Audio Technica WS99 Review. The Solid Bass WS99 over ear semi-open back headphones are great for lovers of a darker sonic signature and offer an increased bass presence at an interesting price.
With a number of successful products already firmly placed inside the headphone market, Audio-Technica are a leader in both headphone development, and execution. Recently we had the pleasure o awarding a four-and-a-half star rating to the ATH-M50's, and now up for review we have the recently released ATH-WS99 with a tag line of 'solid bass'.
Having a white box sleeve, this covers a sleek black box featuring a velcro, yes velcro, window flap to taunt you with what you are either about to buy, or unwrap. The WS99's come with two interchangeable cords; a standard 3.5mm female jack to male jack, and an seperate in-line microphone and drawer slider volume control. However, the WS99’s do not come with a 3.5mm to 1/4inch adapter as many would in this price range. Yes these headphones aren't a 'pro audio' studio model, but they are instead primarily designed for the audiophile on the go so the retraction of a 3.5mm jack to 1/4" converter is a simple overlook.
These headphones are of a very sturdy construction, and have a reassuring weight to them without feeling like they're made of concrete! The WS99’s are of a semi open-backed design with a tri-vent construction on each ear cup's backing plate making these a semi-open back design. These vents are recessed and should not allow grit or debris into the headphone enclosure. The headphone cups themselves are made from black plastic with a black brass back plate, with an embossed silver-metallic Audio-Technica company logo on top. The cable is split with the left and right wires terminating to a 3.5mm connecter, which you can then attach a normal longer 3.5mm lead or to the lead with microphone and volume control. The reasoning for this is due to the fact that they are designed to be more portable, having an cable going to only one side of the driver housings would put them off balance and thus not suitable for walking around with.The cables are of sturdy construction and I believe could take the batters and bumps of a modern day commuter on the move. The volume control feels a little less solid and professional grade than the headphones themselves, additionally the volume control has a limited range of control and feels more of an on/off slider than a variable volume control.
WS99 Sound Quality:
As soon as you put the WS99's on they instantly shine across audible spectrum due to the overshot of 8Hz - 25kHz, and have a warm defined low-end that sounds superb with all genres of music. In fact instead of punching out, the bass surrounds the listener with thanks to the incorporated 'Double Air-Chamber' that seems to extend the bass response. This clarity of bass is pleasing when mixed in with the WS99’s smooth bright mid range frequencies. Overall guitars sound bright/well placed, similarly pianos have a full sound quality that makes listening an immersive experience, as the highs are slightly recessed without being too harsh to the ears. However, the high frequency response still provides that top end definition that makes a great audible experience. Moving on to the sound-stage, it is spread a little wider than preferred, however still close. Even when driven hard there is no audible distortion in the upper range, and no warbling of the low.
The ear pads could have thicker padding, as I found after prolonged uses my ears did begin to feel the pressure of the headset and they did become a little uncomfortable to wear. This is for the consumer on the move so I assume that the smaller ear pad foot print is of practical application. The head band securely holds the ear cups firmly to your head and even during rapid movement, even running, the WS99’s didn’t slip from their purchase. Audio-Technica have gone against the trend by opting for the 90degree 3.5mm termination jack rather than straight. This is no real major issue but could be prone to causing damage when in constant removal and replacement of the device into a pocket.
Overall the WS99’s are a mid ranged priced pair of headphones, that favour the bass orientated individual, but who also require definition across the spectrum. With warm low ends mixed with sleek product design, these headphones certainly have their place in the headphone market. The comfort was a little questionable from a number of test users, however the comments on fidelity astounded us. So here at The Pro Audio Web Blog awards the Audio-Technica WS99’s 4.5 Stars!