A corollary of the smartphone boom is the proliferation of headphone makers in the Indian market. With everyone agreeing that most in-the-box smartphone headphones are not really up to the mark, there is an ever increasing market for better headphones, especially those that don’t cost the earth. But not all the new players in the market are good. Some are just playing the price game and I have encountered headsets that were not even worthy of a review. But there are new stars too, among them Audio-technica whose SonicFuel ATH-CKX9iS turned out to be a real surprise package. This time we have got their latest ATH-AX3 over-ear headphones for review. Here is what it sounded like.
The ATH-AX3 is not a stunner, not with its all-plastic body. I did not have a good feeling when I held this headphone, it felt a bit too focussed on getting the pricing right and choosing materials that will help it to. But the plastic is not flimsy and within some time you realise that it is also quite durable. Then the design is also very practical. The ear cup is hinged on three peices so that it can fit any head and also fold flat for travel. It also comes with a flat tangle-free cord. Another tick.
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The ear cups have cushioned earpads that are comfortable. But it does get a bit hot inside, especially when you are resorting to music to get the better of Delhi’s sultry July heat.
If the ear cups of the ATH-AX3 are large that is to house a 40mm driver. And this is the USP of this headphone. That large driver sets this apart from other affordable headphones as an affordable headphone that recreates sound the way it is supposed to be heard.
In fact, the audio quality was so good that my first plastic coated opinion of the ATH-AX3 vanished with the first Don William song that I listened to. That bass baritone shone through as if I was listening on one of them room filling bank breaking music systems. But then it worked as well with the Elvis Presley version of Fools Rush In and a Carnatic number by Bombay Jayashree. Yes, the ATH-AX3 surely knows its music. with a frequency response of 10 – 24,000 Hz and an impedance of 55 ohms, this one surely does not sound like a cheap headphone.
There are have been very few on-ear or over-ear headphones in this price range that have impressed me since the JBL Tempo a couple of years back. If you are looking for a pair of headphones to replace the once that came in the box of your new smartphone, then ATH-AX3 is a good option. This one is for serious music lovers.