The quest for perfect music can often be an endless one, especially if you are an audiophile. Every time you are wowed by a speaker or headphone, your ears are craving for something better. But there often comes along something that can be like a bookmark in this journey, something that holds fort for a few years till something else comes to blow your mind. I feel the Audio-technica AWAS might be one such device for many.
The ATH-AWAS are closed-back dynamic wooden headphones. The design is a bit old-fashioned, or traditional, with over-the-ear cups that completely take your ears inside them. The best thing about the design is the cups, made of red Japanese Cherry wood or Asada Zakura. The headphones in fact blended so well into the furniture at home that some guests thought they were some interior design prop.
The headband is a mix of rubber and metal and can be adjusted for the perfect fit. Audio-Technica uses its A2DC (Audio Designed Detachable Coaxial) cables here and in the box, you get one 6.3 mm gold-plated stereo plug and a 4-pin XLRM balanced connector, both with 3 metre cables. I used the latter with a 3.5mm convertor on the MacBook, but those buying these headphones won’t be those who need a connector and have the kind of output that can plug in the cables directly.
The headphones are very comfortable to use over long hours because despite being made from wood, they are not too heavy. Even as the magnesium alloy arms balance the weight well, the leather covers inside make your ears feel comfortable. However, in the Indian summer, I’m sure you will want to take these off at times to give your ears a breather.
The ATH-AWAS uses 53 mm drivers with magnetic circuitry and the diaphragms have a diamond-like carbon coating. All this means the audio reproduction is exceptional. The prelude before Valerie Joyce’s Fever shows you the depth and range of these headphones in a few seconds. If you are one who loves to hear a lot of vocals, then these headphones might appear like a godsend because of how natural it sounds. It is as if you are sitting just next to where Christy Baron is singing Ain’t No Sunshine, the cello being plucked to balance out the heavy vocals.
It was almost an explosion in my head when I played the audiophile version of Boney M’s Sunny, and it was not just the memories. The BGM is so layered, even in a complex composition. Then when you cut down to something powerful like Jessica Manning singing Somewhere Only We Know, you have tested both sides of the spectrum of what the ATH-AWAS can achieve.
It was not like I would send back these headphones without playing some of my personal favourites. From The Girl From Ipanema to Hotel California, all songs I would have heard hundreds of times over the years, I discovered new aspects, all very enjoyable and adding to my loverly memories of these songs.
Then the playlist skipped to You and Your Friend by Dire Straits… I felt weak in my knees. This was special, like a soft, fluffy bean bag from which you don’t want to get out, ever. Maybe the Audio-technica AWAS is the end of the journey to audio bliss.
However, the Audio-technica AWAS is an investment, it better be with this kind of ethereal capabilities. Don’t even look this side if you don’t have Rs 2,75,790 to set aside for your quest to find the perfect headphones for you. But then for those who really love their music, this is a small price to pay for your ticket to audio bliss. The Audio-technica AWAS is like fine art, it exists to put everything else in perspective.