Audio Technica ATH-W1000Z Review featured image
Mike Piskor 2015

Audio Technica ATH-W1000Z Review

In this feature, we review the Audio Technica ATH-W1000Z, which is a pair of closed-back 53mm dynamic driver headphones with a teak cup finish. They are priced at $699.95.

Disclaimer: This is a sample sent in exchange for our honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website with no affiliate links or status. Thank you to Audio Technica for this opportunity.

Click here to read more on Audio Technica products that we have previously covered on Headfonics

Note, that this article follows our current scoring guidelines which you can read up on here.

Audio Technica ATH-W1000Z Review featured image
Audio Technica ATH-W1000Z Review
The Audio Technica ATH-W1000Z is a headphone for people with a woody fetish, as well as someone who might want a lot more coloration and musicality over the Fostex TH600 and similar headphones. 
Slide here to add your score on the gear!51 Votes
Beautiful midrange.
Striking wood cup design.
Poor seal for bass response.
Reader's Score

Audio Technica’s HQ office is not that far away from my house; I’ve been there a few times in the past and have gawked at the facility’s innards. 

A good friend of mine recommended I try to invest time into reviewing the newly released ATH W1000Z because I adore the rare ATH W3000ANV so very much.  Fans of the older W-series should feel right at home with this new model.

Gear Used For This Review


Eyebrows will be raised, ears will perk up and wallets will be drained.  If you are wondering, those gorgeous wooden cups are made of a thick cut of Teak. 

I don’t know much about wood rarity, only to the extent the Internet tells me on a quick sweep of the topic, but it seems Teak is quite rare and highly sought after as a building material for ultra, high-end string instruments. 

As Audio Technica claims on its website, the W1000z does indeed offer a warm tilt to its sound signature.  Having never heard a Teak woodie headphone before, I can only assume the warmth in coloration is to be expected when this type of wood is selected. 

These yummy tonal hues have never been a problem with this company in the past, they get musicality and have always been the go-to “house sound” for those interested in tasty, gently colored sound signatures. 

Most, if not all of their higher-end headphones offer the same general sound type and are wonderfully delicious in tone.  Without going overboard and saturating the headphones with warmth, most wooden cup headphones tend to serve up this type of presentation. 

To date, their W3000ANV and ESW911JPN are headphones that I consider the most musical, the most fun, the most well-tuned, and generally unforgettable in sound type in their respective price tiers.  Thankfully, the W1000Z fits snugly in between these models and offers satisfying levels of warmth on the low end.


Like their newly released ATH ESW9-LTD, their new portable woodie, Audio Technica has given their larger W1000z a hefty glaze job.  The headphones are supremely reflective with a candy-like visual appeal, much more so than the previous models in the W-series. 

Much like Lawton’s custom woodies, Audio Technica’s woodies almost always force me to restrain myself from trying to nibble on them.  

Thank the audio deities that I am not a sleepwalker, I could easily imagine myself waking up in the middle of the night and walking over to where I keep most of my headphones on display, picking up the W1000z, and chewing on it for a bit. 

In all seriousness, the lacquer finish and heft of the cut of wood is very high end and I don’t have a problem stating that Fostex’s TH900 Japanese Birch cups are an inferior product compared to this cheaper ATH W1000z.  

Audio Technica always does a fine job with their woodworking, they deserve commendation for always shelling out something lustrous and visually appealing.  Audio Technica doesn’t produce an ugly woody headphone, every single one of them shouts high-class stylization to the utmost degree.

 Audio Technica ATH-W1000Z Review

Comfort & Isolation

Audio Technica sticks to their guns with design implementation and it is extremely rare for them to tangent to a design that is noticeably dissimilar to the previous models.  I am not okay with this, there were serious fit issues with the last generation of W-series headphones and they’ve not listened to anyone’s complaints. 

They’ve opted for a rehash of the basic design with no improvement or alterations.  A big problem with the W-series was that the headband was just not designed for a human head; it was designed with a very odd fit that almost nobody I am aware of was happy with.

This is a rare case where more clamping force is required if you want to continue to keep this type of wire-laden headband that also offers a poor seal. 

This was always a severe problem. The angle of approach is too much of a classic half-circle, not much else needs to be said about it.  As a result of this type of angle, the pads end up pinching the area just below your ears and on the top of your neck. 

Bestowing a large percentage of the clamping force to these sensitive areas is just about the worst thing you can do when it comes to design.  The area of the pads above your ears seals poorly, the bottom portion of the pads seals much better. 

The result is a mixed bag of results that leaves me extremely upset.  I can’t achieve a satisfying, comfortable experience and I continually readjust the headphones in an attempt to find a position I am okay with.  So far, I’ve failed in that endeavor.

 Audio Technica ATH-W1000Z Review


The headphone is plenty light at 320g and those pads are supremely comfortable, but offering so much plushness and give in those leather earpads only makes things worse about improper seal and the need to keep the headphones in place. 

Moving your head even slightly causes the headphones to apply more pressure to that area just below your ears, yet also shake around too much with a slight nod or sneeze. 

Summed up, the wiring in the headband not only makes you look like a satellite dish but also causes some pain and discomfort due to improper angles that parallel actual human heads. 

I also found it odd that the designers opted to use velour fabric for the underside of the flying wing system that rests on your head, but the earpads are a supple leatherette. It is a weird contrast happening there and it sure does feel yucky on my shaved head. 

People with hair up yonder will not feel it, but those who keep two-day stubble should know that fabric hats, beanies, and velour-type materials in headbands or earpads don’t mesh with short hair.  You get a constant grinding sensation that is extremely unappealing; let’s stick with all leather next time, shall we?

How To Improve The Fitting?

If you find yourself interested in buying the headphones and end up with a similar distaste for the W1000z’s fit issues, try using a large rubber band to force the wire headband closer together. 

It will help with seal and comfort, lessening the likelihood of the pads poking the upper part of your neck just under your ears and leaving marks over that area.  Gently pushing the wireframing above the flying wing system results in a proper seal and increased sound quality. 

It turns the headphones into something unrecognizable by comparison to just letting the headphones sit on your head normally and listening to it without pressure applied. 

Audio Technica did a great job with the W1000z, but it is bottlenecked by this horrid wire frame headband that is improperly set up.  If it doesn’t conform to your head, you won’t get a good seal.  If you don’t get a good seal, the headphone sounds wonky. 

The only way to fix this is to get creative and find a way to apply a little more pressure and cause the upper end of the earcups to press against your noggin’ a little harder. 

The lower end of the pads doesn’t have that problem, so making the upper half press a little closer to the side of your head results in actually being able to hear what the headphones are capable of.

Click on Page 2 below for our Sound Impressions and verdict.

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