Just got my ATH-A900... a very long review from a non-audiophile (that's me...)
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dj_mocok

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Hello guys.

I just got my headphone last weekend, ATH-A900 and ATH-AD5...
but since people here are generally more interested with A900, so i think i will let you guys know what i think of them...

We've had so many reviews or comments from audiophile members here, but im not an audiophile i admit, so what im trying to do is just to let you guys know how A900 is from beginner's point of view...

Basically, ive been listening to music mainly from my discman connected to MX500, and ive been enjoying it... it's good, well, i THOUGHT it was good, hehe..

Then when i got my A900, and i plugged it straight to my discman, my first impression was like:
"WHOA... ! Holly momma...!"
This thing is frreakin amazing ! I was impressed the moment the music flowed through the headphones...
everything sounds so different from MX500, with A900, everything sounds... well, very MUSICAL.
Im not good at all the audio technicalities and jargons, but the way i judge the music is just mainly based from what my ears tell me..

Listening to A900 is like...well... can i say "rich" ? the music seems very rich, i can hear all different parts and all well combined together and being presented as a... MUSIC IN A WHOLE...which is not the case if you listen to some lower end phones, you would just feel like its coming right from a source, lifeless, not enveloping your ears with music.... and you basically wont be influenced or moved by the music presentation...
when you are listening to A900, you will feel like you are "musically-hugged"... gee....what a term...musically hugged, hehe...
and you will feel that the music is very alive, and not boring at all..

anyway...

One thing i really notice is, this A900 sounds like a no-nonsense, solid performer... i know that its not the most detailed headphone in the world, but what A900 can pick up and deliver, it will deliver it nicely and solidly....

the instruments in the music are pronounced clearly, and there is much more instruments separation within the music itself (soundstage?)

the bass... wow... can i say that A900 is packed with solid bass punch ? might not appeal to some, but for me, A900 has a one-two solid bass punch... like a boxer delivering blow after blow...not blurry, but very fast and solid...

Other parts of the sounds, on highs or mids, i think they are crystal-clear. Really clear... Maybe im a newbie, but i really havent picked up anything that i dont like from what this A900 offers me..
Since it also has good midrange and highs, listening to stuffs like latin music or salsa is really a fun using A900...

A lot of people say that A900 really goes well with everything...
I totally agree with that, ive used them for pretty much all types of music since i listen to most types of music... and A900 really goes well with everything....

I also used them for watching "Saving Private Ryan" and "Monster Inc" DVDs from my PC. although i dont have a killer PC sound system (only an Audigy), but i was still amazed by the sound it delivers....
Watching the Omaha Beach Landing part in Saving Private Ryan using this A900 is really something.... bullets flying everywhere, and the sounds of empty shells from a machine gun hitting the floor sounds so real..... and i could hear the sound of a stray bullet as if it is flying pass through my head from top right flying to top left...

About build quality, word of warning, dont let the picture from Audio Technica's website fools you... they actually look much better on real life than the stupid picture... i actually was a bit worried about the looks, since on the web, the headphone looks more like a light blue, but its actually very dark blue. looks much more elegant.
the aluminium cups are very smooth and shiny, you can tell that is a well designed headphone.
they look like expensive stuff (well, they are not cheap anyway..)
and you can tell right away by looking at the build quality...especially when you run through the cold, smooth aluminium part of the cans.... it will make cans within its class look like cheap stuffs if you compared them side by side...
also, unlike some phones, the headphone jack of A900 is made from metal as well.

Although they have solid built, but they are so many connected parts within the phone (eg. the cups, the 3d wing, etc), its actually more damage-prone. it might survive normal falls, but im sure if you lightly step on it or sit on it (especially on the wrong part, eg. the 3d wing), it will snap and break straight away...
i know some headphones are more "sat-proof", but A900 is unfortunatelly not one of them due to the so many connected parts..

Size... size... are you worrying about the hugeness of this phone ? as the words have been spread, A900 indeed is a big headphone. Its not thick like CD3000, but the cups are big and round....
but trust me, they make it big not to embarass you or something, but when you put this thing on, you know why and you will be glad that it is big... your ears will sit nicely inside the cans, if your ears can talk to you, they would tell you :" gee, thanks for giving us a nice, comfortable, and a big spaced room here..."

Phone isolation, since its a closed headphone, it really performs like closed cans, people will pretty much hear nothing (or very little) when you are listening to them, unless you are listening in a crazily loud volume....
if you wear them when the music is not playing, the feeling is like when you slightly stuck your index fingers into both earholes. thats pretty much isolation you get from A900.

After so many pros... i think i have to at least say something bad about A900 ? or shouldnt i ? hehe...

the only thing that i know is, maybe its not as revealing as higher end phones, so this may be good for some people, but may be bad for fussy audiophiles...
as i wrote earlier, it may be not one of the most detailed cans out there. but im speaking from a fussy person's point of view here.
the detail level of this cans is still much much better than normal headphones of course... but maybe not as good as Stax stuff i suppose... hehe...

All i can say that this headphone is really really good, and i really love this cans. im not saying this because i just got them or something, but im just reassuring this for some people who are considering to get this phones and been wondering whether to get this or not..

This might be out of topic, but i think i have to let you know my personal notion about this..
I actually went to a few shops last weekend to get some decent entry level audiophile system for my room... so its like a CD player, an amp, and a set of bookshelf speakers.
The one that i am interested (and tried) is this combo :

NAD C521BEE cd player
NAD C320BEE integrated amp
Tannoy M1 bookshelf speakers.

i was able to demo them, they sound nice, and i was able to plug my A900 to that amp too... but believe it or not, i much rather prefer the sound of A900 from the amp than the sound coming out from the speakers... i dont know whether its because of the noisy environment, or maybe its because of the room is too spacey... or whatever.... but for me, the A900 from that NAD amps is much better than that coming out from the speakers.

First, before you guys jumping into conclusion that i have cheap ears or no taste....

what happened was, after that shop, i went to another shop and talked to the nice shopkeeper there, who happened to actually "LOVE" audio, not trying to "SELL" audio only like typical salesmen...
he knew i wasnt gonna buy from him since the shop didnt have what i was looking for, and the good combo they had was out of my budget...

and i was just talking about audio stuff to him, and i didnt ask him anything, then he asked me to go to this private room with him...

(no no...., i DIDN'T DO THAT with him, you sicko.... hehe....)

in that demo room (well, more like a show-off room to me, hehe)
they had this one system only, a turn table, a cd, and a whatever they were... all i know is, they had this amp to drive the left side of speaker, and another amp to drive the right side of speakers exclusively, i think you guys know what they are..

anyway, that system costs like AUD$35,000 or something... i know its not a million dollar system, but when i sat on the couch and listened to it... it was like, my shock of listening to A900 for the first time, multiply it by 20.
That was simply the best sounding thing i have ever heard in my life. it felt like the musician/group was right there playing in front of me... everything was so clear, and the imaging was spot on... it felt like the singer was in front of me, the piano was on the left hand side, and the bass player was on my right hand side, etc... playing in front of me...

Now that was something... something i know it totally kicks A900's butt right off to the moon... but what im saying is, compared to entry level audiophile home system, i reckon a nice system with A900 can still outperform them...

ANyway....why the hell am i telling you guys this anyway... its suppose to be a review about A900...hehe... well...newbie's review, what do you expect...hehe.... that thing was just a story to prove that i dont have cheap ears... :p

One more thing, i went to other shop, i tried A900 with a headphone amp... i couldnt remember what amp it was..but it looked expensive... and honestly, i couldnt tell much difference with it... (compared to A900 with integrated amp)....
maybe im just a newbie ? or maybe the CD player (marantz 5400) was the bottleneck ? maybe the cables ? (they didnt use good cables) or maybe im a newbie ? (again)

the shopkeeper also plugged in HD580 to that amp, and i actually prefer the A900... for me, that HD580 sounds a bit dark.... (does that mean im a Grado person ? hehe..)

What else... i mentioned i got 2 cans, and the other one is ATH-AD5, this is like half the price of A900 and its an open can... although i somehow prefer A900 than this (cant explain the reason), but i notice the difference is minimal...
when i compared them, i liked A900 better, but i dont know why... and for me, they share the same sounds characteristics... maybe AD5 is more "in your face" or more "closer" or in other words, doesnt have as wide soundstage as A900 ?
and for me, AD5 sounds brighter than A900, but not annoyingly bright.
however, AD5 still sounds impressive and has very little difference from A900 for me though..

but note that ive just listened to both cans for less than 20 hours in total though... maybe only 10 hours in total... and if the theory of "burn-in" is true, i would expect some changes in sound that might make me think differently about the similarity of A900 and AD5.
or i might add some more good things about A900, hehe..

To conclude, generally speaking, i personally think that A900 is for a person that:

- need something that is easy to drive, even with portables
- need some good looking, expensive looking indoor phones that can impress your friend
- love listening to "involving, energetic" headphones, not purely neutral one. or can i say, cans with attitude ?
- havent got money to get an amp yet or an amp is not necessary, but you still want a nice sounding headphone
- love original japanese-made product
- need an all around performer headphone that can go well with every kind of music
- want a comfy headphone
- need a good isolating headphone

Don't get A900 if you :

- have state of the art, killer CD player and headphone amp (that can reveal a sound of a conductor scratching his butt whilst conducting a concert) and thinking to get a new headphone to match your killer rig.
- dont have enough money.. hehe...

seriously, if you are on limited budget, i wont hesitate to recommend you to get AD5 instead, its still a great pair of headphone, and i personally think it is more comfortable than A900, due to the cushion material on AD5... AD5 is much lighter, and when you put them on, it feels like a pillow.... very soft and comfortable.... and you can barely feel it that its on your head..
but doesnt mean that A900 is awfully heavy though...


Alright... thats all fellow members... im getting tired typing...
and for the more experienced members here ( thats 99% of the members here, hehe...), if i missed something about A900 or if there is a certain thing i should note about A900, or something i said was wrong, please feel free to let me know so that i can be more familiar with it...

Now, if you excuse me, i am going to decide which instant noodle (or rahmen noodle) i should eat for today, and maybe choose the flavour for tomorrow, and maybe for the next 3 weeks too since im broke because of this phones... hehe....

Thank you for reading this whole lot of newbie ramblings !


PS: if you need pics to see the A900 in different pose (apart from the one on the web), let me know, i will try to post them here....
 
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kcits

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awesome review, thanks a lot


hmm.. if you have time, how would you compare the AD-5's instrument separation with the A900's? does the AD-5 sound more "airy" to you?
 
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Good review. I also found A900 to be best bang for the bucks ($200).

Quote:

i tried A900 with a headphone amp... i couldnt remember what amp it was..but it looked expensive... and honestly, i couldnt tell much difference with it... (compared to A900 with integrated amp)....


You gotta know what to listen for using your own music that you are familar with. Everyone has their own methods. I mainly use classic music with lightening fast transients and huge dynamics. Try following SACDs (or redbook versions) Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture by Telarc, Hilary Hahn's Mendelssohn & Shostakovich: Track 3, Telarc's Beethoven No 9 "Coral" and few others (such as Fritz Kreisler). Of course, you also need something intimate like Norah Jones and Diana Krall, not to mention some bass heavy music. I have made a demo CD containing some of those recordings (ripped to wave, then to redbook format) and have use them as a reference of what to listen for in audio system.

Anyways, be happy and enjoy your cans .... until you catch the upgradatitus-fever
Sorry about your wallet!
 
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dj_mocok

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Quote:

Originally posted by kcits
awesome review, thanks a lot


hmm.. if you have time, how would you compare the AD-5's instrument separation with the A900's? does the AD-5 sound more "airy" to you?


for me, they actually sound very similar... but maybe after burn in they may sound more different...
but what i notice is, AD5 leaks much much more noise compared to A900... its an open phone afterall...

but in terms of bass, i prefer the A900... as a matter of fact, everything sounds a bit more solid though... but maybe its just me..

give them a bit more time to burn in, then i will tell you whether there are more apparent differences...
 
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dj_mocok

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Quote:

Originally posted by go_vtec
Good review. I also found A900 to be best bang for the bucks ($200).


You gotta know what to listen for using your own music that you are familar with. Everyone has their own methods. I mainly use classic music with lightening fast transients and huge dynamics. Try following SACDs (or redbook versions) Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture by Telarc, Hilary Hahn's Mendelssohn & Shostakovich: Track 3, Telarc's Beethoven No 9 "Coral" and few others (such as Fritz Kreisler). Of course, you also need something intimate like Norah Jones and Diana Krall, not to mention some bass heavy music. I have made a demo CD containing some of those recordings (ripped to wave, then to redbook format) and have use them as a reference of what to listen for in audio system.

Anyways, be happy and enjoy your cans .... until you catch the upgradatitus-fever
Sorry about your wallet!


vtec, the problem is, i dont feel comfortable bringing so many cds to shop and try each one of them, especially im not really buying straight away...

i know its the best way to decide, but as you know, some stupid shopkeepers might give you that look when you ask or try too much of their stuff... hehe...

but anyway, i tried them using my own CD, and i didnt notice lots of difference....
 
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ch1nkster

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Congrats on your new a900's man and nice review you have there. If you can't afford to get a900's, you can try getting a500's or cd780's. A900 do benefit from an amp however.

If you want more pics, check out this thread I made a while ago:

http://www5.head-fi.org/forums/showt...threadid=54425
 
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Sczervok

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Hehe...
A900's do benifit from an amp... LOL

Don't trust this guy. He cranks the volume on his CD player to the max when listening to various phones!

hehe, j/k. But he's getting pretty close to that point.

You can get an amp for it... but I guess that's not all that bad considering I doubt you would take this thing outside anyways.
 
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Buster Sword

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Dj! that review was WICKED!

I enjoyed it, it was informative but you have the funniest sense of humor! haha.

I want 2 cans, one slightly boosted fun and closed like this
one revealing open
I might get a900 and hd580/hd595 I hope thats a good combo! haha.
Man So the movie parts really excited me, its like it is good for film! must be good for games i imagine! sweetness!
Audiophile on a mid budget, is that me? yesh it is!

Please can you tell me ultra cool DJ if its sounds good for piano/vocals?

Look for
full body mid and upper bass. Warmth, and at the same time bite/brightness in the same tracks.
also need "live" realistic sounding
I need something that doesnt favor neither bright or warm. I need it to do both! like real life.

thanks man! i love the way these phones are made!
 
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Zuerst

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I use to think 128 mp3, 192 mp3, what's the difference... Now I got the A900 most of my mp3 collections sounds a bit "bad" I suppose. Think I'll have to re-rip most of my CD's to at least 192kbs...
 
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TonyTripleA

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DJ,

Nice review, and great to see a set of a900s make it to the land of OZ. Sounds like another head fi sponsor is good for us Aussie's to deal with.

I'd be keen to see how that comparision between the open and closed cans develops after burn in. How did you decide on the "5" can instead of the 7 or 9? They sure are a good price.

I'm a bit of an open can fan but can see that you think the A900s make a comfy fit.

Enjoy, and thanks again for the enthusiastic review... reminds me of why I love cans (and NEW cans).

Cheers,

TonyAAA
 
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dj_mocok

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Quote:

Originally posted by Buster Sword
Dj! that review was WICKED!

I enjoyed it, it was informative but you have the funniest sense of humor! haha.

I want 2 cans, one slightly boosted fun and closed like this
one revealing open
I might get a900 and hd580/hd595 I hope thats a good combo! haha.
Man So the movie parts really excited me, its like it is good for film! must be good for games i imagine! sweetness!
Audiophile on a mid budget, is that me? yesh it is!

Please can you tell me ultra cool DJ if its sounds good for piano/vocals?

Look for
full body mid and upper bass. Warmth, and at the same time bite/brightness in the same tracks.
also need "live" realistic sounding
I need something that doesnt favor neither bright or warm. I need it to do both! like real life.

thanks man! i love the way these phones are made!


thanks for the feedback, hehe... about piano/vocals, to be honest, i havent got a good cd with mainly vocals/piano stuff.... but i think since so many people here have them, you might ask one of them... plus, my A900 hasnt properly burnt in yet... i am not doing the continuous burn in method, but i listen as i let them burn in, but since im also working and studying, so my time will be limited.. very slow burn in... hehe..

you might ask lindrone on how A900 sounds on piano/vocals department though, im sure he'll be happy to let you know. but this weekend i will try to listen to more stuff and see how it goes...

Sczervok, About A900 + amp, i didnt say that it doesnt benefit from amp, hehe... i said i couldnt notice big difference... but maybe its just me, or maybe its the CD, or maybe the cables, so many factors...
but really, when i tried A900 from dedicated headphone amp and when i tried it from C320BEE integrated amp, i couldnt tell much difference... but note that im not a professional though...

anyway...

TripleA,
i didnt get my A900 from audiocube. i got it from a friend who travelled to japan. the reason why i got A900 is, i just dont want to have that feeling in the future that will make me think like : " damn.. i shouldve bought A900 instead..." or " i wonder how A900 sounds..."
but let me put it this way, you dont buy cans every week or so.
a set of nice headphone will last you a long time, so i personally think, if you like it, even though its a bit more expensive (but not wayyy more expensive), just get it and think about years of joy they will give you...

comparison between open and closed cans... before i got A900, my perception of closed cans was like, they sound 'closed' or 'muddy' or 'cramped'... but A900 really still gives you the sense of "space" within the cups....
but i read some people consider that for closed cans, A900 doesnt sound like a typical closed cans, and it still capable of delivering that "nice" sounds that are usually not evident on normal closed cans... anyway... im rambling again, hehe...

ok, i might listen a bit more later and try to find some vocals or stuffs and see what i think of it...
thanks for all the feedback guys.
 
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dj_mocok

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Sorry, couldnt find a record that really really clean in vocals and piano...

I had some classical stuffs, but they all are not the best quality CDs though... i can clearly hear the hiss when its silent, so i dont think i can make a judgement using this kind of bad recording..

i might dig something else...

i have a few CDs that i am very confident with (sound quality wise), but they all are pretty much pop stuff...

bustersword, are you a fan of latin music ?
i have some latin CDs, and it sounds amazing even though its straight from my discman.

as you know, latin music is very "lively" music... lots of instruments playing at the same time... trumpets, piano, drums, etc...
i could hear them very clearly...they sound very involving... all different instruments coming from everywhere...

below is just for example, so pardon me if i named the musical instruments wrongly.
anyway, when i listen to a latin music, i can hear, for example:

- main vocal - right in the centre
- audience claps - on left and right side (different claps)
- tambourine plays - 3 o'clock
- trumpets - 9 o'clock
- guitar of some sort - 11 o'clock
- guitar plucks - again, from 3 and 9 o'clock (different ones at the same time)
- some other unidentified musical instruments - coming or running through from around 1 o'clock to 10 o'clock
- another musical instrument that i dont know the name - from the area of 9 o'clock to 11 o'clock.... etc etc...

if you are to buy A900, even though latin is not your cup of tea, i suggest you to buy at least one latin CD with very good quality recording, you will be amazed how it sounds on A900...


Anyway, as you know, different people have different taste, different standard, what is acceptable for some people might sound horrible for some, what is good might only be ok for some...

About my taste or my standard... i dont know how to explain which level i am currently on, but basically, i won't be impressed with the sound coming from a 200 bucks AIWA hifi from K-Mart, but im also not a guy who can only be impressed with a million dollar system.

As i wrote before, an entry level (budget) audiophile system that i tried didnt really impress me. (NAD C521BEE + NAD 320BEE + Tannoy M1)
they sound good, but didnt impress me that much. i was actually trying to make myself impressed...

however, as i wrote again, when the nice shopkeeper let me audition the 35,000 dollars sound system, i just sat there on the couch, and it blew me away.... all i tried was not to "adjust" myself to that kind of sound or else i wouldnt be able to enjoy anything else anymore since my ears will be spoiled. thats why i went out shortly after, in fear of elevating my ears' standard... hehe..

and as i wrote on my review, i think A900 on my discman sounds better than that entry level NAD system. call me crazy... but thats what i feel... (you also know that its much easier to get a nice sound out of headphones than from speakers...)

so if you are to take my words of "sounds good" and all that, make sure you understand whats pretty much the standard my ears and the characteristic that my ears like first, before jumping into conclusion that what i like is also what you like...
if you think your ears demand much more than my ears, then what is impressive for me might not be so impressive for you...

if you are an audiophile, just consider my ears as not as sensitive as yours....
although i also dont have a stock earbuds ears...


anyway... what was the point of this post again... i forgot... im getting sleepy... ok, off to sleep (its 1.11am here)... let me know what you guys think... hehe...
 
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Buster Sword

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Dj, Much appreciation! you went out of your way to help new buyers

What i meant is, and I apologize, is any decent song with vocals
and any song with decent recorded piano.
I found that mids are NONEXISTENT in almost every commercial equipment. When I heard Tannoy, and hd280pro, I found a funny thing. I found that their mids were full at 0 and not scooped out. Also the mids and upper bass sounded 90% identical. It had a fullness, presence warmth and bite/cuts through air to it. Its hard to find things that neither favor warm or bright. Tannoy 800a monitors were just the ticket to audiophile speaker heaven, at a lower cost than a 35,000 system haha. It was aslo apparent that in hd280rpo. Like a piano note was hit, it sounded like its wood it was made in, i could tell how the size of the room was and how large the piano was! With vocals, it sounds like i was being sang to write here live with completely realistic analysis, but it had a smooth butter layering to fill in certain gaps over the sony 7506 (v6) Yes, I was able to hear the same details, but it was smoother slightly.
When the first few time I heard vocals and a piano like I heard it live in an orchestra or got flashbacks of being in a God grandmothers house, then I know that My ears had grown and would seek something of the same nature. I know the main flaws of commercial audio now. ---no mids!, bass boost and either laid back or boosted treble.
 
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Some people have referred to A900 and even CD3000 as being "distant in the mids".. I think this perception comes from the fact that A900 and even more so, the CD3000, creates a wide and spherical soundstage.. so the mids aren't muffled or subdued in that sense, but they sound like they're coming from.. well.. from the front if you were sitting in a concert hall.

Some other headphones, Grados in particular, really has the mids just sitting right in front of your face. I think A900 and CD3000 in that case, creates a more "realistic" soundstage. Although people who prefer Grado will argue that soundstage isn't realistic, period. Matter of perspective


Given that, A900 presents the midrange very well, my favorite artist is Ben Folds. Vocal & piano... and it sound absolutely beautiful.
 
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Wow! That was a great review. Being quite a newbie myself is great to read a review in the language of the people, for the people. I learned a lot and had a few laughs


I'm considering buying a $200 or so headphone and the A900 is in my final list. I also have the HD595 in mind but i'm concerned it may be hard to drive with my Karma player. The reviews are great though. Have not listened to either. Thanks again.
 
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