Audio-Technica enjoys an enviable reputation for its high-end Hi-Fi headphones, and with good reason. We’re not talking about noise cancelling wireless models here, but luxury wired closed-back cans designed with supreme performance and comfort in mind.
The latest editions to its range are the Kokutan and Asada Zakura, both hand-made in its Naruse factory, Tokyo.
The brand has employed a variety of wood for its headphones over the years. 1996’s ATH-W10VTG featured alpine cherry ear-cups, while 2016’s ATH-W1000Z were teak. Each chosen for its acoustic and cosmetic finish.
These new models are no different, this time utilizing striped ebony for the high-end Kokutan and ostrya japonica for the step-down (but not by much) Asada Zaukura.
This striped ebony is notable for its striking black-brown colouring. It’s a high-density hardwood prized for its acoustic damping, often used in the construction of pianos and woodwind instruments.
Apparently Ebony’s dense ring structure reduces unwanted resonance and delivers a cleaner, purer sound.
Striped ebony is a high-density hardwood prized for its acoustic damping, often used in the construction of pianos and woodwind instruments…
The Kotutan housing has been hand-finished with half-gloss to accentuate the natural grain, its appearance expected to gradually change over time.
The headphones featuresAudio-Technica’s proprietary D.A.D.S. (Double Air Damping System), dividing the housing structure into two acoustic chambers for smooth bass reproduction. A 53mm driver creates a wide sound field, and boasts extreme accuracy.
Its earpads and ergonomic headband are made from high-durability sheepskin to ensure a comfortable fit throughout long listening sessions.
The Kokutan is supplied with detachable A2DC connectors to ensure a stable signal and secure connection, as well as two 3m cables: one with a 6.3mm plug and one with a balanced XLR connector.
The Kokutan is supplied in a Paulownia wood box (pictured above). Known as kiri-bako in Japan, these boxes have been used to store treasured belongings such as books, kimono, art, rare metals and pottery for over 300 years, and have become prized possessions in their own right. These premium cans retail for £1700 a pair.
If that’s a little too rich, then the Asada zakura, known as ostrya japonica outside of Japan, could strike the right note. This durable Japanese wood has a warm red colour, with gentle grain and similarly excellent acoustic properties.
In conjunction with the 53mm driver, which boasts powerful circuitry and a DLC (diamond-like coating) for improved high-frequency response, the Asada Zakura construction aims to listeners a rich tone, with a gentle low range and crisp mids and highs.
The Asada Zakura features D.A.D.S and detachable A2DC connectors and is supplied with 6.3mm and balanced XLR cables both with a braided fabric outer shielding. Completing the look are synthetic leather earcups and headband. They sell for £1,300.