A few months back, Audio-Technica introduced their latest Sound Reality High-Resolution Audio headphones to the world. “Digital Sound Reality” headphones are intended for those who want and expect the best in sound realism. Engineered with closed-back dynamic 45 mm “True Motion Drivers,” these over-ear headphones are designed to deliver highly detailed audio reproduction. Want to know if they hit the mark? Without further delay, let’s take a closer look in this Audio-Technica ATH-DSR7BT review.
• Exceptionally comfortable fit & sharp design
• Solid construction, flexible, yet sturdy
• Battery life of up to 15 hours
• Hi-Res Audio when wired
• 45 mm True Motion drivers
• Siri compatible with iOS devices
• No wall outlet plug included
• Only one color pattern available
• Lacks wear detection
• Minor issue with computer settings setup
Audio-Technica ATH-DSR7BT Review
Per the press release, “The ATH-DSR9BT and ATH-DSR7BT are the first wireless headphones to employ Audio-Technica’s new Pure Digital Drive system, which keeps the audio signal completely digital from the source directly to the headphones’ drivers, without the need for D/A conversion stages that typically degrade the sound quality.”
“The rechargeable ATH-DSR9BT and ATH-DSR7BT support aptX™ HD, aptX™ and AAC codecs (as well as the SBC format) at up to 24-bit/48kHz signals in Bluetooth mode and deliver Hi-Res Audio playback at up to 24-bit/96kHz when connected to a digital source with the included USB cable.”
Here’s What You Need To Know for Operation
- To pair the headphone to your mobile device, slide the power switch to the ON position The time this takes varies based on your device. Three white lights will flash in a particular order. Then head to the Bluetooth Settings on your mobile device and pair to ATH-DSR7BT.
- Volume up and down is controlled by sliding the volume control to the + or – position. A double beep will let you know once the minimum or maximum volume has been reached.
- Sliding the volume controller to the + or – position with a 2-second hold will forward or reverse a music track.
- The tap controller controls telephone operations such as answering, ending, and rejecting calls. When receiving a call, a quick tap answers the call; a 2-second tap rejects it. To end a call, double tap the controller. A quick tap also controls playing and pausing of music.
- Playtime lasts for 15 hours with a 1,000 hour (estimated) standby time. Charging the headphones takes approximately 4 hours. The number of white lights that will flash depends on the current charge level. A blinking red light will show when the battery is low. Charging can be done with the power switch turned to ON or OFF.
Sound Reality Design and Features
At first glance, the ATH-DSR7BT looks very similar to the ATH-SR5BT we reviewed one year ago. After all, they’re both part of the Sound Reality lineup.
The outer headband surface, as well as the ear pads, are made from leather or vegan leather. I couldn’t determine which, but I highly suspect it’s the latter. Regardless, they’re very soft and comfortable. The quality of the workmanship is very high.
Both the headband and ear pads contain some form of memory foam, so every time you remove the headset, they’ll return to their designed state.
Determining which side is left or right is a bit confusing. The “L” & “R” designations on the outside are small and hard to read, especially when light hits it at a particular angle. The markings should have been a more visible color like that on the ear cup, maybe even larger. All you need to know is that the left ear cup is the one with the NFC marker on the headband. Cups can rotate 90° degrees in and roughly 10° out.
The headband can fit a wide range of head frames with its eleven adjustable positions. Button and switch placement appears to be handled well, but as a former design engineer, I would have argued for a change or two. As it stands, NFC, the tap controller, the volume controller, and the charging port are on the left, while the power switch is on the right. I would have preferred the tap controller on the outer center of the right ear cup. I’ve seen this design before on a Libratone model, and I rather liked it. Overall, construction is well executed and assures high quality.
The headphones come with four Bluetooth Codecs: aptX™ HD, aptX™, AAC, SBC. Each playback codec yields a different light on the left ear cup. For instance, a purple light in the 3rd position designates aptX™ HD. Refer to Page 10 of the user manual for more information on this topic.
Included in the packaging is a carrying bag which has soft protective lining. There’s also a 2-meter audio/charging cable.
The ATH-DSR7BT (and ATH-DSR9BT) wireless headphones are currently available in one color. Should an additional color be introduced, this post will be updated.
• Driver Type: 45 mm Closed-Back Dynamic
• Impedance: 35 Ω
• Headphone Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 40 kHz
• Microphone Frequency Response: 50 Hz – 4 kHz
• Bluetooth Sample/Bit Rates: 44.1, 48 kHz / 16, 24
• Bluetooth Codecs: aptX™ HD, aptX™, AAC, SBC
• Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
• Music Play Time: 15 Hours
• Standby Time: 1000 Hours
• Charging Time: 4 Hours
• Weight: 300 Grams (10.6 oz)
• Range: 33 Feet (10 Meters) direct line of sight
• Wired Sample/Bit Rates: 44.1, 48, 96 kHz / 16, 24
• Bluetooth Version: 4.2
What’s In The Box?
• Soft Carrying Bag
• User Manual
Amazon Music Playlist
• Lana Del Rey – Paradise
• Lorde – Pure Heroine
• The Prodigy – Invaders Must Die
• My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade
• Zedd – Clarity
• Ellie Goulding – Halcyon
• The Black Keys – El Camino
• 30 Seconds To Mars – 30 Seconds To Mars
I repeat this time after time again when reviewing speakers and headphones; the most important factor is the quality of sound. These over-ear digital drive headphones were tested across a broad range of music using the playlist listed above. Each album was sampled against comparable current model $200-$300 headphones, and results were noted. When you’re testing headphones with 45 mm drivers and a frequency response of 5 Hz – 40 kHz, you expect high-quality sound. It’s a good thing the ATH-DSR7BT headphones delivered the goods.
The quality of vocal and instrumental reproduction (guitars, keyboards, drums, etc.) was most impressive and didn’t falter even up to the highest volume setting. I expected bass to sound good partly because of the headphones list price, but boy was it properly balanced. The overall audio was high-quality and free of distortion. I know this because I conducted something called ‘The Electronic Music Test.’ I take an album from an electronic group like The Prodigy or a rock band like Shinedown and put the headphones through its paces. (Feel free to insert your choice of artist or group who happens to play instrument-rich music.)
After having played albums from the rock acts listed above, I can report that this headset met and exceeded my expectations. Bass sounds were deep, rich, and even layered throughout the volume range. Take a listen to Zedd’s Lost At Sea or Codec or Lana Del Rey’s Gods & Monsters. You can distinctly hear layered bass sounds one on top of another. I’ve only heard bass like this from one other set of headphones in this price range.
Vocals come out smooth and full of life. The vocal reproduction of Ellie Goulding and the 3 L’s (Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga, and Lorde) sounded terrific. The vocals of all the female artists were amazingly vivid.
These over-ear headphones are engineered with 45 mm True Motion drivers designed to deliver detailed audio reproduction. After using these headphones extensively around my home, I can wholeheartedly say that they’re the best sub-$300-priced headphones I’ve listened to date.
A Few Things I Noticed
Now, I wouldn’t be much of a reviewer if I didn’t find some fault(s) with these Audio-Technica Sound Reality headphones. The feature I disliked the most and is in need of improvement is the microphone. Whenever I took a call while wearing the headset, the person I was speaking with couldn’t hear me too well. I’m not certain what the issue is, but I’ve read a similar account with the more expensive ATH-DSR9BT headphones. Suffice to say, the headphones came off, and I spoke on my mobile phone the old-fashioned way.
Extended use does create some perspiration on the earpads, but this should be expected. So long as leather or leather-like materials are used for the earpads, this issue will persist.
Minus one issue, the feature-rich Audio-Technica ATH-DSR7BT wireless headphones performed phenomenally. The production of strong vocals and clear bass at the highest volume setting was truly music to my ears. But still, I needed to turn that volume down to save my hearing for another day.
These Sound Reality headphones are very comfortable after many hours of continuous use. At $299, the ATH-DSR7BT are the best headphones I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing in 2017, and not just from Audio-Technica. I don’t say this lightly. From an audio standpoint, whether it’s an in-ear, on-ear, or over-ear model, this pure digitally driven pair of headphones is the best sub-$300 headset around. We highly recommend you look into these. Our sample unit is staying right here.
If you have a loved one and are considering getting this person headphones for a birthday or holiday, put the ATH-DSR7BT on your wishlist. You’ll need to get a sizeable red stocking to fit it in.At $299, the ATH-DSR7BT are the best headphones I've had the pleasure of reviewing in 2017, and… Click To Tweet
What do you think of this Audio-Technica ATH-DSR7BT review? Do you agree or disagree with our verdict? Let us know in the comment section below or via social media. We’re eager to hear your thoughts.
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FTC Disclosure: Audio-Technica provided Beantown with one (1) ATH-DSR7BT pure digital drive headphones sample for review purposes. This writer’s opinion is 100% his own and not a paid product ambassador.
All photographs are the copyrighted property of Beantown LLC © 2017.