A small comparison between the ESW9 and the ESW11LTD
I hope it is not too fan-boy-ish :) Sorry for my bad english...
The XX – Chained
This is the second song in their album Coexist and also one of my favorite songs. Initially I wanted to use the first song in that album, but it sounded like (if such is possible) Romy Madley Croft was too close to the microphone (also happens with DT1350, so it is nothing AT-specific). This second song is a duet with Oliver Sim (I think).
More often than I like it I drift away in the song and cannot stay focused. This is how much I like the ESW11LTD. It could be discussed, if this is the songs main interest, but it seems like the voices of the two singers are in the center of attention. I say this, since The XX are said to be electronic musicians. The ESW11LTD takes those two voices and portraits them. It is not like the mids and vocals are overwhelming any part of the spectrum, it is the presentation that is pleasing. The lows are there in quality and quantity.
This is probably not the right song to discuss the highs of a headphone. So I will skip this to another song.
In this moment I switched to the ESW9. The initial impression was that the lows are more prominent than on the ESW11LTD. The quantity is discernibly a tad more, yet the quality is not on the same level as on the ESW11LTD.
When it comes to the mids, while sometimes a tad bit covered by the lows, sound more effortless than the mids of the ESW11LTD. While the presentation is very pleasing with the ESW9, I like the presentation of the ESW11LTD more. The ESW11LTD has a little more detail and texture.
Let’s switch to all-electronic music.
Deadmau5 – Superliminal
This song is more or less all about base. Electronic lows for about 6 minutes.
In this session I started listening with the ESW9. Though there is nothing bad with it, the ESW9 is not really a headphone for listening to electronic music. Even though this is a comparison with the ESW11LTD, I kind of still have the sound of the DT1350 and Pro900 in my head. Not too long ago I compared the ESW11LTD to those headphones with this same exact song. The ESW9 is a little bit “slow” (I do not know how else to describe it). On the other hand bass-slam of the ESW9 does justice to this form of music.
When I switched to the ESW11LTD, I noticed a tad bit more of soundstage. The ESW11LTD extend deeper, but there is not that slam that you have with the ESW9. Though the overall presentation is better on the ESW11LTD, I still would not use the ESW11LTD for electronic music. There is better choice :)
The Superliminial song is kind of simple, that is why I will not spend any more words on it.
Triggerfinger – I Follow Rivers
Again, Ruben Blocks voice is presented very nicely. Although, maybe it is the recording, from times to times there is a little sibilance.
Ok, with the ESW9 there is also sibilance, which means this must be the track.
When I compare the sound of both these headphones. Again it is all about the voice. Guitar, drums and all the other instruments seems not to be crucial to this song. However, the ESW11LTD wins again, with a better presentation of Rubens voice. More detail and a better texture. Also the ESW11LTD is less forgiving, when it comes to a badly mastered recording.
The USSR Ministry Of Culture Symphony Orchestra - Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini
What is the ESW9 made for? As far as I can see… it must be classical music.
In this song I started with the ESW9. It is a beautiful presentation of all the instruments. Where in other songs I felt, that the lows may be a tad bit much, here it kind of feels right.
When I switched over to the ESW11LTD, it showed me how much more of a refined headphone the ESW11LTD is. Over the whole spectrum there is more detail and a better presentation. Except for the lows. Here I kind of miss the ESW9 lows. Those instruments that represent the lower spectrum, kind of fell into the background. The mids and highs however totally please me with the ESW11LTD.
From the Cowboy Bebop Soundtrack 3 – Blue (Vocals Mai Yamane)
While this song does not seem to be anything special, to me it is. I love the series and every time I hear it, I feel the mood of Cowboy Bebop.
The point worth listening is when Yamane starts singing. On certain headphones or sources it could sound sibilant, nasal and here and there odd.
In combination with the Cowon D3 and the ESW11LTD his voice sounds extremely good, I kind of feel it in my belly area. A little further in the song, the “FREEEEEEE” part, and his voice sounds too hot for my taste.
When I put on the ESW9, the song as a whole sounds better. Though in that certain part when Yamane starts singing, the presentation and voice detail is not as great as with the ESW11LTD, but through the “laid-back-ness” of the ESW9 there is not much “hotness” in the certain part of the (FREEEEEEE) song.
Both these headphones are great. Yet the ESW11LTD looks a little better, is little more comfortable (a little softer pads) and is a little more exclusive. Both of them have the Audio-Technica house-sound, yet they are different. Generally I would say that the ESW11LTD is more refined, like it is the finely tuned version of the ES10 with wooden cups (ESW11LTD ≠ ES10). Also If you like voices, the ESW11LTD is your friend.
What could be better on both is the soundstage. The orchestra is not in a hall, with both the headphones it is in my small room.
As listening device I used the Cowon D3 with FLAC files. I chose the Cowon D3, since a lot of people have have them here. Cowons sound similar. Additionally it should be said that the sound settings were set to normal.