We love going to gigs and concerts. Seeing our favourite bands and artists belt out our most memorable songs, there are few feelings that come close. And with its ATH-LS70iS in-ear monitors, Audio-Technica is hoping to bring the live experience direct to your ears.
These in-ears are part of the Live Sound "LS" series and have been designed and tuned to deliver a spacious sound, to help give you the feeling you're at a concert, even though you're in your bed or on your daily commute. But just how close do they come to recreating the live music scenario?
Audio-Technica ATH-LS70iS review: Design
- 6.5 grams
- Ear-hook design
- Detachable cable with A2DC connectors
The Audio-Technica LS70iS use an in-ear monitor (IEM) design. In-ear monitors are used by musicians onstage, to help them hear their own voice and the overall sound. The design is the first giveaway clue as to the LS70iS' intentions.
The earpieces themselves have an ear-hook design, which means the cable goes up behind your ear, over the top and back into your ear canal. It took us a little while to get comfortable with them out the box, as there's a short piece of flexible cable coming directly out of the in-ear housings - which is best pushed down towards the back of your head for comfort (something we didn't do at first).
The actual piece that goes into your ear is small and incredibly light (just 6g). They're made from an ABS resin for its claimed ability to reduce unwanted resonance inside. Based on our listening time, we'd say this material has been used to great effect.
The LS70iS are angled ever so slightly inwards, which not only directs the sound straight into your ear, but also helps to provide a more secure, isolated fit. While they don't claim to be noise-cancelling headphones, they do a good job of blocking out most external noises. We used our pair on a plane journey, and although some of the rumble from the plane engines was still noticeable, we couldn't hear people talking around us.
To ensure you get the very best from the LS70iS, you'll want to experiment with the supplied silicone ear tips. In the box are XS, S, M and L fittings, and it took us a little bit of time to settle on the largest pair for the most secure fit.
The cable has an in-line microphone on the right-hand side, but there's only a single button for playing and pausing music or movies, or accepting phone calls. You can't change the volume with it, you'll have to resort back to your smartphone or laptop, whichever device you happen to be using.
The cable itself is 1.2-metres, and detachable from the earpieces. It also has A2DC connectors, so you can swap it out with another cable if you happen to have one, but its main purpose is to better separate the left and right channels of your music. By doing this, it minimises crosstalk that can otherwise affect sound quality.
Audio-Technica ATH-LS70iS: Performance and Sound Quality
- 8.8mm Dual Symphonic Driver
- Tuned for live music
Inside each of the earpieces is a 8.8mm Dual Symphonic Driver. This sees two smaller drivers: a main carbon-coated driver and a sub-driver, built into a single unit. The Dual Symphonic driver has been "Live Tuned", in an bid to recreate the power and energy of a live concert. It's also to help reduce distortion from the diaphragm, while producing a balanced sound with powerful bass.
And all those points are executed incredibly well. We listened to an extensive range of live and studio-produced music, and while we wouldn't say the LS70iS' literally transport you to a live concert - mainly due to volume level - they still sound great.
Crowd screams and claps on live songs are conveyed incredibly well to help you feel part of the audience and vocals are presented right at the fore. They're punchy, clear and, in some instances during our testing, goosebump-inducing.
The overall sound is well-balanced, with no one frequency range trying to outdo the other. Low-end bass is at just the right level to carry tracks, while mids and highs are well-defined, resulting in impressive depth that's expertly controlled.
Dynamically they're very good too: when they're asked to go loud, they happily oblige. But if it's something a little more sedate and quiet you want to listen to, then they'll adapt perfectly.
When it comes to studio-produced music, a matter of personal preference will come into play. The earphones' live sound tuning adds a slight 3D effect to the music, which adds an extra sense of space that's often absent from earphones. We weren't completely aware of the effect at first, but after trying out some other pairs of in-ear headphones, it was more prominent.
So, has Audio Technica's ambition of recreating the live sound of a concert directly in your ears worked? Well, it's never going to literally transport you to a venue, but for a small pair of in-ear monitors, we have to say the amount of detail they unearth is exceptional.
Given the relatively affordable price point there's nothing too fancy going on - no Bluetooth and no companion app - which could be seen as a downside. However, as a decent and honest pair of in-ear headphones that will faithfully reproduce your music, the Audio-Technica ATH-LS70iS do a mighty fine job.
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Alternatives to consider
V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless
If a pair of wireless in-ear headphones does happen to be on your to-buy list, we'd wholeheartedly recommend the Forza Metallo from V-Moda. They have a rather intuitive neckband design that can be hidden out of sight under a shirt collar and can moonlight as sports headphones if need be thanks to attachable sports fins.
They sound great, too, serving up a nicely bass-weight sound from tiny earpieces. The Bluetooth connection is rock-solid and they can handle any high-resolution audio files you may have too.
If you'd rather stick to wires, then for a few notes more, the Denon AH-C821 are worth a listen. They'll give you a much bigger sound than the Audio Technica can muster, but sacrifice a little when it comes to vocal performance. Both are accomplished pairs, it just comes down to your own personal preference.
Read the full article: Denon AH-C821 review