What is it?
Hi-X65 is a new critical listening headphone from Austrian Audio. One of three headphones in the Austrian Audio range, it’s the only one that’s open-backed, and is designed for mixing and mastering rather than recording.
The package includes the headphones, two detachable cables (3m and 1.2m), a ¼” plug adapter and carry bag. The rather stylish packaging also has a velcro strap around the outside of the box which is designed to be cut to length and used as a cable tie.
The Hi-X65 is made in Austria, and construction is excellent, with the metal headband and hinges complemented by plenty of memory foam padding. There’s also enough flexibility in the hinging so you can fold them to put them away.
Further nice features include twist-to-lock cable fittings and large, clear left/right labelling inside the earcups. Despite being open-back the earcups are still generously proportioned so they sit well over the ear. The overall clamping of the design is also not too tight. This makes them pretty comfy but also means that after a lengthy listening session you won’t pick up some kind of injury.
On the technical side, the Hi-X65 incorporates quite large 44mm drivers with a copper-clad aluminium voice coil. This lighter configuration is more responsive and coupled with an ultra-stiff membrane achieves excellent excursion.
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Performance and verdict
In practice, the Hi-X65 drivers shift plenty of air. So you might conclude that they’d be unpleasantly punchy. But in actual fact, the general balance is very good, with excellent depth and although they’re not the most upfront sounding headphone we’ve used, the sound is certainly well suited to mixing, mastering and general listening.
There’s also no sign of the dreaded bass boost that spoils many designs. The high frequencies are detailed, smooth and clear and although we found the mid-range a little subdued, the overall separation and imaging is excellent.
In fact, for us, that separation is their most compelling feature and when we A/B’d them with a few other designs we found them to reveal plenty of additional detail.
So, are they reliable enough for critical listening? In this capacity for us, they work best at moderate levels. That’s not to say that they can’t go loud and in fact, they really hold their own at high levels. It’s simply that for me it’s easiest to make judgments at lower levels and in that way the Hi-X65 remains engaging and accurate at lower levels, which is ideal.
The Hi-X65 is priced to compete with some pretty reliable open-backed designs such as the Sennheiser HD600, Audeze series and Audio Technica ATH-R70x. Nevertheless, headphones can sound surprisingly different, and frequency response charts, if available (which they aren’t for the Hi-X65) are not particularly helpful.
Given the considerable outlay, it’s important to try various designs and see what works for you. Nevertheless, we found the Hi-X65 headphones easy to get used to, plus they’re comfortable and very revealing.
We’ve been very impressed by the Austrian Audio products we’ve tried so far and these excellent headphones add to that. Lovely design, quality construction and great sound. Brilliant stuff.
MusicRadar verdict: If you can afford a pair of headphones solely for mixing and critical listening then the Hi-X65 ticks a lot of boxes.
What the web says
"With amazing transient response and an immersive stereo field, these open-back headphones are hard to beat for critical edits, checking mixes/masters and unbridled enjoyment of your favourite pre-recorded music."
Pixel Pro Audio
- FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 5Hz to 28kHz
- SENSITIVITY: 110 dBspl/V, THD (@ 1kHz): < 0.1%
- IMPEDANCE: 25Ω
- INPUT POWER: 150mW
- DIMENSIONS: 170 x 85 x 200 mm
- WEIGHT: 0.31kg
- CONTACT: Austrian Audio