Austrian Audio Hi-X65 Review
Austrian Audio developed the foldable, open Hi-X65 headphones in Vienna. Not only that, but the receiver is also wholly manufactured in the Austrian capital. These critical data alone are enough for many interested parties to assume that they will be outside their budget anyway. But that’s not necessarily true because, with around 400$, AA shows that Made In Austria is still feasible at a fair price in 2021.
- Well made, comfortable and lightweight, with detachable cables.
- Clear sound with a nice open soundstage.
- Not fussy about headphone amps.
- Rather brighter than most open‑backed headphones.
- No proper carry case supplied.
Austrian Audio Hi-X65 details.
Up to now, Austrian Audio has only had closed models. The AA Hi-X50 is an on-ear model, the Austrian Audio Hi-X65 is designed as an over-ear. The Austrian Audio Hi-X65 builds on this. Austrian Audio will have done more than just punched holes in the outer panel. Nevertheless, the 65 uses many components of the already existing listeners of the Viennese. Briefly, the essential points again: The shells can be rotated, tilted, and folded, making the Austrian Audio Hi-X65 very easy to transport. The headband and earpiece cushions are made of the same material and covered with artificial leather. The cable guide is on one side on the right side. Straight cables in two lengths are included—a three-meter cable for home/studio and a 1.2-meter short cable for mobile use.
Mobile operation possible and desired.
The fact that mobile operation is explicitly part of the scope of duties of the Austrian Audio Hi-X65 is also evident from the low impedance of 25 ohms in combination with a sensitivity of 110 dB SPL (1V). According to the dynamic principle, the conversion takes place with light aluminum coils on the 44mm membranes, which are deflected far. As a result, AA’s level frequency response is given 5 Hz – 28 kHz, the distortion at 1 kHz with 0.1%.
The voice coils only oppose the headphone amplifier with an impedance of 25 ohms. This means that the Hi-X65 is suitable for mobile use in terms of the requirements for an amp.
Material appearance and processing
As with the Hi-X50 and Hi-X55, the Austrian Audio Hi-X65 is also built with decent materials, although the black plastic of the listener is not exaggeratedly high-quality (but by no means “cheap”). The processing is simply perfect.
I had to look at the LR marking in the ear cups several times to make sure that the Austrian Audio Hi-X65 was the right way up. The bracket is not upright but instead bends forward significantly. What seems a bit strange the first time and maybe looks “wrong” works exceptionally well: I immediately find a suitable position, and I find it pleasant that the bracket sits quite far forward on the head. For me, the ear cups have precisely the proper contact pressure, which is also matched to the padding, which adapts to the contours but is not squeezed too much. If you have a tiny head, you should check whether it is sitting securely enough.
I can easily keep the receiver on my head for a working day, partly due to the moderate weight of 310 grams. The entire construction is pleasantly quiet when moving, the cable should like to transmit even less structure-borne noise, but this is worse with many other listeners.
The slight attenuation of external noises would – especially after I had a STAX SR-202 on my head – perhaps even make me type on a half-open receiver instead of an open one. But, after all, the transitions are fluid.
After a short listening, it becomes clear that the Austrian Audio Hi-X65 is a well-balanced piece of audio engineering in all respects. There are no tonal properties that stand out in any way. This may make it seem unspectacular at first.
The 65 does not have extremely powerful bass. However, it has a dryness, clarity, and detailed display that allow an excellent sound assessment. The exact pitch of a bass, the properties of a bass drum, or the detection of low-frequency sources of interference is much easier and safer with the precise representation of the AA than with “bubbling bass” headphones. It is also the precision that runs through the entire frequency band and makes the listener appear at eye level with, for example, the Audio-Technica ATH-R70X, which also does a lot for its money.
The mids are a prime example of low discoloration and resolution. On the first day, I would have had no problem positioning essential signals in a mix in the level. After that, however, the range above 1 kHz seems a bit reduced. This makes the sharpness components appear more transparent, which makes editing and the all-important determination of sharpness of signals possible very well. Because the Austrian Audio Hi-X65 takes a clear edge here, the long-term audibility is perhaps minimally worse than if a “HiFi dip” were used here.
The highs are also evident but never appear crystalline or glassy. Artificial freshness and airiness are also not produced with a high level in the Air Band. The X65 allows an exact determination of what is happening. Noise, for example, can be recognized and assessed very clearly.
What happens behind it is of outstanding quality.
The level of detail is high and a clear sign of quality. But that’s not all: the listener’s dynamic response is first-class. The different reactions of different microphones to consonants such as the [t] or the regular activity of dynamics devices are nicely represented. The Austrian does not restrict the dynamics either and allows you to work at very different levels while maintaining the same sound character.
And the last discipline is also very successful: the depth of the room is enormous, the positions of the signals placed there can be determined very precisely. This also shows how good the properties of the AA Hi-X65 are for editing and mixing.
With the Hi-X65, as with the OC18 and OC818 microphones, Austrian Audio proves that outstanding quality technology developed and produced in an EU country does not have to be outrageously expensive. On the contrary, for 350 euros, you get high-quality, open headphones with neutral tuning, with which you have an excellent tool for important sound engineering work.