The Vienna-based company Austrian Audio was founded in 2017 by former AKG employees (as we reported at the time on our german website). Two microphone and two headphone models are the first ventures for this still-young company, with the Hi-X55, tested here, the first over-ear model from the brand. But has this debut been a success?
The nuts and bolts
The Hi-X55, which was developed and manufactured in Austria, is shipped with a velvet storage bag. A matching 6.3 mm adapter is included for the detachable cable, which can be used with these circumaural headphones. A Quick Start Guide and a sticker with the manufacturer’s logo are also provided.
Up to date
The design of these headphones is functional throughout. Made with a simple, clear design where “Form Follows Function” is the dominant principle. The anthracite-black colouring and the smooth matt finish of the surfaces ensure a sophisticated appearance. The design of these headphones gives the impression that they do without bling and instead focus on the essentials.
In order to achieve a high attenuation of external noise, Austrian Audio has added double walls to the ear cups of the Hi-X55. Both the ear and headband pads of these headphones are replaceable. Its detachable cable is plugged in at one end, and the stereo mini jack plugs at both ends are gold-plated for protection from corrosion. Parts of the headphones that are subject to a lot of stress are made of metal to guarantee their longevity.
Loud and clear
The 44 mm drivers of the Hi-X55 have been specially developed for Austrian Audio’s two headphone models. They deliver a wide frequency range which, according to the manufacturer, ranges from 5 to 28,000 Hz. Diaphragms consisting of three layers are supposed to provide high stability and thus prevent resonance. The Austrian Audio headphones also feature a system of ring magnets coupled to a voice coil made of copper-clad aluminium. The low weight of this design is intended to ensure higher impulse fidelity. With its impedance of 25 Ohm (manufacturer’s specification), these headphones are well-positioned to be used with either weak or powerful preamps. Their sensitivity of 118 dBSPL/V (manufacturer’s specification) corresponds to 103.5 dBSPL/mW and makes them capable of immensely loud volumes.
One striking feature of the Hi-X55 is its folding mechanism. For a studio headphone, this does not seem necessary at first. But if you break away from the received wisdom of the competition, you’ll soon see that portable studio headphones with a small packing size make absolute sense in today’s world of mobile equipment. The ear cups can be rotated and tilted to a small but sufficient extent, which ensures that they adapt well to different head shapes. The size adjustment of the headband is ratcheted, whereby each step is acknowledged with a distinctive clicking sound. In this way, your favourite setting can be easily recalled at any time, even after you’ve transported the headphones.
A longitudinal slit in the headband provides ventilation, and the Hi-X55 offers a surprising amount of space for the ears under the narrow-walled ear cushions and, fortunately, the attenuation of external noise suffers only slightly for this feature. Memory foam is used in both the ear pads and the headband padding, and all pads are surrounded by particularly soft leather. The lightweight nature of the headphones together with their relatively low contact pressure results in a high wearing comfort even over a longer period of time. However, the low contact pressure is responsible for the fact that the headphones only provide a perfect fit for those with larger heads. The 3 m long cable provides a lot of freedom of movement for mix and recording engineers in the studio, as well as for sessions elsewhere. The plug attached to the ear cup can be secured by a small twist, preventing it from accidentally slipping out.
Clear, cool sound
From the start, the stereo impression, subjective signal resolution and depth graduation are positive features of the Austrian Audio Hi-X55. This is due to ultra brilliant highs and a very open sounding super-high frequency range. However, the high frequencies sometimes seem a little over “hyped”, depending on what you are listening to. At the same time, I could hear a slight twanging in the midrange, but it’s something that you can get used to if you’re prepared for it. The richness of high frequencies at the upper end of the spectrum is matched by a slight boost of bass at the other end. But don’t worry; these headphones can also handle impressive sub-basses from urban music and EDM, without the other frequency ranges suffering from the impact of massive bass reproduction. The range between these frequencies is reproduced in great detail, but the overall sound carves a steep frequency curve.
In terms of signal dynamics, these headphones really make a big splash. Especially the low-frequency transients, which are reproduced with a lot of punch and thrust. The developers at Austrian Audio have also succeeded in providing acoustic insulation from the outside world and damping external noise. For me, these headphones unfold their full sonic potential when listening to uncompressed and/or dynamically varied sounds, such as in classical productions. The three-dimensionality of the audio reproduction is then excellent.
The Austrian Audio Hi-X55 is a closed, circumaural studio headphone with high manufacturing quality, timeless design and high wearing comfort.
These headphones are just as much a detailed recording aid for those who record and mix high-frequency material, as they are for those working with productions that deal with power in the bass range. The Hi-X55 reproduces uncompressed recordings especially well, with immense depth graduation. The Hi-X55 are suitable for studio work due to their brilliant sound that has a lot of bass reserves, but they cannot be indiscriminately recommended due to their distinctive frequency response – a hearing test is therefore mandatory before purchase! Nevertheless: their price-performance ratio is really quite respectable.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)5 - 28.000 Hz
- Impedance26,3 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)98,66 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head622 g
- Weight with cable376 g
- Weight without cable319 g
- Cable length295 cm
What's in the box
- Cable (changeable)
- 6.35mm stereo jack
- Carrying pouch