Peter Familari's avatar

by Peter Familari

5th May, 2017


Love the convenience but the sound is crap!

Not an uncommon reaction by the majority of music lovers who have burnt their hard earned on a pair of sonically deprived wireless headphones.

There’s no escaping the fact that in the real world, as opposed to marketing hype one thing is crystal clear: nearly all wireless ‘phones suck. Big-time.

So Japanese legacy brand Audio-Technica got busy designing a wireless headphone model that sonically, passes muster.

The model, just released is called the ATH-DSR7BT. The truly forgettable model designation that means nothing to anyone is par for the course for Japanese brands.

After designing these truly breakthrough wireless headphones, you’d think Audio-Technica’s marketing department could collectively come up with a better moniker.

One consumers can remember. And one that elicits pride of ownership as the owner tells all of his audio and non-audio buddies that he was smart enough to buy Audio-Technica’s benchmark wireless headphone called, let’s say “Clarity” or indeed simply “Kans’’.

Audio-Technica isn’t alone. Nearly all the Japanese manufacturers show the same lack of imagination as they apply a boring set of numerals and letters to gear they’ve spent millions developing.

Now that I’ve vented, what I can tell you is the ATH-DSR7BT model redefines the level of sound quality rival wireless headphone normally put in your ears.

First point of departure for this design was eliminating any pesky, sound degrading built-in DAC, a device that’s normal fare in conventional wireless headphone design and practise.

Getting the new ‘phones to work with a DAC required the development of a nifty bit of techno-wizardry Audio Technica calls, Pure Digital Drive.

Cut through the jargon and what you discover is an implementation of the Trigence Semiconductor Dnote chipset. This allows the ATH-DSR7BT to receive a Bluetooth Wireless signal by processing the digital audio signal and transferring this to the drivers.

Arriving at the drivers, the digital pulses of the chipset move the voice coils and diaphragms in a piston-like motion to generate the soundwaves arriving at a listener's ears.

Pure Digital Drive works in tandem with cleverly re-engineered 45mm True Motion drivers that have especially designed diaphragms and ultra-light bobbin wound voice coils chosen to elicit all the subtleties of high-resolution sound.

Acoustic resistors are used to control the airflow in front of and behind the diaphragm to arrive at a sound that to my ears was balanced and tonally natural.

For good measure, and better sonics, the complete driver assembly is built-into a layered aluminium housing chosen for its ability to minimise unwanted resonance’s. But this approach also isolates the electrical circuitry from the housing’s acoustic space delivering an optimal phase response and superb transients.

Pure Digital drive supports the 24-bit/48kHz Qualcomm aptX HD codec, a feat other Bluetooth wireless headphones can’t accomplish.

Audio Technica’s latest ear pleasers can readily handle Hi-Res audio when linked to a computer or other digital playback device via the bundled 2.0m USB cable.

The new ‘phones have an in-built microphone, volume control and a user-friendly tap control for answering or ending calls, playing or pausing music on a smartphone and other smart devices.

The ATH-DSR7BT allows its owners to monitor pairing and its charging status, battery level and the chosen codec, via LED indicators.

You’ll pay $599 for the new ‘phones and that’s a reasonable price for a wireless model that actually delivers great sound.

While the glory days of cartridges and tone arms are way back in the past for this legacy brand (…sigh), Audio-Technica is right on the money pursuing excellence in headphones.

Last year, the global headphone market ballooned 5.2 per cent representing 349 million units and revenue increased by 20.2 per cent worth a cool US$13.4 billion. You read that figure correctly.

Big bucks to be sure. One you’d think would be exploited by some greedy headphone producers, but that isn’t the case at all.

The latest research showed the average headphone price increased by 14 per cent to $38.5. This seems like a cash grab, but the increase is readily explained by consumers wanting more features, and consumers smart enough to ditch their cheap in-ear cloggers and move up to a quality model such as this offering from Audio-Technica.

For more information visit the Audio-Technica brand page.

Peter Familari's avatar

Written by:

Peter Familari

One of the veterans of the Australian HiFi industry, Peter was formerly the Audio-Video Editor of the Herald Sun for over two decades. One of the most-respected audio journalists in Australia, Peter brings his unparalleled experience and a unique story-telling ability to StereoNET.

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Posted in: Headphones
Tags: audio-technica  technical audio group