Austrian Audio HI-X55 review
Austrian Audio HI-X55 review
Austrian Audio HI-X55 review

Austrian Audio HI-X55: Made by professionals

Perhaps, like myself, you are curious about the nature of Austrian Audio as a company. Let’s start with a brief history. Following the closure of AKG’s offices in Vienna, a group of passionate individuals embarked on a new venture that aimed to blend AKG’s legacy with a drive for innovation. Austrian Audio commenced its operations in July 2017.

Armed with extensive expertise and a mission to amplify the love for sound, the Austrian Audio team has fearlessly taken on industry giants. Their objective is to create products that embody flawless sound and engineering excellence. The initial step involved assembling a team of 22 former employees from Akustische und Kino-Geraete, who possess expertise in management, acoustics, electronics, test and measurement, mechanical design, radio frequency communications, and software development. As a result, it is evident that the company is relatively young and is currently in the process of building its audience. Today, we will be reviewing the Austrian Audio HI-X55 professional closed-back headphones.

Packaging and assembly

At long last, a box that isn’t dreary and made of cardboard! Oh no, there’s even a paper box, but take a moment to appreciate its design! The door, which grants access to the product, is secured with vibrant red sticky tape. Once you remove it, you’ll be able to lay your hands on the headphones themselves. It’s impressively executed; typically, everything tends to be much more mundane. The box boasts eye-catching prints and images. Rest assured, the presentation will not let you down. To ensure the safety of your precious “ears” during transportation, there is an ample amount of foam in the center.

Complete set:

  • Austrian Audio HI-X55 headphones
  • Replaceable cable
  • Bag for transportation
  • Manual

 

Design and materials

I suspect that Austrian Audio may have taken some inspiration from Audio-Technica’s M line, but let’s not dwell on that. The build quality of these headphones is top-notch, with a combination of metal and plastic that feels premium and sturdy. There are no loose parts or creaking sounds, making them a pleasure to handle.

The headband adjustment mechanism is unlike anything I’ve seen before, and it reminds me of the impressive calibration found in Meze models. Rest assured, the headphones come in a very strong and durable case, so you don’t have to worry about their protection.

As expected from studio headphones, you have the option to change the ear pads and headband. The foam used in these components is incredibly comfortable and soft. I also appreciate that the ear cups are deep enough to fully enclose the ears without touching the speakers. Visually, these headphones have a professional and sleek design, free from unnecessary details that could detract from their overall impression. They can even be folded inward to save space in your bag.

The headband is also comfortable and doesn’t put pressure on the top of your head. Interestingly, in many aspects, they remind me of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X (which I actually reviewed before). Hence, the title of this review serves as a reference to these observations. To summarize, this model is suitable for a wide range of users and is unlikely to cause any discomfort.

The cable is flexible and convenient, although it’s worth noting that the manufacturer didn’t include a shorter version (1.5m). As a result, you’ll have 3m of cable dangling around your feet. However, there is a rotating lock that secures the cable in place to prevent accidental disconnection. The cable also comes with a standard 3.5mm (1/8 inch) to 6.3mm (1/4 inch) adapter. Overall, everything here is pretty standard.

Technologies

  • Full metal hinges and bracket for maximum strength and durability
  • The detachable cable makes any usage scenario a reality.
  • Collapsible design gives you mobility and convenience when moving.
  • Proprietary High Excursion drivers and Hi-Xcursion (High Excursion) Technology are the key to the stunning sound of the Hi-X55 headphones.
  • All Austrian Audio Hi-X headphones come with a 44 mm driver and a ring magnet system. This particular design enhances airflow and boasts the most powerful magnetic field in its category. By combining the ring magnet with a copper-plated aluminum voice coil, the weight of the diaphragm and its connected voice coil is reduced. Consequently, the diaphragm becomes more responsive, allowing for quicker movement and direction changes, resulting in a heightened impulse response. Extensive measurements and listening tests have confirmed that the 44 mm size is optimal for this design. It delivers exceptional professional performance in Hi-X, facilitating the movement of a substantial amount of air while eliminating any diaphragm instability. This is akin to reducing the driver’s mass, and it is precisely where this membrane excels. It remains incredibly rigid, yet effectively minimizes any undesired resonance.

 

Sound

The sound is commonly referred to as the “cracker”. These headphones are traditional studio headphones with a flat frequency response, devoid of any enhancements or dedicated bands. If you’re looking for headphones for everyday music listening, it would be better to consider simpler options like the Beyerdynamic models. This recommendation is specifically for producers. Don’t be deceived by the low impedance of 25 ohms. While the Austrian Audio HI-X55 headphones are quite faithful to the power of the source, they are extremely demanding when it comes to its quality. It’s definitely not worth listening to them from a phone without a good DAC and amplifier.

I found the tuning to be peculiar. The low frequencies are well-represented with ample bass that is deep and robust. At times, the lows tend to overshadow the mids. The mid frequencies are balanced and pleasing, with no complaints in this regard. The highs tend to hiss, occasionally being very bright and sharp. On high-quality mixes, the situation is generally satisfactory, but overall, the description provided earlier is nearly perfect. When compared to the ATH-M50, the sound may appear dull, but it’s important to remember that this is a professional tool. Engineers are transparent about the intended use of their product, so keep this in mind before making a purchase. The sound of this pair reminds me of certain professional Sennheiser models.

Conclusion

The Austrian Audio HI-X55 headphones are designed for functionality rather than delivering a melodic experience. Personally, I appreciate their sound quality. However, if you’re seeking a change from brands like Denon or Focal, it’s advisable to explore other options. It’s important to recognize that every product serves a specific purpose. These headphones offer a pleasant, comfortable, and high-quality experience. Although I may not personally purchase them as I’m not a professional sound engineer, I highly recommend considering them as a valuable long-term investment for individuals involved in creative endeavors beyond music listening.

Austrian Audio HI-X55 review
Austrian Audio HI-X55
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