Astell&Kern AK T9iE Review

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Sound Quality

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.

Part 1: Introduction, Design and Build
Part 2: Sound Quality
Part 3: Product Specifications
Part 4: Review Ratings, Summary

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