Here is a very detailed test of these popular headphones in the Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT review.
Audio-Technica is a really interesting manufacturer. On the one hand, they can show products that have, for example, incomplete adjustment of the ear cups, which seems a bit bizarre, and on the other hand, they can bring incredibly crafted equipment on the market, with any flaws regarding ergonomics can’t be found. It is also one of those manufacturers who have noticed new development spaces and opportunities in wireless technology, or as in the case of the ATH-DSR9BT – digital in general. Today I will do a very long test marathon with the Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT headphones. They are, in fact, a digital-wireless version of the ATH-SR9 model.
- 1 Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT Specifications
- 2 Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT Review – Build Quality and Design
- 3 Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT Review – Balance, noise, distortion, lags
- 4 Comfort and Insulation
- 5 Preparations for Sound Test
- 6 Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT – Sound Test
- 7 MSR7, DSR7BT or DSR9BT?
- 8 Summary
- 9 Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT Video Review
- 10 Final Verdict
Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT Specifications
- Type: Dynamic
- Driver Diameter: 45 mm
- Frequency Response: 5 – 45,000 Hz
- Sensitivity: 97 dB/mW
- Impedance: 38 ohms
- Battery: Internal Battery 3.7V rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
- Battery Life: Approx. 15 hours continuous use (1000 hours standby)
- Weight: 310 g (10.9 oz), without cable
- Charging Time Charging Time: Approx. 5 hours (for 0-100% charge)
- Connector: Micro USB Type B
- Voice Coil: OFC-7N
- Microphone Type: condenser
- Microphone Sensitivity: -44 dB (1V/Pa a 1 kHz)
- Microphone Frequency Response: 50 – 4,000 Hz
- Microphone Polar Pattern: omnidirectional
- Accessories Included: 2.0 m (6.6′) USB charging cable, hard carrying case
- Compatible Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
- Support Codec: aptX HD, aptX, AAC, SBC
- Bluetooth® Version: 4.2
- Output Bluetooth Specification: Power Class 2
- Operating Range: Line of sight – approx. 10 m (33′)
You can download the manual here->Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT Manual
Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT Review – Build Quality and Design
These headphones make a fantastic impression from the start and it is clear that the manufacturer, along with the budget gradation, is actually trying to increase the material input into its product. In relation to the DSR7BT, we get even better workmanship, leaning on a new, slightly larger frame, a new shape of ear cups, and even a hard case.
The design of the DSR9, although different, and more advanced, is still the same ergonomic profile, which has not changed compared to the 7 series. Virtually all assumptions have been unchanged, so we are still dealing here with a “digital” product that uses Bluetooth 4.2 standard with NFC and aptX HD, as well as a USB cable dedicated to this model.
The layout of the buttons has not changed in relation to the DSR7 model, so every user of DSR7 can immediately start using the DSR9 on exactly the same principle without having to change their habits. No changes in the operation of the multi-function touch button, but also the limitation of using only the included USB cable, which has electronics that allow the DSR9 to work in USB mode. I assume that it is a miniature transmitter covered with a plug plugged into a computer.
The use of a different cable – although not recommended by the manufacturer – is of course possible, but in my case, it allows at most to charge the headphones. If we do not have replacement cables compatible with DSRs at home, we are again condemned by Audio-Technica to use their own accessories. On the other hand, from the perspective of the manufacturer, there are advantages to this state of affairs and it is not even about additional earnings at our expense, but something completely different than we can meet, for example, in the field of USB-OTG cables: the risk that a given cable will not work or it will somehow damage our equipment (e.g. due to incorrect pinout, damaged pins causing a short circuit, etc.).
Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT Review – Balance, noise, distortion, lags
Everything’s fine. The headphones practically do not hum during playback. Practically, because the delicate background noise is literally on the verge of audibility and there is no chance to hear it differently than in absolute silence and after intense listening. Especially if we are talking about a person who is not well-trained in catching the flaws of the sound.
I also did not find any breaks or desynchronization of the audio signal. I used the headphones best in USB mode. In Bluetooth mode, I did not find sound differences, but the DSR9BT like more powerful transmitters and no obstruction, especially when we use them on the HD protocol. In this respect, they look quite standard, and the example that comes to mind, for example, Master & Dynamic MW50, which with their reinforced antenna created a really solid signal reception, is difficult to lose.
Comfort and Insulation
The headphones, despite not leaving too much space for my ears, did not cause me any problems with the nature of comfort. The pressure is moderate and is enough to very cleverly balance between insulation and comfort. As a result, you can spend a large amount of time with the DSR9BT without feeling uncomfortable, while not paying as much attention to the surroundings as in most other closed headphones.
Preparations for Sound Test
As the headphones arrived as a test specimen with an undetermined mileage, I was unable to verify either the burn-in process or the time needed for such a process. To be sure, I always leave myself 24-48 hours for this. Due to the digital interface, the equipment was checked directly on a PC and wirelessly in communication with the smartphone and the Shanling M1 player.
Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT – Sound Test
Strong bass means that the sounds have a solid fixation on the stage. Its amount is more than sufficient and, for example, the HD800 or LCD-2, in which I have never complained about the amount of bass, seems to fade in the quantitative range. Audeze has less of course, but also there is less bass than in the DSR9BT.
The drums in DSR9BT are portrayed profusely, with depth and easy exposure to even the deafness of character, if one is included in a given instrument. I’ve never been able to feel it in electronic genres, but in the more intimate genres – yes. This is because the ATH bassline is a range that in a way manifests the general nature of these headphones in electronic genres – energetic and addictive. I will refer to electronics probably every now and then, mainly because it is here that the DSR9BT shows its claw the most.
The midrange is a bit like the card game in DSR9, and depending on which side we look from, we will come out with solitaire or not. In fact, it is enough to take a look at what was happening on the DSR7 graph to notice that the DSR9 is becoming a calibrated version of sevens, pushing the bass described above upwards, as well as deepening the loss at the 350 Hz point. This is practically the whole secret of how this model behaves.
The headphones thus have a “stage effect” that places the vocalists further away and the instruments closer. For this reason, they are the worst at portraying vocals that seem too distant to us, as if we were sitting in the middle rows of a narrow but long audience with band members at the sides. Of course, this is only a description necessary for any visual effect and in practice, it is not that bad, but if someone knows, for example, the way in which the HD800 created vocals and did not like this situation then, he may also have a problem with the DSR9. Maybe it will not even be a matter of probability but of belief bordering on certainty. For my ears, the HD800 distances the vocals less than the DSRs, after all.
The trebles – despite amplification in the region of 6-7 kHz – cannot be accused of sibilization. Audio-Technica very nimbly managed to avoid the risk of falling into the trap of the 800, while avoiding the even stronger drawing of the treble line compared to the MSR7/DSR7. I will say more – it is warmer and smoother, definitely less technical, and more mysterious, but still very detailed and with emphasis. The MSR/DSR7 treble is bolder but more severe, and this is also a positive change in Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT. The treble has a really good resolution and is worth the price that the manufacturer asked for this particular model.
As I wrote on the occasion of the midrange with the stage effect as a reason to create appropriate dependencies and consequences, for the same reason in the same situations they will share the advantages that flow from this with the HD800. Primary? Concrete stage depth. It is really a stage model in the full sense of the word and if I were to compare it to the HD800 again, I would say that it is a similar test, but with reversed axes – this time more depth than width. The Sennheisers, however, play a classic scene, with better accuracy, but let’s not forget that they cost 2x more and are open. From such a great depth there is no chance that we will not benefit from electronic music, especially the slower ones.
Audio-Technica seems to be going with the DSR9BT towards not realism as such, but even more bunkering within its own sound school. Therefore, the first thing that catches our ears is a solid bass foundation and the “stage effect” created from the loss exactly at the 350 Hz point. Only then does the soprano start to light up, tuned to an easily perceptible detail, but without problems with sibilants. It is softer than in the DSR7BT, which makes the headphones appear to be more subdued.
Audio-Technica takes this model a step further. It creates a legible, but non-aggressive V with an intimate atmosphere that can be attributed to almost non-Audio-Technica. At the same time, it can change, along with the repertoire, into a volcano of energy with high dynamics, engaging and not letting you get bored. So I can definitely include the DSR9BT among the fun models.
At the same time, it is impossible not to notice that Audio-Technica deviated from the relatively good linearity of its previous models and chose a product that is faithful to its own playing school. The features of many other models are noticeable here, not only those from the MSR/DSR family. Additionally, very high sound quality and great dynamics are maintained in all of this. However, focusing on the stage effect meant that these headphones unequivocally began to favor certain musical genres over others. In a word, these are not as universal earpieces as the lower model was before. This risking a bit, referring to headphones that I have not heard of, but in this respect, to my knowledge, they may resemble something like the humanly released HD700. Knowledge-based on the fact that the 700s were on my mind.
Personally, I loved to work with all kinds of electronics in the DSR9 during the test. This music is the strongest point of the ATH program, reaching a really indecently high level of engagement. However, I avoided the part of my audio archive in which there were vocal or realism-oriented productions. It was impossible to focus on them otherwise than on the analysis of the colored areas by the DSR9, which I remembered sounding different from other headphones, especially those more musical, such as the M220, K270 Studio, LCD-2C, or Odin if they were to be graded according to prices and classes going up.
Does it take it off in any way? Not at all. These headphones can show respect for bass, capture a mixture of two different styles of playing treble, please with the lack of sibilants and with the depth of the stage, and put a smile on your face with the quality of workmanship. And all this in a digital-wireless version and with very good isolation from the environment, which did not affect the comfort. Personally, and therefore completely subjectively, I like them, but precisely because my dominant genre is all kinds of artificial, synthetic sounds. In addition, in reviews, as you know, I try to look at each piece of equipment more comprehensively and take into account different requirements and expectations, also, for this reason, many people may have a serious dilemma for ATH:
MSR7, DSR7BT or DSR9BT?
have broken down all three models into their individual advantages and disadvantages, and the areas where the headphones show their strengths most clearly. It turned out, probably due to the fact that these are headphones from one manufacturer, that each of them has its own sense and, in principle, whatever we choose, we should be very pleased. It’s just a matter of which less and which is more of this satisfaction.
MSR7 should be selected by those who:
- approach the purchase from the savings side
- are not interested in any wireless functionality
- already have an analog source that can drive them sufficiently and offer the appropriate sound quality
DSR7BT, on the other hand, can work well in a situation where:
- we care about full wireless functionalities
- after all, we want to have universal headphones for the species they digest
- we want to save some money on the analog source (thanks to the possibility of working directly via USB)
DSR9BT is a great option for:
- fans of all kinds of electronic music
- users who want to have the greatest possible depth of the stage
- looking to squeeze the maximum overall sound quality out of these designs
- interested in better build quality than the two previous models
The headphones left a great impression and it seems to be even greater for me as they sounded perfectly with the music that I usually listen to. However, judging from a broader and more objective perspective, it is clear that this is a model that specializes in a very specific presentation.
Workmanship and equipment – perfect. I have nothing to complain about, even if I wanted to. Great workmanship with high precision, solid construction and materials, and sensational presence. In a word, everything that we would expect from the headphones in this class.
Sound quality – these headphones have many advantages: energy, great stage depth, good resolution, great detail without sibilization, and maintaining a slightly intimate atmosphere. There is also a bit of a fickle nature to them when they’re not working with electronic music. If they are the worst at something, then they are with vocals and they seem to be less universal. This is really their only drawback, apart from perhaps quite a strong bass for some people. If I were to limit myself to electronic music only, the rating would be, in principle, maximum.
Convenience and ergonomics – in fact, apart from the lack of an analog connector in this series and the fact that we have headphones on our heads, I have no special comments. Very handy, well insulated, and also suitable for larger heads. It is a bit harder to work with them in the hot summer season, but this is the feature of all closed models (although you may be surprised, because not only).
Profitability – from the perspective of an electronic music fan looking for stage depth, efficiency, and quality in a digital/closed form, there would be 10. However, people looking for a more universal pair and able to sacrifice some sound quality and a slightly brighter soprano for this purpose may still consider a step back in the website of cheaper and comprehensively interesting DSR7s.
Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT Video Review
In the end, the most important thing in my opinion: can these headphones be recommended? I have been thinking about it for a long time and I have a dilemma all the time. On the one hand, in electronic music, these headphones have proved to be really sensational for me, and, purely subjectively, they calmly deserve a recommendation stamp. They offer a few things that make a big impression on the listener and it would be unfair in my opinion to slip through that without rewarding them. If we are looking for a model that is flexible in terms of music genres and with a more natural sound, these headphones do not fully function as I would like them to.
Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT Pro & Cons
- Great quality of workmanship
- A practical, semi-compact design
- The double case for carrying headphones and cables included
- Bluetooth 4.2 wireless communication (with NFC)
- Possibility of cable communication directly via USB
- Quite long battery life
- Pairing function with up to 8 Bluetooth devices simultaneously
- Exceptionally robust ear cup extension adjustment system
- Subjectively very visually attractive design
- Insane performance in electronic genres
- Exceptional depth of the stage for closed headphones of this format
- Even higher overall sound quality over DSR7BT
- Possibility to save some money as no other audio source equipment is required
- Problems with vocal reproduction due to their high stage depth
- The bass might be too offensive for some people
- Less universal in terms of genre than DSR7BT and works mainly in electronic music
- Isolation from the environment is reasonable, but it may be a bit too small for means of transport (here the stronger bass really helps)
- Only standard range with BT