 doesn’t have the bombastic bass and its mids are slightly more recessed but the better appointed treble balances things out.

Nonetheless, I have to remember that this is a dedicated, purpose-built monitor for DJ use, not a consumer class headphone. In that role, I imagine these perform quite admirably, with their rigid and easily transportable design and well detailed sound that rivals, if not surpasses the M50 in terms of pure detail. For consumers, especially those who like to listen to music for hours at a time like me, a pad replacement (the M50 pads are pretty good on them) or modification like mine is likely in order. The removable cable is a boon for transport and versatility and the bass is just wonderful for hip-hop so I see the consumer appeal but the comfort issues might leave something to be desired. That said, these are a great sounding pair of headphones for the price and performed well with just about everything I tested them with.

About Justin McBride

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