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Austrian Audio Hi-X15 review

How does Austrian Audio’s budget offering compare with its award-winning premium models?

  • £89
Austrian Audio Hi-X15
(Image: © Future)

MusicRadar Verdict

Superb cans for those tracking and mixing on a budget. Their compact size and light weight will also appeal to pros on the move.

Pros

  • +

    The superb, transparent sound quality will have you questioning the budget price tag.

  • +

    Sumptuous earpads make them seriously comfy for long studio sessions.

  • +

    Excellent build quality, with critical parts made from metal.

Cons

  • -

    Not quite as detailed as a £300 pair of headphones. But then they’re not £300…

Austrian Audio Hi-X15: What is it?

Austrian Audio has garnered much acclaim, adulation and a bucketload of awards for its new-fangled pro-level Hi-X headphone line. Their flagship model, the Hi-X65, won a prestigious TEC award at NAMM 2022, the same gong that its upper-mid range sibling, the Hi-X55, was nominated for back in 2020. Indeed, over the past 24 months this duo from the land of The Sound Of Music have wiped the floor with scores of five-star reviews and ‘best buy’ recommendations.

Now the boffins at Austrian Audio have launched the Hi-X15, a pair of studio headphones that differs from its expensive stablemates in one major respect. They’re cheaper. A lot cheaper. Have they squeezed the price but left all the sonic goodness intact? Let’s find out.

Austrian Audio Hi-X15

(Image credit: Future)

Austrian Audio Hi-X15: Performance and verdict

This is one good-looking pair of closed-back cans. The funky scarlet, silver and black livery is comfortably on the right side of tasteful, so if you’re planning on buying half a dozen pairs for studio use, rest assured that Austrian Audio has nailed that pro aura.

They’re also surprisingly compact and lightweight for over-ear headphones. Rather cleverly, they’re designed to fold flat, or rotate in on themselves so that they can be popped into the included cloth travel bag. And, at just 255g they’re comfortably light on the head or in the hand. 

Austrian Audio Hi-X15

(Image credit: Future)

Despite the lack of heft and the budget studio headphones price tag, the Hi-X15s appear to be solidly built. Yes, they have more plastic parts than their expensive siblings but all the critical bits, such as the headband, hinges and yokes, are metal. Where they are used, the plastics are handsomely textured and of high quality.

The earpads are simply gorgeous. More than 25mm of thick, squidgy memory foam isolates you from the outside world, and there’s a similarly generous strip lining the top of the headband. Trust me, once you’ve put these on you won’t be in a hurry to take them off.

Austrian Audio has built what they call Hi-Xcursion driver technology into its pro headphone range, hence the Hi-X moniker. In practice, this means they’ve gone down the tried and tested route of marrying a powerful ring magnet with a lightweight membrane (Beyerdynamic and others use similar tech in their high-end cans). 

The ring magnet provides plenty of power and doesn’t impede airflow, while the copper-clad aluminium voice coil and lightweight but stiff membrane provide a fast response across a broad frequency range, with little unwanted resonance.

They sound remarkably transparent with smooth mids and a punchy bass

The Hi-X15s use the same 44mm Hi-X driver as the upscale Hi-X55, so, unsurprisingly, the results are impressive. These headphones sound remarkably transparent across their broad 12Hz–24kHz frequency range, with smooth, even mids and a bass response that’s punchy but never oppressive. If anything, they’re a little bright but we’ve heard much brighter.

So, has Austrian Audio managed to achieve the impossible? Have they handed us a £300 pair of headphones for £89? Well, no. The Hi-X15s are good, very good in fact, but they don’t leave a deep impression like a true heavy hitter. They’re ever so slightly woolly, in that they fail to communicate every subtle nuance, every tiny detail. But, come on, for £89? They’re fantastic.

MusicRadar verdict: Superb cans for those tracking and mixing on a budget. Their compact size and light weight will also appeal to pros on the move.

Austrian Audio Hi-X15: The web says

"An exceptional pair of over-ear headphones that deliver premium sound quality in an affordable package."
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Austrian Audio Hi-X15: Hands-on demos

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Austrian Audio Hi-X15: Specifications

  • DRIVER: 44mm Hi-X.
  • FREQUENCY RANGE: 12Hz–24kHz. 
  • SENSITIVITY: 113 dBspl/V. 
  • IMPEDANCE: 25Ω. 
  • Input Power: 150mW. 
  • Cable (detachable): 1.4m.
  • CONNECTOR: 3.5mm. 
  • DIMENSIONS: 250 x 170 x 80mm. 
  • WEIGHT (without cable): 255g.
  • CONTACT: Austrian Audio (opens in new tab)

When Simon's childhood classical guitar teacher boasted he 'enjoyed a challenge', the poor man had no idea how much he'd underestimated the scale of the task ahead. Despite Simon's lack of talent, the experience did spark a lifelong passion for music. His classical guitar was discarded for an electric, then a room full of electrics before Simon discovered the joys of keys. Against all odds, Simon somehow managed to blag a career as a fashion journalist, but he's now more suitably employed writing for MusicRadar and Guitar World. When not writing or playing, he can be found terrifying himself on his mountain bike.