With all the great wireless headphones released this year, it’s hard not to compare them all with each other. Recentley, I reviewed Mark Levinson’s first pair of headphones, which are the wireless No.5909. On their own, they are a fantastic pair of premium Bluetooth headphones, but how do they stand up to another high-end headphone like the Focal Bathys?
What You Get
|Mark Levinsion No.5909||Focal Bathys|
Look and Feel
This is one of the few areas where I fully perfer one headphone over the other. While the No.5909 has a strong build made from highly-durable parts, they can feel quite heavy when worn for a couple of hours. The Bathys has a build that meets the standard of their audiophile-grade headphone library, while also having a comfortable fit that is light and seccure. With the Bathys, there is no compromise in terms of balancing comfort and durability.
Design and Functionality
Both headphones carry a 40mm driver made from different materials. The No.5909 uses beryllium, while the Bathys is made from aluminum/magnesium. They also support wired functions for a more high-fidelity sound. You’ll find ANC and ambint options on both headphones too, but in terms of who has the stronger isolation, I would have to go with the No.5909. They both have special companion apps that feature EQ, but the No.5909 is more limited than the Bathys. You can play with more options for gain and attenuation on the Bathys app, while the No.5909 only offers bass customization.
You’ll find both headphones offering Bluetooth version 5.1 with similar CODECs. They share aptX and aptX adaptive, but only the No.5909 can give you LDAC.
The No.5909 is marginally better when it comes to battery life, offering four hours more than the Bathys while ANC is turned off. Its the 30 hours of the Bathys against the 34 hours of the No.5909. These headphones both have good charges, but you might be expecting more significant for the price.
Being two higher-end Bluetooth headphones you’re going to get more out of the sound signature. Starting with the soundstage, both headphones show distict ways of displaying clear spatial imaging. For the Bathys, you get a wider stereo field, and the positioning of each performance is centered around accuracy. With the No.5909, you’ll hear more exagerated spaciousness that almost appears 3D. If you’re looking for which one has the best percision in its layering, I think the Bathys is the best choice. However, if you want somthing that feels more grand, with instruments appearing taller and more individualized, then you will enjoy the No.5909 more.
These headphones have more similariites in their bass than any other part of their respective sound signatures. Both headphones deliver a clean and natural low end resposne, with the ability to adjust its timbre through EQ. In its standard state, the No.5909 is more neutral than the Bathys, but in “enhanced mode,” the tone becomes thicker and more powerful. On the Bathys, the bass has a bit more depth to it, with a rumbling sub-bass pressence making most of the difference. Its punch is tighter and has a quick resposne, while the No.5909 is more releaxed and smooth.
Here, the Bathys and No.5909 both have their advantages as flaws. For instance, the No.5909 is stellar at providing more space that makes each section of a mix easier to localize. With the Bathys, the timbre of the mids is mostly dark, and specific elements aren’t as individualized. What the Bathys will give you though is pure energy. Even with a warmer tone, the Bathys provides more energy to instruments. There’s a better fowardness to the mids, while on the No.5909, most of the region can be a little underpowered. It depends a lot on the type of music you’re putting through the headphones. I tended to like more metal and electronic tracks on the Bathys, while the No.5909 showed better ability with crisp vocals and indie pop.
This is the range of frequency that might make or break your decision. If you’re not shy to treble, then I think the No.5909 is going to be you’re kind of sound. Its highs are crisp and airy, adding a lot of great height to the sound signature. The Bathys is more reserved here by comparison. They’re still capable of clear details, and the Bathys overall comes off more smoothly here. If you’re looking for better texture though, the No.5909 has more to offer in its highs.
This comparison might simply come down to price, in which case the Bathys will be an easy pick. For $999 though, the No.5909 still retains a lot of value. I think its specific sound signature will satisfy the tatse of most listeners, while the Bathys has a tone that suits more of an audiophile market. Taking that into account, I still think anyone who listens to the Bathys can easily enjoy them, but the No.5909 is more or less what a great wireless headphone should sound like. So, they both have their quirks in the sound department, but ANC is also a big factor, and the No.5909 is the clear winner for me there. It’s price versus sound, versus ANC when deciding which one to buy. Any choice you make though will be a good one, as both the Bathys and No.5909 are simply just two of the best wireless headphone options on the market right now, and they set a new standard for what Bluetooth headphones can achieve.
The Focal Bathys and Mark Levinson No.5909 are available at Audio46.
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