ESX900 (Pearl White) Quick Impressions


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FYI, stock TH900 is TH900 Pearl White (referred as TH). The TH900 never sounded quite right to me, it had the right characteristics but not distributed well. Like a badly proportioned sandwich with the perfect ingredients. When listening to electronic music on TH’s the detail in the treble would sparkle, but when it gets passed a certain point it becomes wildly uncontrolled. This uncontrolled treble on TH becomes piercing enough for me to wince. However the way the treble sparkled was still a positive attribute. These headphones were in a dire need of retuning, the the highs specifically. Before I get to the sound section, I need to touch on comfort. ESX900 involves a pad change in addition to a slew of other changes. Headband stays the same though. This pad change gives a smaller earspace size, but this allows the headphone to fit snug and comfortably. No more ear shifts when I turn my head from side to side. I get that Z1R-like fit while my ears stay in the position they need to be in. Bass: Boosted a bit (perhaps a touch more reverb), but not overwhelming. Similar to MDR Z1R. This is my favorite part of TH, this is indeed a slam heads delight. Nothing much to comment here. If you own a TH, you’ll get more of what you love. Hip hop is so much fun, gimme more g funk.(edited)

Mids: Okay, so this is where the expression “no such thing as a free lunch” comes in. The mids are little muffled compared to stock tuning. IMHO this is a small price to pay given how well the treble has been tamed. The mids do work quite well with the reverb bass, and the tuning is so smooth and enjoyable, it just works. However, I wouldn’t listen to a saxophone solo on this. For music like jazz, I would pick up the MDR Z1R instead.

Treble: Ahhhh. The payoff here is worth the trade off with the mids, 10 fold. The treble still retains that detail and sparkle, however any unpleasant sibilance is completely ELIMINATED. I would wince throughout electronic songs, especially when the tone shifts would approach the high frequencies. This would result in a listening session only lasting 1 hour or so, when I wanted to listen more. No more listening fatigue, no more cranking the volume to get more bass, ESX900 is so pleasurable. I prefer this treble to Z1R. With the ESX900, the tuning is so smooth and enjoyable, it just works. Now the treble is finally tamed, I can enjoy a 3+hour listening session with ZERO fatigue. And still get my bass fix! This only happens on one other headphone for me, the MDR Z1R. The ESX900 has another ace up its sleeve, the wonderfully resolving treble. This treble sounds more resolving and natural than the Z1R which is rolled off.

Key takeaway from this, if you like engaging/fun house sound, but don’t want to give up a good treble response, ESX900 is for you. If you need bass + complete transparency and don’t mind the treble spikes, stock tuning would be better for you. In short, TH sounds like a headphone that was engineered around paper performance. ESX900 is a headphone that was engineered around thoughtful listening.

The ESX900 is the Sony Z7 successor that should have been.
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