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on December 14, 2009
Okay let me lend my 2 cents about these cans- my main points:

1. Yes, worth the money

2. No significant downside

3. Comfortable

4. Look great

5. Sounds like 250 bucks

On my first point: Once you pull the trigger on these cans, you can be assured you haven't been suckered by inflated reviews. I've tried all its contenders and you simply must pay more to meet its match. If you have a good ear and aren't mislead by the Bose and dr. dre bass subterfuge, you will appreciate every moment these are on your head. If you're worried about sound leakage-don't be. I've had people plug these babies into their iphones at max and there is hardly a peep from them. If you want noise cancellation buy the Bose, but you'll be getting inferior sound. And let me add to that- just placing these over your ears significantly deadens the ambient noise,and with the music on- it won't matter.

Downsides? Ideally, I'd like these to fit completely over the ears, however once you've worn them for a while its not an issue. Another downside I can see is the wood housing succumbing to someone sitting on them. ( get a hard case )

Comfort: Light, and the cushions are just perfect for long durations. Careful, you might fall asleep!

Looks: Wood cans- classy. Not overly large or rediculous looking.

The sound: This is why you're buying them! When you get these delivered, make sure you have a comfortable chair and plenty of music. Let me give you a warning about break in- it sounds like geek gibberish but its not. As I've listened, I've noticed a far deeper tone develope and low frequencies resonating more pleasantly, basically the 'mud/distortion' you think you hear at first actually does disappear.

If you're spending this kind of money, you obviously have quality music to listen to. Great songs that take these around the whole range of frequencies: Beneath Alrischa (DaVinci code soundtrack) -why mention it- the song contains some frequencies so low I was feeling as well as hearing the song. Also 'mad world' donnie darko.

Another mention. Pay 20 bucks for a cheapo headphone amp, I'm using the E5 Fiio- its chinsey but puts that extra bump my iphone doesn't provide without blasting my eardrums.

Enjoy.
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on March 24, 2011
This review of the Audio Technica ATH-ESW 9A headphones is essentially a sequel to my reviews of three other headphones: the Audio Technica ATH M50S, the Grado Prestige SR 225 and the Ultrasone Pro 550S (see my reviews there). I acquired the ATH-ESW 9s after I returned the Ultrasones to the dealer for reasons described in my review. Here is the same preamble I used in my other reviews, with a slight modification because the ATH-ESW 9 are now also part of the picture: This was quite an experience, and I'd like to share my findings, though without doing a side-by-side comparison of the four `phones for various reasons, first and foremost because their individual characteristics are too different for a rigid evaluation on statistical points. If you are curious about my impressions of the others, please see my respective reviews. And if you really twist my arm, I'll say as much: the ATH M50S and the Grado Prestige SR 225 are clear front-runners, perhaps nose-by-nose, the ATH-ESW 9 edging in for maybe the first place, with the Ultrasones not even coming in as a distant fourth. I have praised the ATH M50S and the Grado elsewhere, and I'll focus now on the ATH-ESW 9. The phones are quite beautiful to look at and extremely comfortable on my head right out of the box: light, airy, but a good fit on the ears. Alas, they come with a short (48'') little split cord ending in a mini plug. For those who are into serious stationary audio/video, an extension cord with a regular plug conversion will be necessary. This will set you back $17.59. Regardless, the `phones themselves are so outstanding that I consider them priceless. They sounded already very good right out of the box, as any decent headphones should. Don't be mislead by the breaking-in time. It is mandatory, but if your new `phones sound downright miserable right out of the box, no amount of breaking in will make them glorious. After a break-in period of ca. 50 hours continuous running, I tested them with a variety of classical (orchestral and choral/vocal) music. They have the deep bass (try the beginning of Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra), they sparkle and sing in the treble, all midranges are vivid and present. As opposed to the Sennheisers - always polite and reserved - they have the punch and immediacy I want. Transparency is outstanding. I don't hesitate to put them next to my trusted Beyer 880s and Denon AH-D 5000s, and this is the best compliment I can pay to new `phones. For those of us who do most of their listening with `phones (e.g. given for the sake of domestic peace), a new pair of splendid headphones is actually an additional stereo system, as they all sound different - and much cheaper than my infrequently used high-end components and speakers.
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on December 6, 2014
Summary: (3.5 stars)
These are what I consider to be a very niche portable that provides upsides of versatility and good sound quality while also being stylish for an office setting. The downsides are that they are slightly big for a portable, can get uncomfortable, don't have music controls/mic, and are generally poor on airplanes/public transportation. Ultimately I'm considering keeping them as a work headphone, but don't plan on bringing them out of the office much, if at all. Make no mistake, you're paying for a very specific sound signature (richness at the slight expense of some details - a bit artificially warm) and wood aesthetics - no frills.

Details:
General thoughts - I'd like to think that I like a balanced headphone that isn't too heavy in any area, but am looking for one that is on the more fun side with good vocals and a present but not overly bright high end. Having used these for a week or two auditioning them with a variety of music, sources, and against a variety of other headphones, I have a few thoughts about their performance in different settings. Ultimately, I do have to say that they are one of the better headphones I have tried in this price range and are toward the more versatile side across genres, not listening settings (see notes about poor travel).

(4.5 Stars) Friendly for many genres and mix qualities - The low-mid bass definitely puts a veil on some of the details - this overall "smoothing" factor is great for poor recordings/mixes but hides many of the details that one would like to hear on great recordings. I have other more detailed sets of closed headphones that I find to be much better at bringing out musical details but aren't quite as forgiving to poor recordings or overly-gained current pop music.

(2 Stars) Not airplane/travel friendly - People should be aware that using these on an airplane actually accentuates the bass aspects of the cabin noise (kind of like when you put a conch shell up to your ear). They have only OK isolation, in my opinion. Other reviewers seem to say that they're not great on other public transport, presumably for the same reasons. One redeeming quality here is that the cable is fairly short which I found to be a big bonus on the plane. I really wish they had a mic and controls - missing these features makes them a deal-breaker as a sole traveling headphone.

(3 stars) Can be physically uncomfortable after a long time - I found them uncomfortable after medium-long listening sessions.

(4 stars) Sonically comfortable for long listening sessions - I find them to be sonically comfortable for long listening sessions (not sibilant or fatiguing). Of course, to achieve this sonic comfort, some compromises had to be made on the resolution of details.
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I've had these for about 1 week now and I love them. They sure are terrific looking!

I was somewhat concerned about references to comfort but haven't had any issues, and I have a great big honkin' melon. I wonder if many who have expressed such thoughts might just not be a big fan of on ear headphones. I do prefer the over ear variety but these aren't uncomfortable by any stretch. I wore them for three hours on the very first day.

I likely don't have them fully burned in yet but will continue to listen to them on a daily basis and they may yet further open up, but right from the box they sounded really good. They do a decent job of keeping sound inside while allowing me to hear what is going on outside of the cups. They will stay put on your head if you have to bend over and pick something up, unlike the KEF M500. I am a bit concerned with reports of them breaking but treat my gear with kid gloves. I will likely re-cable this pair of headphones because the stock cable isn't very good.

All in all I really like this pair and will be keeping them. I can't afford really high end gear but like to hear different things and at the price it was a no brainer for me.
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on April 7, 2016
These are some awesome headphones. They look great, sound wonderful, and wear relatively well. I have a huge head and these things don't fatigue my ears as much as other headphones did notably the Audio Technica ATX M50s that people seem to love. And these are INFINITELY more comfortable than the DT 1350s --- like light years more comfortable.

I'm not an audiophile so I can't really give you a great analysis of the sound signature. What I can say is that I love these headphones. I have DT880s as well and these sound just as great to my ears.

I bought these used from amazon's warehouse deals and they came in flawless condition. They are beautiful to look at with their wooden cups and faux leather headband.

I HATE the dual wire setup which is why I initially went with the DT 1350s. But after feeling the pain from the 1350s, I bought these and I'm glad I did. I almost went for the newer AT the ES700 but, saw these used for around the same price, and scooped them up. Good deal.
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on October 16, 2012
As other reviewers state, these are lovely warm, mellow sounding headphones, with a decent sound stage (instruments laid out nicely around you) but with a little (I mean little) lack of detail compared to their rivals as I see, the Beyerdynamic DT 1350 (see detailed review at DT-1350). As bigger sized phones but considerably smaller than proper sized headphones, they are nicer to wear than smaller on-the-ear types.

My only negative is that the insulation, though very comfy, is very average in that music does leak more than I expected and I would not be comfortable saying my next seat companion would be undisturbed. Ok in a noisy-ish room but not in a quiet listening environment at moderate volume (jazz/classical).

That said, a great price. The carrying pouch is inadequate: offering very little protection and this headphone is fairly "brittle" in manufacture: you do have to take care of it and 'not sit on it' etc.
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on March 20, 2014
Sound Quality:

Upon getting them, my immediate experience was that they sounded a bit "muddy" and warm. I gave them a bit of patience and time and as I kept listening to them, the music sounded much more detailed, yet retaining a warm sound signature. In the different songs from a wide variety of genres, I put the headphones through its paces and these have now become my go-to headphones for a bit of musical relaxation. The treble was never harsh and I didn't hear much sibilance. Vocals are, in my opinion, a strong point for these cans. Female vocals/higher vocal notes sound especially good, as though you really hear the vocalist singing right in front of you. The mids were smooth, complements those vocals well. Bass was ample and punchy, I even used the equalizer to tune it down a bit, but cannot be described as overpowering or bass-heavy. In terms of sound staging, the headphones perform decently, not very airy and wide, perhaps due to the construction being a closed design. I'm not an audiophile whatsoever, but I like what I hear through these headphones.

Design:

The main attraction of course, the African Paudak wood. Looks classy and is definitely much nicer to look at than the typical sea of headphones adorned in coloured plastic. The Audio Technica ESW10 Japan Limited Edition models that have a special lacquered cherry wood that is much better looking in my opinion, but since it's very rare, I'm still very happy with the more-matte looking wood on the ESW9A. These headphones do have plastic in the band of course, but has a nice feel and grain to it. The plastic then leads up to the leather for the top of the band which is soft and comfortable. The cups of the headphones are of lambskin leather apparently, and are very plush and comfortable. I was able to listen to the headphones for an hour or so in comfort, but some time after, my ears ached a bit but that's just me with all headphones. There was also a nice leather (not sure if real?) pouch for storage.

Summary:

If you're looking for a pair of headphones that not only holds up well in terms of audio performance, but looks great as well, these headphones may be for you. The wood cups look amazing and most likely contribute to the great sound as well (This type of wood is used in musical instruments like guitars). I bought these headphones back when it was around $230. Currently they're selling for around $180-190 so it has dropped in price. These Audio Technicas do well against the competition at this price point, and may even compare to some pricier cans.
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on August 3, 2013
By looking at the reviews I had a feeling these were gonna be good, and wow, they really are. I can now hear EVERYTHING in any given song. Kind of crazy how many noises and counter-melodies can be super quiet and sometimes unnoticeable in lower quality headphones than these. Also everything is balanced really nicely, and even listening to them on high volume is still relatively comfortable! Plus they just look so classy and amazing, which is a plus.

Despite their awesomeness, you should know:
- Handle with care. The cord and its attachment system is quite fragile, and the case is soft but not very strong. Would recommend getting a more protective case if need be.
- The sound starts off a smidgen distorted. Only a little though! Probably something to do with the whole "breaking in" concept. And when I first started listening, the bass was somewhat unsatisfying as well, and I was hoping it would improve. (I was too captivated by the rest of the sound to really care, though.) After listening to about 5 albums worth of songs, however, everything started sounding top-notch, including the bass, which is louder and fuller now. The sound seems to get better with every listen.
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on March 20, 2014
I bought two pair of these when the prices were much higher. It's hard to believe you'll find the same range in another set of over-the-ear phones for this price. I listen to movies and TV on my iPad with them for hours. The low thump, thump base line of House of Cards intro at the end is as perfect as the orchestral train treble earlier on. I have a set of Shure 846s that I love to death but could not wear for so long. The only disappointment is the cheapness of the black plastic pieces connecting the ear pad extension arms. Both have broken and I'm just thankful the plastic used responds to superglue. Overall, they're still such a bargain that if I have to go to my backup pair, I'll buy another spare set while they're' still available. I'm very particular; spent almost half the price of the Shure SE 846s on custom cables. Also listen to my vintage Koss Pro 4AAs (with new non-silicone-filled earpads, so sad) over the new pair I bought because the old ones still sound better. Other than the in-ear buds where the technology keeps changing, I find something aurally pleasing and stay with it (one room in the house still has my original Bose 901 IIs). These Audio Technica fall into that category of keepers.
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on June 30, 2013
When I first ordered this I was just getting into the audiophile world, and absolutely was satisfied with my purchase. The wood covers are pretty and not excessively flashy, and have a slightly glossy look. The left/right sides are designated with the full words in gold script. Personally, I think these are some of the best-looking and sounding portables for the price range.

As far as sound quality, it's exactly as good as you expect and maybe even better. Warm, clean sound with defined treble without sacrificing bass clarity. I'd recommend this for anyone with a wide range of music in their library; it does well with rock, alternative, female vocals, indie, folk, jazz, among others. The sound is still good with heavier bass-emphasis music like electronica, although if that's the only thing in your library, you may want to check out VMODA or some other brand.

Another great thing to consider that many people don't is that it comes with a standard jack; many studio-quality headphones like those in the Sennheiser HD lines have a larger plug that won't fit many devices (so you'd need an adapter or replacement cable). From experience, I know that that can be incredibly inconvenient.
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