As one of the bigger and more dedicated names in headphones, Audio Technica has not always enjoyed the best market visibility in the UK. The current range aims to fix this by offering a selection of audiophile, studio, portable and special-purpose models: the ATH-AD500 is from the middle of the audiophile range.
The earpieces are large and the assembly seems at first rather fussy. However, Audio Technica has come up with something rather clever in the headband design, which uses two hinged 'wings' to rest on the head just away from the crown.
This makes for very gentle pressure and avoids the sore spot that can result from a headband resting on the top of the head. The earpieces themselves are soft and comfortable, too.
If there is a giveaway that this is the cheapest model reviewed here, it is the frequency balance, which has a distinct peak in the treble that accentuates hiss in recordings. It's unfortunate but not disastrous: after listening for a few minutes you become accustomed to it.
It is then possible to hear past it, to an admirably high level of detail and a very satisfying balance in the bottom two-thirds of the spectrum. Resolution is the star turn of this model, though, and it's one of the most analytical sets of headphones that we've encountered at such a sensible price.
Perversely, this is the model that most benefits from a dedicated headphone amp, the sound becomes rather congested via the CD player front-panel outputs we tried.