ATH-AX1iS SonicFuelâ„˘ Over-ear Headphones for Smartphones
Excellent Sound Quality, Limited Comfort
I paid less than half price for these Audio-Technica headphones. I am very surprised with the sound quality. I tested the remote control with an iPod and with an Android device, and it works very well for pausing and skipping to the next song. The volume control is a slider button, which works well. I have been comparing the sound quality to around-ear SoundTrue Bose headphones, both connected to an iPod touch, and the sound resolution is about the same. I can hear well separated frequencies and very crisp sounds. The music is very enjoyable. The speakers appear high-end, although embedded in an inexpensive frame. The frame does not look cheap from a distance. I have the grey and green color, which combination is quite handsome.
Now the negatives. The arch is very tight and presses hard the ears. The speakers are mounted on flat plates, only separated from the ears by the cushions. My ears still touch the plastic plates and I become uncomfortable after a little while.
Given how little I paid, the sound quality, and the mic and inline control, I was determined to keep these headphones. I relaxed the arch tension by annealing. I extended the arch and used a hair dryer to heat up. Then I applied ice while still extended, and repeated the cycle of heating and cooling several times. I did manage to get the arch opened to the point that now I can wear the headphones for an hour or so. I still keep on relocating the headphones around my ears every so often. I do not like the ear biting. I bought alternative ear cushions online, slightly larger, and I hope they may address the comfort problem. I got to wait another month for the cushions to arrive from China. I will update the review if they happen to work. I tried inserting extra foam padding, and the cushions became more comfortable, but unbearable warm. I had to remove the extra foam. By the way, original replacement cushions do not appear available for this Audio-Technica model. Third-party alternatives are available, but only in black color.
I prefer the around-the-ear SoundTrue Bose headphones, but only because of comfort, not because of sound quality. I wish Audio-Technica would change the design of the plates holding the speakers. Rather than flat plates, the contact to the skull should be through cups enclosing the ears. It looks like all of the Audio-Technica headphones are based on the same flat plate design, as well as most brands. Even when headphones look like cups, they are not cups, but solid horse nail shapes.
Again, I am very pleased with the sound quality of these headphones connected to my iPod. These inexpensive Audio-Technica sound like big bucks, but comfort is lacking. The look and frame quality is decent. The arch can be permanently opened with a hair dryer. Nonetheless, I am keeping my headphones. I can always find use for them, especially with the inline remote and microphone. I will not use them for extended periods, unless alternative, third party, ear pads enhance the comfort.
January 20, 2015