AD900 first impression: clipping, fatiguing and dry sounding...
Mar 21, 2008 at 9:20 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4


Feb 23, 2008
I picked up a pair of AudioTechnica ATH-AD900's and they sound like they are clipping pretty bad. I am also getting a really annoying popping sound and a horrible flange effect in my music, almost like a bad choppy/farty synth sound which happens mostly in the mid freq's. On top of that, they are so dry sounding that it is fatiguing to listen to and the highs hit my eardrums like shotgun fire, however, I really like the speed that these headphones provide and the strong mids.

I purchased these used but in perfect condition from someone who purchased them from audiocubes. He said that he auditioned them for a month or so and decided they leaked too much sound for his taste, so I assume they are fully burned in.

I also have the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80ohms which I think actually have much better imaging than the AD900 believe it or not even though they are closed... in music and in games... but the recessed mids and terrible slowness of them really keep me from loving them.

I wish I could find something like the Senns HD650 but with the speed of the ATH-AD900. I havent really had a good listen to the HD650, but from the little i have heard of the HD600 and from what I have read about the HD650 they are warm and musical, with good detail and imaging but extremely lacking in speed.

Will it ever end? I recently moved and am unemployed. I tripped over my old POS Senns PC160's and broke them and decided it was time to upgrade anyways. Stumbled across the forums while searching for reviews on google... now... well you know. Damn.
Mar 21, 2008 at 10:43 PM Post #3 of 4
What are you driving them with? The clipping does sound like a headroom problem with whatever amp you're using, but then again the AD900 should be fairly easy to drive from the stats alone, so who knows. It's certainly not normal for these headphones, so there could be driver damage. And if you think you're the first to get sold a damaged pair of headphones - man, I could tell you some stories

If you want a warm yet fast sound on a modest budget, you have few choices. The best one I can think of is the Stax SR-001 or SR-005a system; it does have a rather HD650-like tonal balance but is very detailed and is one of the fastest headphones I've ever heard. It doesn't have that much of a soundstage, though with some sources you can definitely bring it out. It also has rolled-off highs, but at the price, you can't ask for everything.

Or can you?

The K340, if you can get a good fit with one, will definitely work, but there are a few catches. 1) you need a beast of an amp, and the best results I've had with a K340 is driving it straight from a speaker amp, though my old MG Head OTL (MK 1!) has the juice, too 2) there are many different versions out there which have very different sound quality 3) lots of people have modded theirs, and sometimes not to good effect 4) the fit is rubbish, at least for my head, but most other people don't seem to have the issue.

If you can find a stock, bass-light pair and combine it with something lush and full sounding, and if you can get a good fit/seal with it, you'll have one hell of a system for the $. My pair on a $200 old tube amp outperformed the Stax SR-404 on the SRM-007t amp on nearly all fronts.

A vintage Stax Lambda (just the normal-bias Lambda, not the Pro or Signature or any of the Nova series) will work too, but you'll have the Devil's own time tracking a pair down. Still, it will be worth it if you do.

Senn HD595 might work as well, but it does have a somewhat grainy sound. You need a very liquid signal path to smooth it out.

P.S. Yeah, I know the story
I came here looking for an amp for some Senn HD590's. I certainly didn't see myself going down this road. But you know what, even with all the thousands that I spent, it was worth it. I've had a ton of fun discovering the sound that I'm after, and if I could have heard my current rig back then I think I would have had a heart attack
You may not think now that you'll have high-end 'stats or balanced dynamics or tons of cables and power cords down the road, but bit by bit, it adds up.

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