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[ Comparison Review ] ATH-A9X, ATH-A900X, AKG K550 Three-Way Shootout - Page 2

post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by eucariote View Post

Great review.  beerchug.gif

 

I saw you leading to this in other threads and am happy to see such a nice comparison.  So in terms of sound quality alone, you prefer K550.  Is this by a large margin?  Do you have any impressions of how these headphones compare to SRH840 or D2000?

The a900x are more natural and nuetral than the Denons which hype up the music more. Think of it as a photograph: the a900x displays more of the raw image, while the d2000s increase the contrast making the colors more vibrant, but less accurate. 

post #17 of 32

Nice job. Thanks for throwing in the A9X. I honestly didn't know they updated their A2000X. Never thought I'd see the day.

post #18 of 32

I own the AD700 for positional accuracy on games, and was thinking on the 900x as my next gaming can. How much the upper bass peak affects positional accuracy? 

post #19 of 32
Thread Starter 

Update to the review is up - now including movie & game performance.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manyak View Post

 

I wish I had them, I would love to do a comparison. Unfortunately I don't own anything that would make for a good A/B test. I mean, it's kind of pointless to put these up against HD800's or JH-16's. I'll definitely post my opinions when they arrive though :)

 

The problem is that even those objective things are still derived from a subjective perspective. Yes you can say that "headphone X is thinner than headphone Y", but then you can also say that "headphone X gives an accurate representation while headphone Y really colors the music". You're still perceiving and describing the same thing, but they've got two entirely different meanings. Most of the time you can decode everyone's combined opinions into what you'd actually hear with some sort of reasonable accuracy, but for these I just couldn't. Hell, even subjective opinions can be pretty objective around here. For example, "X is better than Y" can easily be considered objective if you're comparing UE8's to those free clip-ons airlines give you :p.

 

Have you tried them out with movies or video games at all by the way?

Oh I agree - everything is relative. But I think my point was that certain qualities are measurable.  When you say "X is better than Y', a lot of what defines "better" depends on your taste and preferences. Yes, UE8 trashes free clip-ons on airplanes in terms of sound quality - but I am sure plenty of non-audiophiles would be happy with the free clip-ons rather than go out to buy an UE8 - because to a lot of non-audiophile people, cheaper is better (in this case, FREE!)

 

However, when you say "X is warmer than Y', "X is sparklier than Y', or "X is thinner than Y", most of the time these things can be measured via instruments. You can tell if the mids are recessed just by looking at the frequency response graph, for example.  Of course, this doesn't automatically translate into statements like "Is this headphone balanced" or "natural" - once again that treads into subjective territory.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eucariote View Post

Great review.  beerchug.gif

 

I saw you leading to this in other threads and am happy to see such a nice comparison.  So in terms of sound quality alone, you prefer K550.  Is this by a large margin?  Do you have any impressions of how these headphones compare to SRH840 or D2000?

Hmm, technically I don't "prefer" the K550 in terms of sound quality - if the A900X were just a tad less bassy, I would prefer the A900X easily. It is just the much fuller, more engaging of the two for music listening.  But like I said, it's on the bassy side and that is an issue for me on some recordings where I want to hear the vocal or instruments more, but can't because the bass keeps distracting me. Classical instruments like cello which has a good amount of bass & lower-mids tend to have its lower-mids drowned out due to an overabundance of bass, which is very unfortunate.

 

The K550 may be on the thin side, but it allows me to hear all the details while still maintaining a very laid back presentation. On genres that are meant to be bassy, though, the A900X is the more ideal choice - K550 doesn't produce the kind of impact intended for trance and techno, for example. The K550 is also not ideal for fast-paced genres due to how relaxed the overall soundscape is (I agree with Headfonia's assessment in this regard)

 

So, it really is like comparing apples and oranges. They are just such different cans! So do I prefer the K550 overall by a large margin? No. Not at all. It's just more pleasant for long listening sessions.

 

As for comparison with the Shure or the Denon, I don't have experience with them so I can't say. MalVeauX did say this in another thread (A900X vs Shure940):

 

"Having both I am confident that the a900x is the way to go. It does vocals just as well, has all the same great characteristics but has the one thing the shr940 lacks... Bass. The a900x is the shr940 with bass capability so it's just the better headphone. I feel the -900x completely replaces the shr940 in every way."

 

Not sure how similar the 940 and 840 are, I am sure you can get others to help you with that comparison though. regular_smile%20.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gelocks View Post

Good Review Bagheera!

 

Question is... will you stay with both headphones? :-p

Haha, having now tested movies & game performance, I think I will. I like how music sounds on the AKG - it's different from the AT, but still pleasant and sufficiently engaging (my wife really didn't care for the AKG though - she did not feel engaged to the music at all on them. She loves the A900X a lot, though she agreed it's on the bassy side)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JCRG View Post

 

I honestly feel that the A900Xs are better for positioning sounds in an horizontal plane, and the K550s are a bit better regarding sounds from above and below. But I'm just assuming, I really need an unbiased comparison in that aspect, because it'll be the main deciding factor in which one I'll buy.

There's no such thing as "positioning from above and below" in headphones. You get two audio channels feeding two drivers, that's it.  Any "vertical positioning" would have to be achieved via binaural recording or simulated binaural effects (such as Dolby Headphones).  Some games that have good sound engines will simulate vertical positioning via virtual binaural output (the old Aureal 3D standard comes to mind... long dead now. Pretty sure EAX 3.0 to 5.0 supports this as well, but that is also falling out of use in modern games), most I don't think bothers with this feature.

 

In any case I am very certain the A900X has better sound positioning than the K550, period. If you feed binaural recording to both, the positioning will still be better on the A900X (including the "above and below" effect you spoke of).

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thecourier View Post

I own the AD700 for positional accuracy on games, and was thinking on the 900x as my next gaming can. How much the upper bass peak affects positional accuracy? 

I don't own any of the AD-series, so I can't really compare.  The A900X positions very well though - it has to do with how focused the sounds are on the A900X, as opposed to the K550 which sounds kinda like things are just "floating out there".

 

I personally didn't find the bass boost intrusive for games and movies (sound positioning or enjoyment); I actually think it enhances them. But if you are coming from open cans like the AD-series, it may be on the bassy side for you.


Edited by Bagheera - 2/11/13 at 8:16am
post #20 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bagheera View Post

 

There's no such thing as "positioning from above and below" in headphones. You get two audio channels feeding two drivers, that's it.  Any "vertical positioning" would have to be achieved via binaural recording or simulated binaural effects (such as Dolby Headphones).  Some games that have good sound engines will simulate vertical positioning via virtual binaural output (the old Aureal 3D standard comes to mind... long dead now. Pretty sure EAX 3.0 to 5.0 supports this as well, but that is also falling out of use in modern games), most I don't think bothers with this feature

 

In any case I am very certain the A900X has better sound positioning than the K550, period. If you feed binaural recording to both, the positioning will still be better on the A900X (including the "above and below" effect you spoke of).

Ok, the ATH-A900Xs will be my pick, I thank you for your help :)

post #21 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCRG View Post

Ok, the ATH-A900Xs will be my pick, I thank you for your help :)

You are welcome - I hope you like them. :)


Edited by Bagheera - 2/11/13 at 8:19am
post #22 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bagheera View Post

You are welcome - I hope you like them. :)


Btw, have you tried using some Eq to tame the extra bass of the A900Xs?

post #23 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCRG View Post


Btw, have you tried using some Eq to tame the extra bass of the A900Xs?


Not yet - I am sure it can be done, of course (since I know exactly where the peak is), but personally I think it's annoying to have to change EQ settings everytime I change what I plug into the computer.  Furthermore, a lot of portable devices may not allow the same kind of precision EQ adjustment PCs allow. I think my point is it's best for the headphones to be balanced to my liking to begin with. :)

I don't think you'll find it overly bassy, though, especially if gaming will be the A900X's primary usage. I've tested out more movies with both cans since and A900X consistently outperforms the K550 for entertainment usage. Put on some car chase scenes and A900X will blow you away - while K550 fails to give any kind of weight or presence to engine sounds.

post #24 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bagheera View Post


Not yet - I am sure it can be done, of course (since I know exactly where the peak is), but personally I think it's annoying to have to change EQ settings everytime I change what I plug into the computer.  Furthermore, a lot of portable devices may not allow the same kind of precision EQ adjustment PCs allow. I think my point is it's best for the headphones to be balanced to my liking to begin with. :)

I don't think you'll find it overly bassy, though, especially if gaming will be the A900X's primary usage. I've tested out more movies with both cans since and A900X consistently outperforms the K550 for entertainment usage. Put on some car chase scenes and A900X will blow you away - while K550 fails to give any kind of weight or presence to engine sounds.

 

That's what presets are for. wink.gif

 

Exactly why closed headphones are usually the most suggested for movies. I've seen the Denon D series recommended for movies more than any other headphone.


Edited by Katun - 2/11/13 at 5:42pm
post #25 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katun View Post

 

That's what presets are for. wink.gif

 

Exactly why closed headphones are usually the most suggested for movies. I've seen the Denon D series recommended for movies more than any other headphone.


Presets still require clicking. tongue.gif Yes I know that sounds lazy, and yes it's only a minor inconvenience on the PC. But a lot of MP3 players don't allow very precise EQ adjustments, or worse, only have a few presets you can choose from, for example (less of an issue with good smartphones nowdays).

 

As for movie usage - AKG clearly stated their intention was to make a pair of closed cans that sound like open cans. I guess they succeeded. rolleyes.gif  I am pretty sure I won't be able to stand the amount of bass Denons put out though - A900X is borderline hurting my ears in movies (not bad enough for me to not be able to enjoy the movie, but when I take them off after testing - oh my what a relief)

post #26 of 32
Thread Starter 

Equalizer Test Results: Opened up the EQ and lowered 125Hz by 2.5dB.  Now the A900X is perfect. I am not sure I'll be able to put them down now. (<_< ; )

post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bagheera View Post

Equalizer Test Results: Opened up the EQ and lowered 125Hz by 2.5dB.  Now the A900X is perfect. I am not sure I'll be able to put them down now. (<_< ; )

 

Nicely done. The moment an EQ setting "clicks" is always an exhilarating experience. Well, for EQ nerds like me, anyway. biggrin.gif

 

Ever thought of trying out any of AT's woody wings in the future providing your A900X experience is so positive?

post #28 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katun View Post

 

Nicely done. The moment an EQ setting "clicks" is always an exhilarating experience. Well, for EQ nerds like me, anyway. biggrin.gif

 

Ever thought of trying out any of AT's woody wings in the future providing your A900X experience is so positive?

Oh definitely. :) When I can afford it, I am very interested in the W3000ANV.

post #29 of 32

Well, I got the K550's a couple of days ago and let them burn in. They sound pretty good :)

 

There's just one problem - the clamping force. Yeah they're comfortable, but why would they design them this way when they're so sensitive about getting a seal? The sound suffers too much because of it. It's really annoying, and I may end up returning them just because of that.

post #30 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Manyak View Post

Well, I got the K550's a couple of days ago and let them burn in. They sound pretty good :)

 

There's just one problem - the clamping force. Yeah they're comfortable, but why would they design them this way when they're so sensitive about getting a seal? The sound suffers too much because of it. It's really annoying, and I may end up returning them just because of that.

The K550 Appreciation Thread is full of complaints about the lack of clamping force. biggrin.gif  The popular remedy is to "bend" the headband inward to try and make it tighter, but it can get risky (someone snapped off one of the housings doing it).

 

Getting a seal can indeed be an issue with the K550 both due to lack of clamping force and the tight swivel mechanisms. I usually have to manually adjust the cups to fit my head, because they don't adjust themselves. =_=

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