Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X

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For the longest time I’ve been wanting to upgrade my sound situation, I consider myself to have a decent ear when it comes to quality audio ,but I don’t have the big budget like many audiophiles seem to have.  Finally I had the opportunity to get hold of a decent upgrade and after weeks of research I settled on the Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X.

The AD900x is the big brother of the popular AD700 and AD700X models by Audio-Technica that have long been the mainstay of the relatively affordable audiophile quality headphone recommendation across the internet.  I’ve heard the AD700 and was wowed by the sound stage and the comfortable headband – though the bass was lacking and not up there with what I wanted in a headphone.  After some research I discovered the newer X models have added a little more bass and the 900X had a little more again as a slight expense to the sound stage so it seemed like a no brainer to shell out of the 900x model.

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The AD900X is a beautiful set of cans, I really love the minimal design, they truly look understated and purposeful like proper audio equipment should look.  It’s a big improvement over the early AD700 model with the silver plastic and purple cups, the black is modern though maybe looses a little on personality points.  Audio-Technica does get a little heavy on the plastic for the (especially Australian) pricing though and as far as I can tell only the cups are made of the metal with the rest plastic which does give me some concerns about the long time durability.  They do appear to have simple construction and i’d like to think that the more flimsy parts such as the wings have replacement parts available – though I’ve not investigated this.

They’re extremely comfortable and actually one of the biggest selling points for me was the wing design.  Such a small part of the headphones actually touch your head and they’re so light you can barely tell they’re attached.  As a whole the headphones themselves are extremely light yet don’t have a cheap feel, Audio-Technica has done a great job getting the balance right and they feel as though to simply float on your head.  I’ve been able to test these for many hours continuously and I’ve yet to be bothered with any discomfort.  The open design appears to allow air to flow throughout the cans keeping your ears cool where closed designs do not.  There is a caveat though – you do absolutely need a big head to wear these or they’ll fall off your head at the slightest provocation, they really are designed for the boof heads among us.  My partner whose head is quite a bit smaller than mine was unable to wear these without holding them the entire time so be wary – for me they fit fine and i can head bang to my hearts content with them staying firmly planted on my head.

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Sound quality is amazing.  I’m absolutely blown away at the clarity and the sound stage compared to anything I’ve owned before – though at Australian pricing they’re a full 200 dollars more expensive than other headphones I’ve owned in the past.  I’m not especially well versed in audiophile language but the separation of instruments is fantastic and adding depth to my favorite genres – in a lot of music i’m familiar with I’m hearing things I’ve never heard before which surprised me since it’s not like I’ve been using apple ear buds in the past.  The sound stage makes the music feel like i’m listening to it from a set of speakers in a acoustically sound room rather than blasting right at my ears.  More than once I’ve gotten goosebumps from how intense and amazing things can sound in a similar way that great live music makes me feel.  I can’t say that they’re perfect though as despite the upgraded bass from the older AD900 model the AD900x still lacks (for my tastes) some of the extra kick that appeals to me – though I’ve been able to remedy that issue with a headphone amp/DAC (fiio e10K).  The bass out of the box however is tight and punchy – but it wouldn’t win any awards with those who need heavy bass.  As a side note – if you’re a fan of progressive metal or post rock style music these sound incredible, Mogwai is quite the experience with some quality headphones and Sigur Ros feels and sounds out of this world, wow!

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Would I recommend these?  Absolutely – I’m in love the AD900X headphones as they have firmly reignited the flame I have for music but also finding new music – I just can’t take these off my head.  If you’re in the market for an affordable set of high end head phones I don’t think you could go wrong with the AD900X from Audio-Technica.

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