Audio Technica ATH-AD900X

ATH-AD900XI’ve been eyeing one of these for a very long time, so with the Japanese Yen falling to a 7-year low recently, and my birthday having just passed, I decided to give in to my impulses and bought it off Amazon Japan as a belated gift to myself. Amazing Japanese efficiency meant that my headphones hit Tenso’s warehouse within 2 days, and with a single day of processing, Tenso sent them out. Japan EMS took only 2 more days to deliver the package. With such speed and efficiency, coupled with the favourable exchange rate, I fear I might end up spending a lot more money than I planned for…

(Tenso is a forwarding service that comes well-recommended. A lot of Japanese companies sell their goods much cheaper in Japan, or have exclusives there. The only way for me to get my grubby hands on them is via such services.)

Even though shipping was just a smidgen expensive, the total cost didn’t even add up to half of what I would have paid in Singapore. Retail prices for Japanese electronics can get quite scary here, and while I won’t have warranty support, saving more than S$100(!!!) is worth it.

I’ve tried the ATH-A900X before, when auditioning for a pair of closed-back headphones. It was too bass-heavy for my tastes, and it was too heavy and the 3D-wing system couldn’t keep it on my head. Well, when I put its open-back brother on, it was a very different proposition. Being lighter than the A900X, the AD900X stayed on my head easily, the 3D-wing system very comfortable indeed. The earpads had big openings, albeit shallow, and it’s FAR more comfortable than either of my other headphones, the NAD VISO HP50 and the Grado SR80e.

I bought the AD900X having heard all sorts of reviews about how they had a big soundstage, sounding very airy and making female vocals shine. Taking off my SR80e and playing some female vocals, I couldn’t see the big fuss. A momentary flash of disappointment cut through me; I usually don’t like to buy things blind, preferring to audition first. The iDSD Micro was an exception because I was more enthralled by its functions than its quality, which I can barely discern without extensive A/B testing and focus.

I really should do some comparisons with my other headphones/IEMs to get a clearer picture of the AD900X’s strengths and weaknesses, but I couldn’t care less when my ears slowly adjusted to its sound signature. It is indeed quite airy and open, and string instruments like violins sound ridiculously gorgeous. Female highs sing with startling ease, shimmery and breath-taking. The treble sounds even more extended than my SR80e, but without any sibilance that I can detect. The bass is nothing to write home about though; it’s a little one-note, and thumps quite softly. The lower mids don’t stand out either, feeling a little sucked out and recessed. The focus on upper mids and lower treble is what Head-Fi agrees on as the Audio Technica house sound, and I couldn’t be happier to get a taste of it.

Buying these on a whim has certainly made me feel stupid for a short while. But now, as the music sings and my ears cry out in joy at the comfort, I can’t help but think that I’ve made the right choice in the end.

My wallet disagrees though…

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