Remember when Apple’s announcement about dropping 3.5mm headphone jacks from its phones was a big deal? Well, headphone manufacturers are responding in force, and now Audio-Technica getting further involved with the launch of the ATH-DSR9BT, a pair of fully wireless over-hear headphones. By fully wireless, we mean it — there is no 3.5mm AUX jack on the DSR9BT. While that’s certainly a surprising choice, even more surprising is Audio-Technica’s reported frequency response range for these headphones: 4Hz to 45,000kHz, with an up to 24-bit/48kHz resolution .
The question is, if high-fidelity audio is the goal, why would a headphone manufacturer opt to limit users to only wireless connectivity? After all, a wired connection is more reliable than a Bluetooth connection, nor is it dependent on battery charge. While that may be true, Audio-Technica is hoping to solve this issue with the ATH-DSR9BT’s unique design.
A common detractor to using Bluetooth headphones is the possibility for distortion inherent in wireless audio transfer. However, the DSR9BT are designed around Audio-Technica’s Pure Digital Drive system. According to Audio Technica, this technology prevents the distortion because it removes the processing steps that transform a digital wireless signal into analog signals that can then be amplified to produce sound. This conversion is normally handled by a digital-to-analog converter, otherwise known as a DAC. Instead of using a digital-to-analog converter chip, the DSR9BT uses a Tigence Semiconductor Dnote chipset, which can use the direct digital signal from the listening device to power the DSR9BT’s 45mm drivers, no conversion needed. The DSR9BT also uses Bluetooth 4.2 to ensure a strong and reliable wireless connection at up to 30 feet.
While the Pure Digital Drive technology sounds impressive, and the move to nix the AUX jack is bold, there still remains a way to listen to music through a wired connection. The DSR9BT can connect to PCs via a USB cable for playback, and support high fidelity audio formats like FLAC, ALAC, and WAV at an increased resolution — up to 24-bit/96kHz, to be exact.
With such a unique design that relies almost entirely on Bluetooth connectivity, the question of battery life becomes an important one. Audio Technica promises the DSR9BT’s rechargeable battery will provide up to 15 hours of continuous use, and with the use of stand-by mode, a single charge could last up to 1,000 hours. That’s a decent battery life, but it strikes us as unfortunate that there’s no way to listen on a non-PC device when the battery’s dried up.
If the DSR9BT’s Pure Digital Drive system or fully wireless nature appeals to you, head over to Audio-Technica’s page for the headphones to learn more. The DSR9BT are available now for $550, and includes a soft carrying case and USB cable for PC connections. The headphones can be purchased directly from Audio-Technica’s online store, or from Amazon.