A900, my reaction
Feb 6, 2005 at 8:43 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9

Ojannen

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I got the A900 as a christmas gift and have listened to them for almost all of my musaic and movies since them. For the most part I like it but I am somewhat dissapointed with several aspects of the headphone. Hopefully most of the placebo effects of the new headphones are gone now.

My first reactions:
- the immersion caused by the isolation and possibly the soundstage was impressive
- ingame sounds felt very far away
- very comfortable
- big but not as big as people seem to portray them

When listening on my computer, I am going through a headphone out of onboard sound. I know this is bad but I have a shuttle with no extra pci slots.
When listening in the listening room of the music library, I am using a Denon amp and a sony cd player with an optical connection to the amp. Not sure on model numbers

Here is how I look at them now.

Gaming: Excellent. I prefer the closed design with some isolation to my old supraural phones (audio .90). The big change I noticed is that instead of hearing "he is to my left" I hear "he is to my left really far away". I don't really feel a difference between sounds that are close and sounds far away when compared to the .90. I did not experience the magical positioning that every seems to experience when switching to these headphones. I only experienced the amazing change people seem to be describing when I switched from no EAX to EAX enabled on counter-strike. If someone is looking for a set of closed, comfortable cans for gaming, I would not hesitate to recommend these.

Movies: very good. positioning is pretty good. The wide soundstage lends itself well to movies. The bass is acceptable and not too overpowering. Don't watch too many movies so can't say much here.

Music: this is where I have a problem.
I am not sure what to call this, but with properly recorded music, overtones, overall blend and individual instrument sounds seem to be much more present than with my old phones($15 radio shack model). This makes the sound feel more full and resonant. It also makes the sound feel much more real. When I am listening for pleasure, I can hear an ensemble sound and when I am listening for individual lines, I can pick them out. Is this what people are talking about when they say "detail"?

For live music recorded properly, I do not have a problem. I like the way the headphones isolation makes the music feel immersive

For studio recorded music (most recorded music after around 1980) or badly recorded music (average rock band), I have major problems. The two sides of the orchestra sound too far apart for you to be sitting in the sweet spot of a concert hall. For me that is 40-50 rows back on the floor or the equivalent of about 75-100 rows back at the front of the grand balcony. Instead, I get a sound the is similar to the front 5-10 rows of a concert hall. Blend isnt good and you hear individual instruments instead of an ensemble sound. I do not know why anyone would want this kind of sound.

In contrast, these characteristics are great when doing dictation assignments and trying to figure out roman numerals, bass, and soprano lines.
One of the features that brought me to these headphones was reports of good soundstage. Instead, I get a soundstage that feels as though it removes blend to the point of being unmusical. I have read some posts about other cans haveing a wider soundstage. Why do people desire this?

Overall, these are great cans. I would recommend them to anyone for gaming and movies. However, I have to be more selective in picking music and stay clear of studio recorded music even more now. Does anyone else have these complaints? On a related topic, could someone explain how grado's lack of soundstage makes them feel like you are at the front of a concert hall. From what I have experienced, having a narrower soundstage, means that recording feel as though they were made further back in a hall.
 
Feb 6, 2005 at 11:21 PM Post #2 of 9

Zoide

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Hmm.... onboard audio is usually terrible sounding. Have you tried your headphones on something else? Even the MP3 player on my Palm (Tungsten E) sounds better than my laptop's outboard audio! Or try them on a friend's iPod.
 
Feb 7, 2005 at 12:02 AM Post #3 of 9

Ojannen

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When listening in the listening room of the music library, I am using a Denon amp and a sony cd player with an optical connection to the amp. Not sure on model numbers.

When listening to music it is about 50/50 or 60/40 for computer and listening room. Becuase I am an undergrad I cannot check out music.

How will onboard sound affect the sound quality problems I have been experiencing? I am not talking about the generally worse sound quality of onboard sound.

I would like to get a new sound card but I have to factor in $130 for a new external TV capture card because I only have 1 pci slot, $130 for new ram (currently on 256mb pc2100 on an a64 3200, long story), $200 for a new video card if I get into cs:s or dod:s (currently on 9600 pro with unacceptable fps with no eye candy), and some amount for a sound card that runs high bitrate mp3s and EAX without a performance hit. So a new sound card is a little ways off.
 
Feb 7, 2005 at 12:36 AM Post #4 of 9

haastyle

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I just purchased the A900s not to long myself. I am very happy with them, for counter strike they are pretty awesome, especially if your at a lancenter where other people are making noise. They sound wayyyy better than my HD 570s that I used to use. They are good for music also, I turn up the bass a bit in my windows EQ. I love listening to some System of a Down on these headphones, sounds GREAT
 
Feb 7, 2005 at 2:07 AM Post #6 of 9

crazyfrenchman27

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You really don't need an amp with the ATH-A900. Yes, it helps, but it's hardly necessary.

Address the source problem first. The source is WAY more important than the amplifier, ALWAYS.

I'd look into something like an EMU0404...
 
Feb 7, 2005 at 2:26 AM Post #7 of 9

Rempert

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Interesting impressions. Have you tried going back and forth between the A900s and your old headphones to compare the soundstage on various recordings?

Extreme stereo separation is a reality on a lot of recordings. You might have a piano that is mic'd in such a way that the bass octave is on one edge of the "soundstage" and the treble octave is all the way on the other edge. Or a drum set where the high hat is on one side and the ride is on the other. I think this is true with any headphone, but maybe the cheap headphones mush the details so much that it wasn't able to bother you so much.

The problem with small soundstages is not that they make it sound like you are in the front row. It's that they make it sound like the front row is in you!
eek.gif
Everything sounds like it is inside your head or right next to your ears.

Anyways, if your main problem is that you would like the soundstage to not go 180 degrees around you, but focus more in front, there may be solutions (at least for when you are using the computer). The foobar player has a "crossfeed" DSP, which can things sound a bit more natural when using headphones. If that doesn't do the trick, use Head-fi's search function to look for "HTRF plugin"....
 

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