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Old 05-01-2009, 06:19 AM
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ka-boom ka-boom is offline
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Red face Review: Audio Technica ATH-ES7, perfect companion for IEM fans + lots of pics!!

Where and why I bought the Audio Technica ATH-ES7
Where - I bought mine at http://www.jr.com/audio-technica/pe/AT_ATHES7BK/, at J&R Electronics for $99. Since I bought mine a few months ago the price has dropped to $89 which is a real bargain for these headphones. J&R only ships to the US & Canada however. If you live in the US and attempt to roll the dice to save a couple bucks by buying from ebay and get ripped off – YOU DESERVE IT. You deserve to have your money taken, and to become the shameful owner of a pair of cheap fakes. There are a number of reputable, legitimate authorized dealers to buy these from so there is no excuse to test your luck and buy them from ebay. No excuse.



Why – Having sold my Panasonic noise canceling headphones I was in the market for something light and portable that sounded good. The ES7’s garnered a lot of praise across the web, as well as other sites online. I listen with IEM’s most of the time, so for times when I didn’t feel like having my Klipsch crammed down my ear canals, and I didn’t want a gigantic set of over the ears, the ES7 seemed like the good solution. Or maybe you just don't want to spend hundreds on a pair of headphones because you prefer IEMs, these are a good sidekick to any pair of IEMs.



Packaging and first impressions
The packaging was pretty standard, somewhat minimal for a pair of headphones. Just a simple thin cardboard box, with the headphones held in place with twist ties. No deluxe boxing, no fancy bubblewrap cushioning.



Because the reviews I saw online before purchasing mine all showed the ES7’s coming in a black “Earsuit” box, I thought I was shipped the wrong headphones because my ES7’s came in a two-tone white and grey box. But the more I looked around on google images I saw others with the same box, so I felt safer. The box has a manufactured date on it, so maybe the older ones were in the black box(?)





Speaking of impressions, the instant I opened the box I was very surprised at how small the headphones actually are. I never found any good pictures online with people wearing them, so it came as a shock to me that these sit ON your ear, not around it. They do not surround or encompass your ear. I have to admit – I was disappointed in this as I was hoping for closed, around the ear headphones. In the grand scheme of things, this is a small issue, and certainly not a deal breaker for me.





Aesthetically they look awesome. Nice shiny reflective ear cups. Some people call them black, some people call them silver – take your pick. I guess it depends on the light you’re in.

Fit and feel
The leather is a bit shiny and not dull matte like other manufacturers. The leather is also stiffer than other cups I have used and sampled. The cord is an average length with a standard straight plug. I have noticed that even after months of usage now, the cord still coils up on itself from memory. I don’t particularly like this, I wish it hung more freely, but it’s worth mentioning.


(that is the reflection of my camera on the tripod on the left image)

The headband is a thick rubber that fits nice. It’s not padded like others, but I have hair on top of my head for “padding”, I don’t need built-in pillows on my headphones. The ear cups are easily adjustable with audible clicking and visual markings on the inside of the band so you know you have both ear cups at the same distance.

Like I mentioned, the leather is stiff, and while it’s not “uncomfortable”, they’re not the most comfortable either. Even after months of usage they’ve only “broken in” a little bit. I guess for $99 I shouldn’t complain.





Leakage
Part of the reason I wanted a larger, closed headphone was to cut down on noise leakage to the outside world. Fortunately, even though these are on ear, they don’t leak too badly. I am fairly impressed at how well these contain the sounds I’m listening to, as well as shield me from the sounds outside. Although not billed as noise isolating, they do just that, only on a smaller scale.

Sound quality
97% of the time I listen to my ES7’s using my Cowon iAudio i7 mp3 player, the other times it’s with an old Panasonic portable CD player or at my work desk watching movies. I listen to mostly classic rock, some alternative, acoustics, very little house and trance, and some new rock. I let these play on my i7 for a couple days straight, and I have personally listened to them for 30-40 hours so total time burned into these is near 100 hours currently.

Let me just say – that straight out of the box the ES7’s sounded “okay”, not great. After at least 60 hours of burn in the sounds changed considerably and for the first time I actually felt that “burning in” a pair of headphones made a difference. Every aspect of the sounds developed and opened up; highs, mids, and lows.

Highs – nice and clear, well punctuated, easily separated. High hats and cymbals sound clear as a bell. Vocals are crisp and detailed, absolutely no complaints here. No recessed highs here, no sir. Up front and sharp.

Mids – Also clear, very slightly recessed compared to the highs but you would have to really focus on finding this out. Male vocals like David Gilmour, Johnny Cash, Gene Simmons, and Scott Weiland sound bad ass. Easily my favorite male vocals to listen to on the ES7 are Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Very, very lush and in your face clarity. Nice and warm, as if you were standing right in front of him. Check out the song “Blue on Black” by KWS and tell me that doesn’t sound just beautiful. Even female vocals sound rich and textured on these. Sheryl Crow, Bjork, Tori Amos, just to name a few. I LOVE to play “Today” by Jefferson Airplane and melt away in Grace Slick’s voice. *swoon*

Bass – Not bad. I get deeper and more lush bass from my Klipsch Custom 3’s I think, but un-amped the ES7’s are pretty decent. They are by no means jaw rattling, eyeball shaking bass phones but for their size, and the price, I think most people would find the lows adequate. The real lows are there, just not as often as I’d like to experience them. For example, the beginning 15 seconds on Trick Daddy’s song “Nann Nigga” pumps out some really low frequencies, and the ES7s do a nice job and relaying them.

At louder volumes, the mids and bass tend to blend together, but it’s not a mess. By “loud” Im talking volume levels of 25+ on my 40 scale i7. Most of my listening is easily within the 16-20 range so I’m well below the messy stage. If you listen to mainly hip-hop, rap, or loads of electronic and prefer a more bass heavy headphone, these might not be for you. Aside from the fact that they don’t surround your ear, the bass just isn’t punchy and deep compared to others. But then again, you’re going to pay more too.

Soundstage is nice and crisp, equally filling in both ears, I feel like I am right in the recording studio with some albums. Not on stage, in the studio. All in all I don’t have any real complaints about the sound qualities of these headphones. I wish the bass were heavier, but it’s not bad, and it’s certainly not “thin” by any standards.

Hooked directly to the i7, the ES7's sound good in all aspects and the i7 is more than capable of driving these with zero problems.



Enter the Fiio E5 amp.
I've only had the amp for about 10 days now and although it IS a very cheapy amp, it does add that extra "uumph" to the low end that a lot of people usually crave. The difference between amped vs. un-amped is minimal, but it is there. With the Fiio bass boost on it's very apparent there is some extra grunt on the low end, with the "flat" setting I can barely (if at all) tell a difference.

Conclusions
I think for those who prefer IEMs, and have a lot of money wrapped up in IEMs, and don't necessarily want to dump a bunch of money into headphones - the Audio Technica ATH-ES7 offers a nice compromise in sound, price, and looks. The fit is overall comfortable, the band seems sturdy enough and not flimsy, and they sound good even un-amped.

I know these are not "new" on the market, but I'm a firm believer that there's never too many reviews out there, at least not with audio equipment. Easily recommended for it's low price of $89.
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  #2  
Old 05-01-2009, 08:07 AM
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samueljesusfreak samueljesusfreak is offline
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Wow! Thanks for the review this seems like real nice headphones!

Love the pictures Seems like no one likes to take good ones anymore. You have restored my faith - How much of a sonic improvement is this over the Koss KSC-75? Because I've heard the KSC-75 is comparable to ~$100 phones. I already know the KSC-75 is better than the $150 Bose Triports!
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  #3  
Old 05-01-2009, 09:36 AM
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wait.. there are fake ES7s on ebay? awesome review BTW! this can be an upgrade to my senn px100s
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  #4  
Old 05-01-2009, 08:27 PM
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ka-boom ka-boom is offline
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Thanks! Ive never heard the Koss so Im not able to comment, sorry.
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  #5  
Old 05-02-2009, 07:05 AM
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ka-boom ka-boom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chop4life View Post
wait.. there are fake ES7s on ebay?
I know... I know... it's hard to believe.

I originally wrote this review on head-fi, and put that section in there aimed squarely at the number of idiots who try to save a couple bucks by buying on ebay, get scammed, then come to head-fi crying and complaining about it.

Thanks for the picture comments, to me, a review just isn't a review without real world pictures. But sometimes people use their crappy ass cell phone to take pictures in which I feel like pouring salt right into my eye.

Last edited by ka-boom; 05-03-2009 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 05-02-2009, 07:19 PM
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Stellar review! Makes me want to get 1 right now.
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  #7  
Old 05-13-2009, 11:40 AM
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Do you use the fiio e5 amp with ES7 all the time now since it gives a lot of bass that you said you felt you wish it had more bass when unamped?
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  #8  
Old 05-14-2009, 07:00 PM
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ka-boom ka-boom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nujabez View Post
Do you use the fiio e5 amp with ES7 all the time now since it gives a lot of bass that you said you felt you wish it had more bass when unamped?
Nope, not always. There are times when I just prefer the natural sound straight from the i7.
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Old 05-24-2009, 01:55 AM
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wow these look really nice
I'm afraid of buying any headphones without trying them first
sound quality is a HUGE issue to me
these look really clean tho
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  #10  
Old 06-08-2009, 07:41 PM
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thought of getting these
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UE super fi 5 pro

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  #11  
Old 07-07-2009, 03:34 PM
PieRat PieRat is offline
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Default There are silver ES7's

Silver ES7.


I am not sure if the silver/white ES7 are discontinued or not, but there are silver ones out there.
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  #12  
Old 08-06-2009, 10:40 AM
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I'm going to NYC in a couple of weeks and am planning on buying these. It's like 90$ at JR but I'm wondering if that's the actual price in store or only online.. and if anyone knows if they usually have a couple in stock. The site says they have in stock now but doesn't say how many... and I don't know how fast these sell (doubt it'll fly off the shelves)

I wanted headphones that'll surround me from the outside noise (not noise cancelling but some isolation), that didn't leak too much, rather small and stylish and had good sound to complement my UE super fi 5 pros.. when I wanted something more comfy and over the ear. These seem to fit me just right!

I'll be using it in the library and in studio (classes) so I don't want to hear muffle the noise around me but can still hear if someone yells something at me
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  #13  
Old 09-09-2009, 07:50 PM
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I finally got them, refurbed from J&R (the computer showed 16 in stock but after jumping around buildings.. the employees could not find the 16 stocked headphones.. mysterious)

I have faith in J&R so it's probably not a fake and they sound great!!! (I guess fakes wouldn't) my god they make my UE super fi pro sound muddy!!! They might be a tad too clear for me but I'm assuming some burn in time (drivers might be new) will help with this.

and there were no scratches on them for those wondering..
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