Allen and Heath are best known for their mixers - of epic studio proportion right down to the 2 channel scratchy variety. But it does beggar the question - what do they use to test their gear? Their own xone XD-53 headphones it seems. Well when I say their own, I mean the ones made for them by Audio Technica.
In The Box: Screw fit adaptor and soft pouch.
Looks: Allegedly, according to some totally unscientific test done somewhere (according to A&H anyway), the XD-53s will make you more attractive to the opposite sex. I kid you not. But I would agree that they do look good - you get the right balance of Black and Silver, along with a chunky look and feel of quality.
Build Quality: It's hard to exactly put my finger on what makes these feel different, but they do feel really good. Perhaps it's the very obvious plethora of screws that makes them feel more constructed then snapped together. Maybe it's the metal headband adjustment strip - either way I have no qualms about the quality. Without testing to destruction, I think these will take a beating.
The issue for me is the fixed cable. Should it break, these are in the bin, which doesn't please me one bit.
Sound Quality: The XD-53's name comes from the 53mm drivers. And bugger me if these don't deliver quality sound by the earful. They do need a bit of volume to bring out the best, but the quality is outstanding. When pushed, they're delivering nothing but distortion free ear thumping bass, as well as the perfect amount of mids and highs. Very impressive.
Isolation: Very good. Doesn't block everything out, seems to kill more bass, leaving your ears listening to what's in your cans rather than fighting with the room.
Comfort and Stability: In stark contrast to the Shures, the XD-53s are one of the biggest in the group. I could put them on at the smallest and they fit me, so small headed people may find them to be too big. But once firmly on your head, they stay there. Obviously one ear use is less stable, but the XD-53s are still happy.
One thing to note - with the pivots only having a 100° adjust, you may fight with them when in a hurry. When pushing them quick to one ear, I found them a it of a handful if I was fighting against the angle of the pivot. This however is the same for many of the headphone sin this test.
Compactness: They fold up no different to many in this group, so nice and snug in the supplied pouch.
Value for money: Coming in at around £125, these aren't cheap. But they feel really good, and deliver heavily in the sound department.
Allen & Heath is a brand associated with quality, and even though they don't make them directly, that extends to these headphones too. And while they fall very much into the melting pot generic style of Technics and Sony, they're better built and deliver much better sound - which after all are 2 very key purchasing decisions.
I really is hard to go wrong with the XD-53s. Just take care of them, unless you want open can surgery to repair the cable.
Hype: Build quality - audio quality
Gripe: Fixed cable