before i begin, let me just say that ATHD AD700 is a gateway drug. as i actually never intended to get into the headphone audiophile arena. i stumbled on this whole thing in the process of building a high end PC gaming rig that'll give me the best surround sound while using headphone. btw, the phones are run through a B-inspire soundcard with the CMI8788 Cmedia processor (with DD Live / DTS Connect), and Asahi AK4396 DAC / JRC 4580 Op Amp for analogue (110+ SNR) for analogue. it's not THE best but definitely above average soundcards.
ATHD AD700 is well regarded as THE choice in the gaming community to pair with a surround sound mixamp. i am not a competitive gamer. but i do have a very elaborate surround sound home theater setup in the living room with Pioneer Elite and full set of JBL system. so gaming that system is pretty awesome. but lately the living room has been taken over by the wife. so naturally i resulted in building a headphone gaming rig.
now.. onto the phones. i got the AD700 and was immediately captivated by its wide sound stage and separation of instrument. for the first time, i could pin point direction of each instrument with a headphone. i never took headphones that seriously, until one day after hours of gaming i decided why not.. put on some music. :D wow.. what a treat. :)
obviously.. the highlight of AD700 is its wide sound stage, and instrument separation, and the details and clearity. the bass is obviously not as heavy as most others i've heard, however, with a few db of eq it's perfect. plus after a few weeks of use, the bass seem to have gotten punchier.
now fast forward a few weeks, i decided to give AD900 a try (you see why it's a gateway drug), since i loved my AD700 so much. i've always heard that the AD900 picks up where AD700 left off and perfect it. although it's a bit pricey i figured why not give it a try. i came across the deal of a life time and was able to get a pair of AD900 for $169, it's a factory refurbished unit straight from Japan.
so far after just over 100 hours of burn-in. it's obvious that the AD900 obsolutely outshines the ad700 in acoustic and instrumental type of music. the difference of its sound signature compare to ad700 is HUGE. i know some said it's a little different/improvement, but to me it's a HUGE difference. for one the mid is WAYYYY forward, almost too bright for my personal taste, especially after long sessions of listening. but due to this forwardness. it really brings out the best of well recorded acoustic and instrumental music. however, this bright forwardness also serves as its biggest con for other types of music with heavy female vocal and trance/electronic/rap/some specific Rock. imo it's wayy too bright for anything other than classical and instrumental music. and to top it off, i know many people have said the AD900 has a punchier bass. to me the AD900 has a weaker bass. it's thinner in volume. but in terms of weight, it's the same as AD700. but AD700 defiintely has more volume to it. i don't know if this will improve with farther burn-in consider the AD900 already has its fair share of 100+ hours of burn. but in its defense, right out of the box, the AD900 sounds wayyyy brighter and almost NO bass. i guess time will only tell if another 100 hours will improve its signature.
for gaming, i have to say AD900 is even better than AD700. i thought AD700 was THE headphone for gaming. but due to its high mid and clearity, AD900 brings out all the details in game and make you feel like you're actually IN the game. in comparison, AD700 feels like you're wearing a helmet, and all the sounds are perceived in the game through a helmet. don't get me wrong, the AD700 is great for gaming, but once you try on a AD900, it's just BETTER by quite a bit.
i guess to sum it up, AD700 VS AD900, it definitely feel like AD 700 has a veil over it, and AD 900 brings out A LOT more clearity. AD700 just feels hazy in comparison to AD 900 in terms of sound. however, i am not sure this much clearity, and forwardness, and brightness is always good. i've ran through countless tests with music and games. although AD900 outshines the 700 in acoustic, classical and instrument type of music (it puts you on the stage with the musicians, as oppose to in front of the stage with ad700). but the amount of this type of brightness, and coloration can be tiresome and causes fatigue, not to mention, with Rock music, pop, and jazz, or trance, it just feels too thin. AD 700 is definitely a better all rounder in terms of everything. it retains it's weight, brightness, although a bit hazy feel compare to the 900, but you can also call that haziness as smoothness. the AD700 is just overall much smoother and to my taste more neutral than the extreme sharpness of AD900. it is ultimately a tough decision, as i can only keep one of the two, and send the other one back. on one hand, the AD900 is better in gaming, and brings out the best of classical, and instrument music. but on the other hand, the AD700 is a better all rounder with weightier and punchier bass that suits almost all types of music i listen to and does well in games as well.
i think if the AD700 is a few db higher in the mid, it'll be a true winner.
as i have two more weeks to test out both, i will update you guys on which one to keep and send back. i am hoping through another 100+ hours of burn-in it'll tame down the brightness and up the bass more.