When Astell&Kern announced the AK T9iE in September, it got many Porta-Fiers were excited and was made available for audition during the 10th Edition of AudioFriday by Porta-Fi in Singapore the following month, many thanks to the kind arrangements of Eng Siang International.
The AK T9iE was tested at the Porta-Fi Experience Lab with an Astell&Kern A&ultima SP1000, an Astell&Kern KANN CUBE as well as a Sony NW-WM1Z.
Earlier, it was mentioned that the AK T9iE retained the same Dynamic Driver by beyerdynamic which was previously found in the AKT8iE MKII while sporting a redesigned acoustic vent port catering for better control to the low-end allowing for a deeper bass experience coupled with enhanced treble softness through a specially engineered two-layer acoustic filter.
At the low-end, the T9iE exhibits an impressive foundation at the sub-bass coupled with a comprehensive, dynamic and tight sounding bass that offers sufficient resolution with significant depth. Tight and controlled, the IEMs packs a satisfying punch that is neither too tight or too light, however, I am one who appreciates a bit more decay which would have made the low end more natural. If one is biased towards the low-end and owns a mid to high tier Astell&Kern portable music player, one could set the player’s AMP mode to high. On both the A&ultima SP1000 and KANN CUBE, the increased power output allowed the T9iE to exhibit more punch at the mid-bass with significant dimensions added to the bass notes and as a result, adds warmth to the midrange.
The T9iE exhibits a slightly recessed mid-range and affects the performance of the mid-range which is where most of the musical energy is which unfortunately ensured that the instrumental textures lacked timbre. More anomalies in the mid-range are further revealed when experiencing male vocals, confirming colourations in the midrange. While it is not horrible, but it certainly affects the tonal balance.
At the high-end, the T9iE exhibits reasonable treble extensions without it sounding exceedingly bright. Percussion instruments sounded crisp with a decay that’s rather enjoyable probably emphasised by the softer lower treble which also adds to the dynamism of the high-end.
Overall, the strengths of the sound signature of the AK T9iE lies in the low-end and the high-end. In fact, with AMP mode set to high on a mid to high tier Astell&Kern portable music player, some Bass Heads will enjoy the IEMs. With a slightly wider than average soundstage and significant depth for an IEM, though poor instrumental imaging due to the mid-range anomalies. The sound signature of the AK T9iE might be suitable for one who is into rock, electronica and EDMs but not one who is into instrumentals and vocals.