To some, Austrian Audio may appear to be a new company, and while they are new, they have a wealth of experience. Formed by a large team of former AKG professionals, they have the know-how to develop high-quality studio gear. In this review, we check out the Hi-X55 to see what they have come up with.
Austrian Audio Hi-X55
The Austrian Audio Hi-X55 is an impressive set of studio-focused headphones. The distinct sound profile will appeal to studio professionals that seek a highly analytical sound profile. Below are the highlights before we take a closer look.
Even with years of experience, launching a brand-new product can take time and effort. Austrian Audio has done an exceptional job of coming out of the gates swinging with what might be the ideal pair of cans for specific applications.
There is a certain amount of subjectivity regarding sound quality when it comes to headphones. Everyone has a preference that might swing one way or another, and the Austrian Audio Hi-X55 is the starkest example of this I’ve seen to date. For some, these will be pinpoint perfect, but for others, they are potentially bitterly disappointing.
Let’s start with the various frequency ranges. The bass tonality is tight and punchy, with a slight emphasis on upper bass regions. It’s not boomy but certainly a bit forward in this area. Sub-bass is lackluster but not uncommon for headphones that aim for neutrality, and accuracy is the aim, after all.
Moving into the mid-range, there is plenty of separation and detail present. Vocals, in particular, come across with impeccable detail, which is ideal for tracking during live recordings. There is warmth present, but not as lush as some other headphones.
The Austrian Audio Hi-X55 features a detailed sound profile.
The top end also delivers detail and clarity. With a frequency response of 5Hz-28kHz, they have extended reach in the top end beyond the natural limits of human hearing. Looking at response curves highlights a little imbalance in the upper regions, but this did not translate to any noticeable issues when listening.
The Austrian Audio Hi-X55 offers a high degree of accuracy, making them an ideal candidate for detailed analytical listening. But this does come at the expense of enjoyment. The profile can be dry and unforgiving. Poor recordings and mixes will instantly show their flaws. Whether this is what you want will depend on your needs.
These are closed-back cans with a high degree of isolation, so as expected, the soundstage is a little cramped. It’s a common trait of closed-back cans and not unique to the Hi-X55. If you prefer a more spacious soundstage, consider open-back options.
For serious studio work, the Hi-X55 is an enticing option thanks to its high level of detail. Likewise, the isolation and accuracy will make them a worthwhile set of cans in a recording booth. They are decent but less enjoyable than some other headphones for casual listening. Where you fall within this spectrum will heavily dictate whether these headphones are right for you.
I spend hours with headphones on my head each day across a working week, so comfort is a high priority. If you are in the same boat, you’ll already know that comfortable headphones make all the difference when working away for long hours. In this crucial area, the Austrian Audio Hi-X55 delivers.
The ear padding is thick and generous, and its slow-retention memory foam adapts well to the bumps and grooves around your ears. The seal is tight and helps keep outside noise out while keeping the sound in. The ear cups also offer enough swivel to find the sweet spot on your head.
The thick padding extends to the headband, and the padding is detachable for easy replacement. Once again, this padding does an excellent job of adapting to your head with no pressure points.
Thick foam on the earcups and headband.
The headband also features secure and satisfying clicks as you adjust the size. These will keep their shape, allowing you to easily take them off and return, knowing your settings are locked in.
As for clamping force, these are tight and, for some, potentially too tight. The pressure is enough to ensure a stable and secure fit so your headphones won’t slide about. This tighter grip also provides a tight seal for maximum isolation. Despite the tighter grip, the padding combination makes for a comfortable listening experience over longer sessions.
Heat build-up is inevitable for closed-back cans, and the Hi-X55 is no exception, but it wasn’t extreme and in line with other closed-back headphones. If anything, the only potential issue comfort-wise is the dry and bright sound signature that might prove a little too sharp and fatiguing over longer sessions. This will come down to your sensitivity to high frequencies.
With excellent padding and an adaptable fit, the Austrian Audio Hi-X55 studio headphones are a solid option for long sessions in the studio.
Considering the team behind Austrian Audio is made up of former AKG employees, I was anticipating a similar aesthetic, but I was mistaken. The Hi-X55 has its own unique flair and sets itself apart from other studio headphones.
The black and dull silver combination present a modern and engaging appearance. The earcups retain a rounded rectangular look that gives these an industrial feel. The thick headband and padding add to the chunky aesthetic. A smart and sophisticated-looking pair of studio headphones.
These headphones also offer a collapsible design making them an option for on-the-go listening. The low impedance of 25 ohms does allude to these working well with all devices. While that is true, I found a noticeable dip in performance when using lower-powered devices. I’d suggest you use a good headphone amp or interface to get the most out of these.
The Hi-X55 collapses for easy transport.
The Austrian Audio Hi-X55 also features a detachable cable system that makes switching cables quick and easy. The long 9.8 ft (3 m) straight cable is a versatile choice, but if you want an alternate option, you’ll have to buy one separately.
The Hi-X55 also displays exposed cable connections from the earcup to the headband. But unlike other headphones, these are tightly coiled and do not protrude, minimizing the potential of catching these, which can lead to damage.
If you want a functional and practical pair of studio headphones that look clean and modern, the Hi-X55 will fulfill your needs.
The demands placed on studio headphones can be strenuous, and daily use and long sessions necessitate headphones that can go the distance. The Austrian Audio Hi-X55 offers robust construction with a keen eye on delivering much-needed durability for a studio setting.
The bulk of the frame and housing is metal giving the unit a lot of heft and dependability. The small amount of plastic that is present is rigid and thick and matches the quality of the rest of the frame.
High-quality materials and proprietary design.
The internal 44mm driver highlights the engineering know-how within the Austrian Audio ranks. It features a ring magnet system with a copper-clad aluminum voice coil. Everything is made in Austria and unique to the brand.
The padding is rugged and relatively hardwearing, but as with most headphones, you’ll need to replace it in due course. Not only does the Hi-X55 present well it backs it up with high-quality construction and design.
The Austrian Audio Hi-X55 is a costly pair of headphones, but equally, they are less expensive than other studio headphones. When stacking these up against like-priced competitors, there is a lot to like from a value perspective.
The included pouch is great for storing your headphones.
They feature a detailed sound profile that will make them feel right at home within a professional studio environment. The durability aspect is also high, ensuring these will last a long time.
As for accessories, you’ll have access to a soft pouch for storage and transport and the obligatory adapter that comes with most headphones. I would have liked to see an extra cable or perhaps an alternate set of pads. But even without these extras, the Hi-X55 is a well-priced pair of headphones. A good balance between performance, quality, and price.
With so much interest in this new company, it didn’t take long for people to give them a go, and the majority enjoyed the distinct sound profile on offer. No complaints regarding build quality and comfort. The only gripe people have is that the sound is a little too sharp, but this comes down to individual taste more than the product’s fault.
The Truth Is In The Details
One of the most common descriptors of a sound profile is “detailed.” But what does that encompass? Well, it’s not as black and white as some might think.
At its most basic, it’s a fairly broad term that can describe various aspects of a headphone’s sonic signature. Most commonly, a set of headphones that feature a boost or bump in the treble range will come across as detailed. By bringing forward and emphasizing this part of the frequency range, a set of headphones can sound clearer and, in turn, feel more detailed.
Detailed headphones are ideal for recording sessions.
But there are better uses of the term than this. Detail should be present in all parts of the frequency range, whether that is the precise hit of a kick drum or the intricacies of an instrument’s tonal range.
A “detailed” set of headphones must accurately translate the source material without embellishments. This neutral response will bring details to the forefront, which opens up a new appreciation of recordings and is also essential for precise mixing and mastering.
So the next time you see the term detailed, make sure to dig a little deeper to see exactly why this descriptor is used. You might find that one person’s version of detail doesn’t align with your expectations.
The Austrian Audio Hi-X55 is an excellent set of headphones, but alternatives might suit your needs better. Below is a quick snapshot of three different pairs of headphones worth exploring.
AKG K271 MKII Review
The AKG K271 MKII is a good alternative if you need more budget-friendly headphones. With exceptional mid-range detail, it’s an excellent choice for studio work.
- High accuracy and detail for accurate mixing.
- Comfortable ear pads and a more relaxed fit than the Hi-X55.
- Doesn’t feel as robust and durable as the Hi-X55.
AKG K271 MKII
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Review
The open-back ATH-R70x from Audio-Technica is worth considering for supreme accuracy and a broad soundstage. The unique design also sets it apart.
- A flat and neutral response while maintaining vibrancy and life in the sound profile.
- The 3D wing support system delivered exceptional comfort.
- The small earcups may be too small for some people.
Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro Review
Stepping up further in price is the fantastic DT 1770 Pro. These well-built headphones deliver superb sound quality and are a fantastic choice for casual listening.
- Engaging listening experience with superb bass tonality.
- Rock solid construction and an excellent range of included accessories.
- The more colored response makes these not ideal for serious studio work.
Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro
Should You Buy?
The Austrian Audio Hi-X55 is a prime example of how to enter the audio scene with conviction. These headphones offer a unique offering in a sea of nearly indistinguishable headphones. Yes, the sound profile might be too dry and brittle for some, but few headphones can match this level of detail for serious work.
The high build quality and impressive isolation add to the appeal and make these a versatile pair of cans. Add in a collapsible design and an approachable price, and there is little to fault. If you want precise detail, the Hi-X55 is a worthy choice for your studio.
Austrian Audio Hi-X55