You know a headphone is expensive when it has a serial number. Audio-Technica’s ATH-W3000ANV headphone review sample was #1505 (the MSRP for the headphone is $1,299.95, though street pricing may be considerably lower). As befits a 50th anniversary model, these headphones came in a deluxe leatherette finished box with a slipcase and a handwritten note from Audio-Technica’s founder, Kazuo Matsushita. Audio-Technica even included a small velveteen bag to hold the headphone cable, but none for the headphones themselves (I guess A-T figures the ATH-W3000ANVs will spend most of their time on your head.) While I was impressed by Audio-Technica’s attention to detail, I was disappointed with the re-use possibilities of A-T’s packaging—nothing to do but put it in the attic with the other fancy audio component boxes. I think most people would have preferred a nice wooden box like the one that comes with the Audeze LCD-2 and LCD-3 planar magnetic headphones that could be repurposed and reused.
Considering their size, the Audio-Technica ATH-W3000ANV headphones are remarkably light. Every time I picked them up I marveled at how little effort it required. The ear cups, which are made from traditional Japanese Echizen lacquer-finished Hokkaido Asada cherry heartwood, are partially responsible for the ATH-W3000ANV’s lack of weight. The wood ear cup can be thin because of the wood’s intrinsic strength and the shape of the ear cup itself. When I tapped one with my finger I heard the same midrange “tonk” sound I’ve heard when tapping the side of a premium solid wood acoustic guitar, except with the ATH-W3000ANV the “tonk” had no ringing because it’s better damped than a guitar. Any sympathetic resonances that are generated by the ATH-W3000ANV’s ear cups will be from wood, not plastic or metal. Do wooden-bodied headphones have a more natural and organic sound than those that use other