Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Audio-Technica ATH SJ11 (review)

I am a big fan of beautiful headphones. Although I have owned quite a number of different earphones ranging from the native Apple iPod earphones to Sony's to Sennheiser's. My first great pair of headphones was Sennheiser's, it lasted more than two years before it finally retire when the right cup was not playing a sound anymore, then the left cup followed.

I bought this baby a couple of hours ago in SM Fairview's Podworx. It was the replacement of a pair of Skullcandy in-ear earphones I bought last December, lasted less than 3 months. Not durable at all in it's price range.  It has a warranty, but unfortunately no model has been shipped for the past couple of weeks. So they gave me a discount on any brand of headphones or earphones I want.

I have a limited budget of P2,000; although I do intend to charge it using my credit card, I will not buy a pair beyond the budget I had in mind. So I scanned the rack for any pair that I want and set my eyes to the Audio-Technica section. The models on display are blacks, and whites with pink bands. The picky me wanted a white pair, pure white. So I scanned other models that I later found to be beyond the P2,000 mark. I went back to the AHT-SJ11 rack and browsed each pair that was on display looking for any pure white pairs. Gladly, at the very end of the stacks of headphones and behind all the hanging plastic cases, hangs a pristine white pair. The one and only pure white pair. I quickly stashed all the hanging headphones aside and grabbed the white set. These pair are so pristine and clean.

Aesthetics
The headphones are so white that I'm afraid I'll be having challenges keeping it that way. I don't have a car and I have a long commute to and from work. Pollution and dirty sweat might ruin its whiteness. The cups are padded with smooth and soft white synthetic leather. The headphones' body are made of matte finished plastic and the cups are topped with a glossy center on the outer part. The cord is of standard quality and texture as compared to most Sennheiser's models, it is pure white all the way to the plug.

ATH SJ11

Built
This pair is super light, it's so light it feels cheap. Actually it does feel cheap, but it does not look like one. When I first picked up the pair out from it's meticulously sealed plastic encasement (one sign a high end product), I asked myself, "what am I paying for this pair"?  I never owned a pair so light! My last headphones were such a heavy bulk to carry and wear. For P1,999 and just P1 below my budget limit, I sure wanted to know what I paid for.

ATH SJ11

Audio
Hear we go... This is where I realized what I paid for. This is the clearest pair of portable audio listening device I have ever owned! Ever! I was drowned in beautiful music streaming from my Samsung Corby Qwerty. While I was walking away from the Mac store and along the mall aisles, I listened to different genres of music I have and using different listening modes of my phone's audio player. From the rock setting, to dynamic, to surround, to everything else. It delivered exceptionally clear sound. The best setting that I now prefer is the "normal" setting.

When I say clear, I mean sound clarity. Unlike the previous pairs I owned, that has powerful bass sounds; this one has too, however, it does not overpower the other instruments specially the vocals.  The bass is there, but only when there is actually bass and it does not concentrate on delivering just that.

I listened to different music genres I have in my phone to check just how well this baby will deliver clarity of sounds. 

Post-Hardcore
When I played Underoath's  Reinventing Your Exit, I can hear all the instruments and can tell them apart; the drums, the cymbals, the lead guitar, the bass guitar, and the keyboards, and the rest of the electronic effects. I also have a new level of appreciation to the growls in this particular song. Even if the singer growls so loud, it does not overpower the other instruments in the song, I can even understand the growl. Even at extremely high volume, the sound is exceptionally clear.

Pop
Switching to pop... I played Utada Hikaru's Heart Station, goosebumps swelled up on my arms. The sound is just so clear! I can actually hear all instruments, a good bass, the smooth keyboards, and the rest of the instruments are all in harmony. I can hear them all! The vocals are clear too! It was such a very beautiful listening experience.

R&B
I don't have r&b tracks in my phone, closest is the Jpop group M-Flo with their track L.O.T. that sounds R&B-ish, but not quite. It has a lot of bass 'though. Listening to this track, the strong bass really showed in this track, it was strong; but not overwhelmingly strong that it drowns the other instruments.

Alternative
I played Fall Out Boy's Sugar We're Going Down. As expected, it delivered clear music. I can tell the difference between the lead guitar and the secondary guitar and all the other instruments. Playing Radiohead's High and Dry drove me nuts(in a good way).

I suddenly remembered I have a 5 year old iPod in my closet, so I quickly stood up, and charged it! Now I can listen to all the genres of music I have in my extensive and ever expanding music library. In my iPod are all the R&B tracks I have as well as the Jazz and Bossa Nova songs I collected through the years as well as the gay songs that most you already might have an idea of who the artists are. 

R&B part 2
Playing Usher's Confessions, I don't only hear the bass, I can actually feel it! The power of the headphone's bass delivery is greatly shown playing bass heavy R&B tracks such as the one mentioned... 4 Minutes by Avant,  and the bass laden tracks of Maxwell. The song Fortunate by Maxwell is heavy on bass, and I can almost feel bass speakers inside my head through this magnificent baby.  Mariah Carey's squeals sounds delightful; Erykah Badu's Bag Lady has  a lot of percussion instruments sounding clearly and distinct.

Jazz
Leif garret's When I think of You, the saxophone just sounded so sexy; then I quickly played Lee Ritenour's Dreamwalkin'... jazz never sounded so good.

Lounge/Chillout
Bach To The Future by BNM Corp sounded amazingly clear, high on bass and smooth keyboards and electronics. Breathe by Telepopmusik is wonderful.

Playing Coldplay songs(the song In My Place in particular) with this new pair was an ecstatic experience, my hairs stand on their ends! 


Comfort
As of this writing, the headphones have been on my ears for a solid 4 hours, and my ears are not sweating at all. The Sennheiser HD 201 (my previous headphone) made my ears sweat during several hours of use, mainly because it is that tight on the ears to prevent sound leakage and to cancel the noise from outside sources. The soft interior of the earcups are very comfortable for hours of music playing. The lightness of the headphones' body is a great plus when doing a music marathon. The headband is not too tight that it stresses the earlobes, but tight enough not to leak the sound as well as to solidly deliver the music directly into the listener's ears.

ATH SJ11

Portability
The headphones can be folded for portability and the cups fold out when resting on your collarbone, making it easy to move around and to turn your head left and right without any obstructions from the resting earcups.

ATH SJ11

Recommendation
This pair is just so easy to recommend. If you are looking for a not so expensive pair of headphones that delivers exceptional clarity, simple zen-like aesthetics (applicable only to the pure white models), ultra light body, comfortable cups, and portability... The Audio-Technica SJ11 is the model to get. Perfect for the audiophile on a budget.

You can also check-out myAKG K518LE (review) Here.

42 comments:

  1. Waaaaaah inggit! Ganda ng review ah! Hinugot mula sa puso!

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  2. Salamat Mugen! Mula sa puso talaga yang review na yan, hinahatid pa lang ako ni daddy kanina dito sa condo eh iniisip ko na ang mga isusulat ko... Ganun ako ka excited!

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  3. hmmm... thanks for sharing this info to us.. alam mo.. I just recently broke my headset.. and its not working now... I am planning to buy a new one.. ehehhe.. good thing you had a review on this..

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  4. Thank you for such a wonderful post. I enjoyed every bit of it.televisori lcd

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  5. Contemplating this against the Sennheiser HD218's or the Koss PortaPro which are set apart in price by Php200 as of the last time I checked.

    Would you still recommend these over those?

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  6. @Mar: Get the HD218., it's more solidly built; and its from Sennheiser, it will be awesome, no doubt it!

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  7. Awesome review man! Linked to it on our site (Unbox.ph). Will read through your other entries. :D

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  8. @Carlo: Thank you so much! ;-)

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  9. @Carlo: What a great website you have! Nice place for online window shopping and other stuff, now I have to stash my credit card away. LOL!

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  10. Thanks for your review. I just bought one and I'm glad to know that I'll be getting my money's worth. I got the black one though cause I'm afraid I can't maintain the pristine look of the white one. XD

    BTW, just to share. I had Skullcandy in-ear earphones too before this. Didn't last 4 months either. They're now selling at 50% off where I just checked.

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  11. You're welcome, Cabby.! I'm glad you liked my review. :-)

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  12. Thank's for the wonderful review ;D! I went to the store and saw these pairs but wasnt sure so I used my phone to find a review and this post convinced me to buy one xD.

    I must agree everything you say about is just right, bass is just right and I can hear everything hehe.

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  13. Thank you reading my blog post, Kazu101, and I am happy it helped you decide to buy a very wonderful pair! :-)

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  14. Eto din ang headphones ko, sulit na sulit sa price! I got the pure black pair, di ko yata kaya ang white na white. Lol

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  15. have you ever listening to sennheiser px80/px-00 ?? which one do you think better ?? ath-sj11 or that sennheiser thing ??

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  16. @Creepymonster: I haven't checked that particular Sennheiser model yet, but anything Sennheiser is great; Audio Technica is to Japan, is Sennheiser to the west.

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  17. im sorry sennheiser px80 is the name of old px100 in my country , because the normal px100 is no longer exist now :(

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  18. hi... very nice and precise review... i've tried this, the sj33, sj55, and the pioneer se-mj31... i'm just curious, in your opinion, which one will you recommend??? :P

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  19. how about akg products such as akg k430? i had a doubt getting this one since it only has a max input level of 30mw.. is this enough?Thanks.

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  20. Hey Canoista!

    very nice review! I got them for my girlfriend last month (for Christmas) and she loves it!

    now it's my turn and I'm planning to get the sj55s! But aside from sound quality, I have a little question, which is more of a cosmetic thing, I've been thinking if I should get a white one to match my Apply products, but I'm kinda afraid it'll get dirty and all, turning yellow or grey over time like the Apple USB cables and stuff, and I'm not planning to get a black one.

    So my question is has your SJ11s held up well, and did it start to get that grayish color over-time using it? Does it get stains easily and all?


    Thank you!
    Ed

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  21. @Ed: Regards to your girlfriend, I'm glad she loves your gift! To answer your question, no it did not turn yellowish but it did turn dirty white instead of grey because of dirt, specially the cord. I'm a commuter, so it is exposed to a lot of external factors that can change its color. It is not really a concern for me because it is still white. I know what you mean by turning grey, I have a very old firewire cable for my iPod and yes, it is very grey. However, the headphones are still white, no longer pristine, but still white. No it does not get stained easily unlike the Apple cables, you can still get rid of dirt just by wiping.

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  22. how about sj11 vs sj33 ano recommend n'yu? I'm planning to buy this weekend kasi

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  23. @Zef: Sj33s are better than the Sj11s, the built is more solid and they are much bigger too, hence, the price is rather more costly then the Sj11's, you get what you pay for. Solid.

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  24. Thank you for the review. One question: are they solidly staying on the head ?Could I run with them ?

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  25. It does stay on the head, but you cannot run with them.

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  26. hi! just want to ask, which of these do you prefer sennheiser hd-201, urbanz wild, or this ath-sj11? thanks in advance!

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  27. Sennheiser or Audio-Technica, I trust those brands. Urbanz are just all aesthetics.

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  28. Audio technica Ath-Sj33 or the skulcandy hesh?

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    Replies
    1. I dont' like Skullcandy, so I am sticking to this. :-)

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  29. sir compared to sony mdr zx300? mas maganda ba to? halos parehas lang yung prices nila...pero kung titingnan sa specs mas malawak yung range ng freq response ng sony, pero di ko alam kung ano ang nagagawa nun...

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    Replies
    1. The Sony earpieces are great, not sure what the frequencies are for, but you can also try AKG headphones, they're great!

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  30. just bought for my daughter, online & never test before (as well as other AT product)

    for conclution, i always hate this headphone.
    1) sluggish (but lot) bass
    2) lack width & airiness
    3) lack seperation, eg: bass drum-bass guitar
    4) voice frequency too bump, make voice flat, inside my head & some ear fatigue too.
    6) quite bright - i'm preferred some warmness to make music alive & enjoyable for long period listening.
    7) pros: i like the sparkle

    ref/device: ics xperia arc, itouch 4g, iphone 4, ipad, dell v130, soundmagic pl21&pl10, philips she9500, crap altec lansing mutimedia headphone,

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  31. which is better sj11/sj33 or the sony mdr v55? thanks

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  32. Replies
    1. thanks, got a mdr-v55? or even a review? thanks again..

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    2. I was able to try it, it was my friend's. No review yet, let me see if I can borrow his and do a review. ;-)

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    3. andrewph here.. just contact me via my eamil if you got a review about v55.. thanks :)

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  33. thanks for the response, got a mdr-v55? and review?

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    Replies
    1. I was able to use one, no reviews yet, but hopefully, I will be able to make one... Hopefully.

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