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Reviews by: Bagheera

Absolute King of Budget-Fi

Posted

Pros: Fantastic sound quality for the price. Comfort, materials, and build quality are all top-notch - I wouldn't complain even if these costed $100.

Cons: Tonality isn't as balanced and natural as higher-end sets. Instrument timbre can be a tad unnatural due to recessed mids & overly energetic treble.

A quick background on my purchase: I have been looking to get a decent pair of earphones for on the go. Since I have some decent full-sized cans at home, I can't exactly deal with crappy-sounding earbuds.   I did not have a budget in mind, and was willing to spend upward to $200 for a nice pair of in-ears. However, I do not believe expensive = good sound, and was willing to try out a bunch of well-reviewed earphones in different price tiers. After reading an extensive number of reviews, I narrowed down my choices to the following: Xiaomi Piston 3, Yamaha EPH-100, and the Dunu DN-1000   Now, the Xiaomi Piston sets (both the Piston 2 and Piston 3) have popped up again and...
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Absolutely Fantastic!

Posted

Pros: Excellent clarity & extension. Musical, exciting presentation (U-shaped tuning) with sparkly treble and thundering bass.

Cons: Bass can sound a tad loose if you are used to tighter-sounding headphones.

I've been looking for a good pair of portables to complement my ATH-EM9d (which are nice, but they provide no isolation and they lack bass, which meant they aren't suitable for many genres or movie-watching). Ideally I wanted something I can travel with that would isolate the cabin noise on trains and airplanes. I already own several full-sized cans and have never enjoyed dragging those around when I travel, so I started looking into IEMs.   After reading an extensive number of reviews, I narrowed down my choices to the Xiaomi Piston 3, Yamaha EPH-100, and the Dunu DN-1000 (I know they each belong to very different price tiers, but I wanted to know how big the differences are in...
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Possibly the new King in the sub-$150 category.

Posted

Pros: Addresses many of K550's shortcomings. Black background. Smooth & grain-free treble. Excellent clarity & extension.

Cons: Bass could be tighter. Upper-mids/lower-treble could be pushed back slightly. Nit-picks at this price, really.

Update: Tyll Hertsens at InnerFidelity has expressed interest in doing a review of the K553. I was told to contact him in mid-October. I will be shipping him my K553 for lab measurements; look forward to seeing the results.   The Famed K550 Just Got Better - For Cheaper   I've owned a pair of K550 for over two years now, and while I have grown quite fond of them, I was never fully happy with the way they sound. The treble does sound a bit unnatural - as noted by many professional reviewers - and both the bass and the mid-range could use a bit more body. The K553, it seems to me, is AKG's attempt at directly addressing these issues. I picked up a brand new pair of these for...
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[Comparison Review] AKG K550 & Audio Technical ATH-A900X

Posted

Pros: Detailed, sparkly treble. Warm, sweet mids. Good soundstage and imaging.

Cons: Mid-bass bloat. Bass isn't particularly tight and extension isn't great (not much sub-bass). Treble is noticeably grainy compared to K550.

Comparison Review: ATH-A900X, AKG K550   Two years ago, when I was looking to upgrade my aging ATH-A9X, I came across the AKG K550 and the ATH-A900X, both then newly-released, with several head-fiers reporting that they are tonally-similar headphones. Unable to decide which one to get, I bought both to do a comparison. I ended up keeping the K550 for myself and giving the A900X to my wife (who still uses it and loves it).   Below are my thoughts regarding how these two cans compare.   ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Craftsmanship & Comfort   Audio-Technica ATH-A900X The A900X isn't a bad-looking headphone, but lacks K550's elegance. That said, comfort level is excellent and...
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[Comparison Review] AKG K550 & Audio Technica ATH-A900X

Posted

Pros: Excellent bass extension & mid-range clarity. Smooth & grain-free treble. Spacious soundstage.

Cons: Treble rolls off a bit early. Lower-treble a bit too forward. Mid-range and bass could both use some additional body. Sound imaging a bit indistinct.

Comparison Review: ATH-A900X, AKG K550   Two years ago, when I was looking to upgrade my aging ATH-A9X, I came across the AKG K550 and the ATH-A900X, both then newly-released, with several head-fiers reporting that they are tonally-similar headphones. Unable to decide which one to get, I bought both to do a comparison. I ended up keeping the K550 for myself and giving the A900X to my wife (who still uses it and loves it).   Below are my thoughts regarding how these two cans compare.   ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Craftsmanship & Comfort   Audio-Technica ATH-A900X The A900X isn't a bad-looking headphone, but lacks K550's elegance. That said, comfort level is excellent and...
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The King of Clip-Ons

Posted

Pros: Excellent tonal balance and extension. Very natural timbre. Superb construction, materials, and comfort level.

Cons: Poor isolation, light on the bass.

The ATH-EM9d is an elusive model that was never sold in the United States - I picked these up in Taiwan during a trip to Taiwan in 2008. Production had already ceased at the time of purchase, with the new ATH-EMx00 series replacing the old line.   Comparison to ATH-EM700 Even though the ATH-EM9d was being replaced by the ATH-EM700, the older model remained more expensive than the new one (the old EM9d was $190, while the EM700 was $150 brand new). I asked the shop owner (who is a long-time audiophile himself, and participated actively on several headphone forums) what he thought, and he said quite simply: "The new ones are junk. AT cut corners in materials all over the place." ...
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Very good for vocals, but has some inherent issues.

Posted

Pros: Beautiful material and construction. Excellent comfort. Warm, full-bodied mid-range great for vocal pieces.

Cons: Lower-treble issue. Tonality isn't as balanced or smooth as its cheaper cousin, the EM9d.

I purchased these for my wife two years ago. She's always liked the warm sound of my ATH-A9X, so for portable use I got her the ATH-EW9, which reportedly has a very sweet, warm mid-range.   Materials & Craftsmanship The packaging is the same as other high-end Audio Technica clip-ons, which is to say I find them elegant and classy. The headphones themselves are simply gorgeous. The Hokkaido cherry wood housing are perfectly finished and the 35mm stereo plug is elegantly shaped and endowed with the letter "ATH-EW9 JAPAN" printed in gold.   The included accessories aren't as luxurious as the headphones themselves, which was a little bit of a let-down. The carrying pouch...
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Decent $30 cans for those on a budget.

Posted

Pros: Decent clarity in the treble. Good bass extention and tightness. Very durable and can take a lot of abuse.

Cons: Extremely sharp and sibilant treble. Materials feel cheap and the earcup joints tend to get a bit squeaky.

If you have been to Taiwan, you likely have seen one of these inside a CD store. It is one of the most widely-used headphones for CD listening stations there. It was in fact my first exposure to "hi-fidelity" sound - when I was a teenager, I remember being completely blown away by these phones! They can still be found for less than $30, which IMO makes them very competitive against the Superlux HD668b.   Materials & Craftsmanship: The packaging is pretty barebone, though you do get a 1/4" adapter.   Materials feel cheap, obviously, but you get what you paid for $30. The LH-036 does have one feature I really like: The cups are connected to the headband via a ball...
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Superlux HD-668B: Good Value, But Not a Giant-Killer.

Posted

Pros: Excellent clarity in treble and mid-range. Decent bass quantity.

Cons: Sharp, bitey, very sibilant highs. Mid-range is recessed (V-shaped presentation). Bass a tad loose, and extension is poor.

I bought these after reading all the rave reviews on Headfonia and Head-Fi... here are my impressions of them.   Materials & Craftsmanship I think any criticism concerning materials or craftsmanship of the HD668b is nitpick considering its price of $50 (easily found for less) - I personally haven't seen headphones in this price range that are this well built.   It's obvious that Superlux took elements from both AKG and Audio Technica designs. The way the earcups pivot is very nicely implemented and conforms easily to the shape of the head. As for the Audio Technica-styled "wings", I've been a long-time fan of it and prefer them to traditional headband design, so that's...
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Audio-Technica ATH-A9X: A Vocalist's Friend.

Posted

Pros: Intoxicatingly sweet mid-range, nicely backed by a full and well-controlled upper/mid bass and a non-intrusive treble.

Cons: Rolled off treble and bass. Small sound stage. Not very resolving compared to modern cans.

I am the fortunate owner of a fairly rare pair of headphone: The Audio Technica ATH-A9X. It is the precursor to the highly popular and successful ATH-A900, and I feel they deserve a proper review (since so few people own them outside of Asia).   The Audio-Technica ATH-A9X was part of the second-generation "Art Monitor" headphone series that surfaced during the late-90's (it was produced between 1997-2002), alongside its siblings the A5X and A7X. It was preceded by the first-generation ATH-A9 (introduced in 1994) and succeded by the ATH-A900.  I do not own a ATH-A900, though I do own the the newest incarnation in the series - the ATH-A900X, and I'll be happy to do a brief...
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Head-Fi.org › Bagheera › Reviews by Bagheera