Sound Reality headphones get a goose
By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
With the DSR9BT, Audio Technica has made significant sonic progress
Audio Technica has put its thumping great Pure Digital Drive technology into its new SR (Sound Reality) Series flagship headphones, the ATHDSR9BT, and the result is amazing quality with powerful bass. The DSR9BT is actually quite similar to the DSR7BT previously reviewed here, but some significant improvements have been made. First, these headphones feature a wider frequency range – 5 to 45,000Hz, up from the 5 to 40,000Hz of the preceding model – and impedance has been boosted to 38 ohms from 35.
Moreover, the DSR9BT is more comfortable to wear, with a wider sliding headband, and made of finer materials.
It comes with a hard carrying case, whereas the earlier model was held in a soft pouch.
Impressively, the DSR9BT can handle High-Resolution Audio when the Bluetooth wireless audio signal is transmitted to the headphones by a music player that supports Qualcomm’s aptX HD codec, which transmits audio signals at 24bit/48Hz.
I tested it with Sony’s XA Premium, which had been upgraded with Android 8.0 to deal with the aptX HD codec.
Playing FLAC 24bit/192kHz music tracks, I found that the DSR9BT reproduced very good quality sounds with terrific clarity and detail and bone-shaking bass. The headphones are also good for the AAC and SBC codecs.
The wonderful sound clarity is apparently due to the introduction of Audio Technica’s exclusive Pure Digital Drive system and reengineered 45mm True Motion Drivers. Pure Digital Drive allows the headphones to operate without the sound-degrading D/A converter found in conventional wireless headphones.
The DSR9BT uses Trigence Semiconductor’s D-note chipset, so it can receive a Bluetooth wireless transmission, processing the digital audio signal and transferring it to the drivers, where the digital pulses of the chipset move the voice coil and diaphragm forward and backward to create the sound waves you hear.
The True Motion Drivers feature specially designed diaphragms and lightweight, bobbin-wound voice coils to deliver impressive, nuanced, high-resolution sound reproduction.
A pair of acoustic resistors controls the airflow in front of and behind the diaphragm to ensure a natural, balanced sound. And the entire driver assembly is housed within a layered aluminium structure that minimises unwanted resonance and isolates the electric circuitry from the housing’s acoustic space, resulting in optimal phase and transient response.
The Pure Digital Drive technology allows the headphones to handle the aptX HD Hi-Res Audio Bluetooth codec. Hi-Res Audio format is said to have around five times more detail in the music than a standard audio CD. The DSR9BT has sensitivity of 97dB, a little lower than the DSR7BT, which has 100.
Battery life is essential for Bluetooth headphones and the DSR9BT is good for about 15 hours of continuous use (or 1,000 hours on standby).
It takes about four hours to fully recharge the battery. The headphones are certainly comfortable to wear for long periods, since the headband and earpads are soft and the headband is adjustable for a cosy fit. Plus, the headphones only weigh 310 grams. I felt no discomfort at all while testing them and was wearing them for hours listening to various types of music.
The DSR9BT has a good design in terms of ease of use, including a builtin microphone to serve as wireless headset for your smartphone.
There’s a power switch on the right side and volume control on the left. Indicator lamps on the left display operating status and battery level.
A tap controller on the left side let you play or pause the music and videos and handle phone calls. A micro USB port is also on the left, for recharging the battery and connecting to a computer (to use the headphones as highquality USB DAC sound system). A two-metre USB cable is provided with the package.
I connected the headphones to my notebook computer’s USB port and used the foobar 2000 application to play Hi-Res Audio files of FLAC 24bit/192 kHz format. They sounded great with very good detail and powerful bass.
The Bluetooth connection was easy to set, thanks to NFC technology. I simply tapped the “N” mark on the left side of the headband to the back of the XZ Premium, and the connection was automatic.
The DSR9BT is good for listening to rock and audiophile singing because the vocals come across so clearly and the bass is quite dense. The volume controls are also used to change tracks. Slide it to the “plus” side and hold for two seconds to move to the next track, opposite direction for the previous track.
The tap controller also has multiple functions. When a call comes to a connected phone, you tap it once to answer or tap and hold for two seconds to reject the call.
While in conversation, you can doubletap to end the call. The same control can adjust the volume on a call. While playing music, tap to pause or resume the music, doubletap to see the battery level, and tap and hold for four seconds to activate a connected phone’s speech-recognition feature, such as Siri.
Audio Technica’s ATHDSR9BT has a suggested retail price of Bt19,900.
– Driver Diameter: 45 mm
– Frequency Response: 5 to 45,000Hz
– Sensitivity: 97dB/mW
– Impedance: 38 ohms
– Battery: 3.7V rechargeable lithium polymer
– Battery Life: 15 hours continuous use, 1,000 hours standby
– Charging Time: Five hours for full charge
– Weight: 310 grams without cable
– Accessories included: 2m USB charging cable, hard carrying case
– Microphone type: condenser
– Polar pattern (microphone): omni-directional
– Input jack: Micro USB Type B
– Communication system: Bluetooth Version 4.2
– Output: Bluetooth Specification Power Class 2
– Maximum communication range: Line of sight 10m
– Compatible Bluetooth profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
– Support codec: aptX HD, aptX, AAC, SBC