Friday, June 7, 2013

Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X Open-Back Audiophile Headphone Review by Jeff Roy

Headphones come in all shapes and sizes. We just had our annual Headphone Shootout, but we had a late arrival from Audio-Technica. They have been producing high quality products for decades, and I have yet to receive a poor quality and performing product from them. So they were definitely worth checking out and doing a review. They are the ATH-AD900X with an MSRP of $299.

Features and specs:

Type:  Open Air
Driver Diameter:  53mm
Frequency Response:  5 - 35,000Hz
Maximum Input Power:  1,000 mW
Sensitivity:  100 dB/mW
Impedance:  38 ohms
Weight:  265 g
Cable:  3.0 m (9.8')
Connector:  3.5mm (1/8") mini stereo, gold-plated
Accessory Included:  Detachable 1/4" (6.3 mm) adapter

They came in the standard Audio-Technica packaging in an attractive box with a clear window so you can see the product. The quality of components used were very good, as was the fit and finish. They were constructed mostly of plastic with very comfortable soft cloth earpads, very similar to the recently reviewed ATH-AD500X and ATH-AD700X. Although with their specs they appear to have upgraded drives. I am however a tad surprised that at their price point they do not have detachable cables.

Fresh Aire II - Going To Another Place showed crisp percussion and strings with nice resolution in the acoustic guitars.  The piano sounded very natural, and the flute had a good amount of air.  Imaging was great and they threw a nice sized soundstage. 

Boys II Men - Yesterday had nice silky smooth vocals that also had excellent harmonics and great texture.  I really enjoy a good headphone that provides excellent resolution with vocals, where there are layers of texture.  And the bass part showed a nice midbass output.

No Doubt - Hellagood provided very dynamic percussion.  The drums also had nice low end extension.  For an open-back design, the bass played with a lot of authority!  Imaging was also very good, and Stefani's were just sexy with great resolution showing a depth to them.  At times they were just a tad on the bright side, but I did not find it to be a bad thing.

Also Sprach Zerethustra from 2001 A Space Oddessy was very dynamic.  The intro showed just how deep they could play, as the low end rumble could be heard and even felt in my earlobes!  The trumpets were clean and smooth yet not too brassy.  The timps had nice impact and resolution.  But it did not end there.  The soundstage was huge and the imaging was right on!

I want to say I am very impressed with the Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X. Not only do they sound great, they also were extremely comfortable to wear, and felt light.....perfect for long listening periods. They provided great resolution with excellent harmonics. They also threw a wide large soundstage with very accurate imaging. From Audio-Technica's website, ...." The ATH-AD900x features large 53 mm drivers exclusively designed for the headphones, with rare-earth magnets and Audio-Technica’s copper-clad aluminum-wire (CCAW) voice coil technology for superior audio reproduction with an extremely wide 5 Hz – 35,000 Hz frequency response. The ATH-AD900x offers an immersive listening experience with clear, natural vocal and instrumental reproduction, a smooth tonal balance, precise imaging and superlative dynamic range."  All I have to say is the truth is in the pudding.  The ATH-AD900X sounded just as described and designed.  And I like this pudding!  I tend to prefer a lot of bass and a closed back dynamic design. But I was very impressed with the bass output of the open design of the ATH-AD900X. After going through my predetermined tracks for the review, I couldn’t pull them off, and continued with track after track after track. I got lost in their appealing presentation of the music, and I guess that is one of the best compliments I could give.

Audio-Technica typically does not surprise me. They make a great product that you can bank on. But in this instance the Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X did surprise me, performing better than expected. Based on their design, features quality, and performance, they have earned our Editor’s Choice Award. For more info and complete specs, check out their website at