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Showing 1-10 of 103 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 109 reviews
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 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.

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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 May 17, 2010
The Look: 5/5
Let's judge this book by it's cover. First words that come to mind when I look at these are retro/classical beauty. The cups are made out of real African Paduak tree, the ear pads are made out of lambskin leather which is unique since this leather is not as soft as the leather used in other high end headphones making it feel more authentic and look customish. The headband seems to be constructed in metal, because the headphones are stretchable, I should know because I stretched them out to about 4" apart so that it doesn't put as much pressure on my ears, it is covered in leather(different from the ear pads' leather) with black on the bottom/sides and brown over the top which also adds to its retro look. Over all, hands down the best looking headphones in it's price range.

Price: 5/5
Speaking of price, these retail for $[...], that is not what the rating above covers, I rate the price based ont eh $[...]I paid from here. There are no headphones this stylish with this built and sound quality for this kind of money, period.

Sound: 5/5
Like I siad this may be subjective, I've met people who prefer muffled highs and mids so I've come to a conclusion that what is defined by high end sound quality isn't for everyone. With that said, separation in lows, mids, and highs is something I look for, and it is definitely present here, certainly better balanced than most $500/below headphones(let's not forget these are only $[...]). Highs are quite nicely adjusted, crisp but not overly hissy, although not recommended listening at very high volumes because crisp highs will fatigue the ear in extended listening sessions. Mids are clear, so clear that it makes even 128kbps mp3s sound better than before. Lows are very well present, punchy bass and pretty deep where necessary, it is a bit laid back, not in the sense that it isn't there but that it doesn't hit you in the face like the Beats By Dr. Dre do for instance, I prefer that because lows push air into your ear which has nowhere to go but push onto your eardrum, the more air the more likely to damage your ears. It still is the best bass response I've seen from any other headphones in these price ranges, especially on-ear headphones, because they have smaller drivers, but then again these are a bit larger than most on-ear headphones and housing 42 mm neodymium drivers. Over all I couldn't be happier with the sound, it really does make a difference, hell it even makes songs I don't normally favor sound so good I like them better than before.

Fit: 4/5
When I said perfect a few paragraphs above I really meant as good as I've been able to find. Like I noted these are a bit larger than most on-ear headphones, they even cover all of my ears, the ear pads even decline inward so less is pushing on my ears. The first time I used them I did start to feel pain after about 2 hours, I've since been able to extend that time to 4-5 hours by stretching them out, even more I've played around with they way I fit them on to make them almost painless. So not perfect but a freaking great improvement over the wear-for-half-hour-feel-pain alternatives.

Portability: 3/5
Double sided undetachable cord, it brakes, you're screwed. Soft case + full bag don't go together too well, although I give the headphones credit for a durable design. Not big issues since I take care of my expensive toys, and I don't travel that much. However, these things could have been improved...

Conclusion: 4.4/5
I'm very happy with my choice, and you could officially consider me an Audio-Technica fan. Not perfect, but what is, after a long search I've managed to come as close to that word as I could for myself. So definitely worth the money it's going for right now, even more if the price goes down further. Enjoy the pics I uploaded to the 'customer images'.
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on December 14, 2011
There is little I can say that hasn't been said about these:

They are awesome little, lightweight, closed-back headphones designed for some serious listening.

I won't use these to mix audio, they are neither robust enough, nor do they give a flat balanced sound. They are designed for listening enjoyment. The wood gives a nice warm balance to most tracks, and it works well for most styles of music except for those relying primarily on a heavy rhythm base rather than a tonal base. (Hip-Hop, Thugg Rap, D&B, club music, etc)

The luxurious lambskin pads are very comfortable, and after 4 hours of straight listening while in the airport they still felt great!

They do become a bit awkward for traveling since they don't fold up. They do however fold flat so you could pack it in your suitcase or something for travel. I ended up making a padded carry case for them. They do tend to drain more power from my mobile devices than a pair of ear-buds, but the audio quality more than makes up for it. With a standard 1/8th jack, it works well with all MP3 players and other computer headphone plug-ins. It works best with AAC, Vorbis, FLAC, and other lossless music codecs.

*If you are looking for something to listen to high-quality lossless, and are wanting a medium price-range headphone, these are the ones for you!*

**If you have a larger head, you might want to skip these since they seem like they are built for those of us with medium to smaller heads and ears.**

***If your music is MP3 and under 160kbs, you might want to look for something cheaper since it doesn't matter how great the headphones may be, they can't improve the initial quality of your music.***
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on December 21, 2011
This headphone is amazing!
I had Audio-Technica ATH M50 for over one year now.
I freaking loved my Audio-Technica ATH M50, it sounds great and built quality was simply amazing.
So I decided, if I am going to upgrade my headphone why not go get another Audio-Technica headphone?
Since Audio-Technica ATH M50 has such good reviews all over the net I was worried about buying another headphone around $200.
I thought in order to get better sound quality than ATH M50, I would have to pay at least $300.
However, I did a lot of research and people were saying ATH-ESW9A is amazing headphone, how it is definitely worth the price.
When I first got my ATH-ESW9A I was amazed by how light it was. Compare to ATH M50, it was very light sometimes when I listen to ATH M50 for over hours my neck was starting to get stiff because ATH M50 dose weight quite a bit. However I no longer have to worry about that problem anymore since ATH-ESW9A is very light.
Also I saw comments about people complaining comfort of this headphone; I just don't get what kind of ears they have.... How can you NOT feel comfortable with this headphone? The pads are really soft they just sit on your ears without pressing it like some other headphones do.
Lastly, most important thing is sound quality.
I just want to give two thumbs up on this. They sound fantastic!!. Listening to this headphone just makes me smile, it sound really sweet and since mid is boost a bit the vocals sound very clear and bass is also very good! Compare to ATH M50 there are a lot more bass but it doesn't sound muddy or boomy like other cheap headphones do.
I would definitely go for this headphone!
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on October 28, 2014
Everything about these is outstanding, except that after four years of extremely light use, no traveling, babied in a hard case, stress fractures occurred in the plastic above both ear pieces, just below where the words RIGHT and LEFT are printed in unreadable gold script. I imagine that the plastic aged to brittleness, and that was the weakest spot. One simply fell apart in my hands. The other..I looked closely and there was the fracture, ready to happen. I called Audio-Technica customer service and was told by the rep who answered, "Well, they are very delicate". Really? So I spoke with her supervisor, supposing that they'd seen a lot of these with the same problem. He would not comment about that but offered to repair them, on my nickel, service, parts and postage.

So....very nice phones but, you know, very delicate. So delicate in fact that just the mere passage of time will cause them to break.
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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.

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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on January 22, 2011
I tested this headset alongside some of the best headsets in my collection at this price range. Note, there may be better sounding headsets for your mp3 player at higher price ranges especially ones in the Grado line which can be powered by your mp3 player quite nicely even without an amp.

Denon AHD2000 - this is a great headset with a large sound stage. The ESW9 has a much more immediate sound stage. While sound clarity is good in both headsets, the ESW9 wins with less bass. The D2000 has almost too much bass but this works much better with pop/hip hop music. The D2000 is also too big and the cable is too long for portability.

Grado SR60 - cable is too long and is open-back design so there is no privacy. Sound stage is expansive and one of signatures of Grado sound. The sound quality is ok but not as good as the ESW9.

AKG K271 - requires an amp. MP3 player will not be able to power this bad boy. But this is one of the most neutral sounding headset you can get.

B&W P5 - this used to be the clear winner, but the sound quality of the ESW9 blows the P5 out of the water. The P5 is more neutral sounding but its somewhat muffled sound quality loses some of the points here. At an astounding $300 sticker price, it is a no-brainer which headset is better.

The ESW9 is also the most comfortable headset out of the above mentioned ones. It is also very light and therefore makes it even more comfortable than the hefty D2000. The build quality is very good and quite elegant. The cups are made of a special wood which gives it a unique sound quality. This is the first headset that actually spells out "Left" and "Right", printed beautifully in a script font. At $200, it is probably the most affordable audiophile headset you can get that does not require an amp.

Unfortunately, it does fall short in the portability department and is similar to the P5 in that it is not foldable. I was almost ready to use this as a replacement for my current portable listening headset, the AKG K81DJ but for now, the K81DJ is still the best portable headset because it can be folded.
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on February 22, 2011
Always buy these from Amazon (Beach Camera) because fake ESW9s are rampant in unofficial sales. Don't say you weren't warned!

I just got these because I'm tired of IEMs for portable use, and I must say I'm very impressed. I do love the sound of Audio Technica's woodie cans (my main pair at home is the ATH-W100) and these sound very similar but in a smaller package. They are surprisingly sturdy and of high quality all around. I really like the lambskin earpads and headband--these are way more comfortable than Grados or any DJ/monitor style.

What you should expect from the sound: a little rolled off the top, slightly forward but incredibly sweet and euphonic mids, and tight bass that reaches deep (it's not particularly punchy, but it can be with the right amp). Do not buy these if you love a sizzling treble or boomy bass. But rest assured, these phones are very musical, meaning they make most everything sound good with that euphonic midrange. Classical, rock, electronic, even hip-hop. It may not be the best at some of these genres, but it's very good at all of them. Soundstage is one area where it suffers compared to full-size circumaural phones, but still better than IEMs and definitely better than Senn HD25s or comparable Grados. And yes, they're easy to drive so they sound good straight out of an iPod (they won't be at their best, but they are very forgiving of poor recordings and players).

I was so impressed I broke down and just ordered a pair of ES10s. Those babies have 50mm drivers (vs ESW9's 42mm) -- the same size as in their full-sized headphones!
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