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An oldie but a goodie, an ex-$400 headphone, mid-centric with great wood resonance, perfect for jazz, classical, and acoustic.

A Review On: Audio-Technica ATH-ESW9A

Audio-Technica ATH-ESW9A

Rated # 942 in Headphones
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Value
Purchased on:
Price paid: $169.00
Soundsgoodtome
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Pros: Great looks, good value, portable, easy to drive/not picky on sou, fantastic mids, non-sibilant highs, great bass extension and impact. Wood resonance

Cons: Flimsy build, no isolation, can get uncomfy after several hours,

The ESW9 are sealed African paduak wood phones with lamb skin leather pads and headband. Stainless steel for a band with plastic parts, it looks of quality with parts here and there looking compromising (plastic). Upon looking at them one wouldn’t believe that they were $450 at one point in time but like the saying, never judge a book by it’s cover, the same applies here. It is however a very attractive set of phones, gets A LOT of admiring looks when worn in public. The ESW9 has two variants, the earliest models had cherry wood and the later, more common model are of African paduak. The ESW9 and ESW9A are the same phones, the ESW9A never had the cherry wood and are marketed for America.

Comfort-
Out of the box the phones do feel uncomfortable after an hour. After the pads wear in, which took about a week of daily use, they’re much more comfortable and can be worn for 3-4 hours at a time. They’re very light and have 0 issues with weight distribution or neck fatigue.

Power needs-
With it’s 32ohm impedance and high sensitivity, this headphone is meant to be driven from portable devices and relatively lightweight amps. Sounds absolutely fantastic on my Samsung Galaxy 3 for all genres but excels in jazz, acoustic, vocals and classical. This does not need an amp to sound good, if anything it does better with portable device and lower output sources.

Sound-
Has a warm tone with mids lush and slightly forward but by no means slouchy. Bass impact and extension is very impressive, hardest hitting sub-bass tracks will have the rumble feel but nothing drastic. The warm nature leaves the treble non peaky with 0 sibilance but still with excellent detail and slight roll off at the highest freq. To me a slight lean towards a laid back sound, almost like having a tube amp in the chain (from you cell phone!). Sound stage is fantastic considering the closed back design, instrument separation is excellent as well. IMO one of the most under rated and under reviewed phones.

Conclusion-
For the price they can be had today (under $200 new) they are a great buy and a nice introduction to wood phones. Do be careful in buying from a lesser known source as there has been a good portion of fakes being released when these were a hot item. Couple of giveaways are the LEFT RIGHT writing, the authentic ones have the clear and clean while fakes have it in bold and sloppy. Also the coil of the driver should be blue, not copper (fake).

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