Not everyone wants to stick expensive earphones deep into their lugholes, even if they do promise the ultimate music listening experience. If you find canalbuds uncomfortable and huge closed-can headphones too much of a fashion statement, then Audio-Technica’s new ATH-EM9d headphones offer a good compromise. They’re little headphones that clip round your ears.
There’s a lovely warmth to the sound – particularly for acoustic tracks – and you’ll pick up the subtleties in the music that you’d miss on more heavy-handed headphones. The earclip design is also great for sound as it feels more natural listening to music when it’s coming from outside your ears as opposed to being pumped directly into the depths of your ear canal. You don’t get the deep bass thwack that more expensive canalbuds provide, but the overall tone feels more or less perfect.
However, the sensation of the phones hanging off your ears isn’t so perfect. They’re very light, which makes them ideal if you’re sitting around for hours on end, and if you wanted to wander around they are pretty secure. Running, though, is out of the question.
The earclip design also means that the headphones leak sound, and there’s little or no blocking of external noise. Using them on a busy train would almost certainly upset your fellow passengers. They’re also
more of a faff to put on and take off than other types of earphones – not ideal for glasses-wearers or people whose hair has to be just so.
Despite our reservations about the earclip design, there’s no denying that the ATH-EM9D offer a great sounding alternative to in-ear headphones. They leak a lot of sound, so aren’t ideal for your commute, but having the phones outside your ear makes for a more natural listening experience and a more realistic feel.