In this installment of guest blogger Frank Klepacki’s series on music production, he tries out A-T’s ATH-E70 pro in-ear monitor headphones. If you missed Frank’s previous post, you can read it here.
When Audio Technica announced they were entering the professional in-ear monitor market, it made sense given their history of making great quality studio headphones. I’ve loved the sound of the M50x headphones for quite some time. However, I know that performing live with in-ear monitors can really be ultra-subjective to each individual, and I’ve certainly tried my share of different in-ears over the years. I performed with these on stage (singing and playing drums at the same time), used while recording in the studio, and for casual listening on an iPod.
Let’s start by unpacking the ATH-E70s. The cable is smooth and unravels easily without getting tangled. The bendable over-the-ear support feels sturdy and stays in place to whatever shape you put it in. But the interesting thing is the shape of the drivers themselves: They are long oval shapes that sit very firmly at the base of your ear canal. Once secured, even if they budged a bit midway through my performance, the sound did not get compromised, as the buds stayed locked into my ears, which was a very pleasant surprise.
They come with five sizes of buds to put over the drivers to accommodate your ear size. I actually prefer the largest foam buds they come with, for maximum isolation. All others that were rubber had a hint of ambient bleed for me, and it’s my personal preference to not have that, so I was happy to have the option. It actually affects the sound of the drivers you’re hearing to a degree, as well. The rubber buds had a tendency to bring unwanted focus in the 7k frequency range – I found that the foam isolating buds did not do that, and were the best-suited to show off the true sound quality of these great drivers.
The sound quality of these is absolutely superb. It’s flat enough across the frequency spectrum, very clear, and pleasing for long amounts of listening time, it really responds well to loud volumes and being pushed with serious punch, which was also surprising to me in terms of the threshold they can take. The kick drum feels just right, the guitars were not overbearing, the bass sat perfectly, and vocals were not shrill, nor did they have any annoying standout mid frequency as can often happen. Of course a great soundman makes a difference too, but typically I get a few subgroups of a mix so I can have some control of my own after the fact.
For example, I’ll run my own mic line and split it to the front of house, and then run a separate keyboard direct out, and the rest of the band will be in the main send.
In conclusion, Audio-Technica has knocked this out of the park, and I would highly recommend these, as they have become my personal new favorite in the in-ear market.
Frank Klepacki is an award-winning composer for video games and television for such titles as Command & Conquer, Star Wars: Empire at War, and MMA sports programs such as Ultimate Fighting Championship and Inside MMA. He resides as audio director for Petroglyph, in addition to being a recording artist, touring performer, and producer. For more info, visit www.frankklepacki.com
(Photo courtesy of Frank Klepacki)