Intro: If you are familiar with my other comparisons, you'll notice that in each one I write, there is something that slightly differs in all of them. Whether I added more sections, was more forgiving on reviewing, or simply changed the layout, each review has been slightly altered depending on the headphones and my addition knowledge of the subject. With this comparison, I'm going to be trying something a bit different with the layout by splitting it up into two main sections which are found below.
Layout: There is a "Build" and "Sound" section in this comparison. The build section covers both headphones in their physical form and the sound section obviously covers the headphones sonically. At the beginning of the two sections, there is a "Top 5" listing. This is a general run down of what is to find in the upcoming paragraphs. In those paragraphs, I will go into more detail on all five of those points. And at the end of the review will be a sum up of individual aspects between these two headphones.
Tip: For a quick read -- Just read each of the five points in both of the sections. This comparison has been built around those ten points. Reading them will summarize this entire review.
5 reasons AD900 is superior to AD700 in build:
1 - The frame is made out of magnesium instead of plastic.
2 - There is absolutely no creaking or strange frame sounds.
3 - It weighs 30 grams less and is one of the lightest in class.
4 - It is physically smaller and has a bit more clamping force.
5 - All black color looks far superior to purple and champagne.
1 - I remember when I first received the AD900 on a cold morning. As I pulled it out of its box, I noticed it was very cold to the touch. This was due to the lightweight magnesium frame that it is constructed out of. The all plastic AD700 simply wouldn't get that cold, if it were to come on a similar morning. So right away, I knew the AD900 was constructed out of something tougher than the AD700, and I then found out it was the magnesium. So, what exactly does that contribute to? Well, first off, it's lighter than the AD700, but I'll discuss that later on. But mainly, it just feels like a better headphone. In fact, I think it's simply one of the best build headphones I've ever encountered. Upon closer inspection, it's actually made in Japan, as opposed to the AD700 being made in China. Overall design is very similar, yet slightly different. It's just a well-made headphone, and it's obvious there was serious attention to detail.
2 - I've heard many AD700 users mention that the frame creaks when they move their head. Most of them say it's not that big of a deal (which it isn't), but it still can be slightly annoying at times. Luckily when it comes to the AD900, there is absolutely no creaking or any sounds that come from frame movement. I can move my head in any direction and I won't hear a sound. That alone is another indicator at the superior build quality it has over the AD700. Like I mentioned, the design is a bit different that the AD700, which probably contributes to anti-creaking. But it's also the design material, and the more precise construction which sets the two apart.
3 - Incredibly, the AD900 weighs an amazing 30 grams less than the AD700. Why is this so amazing? Well, the design of both is almost exactly the same, so for them to cut back on that much weight is exceptional. Now, at an incredibly light weight of 250 grams, the AD900 is one of the lightest full sized headphones period. No, I'm not talking portable, I'm talking full sized. The lighter weight is not only due to the lighter weight magnesium over plastic, but the physical size of the AD900 is smaller, which I'll go into in the next section. There is also a lot of unnecessary material taken out, resulting in the AD900 earcups also being thinner, as well as the body being smaller.
4 - Like I mentioned, the AD900 is actually smaller from top to bottom. But the earcup width is also slimmer as well. Due to its smaller size, it doesn't look as ridiculously huge as the AD700. But there comes a benefit of smaller height. When you are actually wearing the headphones, you can feel the difference of the smaller size. With the AD700, you can feel the bottom of the cup clenching a part of your jaw because it extends so low. With the AD900, it's raised enough that it doesn't irritate your jaw. This improves short and long term comfort. The slightly more clamp of the AD900 doesn't make it any less comfortable than the AD700, it just makes it stay on your head better. But of course, both of the high strength steel wires can be contorted severely to allow a lighter or tighter clamp.
5 - This is an aspect that is based strictly on preference, but I'm not sure there are too many people that prefer the purple and champagne gold of the AD700 to the pure black of the AD900. Granted, the AD700 is a fantastic value, but it just looks like a toy. The AD900 just looks mean. It looks a lot more high end and more serious. The newer design also contributes to this, but it's black color that really makes it look better. As mentioned, not only is the frame all black, but the grills are black as well. It is to mention, that they are also completely flat and don't extrude out like the AD700 ones do. Overall, it just looks fantastic, and the build quality justifies its quality as well.
5 reasons AD900 is superior to AD700 in sound:
1 - Brightness, listening fatigue, and sibilance have been reduced.
2 - Unnatural tonality has been removed making it more realistic.
3 - Mids are more upfront making it more engaging and energetic.
4 - The bass has been slightly improved resulting in more balance.
5 - Odd holes in the frequency for the most part have been fixed.
1 - Switching from the AD900 back to the AD700, it becomes extremely apparent that the AD700 is a brighter headphone. This also makes it more susceptible to fatigue due to the sheer amount of brightness. No, I'm not sure it's up there with Beyer bright, but it's high on the list. The AD900 is a bright headphone itself, but not on the level of the AD700. With that, the AD700 will pass its threshold more often and cross over into sibilance. I have more instances of sibilance and general fatigue with the AD700's sound compared to the AD900's. Not saying the AD900 isn't fatiguing, because it can be with bright recordings, but it is just less so.
2 - Another thing that really caught me off guard switching back and forth was the AD700's weird tonality. Something just sounds off in the sound when compared to the AD900. I'm not sure if it's the severe coloration, or just something it the sound that messed up, but it definitely sounds strange with some music. The AD900 fixes that and sounds more natural, making it sound more realistic overall. Not saying the AD700 sounds weird, but it will become apparent when actually compared to the superior tonality of the AD900.
3 - This is another aspect that really catches ones attention. The midrange on the AD900 has finally been brought forward, giving music a much more engaging feel. And believe me when I say engaging, as even these have "out rocked" Grado. But they aren't good just for energy cultivated music, they are brilliant for all sorts due to its fantastic soundstage. The AD700 sounds as if vocals have a veil, and they are placed back in the recording. Music that is supposed to be engaging sounds less so on the AD700 than the AD900. The sound signature of the AD900 generally sounds clearer due to the mids being brought forward. This change gives the AD900 incredible energy, yet it still works wonders with slower and mellower music.
4 - This aspect of sound was the least noticeable of all the five points, but is still there. When direct comparison is done, one will conclude that the AD900's bass has a bit more weight and depth to it. Obviously, it is still bass anemic compared to the standard headphone, but it actually does extremely well with certain music. With others, it simply can leave you a bit wanting. But at least there will never be an incident of too much bass, as I did get a lot with other headphones when listening to low orchestra in a piece. But at least it's been improved somewhat from the AD700, but don't expect anything too drastic.
5 - I never knew one could hear a hole in sound until I did this comparison. Switching from the AD900 to the AD700 reveals strange holes in the frequency. Yes, you can literally hear a hole in the frequency. It sounds fragmented, or incomplete. I believe there may have been more than one, but it was quite interesting to hear. This may have had something to do with the off tonality or vice versa. But when listening to the AD900, it sounds as if those holes have been filled with the sound that belonged there in the first place. The result makes the AD900 sound more full and complete than the AD700, as well as sounding more natural.
Build: I won't say the AD700 is built badly, but its build definitely isn't the best. The AD900 on the other hand is very impressive when it comes to build quality and design. Main differences include: color, grills, size, and swivel mechanism. But the driver is also slightly different in both models. The AD700 has an angled driver and the AD900 doesn't. Luckily for the AD900, it doesn't affect the soundstage, but it does take an effect on comfort, which I will discuss below. Between the cables, the AD700 is clearly the winner here, as I still have never seen a better cable to a headphone, but the AD900 still has a very good one. It's just a bit less flexible, and has a cheaper feel to it. But it's still great in regards.
Comfort: Comfort is substantially different in both models. The AD700 has less clamp, angled drivers allowing more ear room, yet it extends lower providing mild discomfort near the jaw. The AD900 has slightly more clamp, doesn't have angled drivers, yet it is smaller so it doesn't reach near the jaw. The problem with non-angled drivers is that your ear will actually rest against them. This is definitely a step down from the AD700, but there is a secret to these. The pads are raised in the back, allowing a little ear room, so one must wear these pushed forward on your head so your ears are in the back. Doing this will get its comfort back in the league of the AD700, but still not quite there. But like I mentioned, the AD700 has it's own problem. The headphone is bigger, meaning the earcups extend lower. It's feels a bit awkward because it starts to clamp upward on near your jaw. Nothing horrible, but it still can be considered an issue. I would say, if not a tie between the two, the winner is the AD900 after it has been slightly stretched.
Sound: Everyone mentions that the AD900 is a refined AD700, and that is exactly so. The AD900 manages to improve where the AD700 dropped off, excluding bass. The midrange is most noticeable when comparing the two, as it has been moved up and now makes the spectrum feel more complete. It also gives so much more energy to music, and is quite amazing for even stuff like rock. The soundstage on both headphones is as good as ever, and really gives music a whole new feel. It makes you feel like the music is all around you rather than just next to you. With the AD900's energetic sound signature and its huge soundstage, it simply gives some music a whole new level of enjoyment. It gives you a party-like atmosphere, which is really quite fun. The AD700 does with soundstage as well, but it's treble is brighter and it's mids are subdued compared to the AD900. Overall, the AD900 is a very notable improvement to the AD700, and fixes nearly all of the flaws of the AD700 making it sound simply fantastic.
Value: Many will debate whether the AD900 is worth double or triple the price of the AD700. Well, first we must know that the AD700 is priced extremely low, so it gives the AD900 a bad image - and that is unfortunate. But that said, I think the AD900 is worth every penny. I would easily pay double, and wouldn't hesitate paying triple the amount to get these over the AD700. No, the AD900 isn't going to turn a AD700 hater into a total fan, but it will turn someone interested in the sound, into someone in love with it. All this said, I think I would pay $300 for it if needs be, and would probably pay $150 max for the AD700. Luckily, the AD700 is only around $80, and the AD900 just happens to be nearly exactly triple that amount now. But for around the current price of $200, I think it's an absolute steal. Same goes for the AD700 at around $80.
Conclusion: The AD900 is definitely a headphone that doesn't get that much attention. Its younger sibling gets plenty, but unfortunately for most, it stops there. The sheer amount of soundstage and fantastic energy these give make them a rock listeners dream -- but it doesn't stop there. These are excellent all-arounders, and will make nearly anything sound great. The combination of a nice clean sound, upfront engaging mids, and an expansive soundstage make these simply one of the best headphones I've heard. That said, I really hope more users will experience this headphone in the future, as it is great in nearly every regard and is a wonderful upgrade to the AD700.