The ATH-DSR9BT is currently the flagship model of the new Audio-Technica “Sound Reality” headphone series. Like its smaller sister model, the ATH-DSR7BT, it’s also geared towards wireless operation and wants to meet audiophile requirements with its “Pure Digital Driver” technology.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)5 - 40.000 Hz
- Impedance38 ohms
- Weight without cable315 g
- Cable length200 cm
What's in the box
- USB charging cable
- Travel case
- In-house Pure Digital Drive System – fully digital signal chain from the audio source to the 45mm drivers
- BT version: 4.2
- BT profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
- BT codecs: aptX HD, aptX, AAC, SBC
- Audio signal via USB connection (up to 24Bit/96kHz)
- Touch control and volume control for music playback and incoming calls
- 15 hours of playpack time, 1,000 hours standby time with just one charge
The concept of the ATH-DSR9BT is consistently aimed at music lovers who primarily use a Bluetooth-enabled player, which in most cases is probably a mobile phone, tablet or laptop. Accordingly, it comes with a long battery life (up to 15 hours), integrated handsfree and player control on. Somewhat more unique are the detailed solutions, such as the “Pure Digital Driver” system, in which the final conversion of the digital Bluetooth audio stream into electrical vibrations takes place directly in the headphone. And if the signal paths are so short, it is also worthwhile to provide them with high-quality audio material. Therefore, the D/A converters are also designed to decode the high-resolution audio codec aptX HD, with up to 24 bits and 48 kHz. If you connect the receiver directly to a computer via USB cable, it will not only charge but will even reproduce music at up to 96 kHz.
Especially when high-res audio formats are used, it is of course ideal that the headphone can also record the frequency space thus gained (whether one hears this at the end or is on a completely different page). The DSR9BT does that and covers the entire range from 5 Hz to 45 kHz. The impedance of the 45-millimetre driver is 38 ohms (which is practically negligible since the amplification is done in the headphones).
Comfort and Feel
The workmanship and look of the headphones are as appealing as they are reputable: the rear wall made of aluminium, the frame made of magnesite and the visible screws, which hold everything together, in combination with the discreet grey colour scheme, all paint a picture of high class. And this is probably where the potential buyers of this 600-euro headphone are likely to be found.
Audio is delivered to the listener in two ways: either via USB cable, which also serves as a charging socket or via Bluetooth. The Bluetooth pairing can be done either through the classic search of devices in the surrounding area or by holding the NFC-enabled mobile device in front of the appropriately marked sensor on the headphones. The test worked perfectly with a Samsung S6. Also pleasing is how quickly the re-pairing of a once registered device happens—it takes just a second after switching on the headset.
Once the Bluetooth connection is established, media control and phone calls on the handset is also possible. On the left shell sits the USB socket, a volume switch and a capacitive multifunction sensor. With it, the music playback can be paused and resumed and phone calls can be accepted. On the right earpiece is then a power switch. If the DSR9BT is not paired with any device for more than five minutes, it automatically shuts off to save battery – a very smart feature.
Despite its remarkable weight of 315 grams, the Audio-Technica sits very comfortably on the head and keeps a balance between low contact pressure and reliable fit. Due to its closed, ear-enclosing design, the passive noise attenuation is good. However, you pay for this with the inevitable heat accumulation of prolonged use.
As a producer and mastering engineer, I appreciate the neutrality, or perhaps objectivity, of many of Audio-Technica’s headphones. And the DSR9BT is no exception, as it sounds wonderfully linear. The sound material unfolds calmly over the entire spectrum: nothing is left out, nothing is overemphasized. But that also means that the DSR9BT is not exactly “down with the bass”. It works off the low-end matter-of-factly and precisely, but doesn’t necessarily impress. On the other hand, it makes up for this in the range of high-mids and highs. Here, the “Pure Digital” drivers really make listening extraordinary – they cut every transient from the audio stream with the greatest precision, give a perceptive form to percussion and drums and take care of the audibility of every vocal nuance. In short, the DSR9BT sounds crystal clear, clean and neutral and I can not imagine a style of music that would not be desirable for those qualities. With its precision and linearity, it is even recommended for the production of music.
The Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT is a very precise and neutral-sounding headphone that will delight any audiophile music lover. Against this background, it is almost a pity that it is so uncompromisingly designed to accept digital Bluetooth data: a mini-jack to operate at home amplifier would have made it seem a little more attractive. Nevertheless, it is functional and, above all, a perfect companion in all mobile situations.