Harmonic Dyne Athena: add it to the collection?
Hello there everyone, and welcome back to The Neighborhood! Today we’re looking at the Harmonic Dyne Athena thanks to Linsoul! The Athena is a $179 dollar headphone that’s taking the world by storm, so let’s get inToit!
The Athena is largely a plastic build, but somehow feels sturdier than the Harmonic Dynes that I looked at before with wood and metal incorporated into the builds. The only metal I noticed to these was in the slider mechanism of the headband and some screws that hold everything together. A large cloth covered pad cushions the head below the headband, and this doesn’t appear to be memory foam but it was comfortable nevertheless. The pads might be memory foam; however, instead of a cloth covered, they are covered in what appears to be a faux suede material; which might get a bit hot in a non-cool environment. Even though I live in a desert, the pads ultimately added to the comfort in my air-conditioned room, and I’ll also note that there was plenty of space within them for my average sized ear. From looking at other reviews prior to receiving these, I was worried that these might be on ears, but they most assuredly are over ears, and I think there will be more than enough room for most wearers. The clamp was also very comfortable and neither too intense or too slack.
With regard to the cups, these are semi-closed backed, as they have a solid backing to the cups, but small vents around the lower edge of the cups and a larger vent on the top edge. As a result, these basically have open back performance with regard to sound coming in and out of them. So, I don’t love the isolation here entirely, but if you’ll be listening primarily in a solitary listening environment, then you won’t mind this. Positively, the cups have a large rotation to their swivel, and lay flat on a desk when swiveled away from the listener. They won’t lay flat if swiveled in the other direction; however. In terms of their weight, they are neither too hefty nor notably light in their construction. They weigh much more than the ThieAudio Ghost I recently reviewed, but weight a bit less than the Beyerdynamic DT177XGO. The advertised weight is only 320 grams, but they do feel a bit bulky on the head- almost like a ZMF.
The cable is also a wee bit bulky, especially with its metal hardware in mind, but it does match the weight and somewhat clunky feel of the headphone overall. A quarter inch to 3.5mm adapter is included, but it terminates in a 3.5mm jack and initiates in two, dual-poled 3.5mm plugs. The weave is nice, and the material almost feels like paracord, but I’m sure it’s not. Its Y-split well-done, and it remains free from tangles with repetitive use. A cable tie is also provided to help with portable use, as is a velvet bag- but not a hard case, which could have been a nice addition.
So, the sound… Well first of all, these required an absurd amount of break-in. Out of the box, they were a bit loose and bloomy in the low-end. I went so far as the swap out the pads to Brainwavz Sheepskin Rounds, and I enjoyed the sound much more. However; before finalizing my thoughts, I swapped back to the stock pads after a few weeks of play, and decided that they had come around, and now sounded great as well. The bass had evened out, was less diffuse, and any bleed mostly gone.
Timbre is warm, rather lush, somewhat dark, and its note weight is both thickened and heavy. Yet, many aspects of the sound still cut through well. For a closed back headphone, the stage is also decently large, and exceeds expectations. Resolution and clarity isn’t top-end in terms of its performance, but it does scale notably well. These peak with their sound capabilities when driven off the Tron Antares, but also sounded excellent on the Hidizs DH80S. For under $300 dollars the pairing with the latter was a notable value proposition, and I enjoyed it immensely. The stage of this pairing was simply something else, and large and vast in its dimension. And even though these are listed at 34 ohms, they also performed well off the Darkvoice 336 OTL. I’ve been experimenting with different tubes on my Darkvoice as of late, and a Hytron 6SN7 and GE 6GAS7 were excellent tubes in combination with the Athena.
But let’s get into the sound profile, because although I enjoy the Athena, and think that it’s not only stupendous fun and a tremendous value, its also not without its faults. The bass relies more on a subbass push than anything else. General bass definition could be better, and I could deal with a bit more presence from the upper bass regions as well. The descriptors soft and squishy come to mind in describing the low-end performance of the Athena.
The midrange is a bit of a mixed bag. Generally speaking, the mid-range cuts through well despite its moody character, but the lower midrange performance was not up to task on certain tracks. Bands like Van Halen highlighted a notable reduction on guitar parts that a normally front and center on a number of their songs. Male vocals also could suffer at times, and were not as representative in the mix as the female counterparts. Even so, tracks that did not rely as much upon an early midrange presence performed admirably well on the Athena
The treble is best described as relaxed, but well extended. There isn’t a ton air here, but there’s enough for anyone who isn’t a treble head. There are also some notable dips after 8K and beyond, but I mostly found the treble well-represented enough without venturing into any harshness, intensity or sibilance.
Overall, I think the Athena is a winner! It’s my favorite headphone to have come out of Harmonic Dyne yet! Priced at around $179 dollars, these are a steal and a must have for almost any headphone collector. Its presentation is musical, unique, warm, romantic, enjoyable and inviting. They sound excellent off almost any source, and they scale well too. Just make sure you break them in for at least a few weeks before making up your mind about them. The Harmonic Dyne Athena is sold by exclusively Linsoul, and I’m certainly happy that they support this channel, and were able to send over a set for this review. Links to purchase the Athena and find the channel at all other Neighborhood access locations will be provided in the description below. And as always, thanks for watching, and I’m out… for now…
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