I can't agree more that the ESW9A's are the unsung hero of affordable mid-fi. The sound they provide, while not reference perfect, is just satisfying and musical. I find them very easy to listen to for long periods of time. If I had to pick one headphone from my collection to keep for all around use, it would probably be these AT's. Pretty amazing since I also own RS-1's, W1000X, JH13...
Which brings me to a sad update. I had my ESW9A recabled with Silver Dragon IEM cable. Nothing against that cable which I use with great benefit on my JH13's...but the new cable sucked the life out of my beloved ESW9A's. This was easy for me to compare as my son has a stock ESW9A for me to borrow.
In a lot of ways the recable provides textbook improvements. Bigger soundstage, tighter bass and improved treble sparkle. However the trade-off was a lean sound that seems more distant and less engaging mids. Frankly, I'm amazed at the difference...I've never heard a cable make SUCH a difference on a headphone. While I like some of the improvements, the loss of that full warm liquidy sound is a disappointment. I am working to get the headphone returned to its original state, or perhaps trying some type of other copper cable instead of one with a silver component.
If I had money to blow I would keep the silver cabled ESW9A around, if just to prove to cable skeptics that cables do, at least in certain circumstances, make a difference.
The cable Nazis will go nuts (ef'em) but I have heard some pricy cables that are a definite step backwards!
For example, a "lower end" Cardas interconnect I used to own was easily bested by some "lower end" Kimber interconnect I compared it to.