What if you want an excellent pair of portable headphones, but find in-ear designs too invasive, and over-the-head cans too big and cumbersome? Well, Audio Technica claims to have the answer to your woes with its ATH-EM9ds.

Sur l’oreille

Part of a new ‘on-ear’ genre, their black band goes over your ear, and the earphone itself flicks in to provide a close fit.

There are plenty of adjustments to make but, despite this, we found it very difficult to find a position that was both secure and comfortable. That stylish silver finish looks great, but it’s also heavy, and if you’re the type to listen to music while working out, we don’t reckon they’ll stay in position for long.

Still, if you’re not looking for headphones to partner enthusiastic exercise, the insecurity of the fit will matter less, and you can focus on what the Audio Technicas do best, which is deliver tunes with exceptional detail and openness.

All the insight, all the space

Try Nirvana’s Unplugged in New York for example: the EM9ds transport you to the performance, digging up all of the nuances in Kurt’s gravely vocals, while also offering enough spaciousness to make it seem inconceivable that the sound is coming from so close to your head.

What’s also impressive is the exceptional tonal balance that the Audio Technicas exhibit. Feed them some Jurassic 5 and each section of the track is given equal space and volume, from the deep chunky bass, to the varied vocal deliveries of old-school hip-hop’s favourite sons.

True, the Audio Technicas lack the directness of in-ear designs, and they also leak noise more than most, but as long as you’re not planning on using them on the bus or in the gym, their all-round musicality and awesome spaciousness means they should be top of your shopping list.


Stuff says... 

Audio Technica ATH-EM9d review

If you value sound quality more than comfort and good fit, these will be right up your street