Audio-Technica AIR Dynamic Headphones ATH-AD900X

Average User Rating:
4.41667/5,
  1. coen99
    4.5/5,
    "Real "audiophile" headphone, love it!"
    Pros - Sound, design, no removable cable
    Cons - no removable cable

    History


    I'm a audiophile wannabee since I was 10 years. Worked in a hifi shop for 12 years and listened to quite a few systems, mainly higher end.
    I own at the moment a modest set consisting of a Marantz PM17mk2 and Tannoy DM 700 speakers and a Marantz SA11. As I have small children at the moment I do not have much time or chance to listen as much music as I like. One of the reasons is that when they sleep I cannot seriously listen to music as it will wake them up. 
    As I was not a fan of headphones I never payed much attention to them. But given the circumstances I decided recently to have a look for one, so I could listen to my beloved music again.

    I should also mention that I live in a small town in the Netherlands, were we do not have any shop selling headphones above 50 USD, let alone I could listen to any above 50 USD.
    So I rely on my "old" knowledge and mostly on reviews, especially here on Head-fi! I read a lot of reviews on the Internet and I think people here give the more reliable/realistic!
    I hope I can make a worthy addition.

    As I mentioned my search started recently. Just to give you an idea of what kind of sound I'm seeking I like to start with my first recent buy, a Sony MDR-1.
    At the time Sony decided to promote there Sony Xperia in the Netherlands with a free headphone, namely the MDR-1r. As a result a lot of people buying the phone tried to sell their 375USD headphone (listprice in the Netherlands) as an unwanted gift  for "only" 140USD. So why not, I thought. Sony makes (a few) very good headphones and this could be one of them. 
     
    First impressions were great, it looks awesome and it has a nice removable cable. However this removable cable had it's downsides, the connection was not as solid as I hoped for and already after two weeks it "rattled" a bit. So that's why I have placed "no removable cable" under pros and cons. It will be a pro if it has no effect on the sound quality or gives quality issues, like a rattle.
     
    Sound quality MDR-1
    I like several genres, pop, jazz, dixieland, classic, (hard)rock, trance, early house and reggae.
    But I decided to start with one of my favourite tests, "Ice cream" form the Dutch Swing College band.
    This was an instant fail for me.The Sony sounded bored, not lively, uninspired. Maybe because of the music [​IMG], it did not like Dixieland that's for sure.
    When increasing the volume things got worse, the bass sounded not controlled, the treble sounded as if behind a curtain and the mids were overdone (getting painful for my ears). I was missing some "punch".
    Trying other music did not gave another listening experience. 
    So for my cd collection this Sony was a real disappointment.

    Just curiously I tried my MP3 collection, here the MDR-1r did a relative better job. I think MP3 is nice for on my phone but in no way comparable to a real CD or SACD. But the Sony made them sound ok, it's very forgiven when compared to my speakers.
    But the saying "garbage in = garbage out" is a unavoidable truth, although in this case this is a bit exaggerated. Let's say when you are looking for a headphone that's looks awesome, is portable and is forgiven for MP3 (eg. if you are a ipod fanatic) this is a good buy for around 140 USD. But not for me!
    So I sold it as quick as possible.
     
    AD900x
    I had money to burn again and I was determined to make a better choice this time.
    So I read some reviews on head-fi and on some Dutch Hifi sites. Audio Technica, especially the predecessors, the ad900 and 1000 caught my attention as they seem have a punchy not overwhelming bass and good controlled mids and treble and they seemed to be fond of Jazz. Most systems that can deal with Jazz and natural instruments have my preference. 

    Then I read and viewed (on youtube) the review of the successor ad900x by "a_recording" that convinced me this could be interesting. After reading the review on Sound and Vision I was convinced. 
    Ordered one from Hong Kong, arrived in just 4 days!
     
    First impressions:
    Great look and feel! For a wannabee audiophile just the right design. Not to flashy, solidly build with a sort of minimalistic design (in a good way). If you think the headphone is minimalistic, try the box it comes in. This somewhat plain white box just includes the headphone and a jack adapter (6,3mm). For a headphone that costs in the Netherlands 500 USD this is a bit of disappointing. At least include some sort of travel box/sack?!
    The "famous wings" look promising and the 3 meter cable is just perfect.

    Sound
    Ok, now quick to the important stuff, the sound.
    Again, I decided to start with one of my favourite tests, "Ice cream" form the Dutch Swing College band.
    I just listened, and listenend for 2 hours, tried all my "important" cd's. Wow, loved everything about the sound of this headphone. Playing music at whispering level or loud, it sounded just like it should. 
    1. Bass: Punchy, precise and not overdone!
    2. Mids: Articulate, no low-mid exaggeration (many headphones annoy me on this point)
    3. Treble: No hiss, just perfect balance.
    It just loves natural instruments and voices. The stereo view is also great.
    I do not find in anyway the bass to be under-represented. Maybe it's due to my preference for a punchy not oversized bass or because of the amplifier I use, which has a firm bass? I don't know but it's perfect for me! Anymore will just annoy me and give me, like my cheap headphones I use for watching video, listening fatigue.
    BTW: I always have my amplifier on "source direct", so no bass or treble added by the amp.
     
    Like the Sony, I tried the AD900x on my ipod, it sounds ok, just like the Sony. But can be somewhat more critical, especially on the treble part.
    Still, a good performance and easily 20 times better than the standard earplugs from apple.

    Comfort
    I like the cushins being from some sort of cloth. Also it feels great on my head, not too heavy and not crushing my ears.
    However, the "wings" are in my opinion too "weak" or the headphone too heavy, anyway it doesn't stay in place even though I have a modestly big head.
    I will be trying a few things next week to prevent this from happening, and I mean not growing a bigger head [​IMG]. When I find a solution I will let you know!.

     
    That's it for now! Any questions? let me know. 
  2. a_recording
    4.0/5,
    "Audio Technica AD900X: Fresh Air"
    Pros - Airy, extended highs, good wearing comfort, balanced signature, excellent build quality
    Cons - Slightly incoherent / smeared soundstage, bass roll-off, can sound aggressive on some badly mastered tracks
    Along with the summary below, I have posted a comparison review of the AD900X, AD1000X and MA900 here:
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/654161/review-comparison-ath-ad900x-vs-ath-ad1000x-vs-mdr-ma900-its-still-over-900
     
    I've also got a youtube review of the AD900X. If you like the video check out my channel for more reviews :)
     

     
    Summary
     
    BUILD
     
    The AD900X has excellent build quality (astounding for the price) and great wearing comfort provided the 3D wing design works for your head. 
     
    SOUND
     
    The AD900X has an airy and spacious sound with a particular emphasis on mids and treble energy, though it is not overly analytical because of a good depth and decent extension in the bass. However it lacks a little definition and on densely layered music it starts to sound incoherent or inarticulate. Bass is tight and fast but does not have the same rumble or depth as closed headphones or some orthos. On slower music (say acoustic or slow jazz) the AD900X sounds fantastic. It loves stringed instruments as well. On badly mastered tracks the treble can be too aggressive.
     
    Overall
     
    With the Japanese price of the AD900X and with mail forwarding set up, the AD900X is a veritable bargain. The sound is engaging and exciting. Personally I upgraded to the AD1000X and I think for not too much extra money the AD1000X is easily the better headphone, but the AD900X is still pretty awesome.