Audio-Technica is one of the most respected headphone manufacturers in the world, and their ATH-DSR9BT is a $549.00 wireless apex predator that competes with the likes of Beats, Bose (which are shockingly good despite audiophile preconceptions aside), Sennheiser, and many others in the game today. Priced at $549.00, these headphones come packed with top-level, Bluetooth 4.2 performance, and Audio-Technica reports that the design keeps the signal purely digital (no DAC) thanks to its Pure Digital Drive system. The internal Qualcomm chip internally allows for aptX, aptX HD, AAC, and SBC codecs, thus you can listen to 24-bit (48 kHz) sources via these wireless cans.
The Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT use proprietary 45 mm drivers with a "diamond-like carbon" coating. Audio-Technica reports a 15-hour battery life, which is somewhat low in comparison to others in the category, but for real-world use that's an awful lot of charge. Unlike, some headphones in the class, the Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT have a very nifty charge meter on the side of the ear cups. Realistically, you can change them and roll for quite a long time before you need to top off the battery.
The fit and finish of the Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT is second to none in their class, with very comfortable (if somewhat heavy) ear-cups. The faux leather is luxurious, and the metal work is very stylish, although somewhat understated, which I like. These headphones don't rock that fashion-forward look or a "hip-hop inspired" style like a colored Beats, but they balance that with niceties like top-of-the-line volume-up, volume-down buttons on the ear cups, as well as easy access to Bluetooth pairing access via Apple's System Preferences via a MacBook Pro or an Apple iPhone X.
I did most of my listening via a Macbook Pro. but did take them out for a few walks at what I call Baywatch Beach (where Hoff and Pam used to prance around a long time ago), thus connected to my iPhone X rocking uncompressed AIFF (CD quality) tracks.
The Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT is a full over-the-ear headphone, so if you are using them at the gym or for workout purposes, some might find them just a little heavy to the ear and a bit warm over time. On an airplane, they are sublime. They may be ever-so-slightly tight on my rather large head, but they do have some good room for adjustability.
On Al Green's nifty cover of "My Girl," you can hear good space and wonderful panning that makes this track so much fun to listen to on a pair of top-level headphones. The Nth degree of resolution isn't there, but nor can the best of the best in this category deliver the utmost in resolution wirelessly. The overall timbre is engaging, and the low end doesn't suffer from that bloated, overly bassy sound that has sadly found in others in this class of wireless headphones.
On Alice in Chains' "Sickman," from the grunge-tastic album Dirt, you can hear a somewhat crowded or folded down sounding mix resolve itself nicely in ways that other $400 headphones struggle with.
The bass is strong but not too hip-hop-heavy. You don't expect grunge to be gleamingly open, but what was impressive was how these Audio-Technica headphones resolved the complex, often cacophonous breakdowns before the track's choruses.
Lesser headphones fall apart with this grungy test.
In the spirit of listening to some music that does in fact shine thanks to an absolutely wonderful recording, "The Rose Tattoo" from David Byrne's Rio Momo album is a true highlight for the ATH-DSR9BT. Openness is here in abundance. Guitars jangle. Riffs dance in the air with spicy style. David Byrne's voice presents in a gorgeous manner that is both familiar and engaging. The percussion, backup vocals, and overall accompaniment is jamming.
Click over to Page Two for High Points, Low Points, Comparison & Competition, and Conclusion...
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