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Audio Technica AD900 REVIEW (and compared to HD595)

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
This is my review of the Audio Technica ATH-AD900 open headphone. I know there is not much information about this headphone on Head-Fi, so I felt the need to contribute some. I want to set straight the comparison between these two!!! I will also include some specific comparisons to the Sennhieser HD595's since I listened to them a lot before they were returned and replaced with the AD900's.

A few months ago, I was searching for the best headphone I could get that didn't require an amp. I wanted to use them with an Ipod because I have a full blown stereo system if I want to listen to a big complicated setup with amps and stuff. My search started out between the ATH AD700 and the Sennheiser HD595. From research, I came to the consensus that although a pretty good phone, the AD700's just weren't the most refined phones (that took them off the list), while the HD595's were pretty good all around musical headphones. I bought them and listened to them for many hours over a few weeks. Long story short, they were good but definitely didn't amaze me especially. I agree with the general opinions about the 595's on head-fi. Being simply satisfied, I researched about the AD900 vs the 595's because if the 900's turned out to be better, I wanted to get them now and not wish for them later on and waste more money. I found a great lack of comparisons between the 900's and the 595's, which made me very frustrated (and is the reason im writing this for people like me). But based on what I did find, I expected the 900's to be slightly better than the 595's; however, the lack of information gave me the false impression that they were somewhat in the same league. Eventually, I returned the 595's and ordered the 900's because:
1.) 900's were more detailed (this was important to me)
2.) 900's had better imaging (another important criterion)
3.) 900's were more expensive, making the purchase feel more permanent (less room for upgrade)

I'm trying to find the best way to accurately describe the difference between the 1st time I put on the 900's vs the 1st time I put on the Senns. I thing the best way to do that would be to just say: When I put on the 900's, they did something that the 595's (and very many other headphones) have failed to do, as I am very hard to please when it comes to phones... they amazed me. I can't put it better any other way. The rest of the story is very similar to the first listen. To set straight the record between these two phones:

The Sennhieser HD595 is not even in the same league as the Audio Technica ATH-AD900. The AD900 is a definitive upgrade from the HD595. The rest is dependent on preference.

Wait, I just remembered another way to express this... This comes from a thread I read during my research and it couldn't be more true:
Below is a list of things the HD595 does better than the AD900:

Now a description of the AD900:
I'm going to reference another reviewer again. One of the best review's ive read about this phone is one that said something along the lines of: "they accomplished something rarely seen in the headphone world: they made music. The ad900's aren't good at producing tones, but what they can do is make music." This guy was very right. These headphones make you forget the things you normally look for in headphones (like sound quality) because they are very musical. And the guy was also right about this being a rare quality.This aspect is difficult to describe, as it is something not often mentioned in reviews. But, more than other phones, these let you just enjoy the music. For example, if all headphones were at war with each other about which is better, the ad900's would be the one floating around saying: "who cares, lets just enjoy music". Yea, that was kinda weird, but it fulfills its purpose.

1.) They are quite detailed, just as other reviews say. Read other reviews and you will get an accurate picture. Some say the highs are too harsh. I would say it isn't too obvious, but if you were searching for flaws, this might be one of the weaker points. Some would find them harsh while others would find them realistic. I feel they are a good bit more detailed than the 595s. I can also pick up a good amount of detail in the mids and the lows as well.
2.) Although more bass would be great, the bass does several things that really impressed me. Firstly, it goes very deep; low notes are great in these because you can really feel the rumble and its very satisfying. It also creates an impact on percussion sounds that the 595s lacked. In these phones, I could "feel" the impact more, and it makes them sound much more accurate and lifelike. The deep extension also allows for a larger range of bass tones. Secondly, the bass is much quicker and less nasal than on the 595 and other phones. It sounds much more like a sub woofer.
3.) Sound stage is better than the 595 and is very good in my opinion. According to other reviews it is one of the widest stages of all headphones.
4.) This last characteristic is hard to describe, but it is a mixture of balance and clarity. These phones are well balanced and they sound a lot more realistic and "clean" than the 595's and others. By "clean" i mean quick and crisp.

They are very comfortable and well made. Absolutely no manufacturing defects in my phones. Good materials used all over. Lots of metal. Yet they are very light weight. Cable is noticeably thicker than on the 595, and substantially longer. Thick cable is a sign of good cable many times. Very nice foam on the wings (feels very cool).

Lastly, and very impressive: they are extremely easily driven. Even more easily than the hd595s. They are even easier to drive than Ipod headphones...

In conclusion, these are probably the best headphones that do not require an amp. And, I want to clarify that when I say that they are better than the HD595s that also means that they are also substantially better than the AD700s and there is no reason why they should be compared to the HD555s.

Ur welcome
post #2 of 36
I'm glad to hear that the AD900 sounds great and better than the HD595, as I recall trying a HD595 not too long ago and I thought they sounded pretty great for the price as well.

I'm going to get a pair of (used) AD2000s and many are saying how they're definitely better in all aspects compared to the AD900, so after reading your short writeup on the 900s, I will have nothing but the highest of expectations for the AD2000s.

post #3 of 36
If you read this review you'll see that the AD2000 isn't better than the AD900 as in it isn't a direct upgrade. It's a different sounding headphone.

There are some guys who prefer the sound stage and non analytical nature of the AD900 over the AD2000.
post #4 of 36
Originally Posted by dtow55 View Post
The Sennhieser HD595 is not even in the same league as the Audio Technica ATH-AD900. The AD900 is a definitive upgrade from the HD595. The rest is dependent on preference.
I couldn't abide the AD900 and sold them within a week. All tizz, no midrange. Love the 595 and always have, from the first moment I heard them. No false tizz and boom; honest and neutral.

However--and this is the all important bit--what sort of music are you listening to?
post #5 of 36
I love the ad900 too. A couple weeks ago I bought a Nuforce Udac to replace the audigy soundcard on my computer and find that they pair together wonderfully. The highs are tamed just enough to keep the details present and the lower mids are brought up a bit, making guitars and most vocals sound less thin than I feel they do without it. I had a hard time finding these headphones, but it was well worth the trouble!
post #6 of 36
I never like audio technica headphones in general. Either they sound unnaturally bright and lean eg.w5000, w1000 or colored at the mids like the ad2000.
post #7 of 36
After reading good reports of AD700, I was tempted to get them, but after a brief audition with the AD700 and AD900, they were just too bright for me...
post #8 of 36
Really liking the ad900's and can agree with most of what you say about the sound. It is a shame that there isn't a bit more bass to be had but I'm really pleased with the sound everywhere else.
post #9 of 36
I've been really impressed with my AD900s, I also find them hard to describe. About the bass: Someone put on the AD900 appreciation topic that the bass was Quality, but without quantity. certainly I agree! I did not find them harsh, but they did sound painful an one CD I have, where I was getting a terrible "buzz" on drum beats, vocals, etc. My crummy laptop is probably clipping on the new-ish CD I had. (Horehound by the dead weather, if you're interested. Get another headphone to listen, if you have it).

By the way, I had a really difficult time locating these. First, I went to AT's dealer listing, and found every dealer nearby. I emailed them all (yes, all both of them) about getting these. I also found them online at both "musician's friend", "guitar center" and "accessoryjack" The one person who responded said:
"The AT AD900 is a private label headset made specifically for Musician's Friend. Other than the secondary (used) market, it is available from no other source."

Also, on the AD700:
"The AD700 is currently backordered until the end of January. On-line pricing for this product approaches our cost and if you opt to purchase that headphone, although it pains me to say it, on-line is probably your best choice."

I was disinclined to believe him on the AD900 front (but I'm pretty sure he's right on the AD700s, this explains why they're so good a deal).

Any word on why no-one sells them?
post #10 of 36
The AD900 is officially a "Japan release only" product, or at least it was. I think Musician's Friend is the only source that is a certified dealer for the US.
post #11 of 36
post #12 of 36
Originally Posted by Astropin View Post
actually musician's friend sells them through amazon.
post #13 of 36
That's why I didn't mention Amazon. Also: they were sold out on Amazon last January, when I was looking for them.

Thanks for the info, Fjrabon.
post #14 of 36
Originally Posted by dorkvader View Post
That's why I didn't mention Amazon. Also: they were sold out on Amazon last January, when I was looking for them.

Thanks for the info, Fjrabon.
No prob. They go through fads around here, and unsurprisingly the very low US supply dwindles every time they become flavor of the month around here.
post #15 of 36
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post
I couldn't abide the AD900 and sold them within a week. All tizz, no midrange. Love the 595 and always have, from the first moment I heard them. No false tizz and boom; honest and neutral.
I considered getting rid of my AD900 the first week I owned them. I even emailed the seller to ask about the return policy. Fortunately for me there wasn't one and I ended up keeping them. Now my AD900 get more head-time than my HD650, K701, and HF-2 combined. I guess it's weird how that worked out but this is one of two headphones that I initially disliked and went on to love.
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