Audio-Technica ATH-ES5, ATH-EC7 GM,
and ATH-EW9 Headphones

PDAToday — In a world full of iPods, CD Players, handheld video games, MP3 players, Portable Media Players, music / video capable Mobile Phones, and a wide range of other audio mobile technologies, there is one thing that always amazes me. No matter how much you pay for that product, $30 or $800, you will find included with the instruction manual and AC Adapter, a pair of earphones that probably cost the manufacturer $5 or less.

While the quality of the sound output will vary depending on the source material and the device used to play it, the most critical part of the listening experience is where the audio comes out to your ears. The earphone, headphone, or speaker is also where the listener has the greatest level of choice when it comes to deciding on the quality of the audio reproduction. So if you are interested in getting more than $5 of quality from your $300 iPod, then you should consider upgrading your “stock” earphones.

In this series of reviews, I will be taking a look at a few mid to high range earphones and headphones from some of the most popular and respected headphone manufacturers. With a focus on mobile use, all of the models reviewed are small, compact, and portable.

For my listening experience, a number of different devices were used including 3 different MP3 players, CD and DVD audio from my notebook computer, the Mobinote DVX-POD personal media player, and a Sony PSP. All source materials were either optical or digital and in the case of MP3s, were encoded at a variety of bit rates from 128 to 320 kbps. The material included DVD movies, PSP Games, and music. Music genres that were used included Rock, Jazz, Pop, and Classical. The same EQ levels were used for listening to all earphones.

Established in 1962, Audio-Technica is one of Japan’s leading audio companies supplying professional and high-end consumer phonograph cartridges and turntables, microphones, wireless systems, and headphones. For many years, their earphones and headphones has been prized by music lovers all over the world. Now Audio-Technica brings their “Import https://nyjtimes.com/files/entertainment/feature/2006/series” of models to the U.S., Canada, and South America. A selection of 15 headphones and earphones previously available only in Japan and made in Japan, the “Import https://nyjtimes.com/files/entertainment/feature/2006/series” brings some of Audio-Technica’s best models directly to consumers in the Western Hemisphere of the world.

Audio-Technica ATH-ES5 SV “Earsuit” Headphone
Price: $169.00

The Audio-Technica ATH-ES5 SV is a really nice design for a folding headphone. From the folded position, the headphone drivers pivot down and lock into position. A second set of pivots then allow the headphone drivers to rotate into the listening position and adjust to the sides of the head and shape of the ears. The headband does not lengthen or adjust, but it is rubber coated and flexible to fit most head widths. Finally, a third set of pivots allows the headphone drivers to move up and down in relation to the headband to adjust for the distance from the top of the head to the ears. The combination of all the pivots allows the ES5 to easily adjust for the comfort of the wearer and fold into a compact size for storage.

The ES5 is an over-the-ear design and has padded headphone drivers for the comfort of the wearer. With a long 1.5 meter cable, a nice flat protective pouch, and gold-plated plug, the 66 gram headphone is nicely designed for comfort and performance.

The Audio-Technica ATH-ES5 SV features large 40 mm dynamic neodymium drivers with copper clad aluminum wire voice coils, 100mW maximum sound input, 36 ohm impedance, and a 10-25,000 Hz frequency range. The overall sound quality is excellent with a powerful, clear sound across all frequencies. The power efficiency of its large drivers and the high maximum input wattage gives the ES5 a very full, dynamic sound when you turn up the volume. The low bass range is very good with a solid, rich sound that is great for bass driven music or sound effects. The mid and high ranges are very good, but the strong bass can sometimes mask out subtle highs. Not really unexpected for a large, single driver/ear headphone. All said, I am impressed with the sound of the ATH-ES5 SV.

While a padded headband would have been more comfortable, the series of pivots and the rubber coated headband makes the Audio-Technica ATH-ES5 SV comfortable for most users. Combined with excellent sound quality and solid bass, this headphone is good for most listeners, music types, and environments. All combined with its folding design, the Audio-Technica ATH-ES5 SV is one of the best portable, folding headphones I have ever heard.

Audio-Technica ATH-EC7 GM Earphone

Price: $249.00

The Audio-Technica ATH-EC7 GM is a very unusual design for an in-ear earphone. The earphone fits into the lower anti-helix of the ear and delivers sound directly to the ear canal. A rubber ring surrounds the outer edge of ear earphone for comfort. There are foam covers for the earphone, but I did not have any problems with the earphone bothering my ears. Once the earphone is inserted into the ear, the ear loop is positioned over the ear by pushing the 3-position adjustable loop down behind the ear. The ear loop features 2 independent pivot joints that allow the ear loop a wide range of adjustments for any size ear. One-handed installation is very easy by inserting the earphones in the ear and pushing the ear loop down behind the ear. The pivots give the ear loops a smooth, almost fluid like motion and easy fit. The loop itself is plastic coated and the basic shape is not changeable. Overall, with its gun-metal and black design, the EC7 is an attractive, stylish earphone.

The EC7 GM features one 15.5mm dynamic neodymium driver for each ear with 50 mW maximum power input, 100 dB/mW sensitivity at 1 kHz, 16 ohm impedance, and a 10-24,000 frequency range. The EC7 is a low power earphone, but seems to be reasonable power efficient. It does not isolate the listener from external sounds, so as long as the volume level is not too high, voices and noise can still be heard while wearing the EC7. Overall sound quality is good, but not as good as the EW9. The low / bass range is comparable to other earphones, but is a little “mushy”. Due to the small drivers, it does not have the rich, deep bass of the other two Audio-Technica’s reviewed. The mid range is very good with crisp, dynamic reproductions of sound and the high range has a very “tight” sound that is fast at responding to note changes.

The Audio-Technica ATH-EC7 GM included a small carrying pouch, foam earphone covers, and a 1 meter extension cable. The carrying pouch is disappointing. For the price, a nicer case should have been included.

With its good sound, 3-position adjustable ear loops, comfort, lightweight (11g), 0.6 meter cable, and gold-plated 3.5 mm stereo plug, the Audio-Technica ATH-EC7 GM is a nice product with a unique design.

Audio-Technica ATH-EW9 Earphone

Price: $329.00

The Audio-Technica ATH-EW9 is a remarkable pair of over-the-ear, clip on earphones. With a unique design that features spring pivoting ear loops and a beautiful wood housing made from Hokkaido cherry, the EW9 is not only stylish, but also delivers excellent sound. The ear loops pivot out approximately 50 degrees and allows for easy, one-handed installation. Simply pivot the loop out from the earphone, slide the loop over the ear, and pivot the earphone back down over the ear. The ear loops are a single wire loop on a coil pivot. A flexible rubber support is applied to each loop which makes it very comfortable. Each earphone also has a comfortable padded driver cover which contacts the ear. The EW9 is very lightweight (33g) and comfortable, so long periods of use should be no problem. The cable features a “Y” design with a 0.6 meter length. A 1.0 meter extension is included. Even the 3.5mm stereo plug is gold-plated. All together, the EW9 is a really nice physical design.

So the EW9 is good looking and comfortable to wear, but how does it sound? Pretty damn good. The EW9 features two 28mm dynamic neodymium magnet drivers with 100 mW maximum input power, 105 dB/mW sensitivity at 1 kHz., 29 ohm impedance, and a 14-24,000 Hz frequency range. The EW9 is very power efficient, so you should not have to turn the volume much past the mid-point. Sound reproduction is excellent. The low / bass range is very rich without being over-driven. The bass range sounds natural and is great for music that is not bass heavy. The mid range is very good with a solid, full sound and the high end is good with fast response and very crisp reproduction. The overall sound reproduction is very good for a headphone with 1 driver for each ear.

The EW9 comes with a soft, zippered carrying case with separate mesh compartments for each earphone and the cable. A 1 meter cable extension is also included.

The ATH-EW9 is well designed, comfortable, and delivers excellent sound reproduction. The clip on design is great for people who do not like to plug something into their ears or wear a band over their head. The over ear style does allow for some sounds to “leak out” so that other people may hear what you are listening to, but for the wearer it is an exceptional listening experience. If the high price does not bother you, the Audio-Technica ATH-EW9 is definitely worth a listen.

Reviewed by Harvey Lee,
Senior Technology Editor
Source: http://www.pdatoday.com

Web Site: http://www.audio-technica.com
Category: Mobile / Audio Hardware