Beyerdynamic has teamed up with Astell&Kern to put a new twist on the classic Beyerdynamic Xelento. What changes have been made in terms of design? And how does it translate to sound signature? Let’s find out in this Astell&Kern Beyerdynamic AK T9iE Review.
Reviewing Astell&Kern AK T9iE In-Ear Monitors by Beyerdynamic
IN the BOX
The around-the-ear fit is pretty much the same as Beyerdynamic’s Xelento in terms of the shells and oval shape of the ear tips. The stems don’t extend far, so it’s not the most sound isolating fit. But Buds are certainly comfortable. The one thing you want to be careful of is the MMCX connectors when you’re fitting the cable around your ear. The connection isn’t very tight, and the buds popped loose a couple times when I tried on the IEMs.
Beyerdynamic has basically tweaked their famous Xelento to make it little less neutral, though as you’ll see below, it’s still very neutral. They’ve boosted the bass by enlarging the vent port, and they may have given a tad more extension to the highs. But the AK T9iE still employs the same Tesla dynamic driver.
The cable has also been swapped for a very thick pure silver and copper hybrid wire. And this one’s balanced with a 2.5mm termination. But if you don’t have a balanced connection, you can use the 3.5mm adapter that’s included in the box. For the purposes of this review, I went with the balanced connection to my FiiO Q5 DAC/amp. That being said, these buds are easy to drive, and your mobile device will be more than enough to juice it.
Beyerdynamic hit the sweet spot here. Not a huge low-end by any means, but it doesn’t feel at all stingy. And it has a little more bass oomph than the Xelento. Certainly, I found the pop tracks had satisfying bass punch. Listening to rock, you’ll hear a touch of warmth, but it feels more clean overall. So though you will get a little meat in the bass frequencies, the low end remains nicely separated from the higher frequencies. In terms of detail, though the AK T9iE does deliver some substance in string instruments, it’s not a particularly dry sound. So, acoustic instruments have more smoothness than traction.
The AK T9iE displays good presence in the mids, and the balance is perfect for my ears. The upper mids avoid any contrived emphasis, while the low mids deliver good body without upstaging the higher frequencies. So, if you like your mids to be relatively even in this range, then you’ll gravitate to the AK T9iE. That being said, these buds aren’t really made for folks who like an extremely dynamic profile.
But if you’re a sucker for clean and refined, you’ll dig these IEMs. Again, it’s not a particularly rich or “grippy” sound. Cellos in this range for example, don’t have a ton of weight or texture. But AK T9iE certainly presents a very fluid and almost “purified” feel. And though neutral in its presentation, it avoids feeling sterile for the most part.
A touch of extension in this range. Percussion at the peaks have ample crispness and snap, though there’s little sharpness to speak of in the highest registers. Again, this isn’t a weighty sound profile. And vocals in this range are probably my favorite thing about these IEMs. Silky with a touch of air, the AK T9iE conveys an entirely uncontaminated vocal performance.
A relatively big stage, approximating the spaciousness of something like the Andromeda, though perhaps not as grand. But because the AK T9iE is so clean and well defined, the imaging is fantastic. Precise, with a very multidimensional feel, the soundstage echoes the other elements of this IEM; skills with no frills.
Putting it plainly, the AK T9iE is a no bull$%^! IEM. It’s a sound signature that avoids being elaborate or adorned. Much like the Xelento, it simply delivers a solid performance. Now, for some, the profile may border on boring, especially if you like a particularly colored, rich and energetic feel. But the Ak T9iE will certainly please the purists.
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