The Audio Technica ATH-SR5BK is new to the headphone scene, but it’s presence has been largely overshadowed by it’s wireless sister model, the ATH-SR5BT. At $149. it’s neither cheap nor expensive as far as compact on-ear headphones go, but how does it sound? Let’s check it out.
The SR5Bk features a slim on-ear design that remains lightweight while still giving me an impression of quality. It doesn’t feel like it could break unless I really made it a point to destroy these headphones. There’s a 4 ft (1.2 m) cable with a mic and remote, as well as a carrying pouch. Aside from these two accessories, the headphones don’t come with too many frills.
Where comfort is concerned, this headphone is no dog. The smallish earcups and thin headband feature a pleather padding that goes a long way in isolating ambient noise and keeping ear fatigue off the table. Even my big elephant ears could handle these headphones.
|Driver Diameter||45 mm|
|Frequency Response||5-40,000 Hz|
|Maximum Input Power||1,500 mW|
|Weight||165 g (5.8 oz), without cable|
|Cable||Detachable 1.2 m (3.9′) smartphone cable with in-line control/microphone|
|Connector||3.5 mm (⅛”) stereo mini-plug, L-shaped|
|Sensitivity (Microphone)||-40 dB (1V/Pa at 1 kHz)|
|Frequency Response (Microphone)||50 – 4,000 Hz|
|Polar Pattern (Microphone)||Omnidirectional|
These specifications reveal a headphone with a wide frequency range, a low impedance, and some decent volume. For a closed back, it should offer us a decent amount of detail, ease-of-use with a portable player, and it should still get pretty loud.
The low end on the SR5BK seems a bit lacking. The sound is underpowered, with a weak bass that has little to no impact. What detail I can find in the low end is well-controlled, with only some bleeding. On trickier tracks with deep male vocals, the low end can get a little muddy, but it’s not the end of the world.
Featuring an adequate level of fidelity, the mids on the SR5BK sound somewhat compressed. Male vocals, especially, can sound somewhat distorted – not to the point of sounding horrible, but just enough to prevent the mids from sound as good as they ought to.
The SR5BK really excels in the high-end of the frequency range, where its sound gets downright sparkling in quality. Not piercing, this sound is pretty close to spot-on-accurate, and a definite reason to recommend these ‘phones. Where the lows and mids can prove troublesome for male vocals, the high end lends an incredible amount of pizzazz to female vocals.
The soundstage is lackluster on the SR5BK. There’s a semblance of soundstage with some complex classical tracks, but even this sounds as though it has been shoe-horned inside the headphone. In essence, it’s just not that good.
The SR5BK is portable, relatively comfortable, and doesn’t sound completely abysmal. The weak low end and slightly-unimpressive mids make it a lackluster headphone for some listening tastes, but the fantastic high end could very well recommend these headphones for other listening tastes. While we found rock and hip hop lacking on the SR5BK, we were more than happy with them when listening to classical music or songs dominated by female vocals. As far as it’s competition, the closest competitor would be the Koss SP330, another on-ear headphone that might offer more mid-range fidelity, but lacks that miraculous high-end. Other on-ear models from the likes of Beyerdynamic, AKG, and Ultrasone offer more bass and perhaps just the slightest amount of mid-range detail, but these would also lack the kind of highs we’re seeing on the SR5BK.
If you’re a basshead, these headphones are going to suck. They’re going to suck hard. So if you’re into bass, and lots of it, jump over to the Beyerdynamic Custom Street and have a ball. Or opt for something a little bulkier and more isolating, like the AKG K67 DJ. Conversely, if you’re after the most mid-range detail you can get, with a good level of clarity and separation to boot, we recommend the Koss SP330. However, if you prefer a brighter-sounding pair of headphones, the SR5BK won’t steer you wrong. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that these headphones sound like a cheaper and slightly-less-awesome than ATH-MSR7…but maybe that’s going too far.
Curious to hear how these babies sound? Pop on over to our Manhattan showroom to give them or a listen. Or…