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Audio Technica ATH-A900X Discussion Thread (Formerly A-900X Review)

post #1 of 455
Thread Starter 

Introducing, from the New ''X'' Art series, the ATH-A900X

 

Hello everyone!

 

I’ve been a long time lurker on head-fi.  As of this post, I’ve barely contributed 315ish posts over the course of 5 years.  Having been a member for this long, you can imagine how many pairs of headphones I have gone through (more than 20 pairs). 

 

Normally I feel unqualified to post reviews about things, but with headphones I figured now is probably the best time to contribute—after all, this month marks the 5 year mark since I entered the world of higher end audio.  As a token of appreciation, I hope to bring at least one quality review for the community.

 

The story behind these cans is that I managed to find a shop with a gigantic headphone isle to which we were free to demo various cans while in Japan.  After auditioning many pairs, I stopped at these, the ATH-A900X.  These seemed to have the best price/performance, though if I could afford, the W1000X would have been my first choice.

 

Some eye-candy:

Tons of headphones!

 

The Perspective:

This review will be from the standpoint of this kind of guy!

 

  • I love a balanced sound, with slight emphasis on bass
  • I -need- a vast and wide soundstage to feel immersed
  • I have a large head, I don’t know my cap size but relative to the average head, mine’s larger than normal
  • My favourite genres of music are classical / progressive house / trance / jpop
  • My favourite pair of headphones is the Beyerdynamic DT880 (250ohm).  They have this “airy” feeling that I can’t describe, and that I can’t seem to find in any other pair of headphones!
  • Price/performance is always on my mind when I make a purchase.

 

 

So if you’re at all like me, you may find this super helpful.  If your tastes don’t match mine, I hope I am still able to contribute to your research for your next purchase!

 

The Presentation:

Pictures will speak for themselves here.  Enjoy!

Taken with Olympus Pen E-PL1 with M.Zuiko 17mm f2.8 lens.

 

74177041.jpg

 

p5040435.jpg

 

p5040436.jpg

 

p5040437i.jpg

 

p5040438l.jpg

 

--

The Official Specifications:

 

Type: Closed-back Dynamic

Driver: 53mm, Bobbin winding OFC voice coil

Magnet: Neodymium

Frequency response: 5-40,000 Hz

Impedence: 42 ohms

Max. Input Power: 2,000mW

Sensitivity: 100dB

Plug: Gold-plating stereo 3.5mm

Cord length: 3.0m (Wrapping / Hi-OFC)

Net weight (without cord): 350g

Earpad part number:  HP-A900X

Extra included:  3.5mm to 6.3mm gold plated adapter

 

The Build:

The ear pads seem a tad tough, but I imagine that overtime, they will become softer. 

 

The ''wings'' as shown in the below picture, are perfect.  Many people have expressed complaints about the wings being too weak, but for my big head, they seem to work very well.

 

The head-band part seems well constructed.  It is plastic, but it feels like there might be metal reinforcing inside? (Needs verification)

 

p5040439.jpg

 

The cord is very elegantly wrapped in heat shrink plastic?  (Need verification, see pic below).  I don't know how to describe it, but it feels much sturdier than the typical cord you might see.  The cord is reasonably thick and looks gorgeous.  Furthermore, it terminates into a beautiful silver finished, gold plated 3.5mm plug.

 

p5040440.jpg

 


Lastly, as you can see, the earcups are giant (around the size you'd find on the ATH-A700).  And very nice looking!  They have some weight to them, so I expect them to be relatively sturdy and hard to damage without purposely trying.

 

Sound:

Areas where I can't describe exactly how I feel about them will get a rating out of 5.  This is completely arbitrary and the rating is relative to other headphones in the same price range.  The closed-back headphones I've heard that would be thrown into the comparison pool are:  Shure SRH840, Beyer DT880's (okay.. semi-open), and Denon D2000's.

 

Burn-in/Break-in:  I played continuous music through them at moderate volume for about 20 hours before writing this section.  Prior to burn-in, the A900X’s sounded dull and relatively boring, but the bass was still very good.  After 20 hours, they sound a lot better now.  More on that…

 

Isolation - 3/5:  While these are closed headphones, they leak a tiny bit of sound at higher volumes.  I think this is perfectly reasonable.  For isolating outside noise, they’re not any better or worse than the typical closed back headphones. 

 

Highs - 4/5:

The highs are “awesome”!  They don’t seem to extend as high as, say, the Sony MDR-V6’s or the Beyer DT880’s, but they still do have a bit of a sparkle.  There appears to be near-zero sibilance (big plus), so no complaints here.  Instruments as high sounding as triangles are extremely pleasant to listen to with these cans.  No fatigue (due to music, that is).

 

Mids 5/5

The mids, wow!  These are the best mids I’ve heard under for $300.  My favourite vocalist is BoA Kwon, so I have been using BoA’s music for a taste of midrange.  Her voice is more addictive than ever now, there's some sort of ''lively'' presence that I can feel that was otherwise not present in other closed cans, including my past-closed-favourite pair of cans, the Denon D2000.

 

Lows - 5/5:

Controlled bass exists in closed cans other than cans as expensive as Denon D2000’s!  I’ve owned the Denon D2000’s and the ATH-A900X’s are more than capable of keeping up.  It’s not as hard hitting as the Denons, but this allows the mids to really shine over the Denons.  Compared to the Sony MDR-V6’s, the A900X’s crush them.  The V6 has more bass, but the bass in the A900X’s are much easier to listen to and much less fatiguing. 

 

Soundstage - 5/5:

The A900X's have the largest soundstage of any closed-type headphones I've heard.  Granted I have not heard the Denon D7000's, but these definitely beat the D2000's for soundstage and instrument separation!  I feel as though only open cans can beat the A900X's in this category.

 

Comfort - 4/5:

Lastly, these headphones are very comfortable.  I'd rate these at the same comfort level as the A700's (not AD700).  Here is a short list of headphones I have heard and their relative comfort:

 

Least Comfortable

Most grado/Alessandro headphones

Shure SRH840

Sennheiser HD650

Denon D2000

Sennheiser HD555

Audio Technica A900X (same comfort level as A700X)

Beyerdynamic DT880

Audio Technica AD700

Most Comfortable

 

After about 2 hours, due to their closed design nature, I feel like I need to give my ears some air.  They get hot, but not sweaty.  (Kind of hard to explain that..)

 

Conclusion:

The Audio Technica ATH-A900X are extremely well rounded headphones.  I highly recommend them for indoor listening!  The mids are very rich, the highs aren't fatiguing and the the excellent lows, coupled with a vast soundstage makes the A900X's fun to listen to!  Compared to some popular headphones that cost more (Denon D2000, for example), the A900X's are even more balanced sounding.  I'd go as far as to say that these are the most balanced sub-$500 closed headphones I have heard. 

 

Feel free to leave any comments, suggestions, etc.

 

Thank you head-fi for getting me into this hobby!  Thank you for reading, and I hope I have been of help.

 

EDIT:  05/08/2012

I'm at about the 40 hour mark with these headphones.  I feel that the sound has opened up more and it seems to be headed for a more balanced sound.  As of now, I do think that the closest headphones that have this kind of sound might actually be the Beyerdynamic DT880's. 

 

EDIT:  08/27/2012

I should be around 90 hours with the headphones.  The sound has settled and has not changed much from what I remember of it.  The only difference is now the earpads are more broken in and they are now even more comfortable than before!  I have also tried gaming with them and I was able to wear them for about 5 hours before needing a breather (compared to about 1-2 hours with Shure SRH840 headphones).  Because the soundstage on them is so vast, first person shooters (Battlefield 3 namely) are more enjoyable to play with them on.  


Edited by Mysteek - 7/29/13 at 9:23am
post #2 of 455

Thanks for posting--I enjoyed the read.

post #3 of 455

Thanks for the impressions! = ) I do happen to enjoy BoA's voice a lot too... Would be interesting to hear these phones.

post #4 of 455

Great review! Easily one of the better ones I've seen regarding the A900X.

 

Personally, I find Audio Technica's "wings" the most comfortable type of headband ever, with HD650's headband coming in second. That alone makes me want to pick this up. Reading other reviews, many seem to complain about the earpads, but I'm sure it can't be worse than the A700/A900 earpads. They look very soft from the pictures. Say, do your ears touch the driver covers? I'm guessing these aren't angled drivers, so they only issue I could see would be "ear claustrophobia".

post #5 of 455

Awesome Review. I agree with everything stated but I think the I like the highs more than you because you can tell the refinement AT has made in their house sound. No sibilance with these extended highs are an achievement.. I don't have issue with pads or driver touching my ear.. Now that these are selling for around $240 online.. Great headphones for the cost. My current favorite.

post #6 of 455
Thread Starter 

My ears do touch the (extremely soft) mesh, but not the driver covers because the drivers are indeed angled.  This might also be the reason instrument separation is so superb with these headphones.

post #7 of 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katun View Post
Reading other reviews, many seem to complain about the earpads, but I'm sure it can't be worse than the A700/A900 earpads. They look very soft from the pictures. Say, do your ears touch the driver covers? I'm guessing these aren't angled drivers, so they only issue I could see would be "ear claustrophobia".

 

Nope. Ears don't touch drivers (at least not to me!) But... THEY ARE STIFF and they suck!! :-p

In fact, my cheapo Panasonic earpads feel better. It was my main complaint/nitpick for these and the ONLY reason

I got "rid" of them. I could have bought other earpads but I wanted the "leathery" ones for like the w1000x model

and they were like an extra $100 bucks so... no thanks.

 

IMO, good headphones with great sound, comfortable because of their wing system but unbearable to

listen to due to the hard earpads... I'm probably spoiled by velour (HD600, SRH940, SRH1840, Beyers, etc.) or

at least good pleather/synthetic material (Denon D5000...)

post #8 of 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by gelocks View Post

 

Nope. Ears don't touch drivers (at least not to me!) But... THEY ARE STIFF and they suck!! :-p

In fact, my cheapo Panasonic earpads feel better. It was my main complaint/nitpick for these and the ONLY reason

I got "rid" of them. I could have bought other earpads but I wanted the "leathery" ones for like the w1000x model

and they were like an extra $100 bucks so... no thanks.

 

IMO, good headphones with great sound, comfortable because of their wing system but unbearable to

listen to due to the hard earpads... I'm probably spoiled by velour (HD600, SRH940, SRH1840, Beyers, etc.) or

at least good pleather/synthetic material (Denon D5000...)

 

Ah, that's too bad. That might sway me off from trying them. I was hoping for a D2000 type material, but I guess AT had something "else" in mind...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mysteek View Post

My ears do touch the (extremely soft) mesh, but not the driver covers because the drivers are indeed angled.  This might also be the reason instrument separation is so superb with these headphones.

 

Oh cool, I didn't know they were angled.

post #9 of 455

The pads do soften up after a few hours of wear. I found them to be slightly uncomfortable out of the box but can use them for hours at a time now.

post #10 of 455

Nice pictures, I always liked how much effort AT puts in the design of their packaging.

post #11 of 455
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damieni View Post

The pads do soften up after a few hours of wear. I found them to be slightly uncomfortable out of the box but can use them for hours at a time now.

 

That's good to hear.  I haven't worn them for more than 3 hours yet so they're still stiff.  I wonder if I'm missing out on the AT sound by going with these--apparently the A900X's have more bass than the usual AT headphones.

post #12 of 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mysteek View Post

 I wonder if I'm missing out on the AT sound by going with these--apparently the A900X's have more bass than the usual AT headphones.

 

That may just be a good thing! tongue.gif

 

I'd think the AD900 would compliment it pretty nicely.

post #13 of 455

The A900X has what I consider good level of bass. Nothing bloated or too much. Not even close to the bass that is on a Denon for example but enough to complete all types of music..These also eq extremely well and for bass heavy tunes I just eq a bit on the bass end and it sounds awesome. Trance on these cans have to be heard..

 

I think the level of bass on these are perfect for the sound. Not too much not too little. Just right. It is the tight punchy type too which goes well with acoustics, rock, metal. Very versatile headphone.. Gaming and movies are tops..  My pads on my cans are actually soft now. No stiffness.

 

For any guys interested in the IEM version of this sound. The new CKM500 are astounding as they sound so close to these.. Great earphones and even greater headphones.

post #14 of 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dsnuts View Post

The A900X has what I consider good level of bass. Nothing bloated or too much. Not even close to the bass that is on a Denon for example but enough to complete all types of music..These also eq extremely well and for bass heavy tunes I just eq a bit on the bass end and it sounds awesome. Trance on these cans have to be heard..

 

I think the level of bass on these are perfect for the sound. Not too much not too little. Just right. It is the tight punchy type too which goes well with acoustics, rock, metal. Very versatile headphone.. Gaming and movies are tops..  My pads on my cans are actually soft now. No stiffness.

 

For any guys interested in the IEM version of this sound. The new CKM500 are astounding as they sound so close to these.. Great earphones and even greater headphones.

 

Agreed! Bass is quite present and makes the headphones sound full and great. I especially liked the mids! So, yep, pretty much liked the sound out of these and that is in fact why I want to buy/try their AT-W1000X... (and these do have better pads! ;-)  )

 

Katun, don't let my opinion on the pads sway you away from the headphones! As you can see/read from others, they don't seem to mind. Maybe you'll like them! But no, the pads are not up to Dx000 levels.

post #15 of 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by gelocks View Post

 

Agreed! Bass is quite present and makes the headphones sound full and great. I especially liked the mids! So, yep, pretty much liked the sound out of these and that is in fact why I want to buy/try their AT-W1000X... (and these do have better pads! ;-)  )

 

Katun, don't let my opinion on the pads sway you away from the headphones! As you can see/read from others, they don't seem to mind. Maybe you'll like them! But no, the pads are not up to Dx000 levels.

 

So first I'd like to comment on the whole bass and midrange thing. I've heard nothing but good things about their midrange, which actually really shocks me. Usually anything with decent bass has a recessed midrange and vice versa. So with all the praise I'm reading that mentions great bass AND midrange, I actually get really excited. I can't recall the last headphone I've owned that does both well...

 

90% of the time, it's the headband that causes discomfort for me. I'm struggling to remember a headphone in which the pads bugged me (ears touching drivers excluded). So I think I may be okay even if they were made of concrete. That said, I may just have to try them out. I simply love AT's headphones that use the wing design. And I find the A900X looks very, very nice as well.

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