Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wooden Cans: Audio Technica ATH-ESW9 "Le Luxe"


  • The housings are made of 100% Hokkaido cherry.*
  • The newly developed 42 mm diameter driver ensures high quality sound.
  • The driver unit is integrated with a high-rigidity containing fibre glass to reproduce clear mid range and treble.
  • Acoustic seal prevents disturbance from environmental noise.
  • The luxury lambskin ear pads provide long-lasting comfort and fit.
  • The foldable headphones are easy to store and carry.
  • Comes with storage bag.

* Audio-Technica's 2007 flagship portable headphones with the wooden ear cup housing made from Japan's finest Hokkaido cherry tree. Audio-Technica ATH-ESW9 is one of the latest additions to its series of wooden headphones collection. Superior in sound quality, coherence within sonic register and accurate tonality that resonate from the equal grain solid wood, as well as the portability to enjoy music on the go. Light-weight ear-fitting headphones that offer both comfort and style. New large 42mm neodymium magnet driver with fiberglass housing support, as well as OFC cord that enhances a wide dynamic range. Convenient carrying pouch protects these beauties as you travel with them.

Some of my photographs don't really do any justice for the beauty of these headphones, I'm afraid I may have to retire my Pentax digital camera and get a better one.


TYPE Dynamic






WEIGHT 170g (without cord)

CABLE 1.2m OFC single cord

CONNECTOR 3.5mm mini stereo, gold plated

ACCESSORIES FURNISHED PVC leather carrying case


The first impression is the finish of the wood is darker in color then the ESW-10 "Japan" limited edition and the finish is a subtle matt finish whereas the ESW-10 has a glossy finish. The wood is Hokkaido Cherry Wood.

The 9's are Closed Circumaural Dynamic cans, with 42 Ohm impedance rating and a rated frequency range specified as 5 - 35000 Hz. Cable length is 102 cm and isolation given is 10 dB. The street price is just under US$300 (about US$280).

So the cans are spectacular for bass and the impact is awesome, the mid have slightly forward mid lows and it is a bit in your face and not recessed. These cans are great for rock pieces. Highs are very well presented and detailed and overall timbre is excellent. The sound stage is good but not the best that I have heard.

Reviewing gears:

Source: 4GB MP3/4 Player; 8GB 2.8"LCD TOUCH SCREEN MP3/4 VIDEO PLAYER; EPC-303 MP5 8GB 3.0 Inch TFT LCD Screen Player - Red / Black; Oregon Scientific Music Orbit & Station; Denon CDR-W1500 HDCD Recorder/Player.

Head Amps. & DAC: Little Dot MKI Portable Headphone Amp Amplifier; Cmoy headphone amplifier with Bass Boost Setting in a custom made exotic padauk and zebra wood case (opa2227 opamp); Xiang Sheng 708B Tube Headphone Pre Amplifier; Go Vibe mini USB Audio DAC (Burr-Brown PCM2702), Qinpu Q1 Headphone Amplifier.

Reviewing CD and Tracks: Custom made by ripping songs to FLAC than normalized/burnt via Nero9.

CD Tracks: Esteban - Norwegian Wood; Everything But The Girl - I didn't know I was looking for love; The Corrs - Runaway; Acoustic Alchemy - Mr. Chow; The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony; Willie & Lobo - Amsterdam; Tim Weisberg - Party of One; Sleep Station - There She goes; Seattle Symphony Orchestra - Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 (Scherzo); Sim Riney - What was I to you; Rebecca Pidgeon - Spanish Harlem; Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon; Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells.

Additional CD's for auditioning:
1. "The Sound of Analog is Back" From Mark Levinson (Red Rose Music);
2. "CD Master I - Direct Master Cut Vinyl CD" Mastering by Mark Levinson;
3. "CD Master II - Direct Master Cut Vinyl CD" Mastering by Mark Levinson;
4. "The Purest Sound-City Folk Songs-Vili" TIS Hong Kong;
5. "Dido" SRS + WIZOR Mastering CD;
6. "The Police" SRS + WIZOR Mastering CD;
7. "Avril Lavigne" SRS + WIZOR Mastering CD.

Rating: From one star (★, lowest rating) to five stars (★★★★★, highest rating), including half a star (☆). Criteria include [Packaging / Build Quality / Accessories / Isolation / Microphonics / Comfort / Sound stage / Sound Quality / Value]

★★★★★-The best
★★★★---Really good
★★-------Just OK
★---------Not worth it

Headphones: Audio Technica ATH-ESW9 "Le Luxe" Closed Dynamic Wood Headphones (Hokkaido Cherry Wood)
Transducer: 42 mm drivers
Spec: 42 Ω | 5 - 35000 Hz
Cord Style:
Cable length is 102 cm, Ø3.5mm mini stereo, gold-plated.
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated, medium build sealed.
Case: Hokkaido Cherry Wood with Lambskin Headband.
Packaging: ★★★★★ (well thought out packaging, boxed)
Build Quality: ★★★★☆ ( quite solid build)
Accessories: ★★★★ (Carrying pouch)
Isolation: ★★★☆ (10dB)
Microphonics: ★★★★ (Very good)
Comfort: ★★★☆
Sound Stage: ★★★★ (Very good, very natural)
Sound Quality: ★★★★☆ (Very impressed, good extension and impact of bass, lower mids a bit forward - treble is clean, clear and detailed)
Value: ★★★★★ (Very good value)
Remarks: A pleasing sound, bass tight with good low extension and impact. The timbre was extremely good and dynamics also very good. Isolation is noticeable, but not the best hat I've heard. They also came with a 1/8" to 1/4" adapter, and a carrying pouch with a draw string. If you are interested in trying a pair of woodies, these would be the best ones to start off with for the price, but once you have tried them you will be hooked.

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