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Austrian Audio Hi-X65 Review

Verdict

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Trusted Reviews Recommended

A pair of wired open-backed headphones with a smooth, detailed and natural reproduction of audio. For those looking for a pair for mixing or more critical listening, these headphones from Austrian Audio are certainly worth a shout.

Pros

  • Great build quality and comfort
  • Insightful presentation
  • Can be easily driven
  • Replaceable ear and bow pads

Cons

  • Not the widest soundstage
  • Open-backed design can leak sound

Availability

  • UKRRP: £349.99
  • USATBC
  • EuropeTBC
  • CanadaTBC
  • AustraliaTBC

Key Features

  • High Excursion driversFeature Austrian Audio’s proprietary 44mm driver technology for low distortion
  • Replaceable design featuresEar and bow pads can be replaced
  • FoldableHeadphones can be folded away for transport/storage

Introduction

Austrian Audio’s range of headphones is mostly made up of wired options for home listening and professional use. The Hi-X65, along with the Hi-X60, sits at the top of the tree.

The Hi-X60 are available for the same price, the difference between the two is that the Hi-X65 have an open-backed design, offering a wider, more natural soundstage than closed-back models.

Made with mastering and mixing in mind, the Hi-X65 also trains its sights on audiophiles with an emphasis on detail and clarity. The market is not short of options, with competition from Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, Sivga, Grado and HiFiMan. What’s Austrian Audio got to compete with them?

Design

  • Snug, comfortable fit
  • Plain look
  • Replaceable ear and bow pads

The Hi-X65 are terrifically built headphones. They’re not particularly eye-catching in terms of the materials used or colours employed – the grey and black colourway give them a plain, business-like demeanour but the metal hinges and headband should make them durable enough for any knocks and scrapes.

Austrian Audio Hi-X65 hinge
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Looks aside, these are headphones that conform to the head fantastically well. The clamping force finds the perfect middle ground between not being too tight or too loose with its snug, compliant fit.

The earpads are particularly soft in easing the pressure around the ears, with the underside of the headband performing the same trick with its padding. In terms of comfort, I’ve worn these for prolonged periods without experiencing much discomfort or my ears heating up.

Austrian Audio Hi-X65 heat dispersion
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Rather uniquely, both the soft memory earpads and the bow pad (the underside of the headband) can be replaced, the bow pad is attached via a Velcro strip, a decision that should help with the headphones’ longevity with wear as well as hygiene. The gap in the headband also assists in terms of ventilation, the heat from a head is able to disperse through the top of the frame. It’s a well-thought-out design.

It’s also an open-backed design, as can be seen with the semi-permeable grille on the earcups. As always, cover them and you can hear the soundstage contract and expand accordingly. A pouch is provided to keep the headphones protected for transportation and the Hi-X65 can be collapsed inwards to save space.

Austrian Audio Hi-X65 pouch
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Features

  • Low impedance makes them easy to drive
  • Supplied with two cables
  • 44mm proprietary drivers

Though the spec sheet says the Hi-X65 are supplied with two detachable cables (3m and 1.2m), my sample only came with the shorter length. That terminates in a 3.5mm connection with a 6.3mm adapter provided for those plugging into hi-fi kit that supports the larger size.

Austrian Audio Hi-X65 cable connection
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The frequency range is described as 5Hz to 28kHz, which is a measurement that should be taken with a pinch of salt given the human hearing range only covers 20Hz to 20kHz. While you may not be able to hear those frequencies as such, you’ll perchance be able to feel them as they pass through the Hi-X65’s drivers.

Austrian Audio Hi-X65 bow pad
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Austrian Audio employs its own proprietary 44mm High Excursion drivers for a linear frequency response and combined with the open-backed design it aims to communicate an open, spacious and precise soundstage. THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) is rated at 0.1%, which is another way of saying that there’s little signal noise to contend with when listening to audio.

With an impedance of 25ohms, the Hi-X65 can be easily driven by any source device without the need of external amplification (such as a DAC). Sensitivity is 110dB, implying these headphones can go loud when the volume is turned up.

Sound Quality

  • Smooth, detailed mid-range performance
  • Good tonal balance
  • Not the widest soundstage for an open-backed pair

Smooth and detailed are the words I’d apply to the Austrian Audio’s audio performance. Switching between them and the Monolith M1070 and the Hi-X65 has a better grasp of detail and definition, portrays dynamics more convincingly, and produces a stereo image with depth and a tidy sense of organisation, though the width of the soundstage is not pitched as wide as the Monolith.

Austrian Audio Hi-X65 side profile
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The soundstage is arranged closer to the listener rather than held at a distance like some open-backed pairs and that does make for a more incisive presentation, especially for critical listening. With Jacob Collier’s All I Need or late 90s classic Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn, the Austrian Audio’s handle on vocals is transparent and forthright in its delivery.

There’s good response on the high frequency side of things with Naima’s Love Story, with nice detail to the tambourine shakes that are conveyed without distortion. Bass is solidly handled in Kelela’s Bank Head but is not what I’d call big or weighty – it’s in keeping with the headphone’s more neutral approach in that it’s a deliberately considered take on low frequencies that doesn’t spill over into the midrange or is over-emphasised.

Each part of the frequency range is filled with information, conveyed in a consistent and confident manner.

Austrian Audio Hi-X65 open design
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

With Makaya McCraven’s Half Steppin’ steamed on Qobuz, the Hi X65 conveys the flow and rhythm of the track, keeping up with the switches in tempo in a fluid manner, with a good sense of snap and attack to the percussive elements. If you do partner them with a DAC – for some of the testing I used the Chord Mojo 2 – there’s more detail to feast on and a more spaciously decorated and tightly defined soundstage with a DAC in tow. Without the Mojo 2, they’re not as articulate but few headphones are.

Overall, these headphones sport a good tonal balance with their measured bass, satisfying treble response and smooth and clear midrange performance. These are a likeable and appealing-sounding pair of open-backed headphones with good levels of articulacy and insight. For mixing or listening to high quality music then these are a very good bet, though with the Røde NTH-100 on the scene, you can arguably get a similar level of performance for considerably less.

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Should you buy it?

If you prefer a more critical approach to listening: The Hi-X65 are built for mixing, mastering and high-quality reproduction of music, and that front they’re a success.

You desire a wider soundstage: I get the sense that while the Hi-X65’s soundstage is spacious, it’s not quite as expansive as other open-backed pairs.

Final Thoughts

A satisfying pair of open-backed wired headphones that engage with their transparent and insightful performance. If you need a pair of headphones for mixing/mastering purposes or want a wired pair for more critical listening that doesn’t require assistance from a DAC, then the Austrian Audio are absolutely recommended.

They’re well-built, comfortable to wear and hit the right notes. Impedance is low enough that they don’t need to be driven by amplification, which makes them more accessible to a wider audience. Speaking of width, for an open-backed pair of headphones the soundstage is not as wide as I’d like, closer in spirit to a closed-backed pair.

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Tested for more than a month

Tested with lossless/hi-res audio files

FAQs

What cables/adapters do the Austrian Audio Hi-X65 come with?

The headphones are packaged with 1.2m and 3m detachable cables, with 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter also included with the cans.

Full specs

UK RRP
Manufacturer
IP rating
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ASIN
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Driver (s)
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Frequency Range
Headphone Type
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Hi-Res Audio

 

Hi-Res audio is referred to as a standard as well as a marketing term that describes digital audio files of better-than-CD quality (16-bit/44.1kHz).

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