In this episode of First Look Sunday we preview the AK T9iE by Astell&Kern. A collaboration IEM from the Koreans with German Beyerdynamic.
Disclaimer: This post is part of our First Look Sunday series, where we give our first impression of gear in the queue. A full review of the AK T9iE will come in due course.
There aren’t many companies out there that invest their time and efforts into making high end single dynamic driver IEMs. There is Dita Audio, Campfire Audio, FAudio and Beyerdynamic. I am sure there are some more that I don’t think of right now, but those are the ones that come to my mind instantly.
The majority of brands is focussed on developing multi-driver and multi-technology monitors with different settings. While I am very happy about seeing companies trying to push the envelope with all these recipes. It’s equally great to see some brands go a different route. I am a fan of a well tuned single dynamic driver. I just love the naturalness they can transport. On top, some multi-driver monitors have severe coherency issues. You won’t find that in single drivers.
One of the aforementioned companies that invest their R&D into single dynamic driver earphones is Beyerdynamic. The German brand comes with a lot of heritage. We all know them for their full sized headphones. Since a long time their name stands for tradition and quality. It’s no surprise that a company like Astell&Kern wanted to partner with them. In late 2015 Astell&Kern announced their first high end In Ear in collaboration with Beyerdynamic – the AK T8iE. The T8iE was immediately well sought after for its cohesive and impressive sound. Back in the day, our dear friend Nathan has reviewed it for us. Go check out the article here.
In May of 2019, Astell&Kern has introduced the successor to this popular model. At Munich’s High End AK showed the world the new AK T9iE.
The Astell&Kern AK T9iE is just like its predecessor a single dynamic driver IEM. It uses a newly designed acoustic vent port, which is said to allow for a deeper and controlled bass. It has an impedance of 16 Ohms, there aren’t any specifications for sensitivity, but from my tests it is a normal to drive IEM.
One of the AK T9iE’s biggest surprises is its small size. If you have ears like me, they will just slip in and disappear. On top of their tiny form, they are also immensely comfortable. I mean, these are the most comfy universal IEMs I have ever tried. Their ergonomically shaped ear-tips do their part in that for sure.
The AK T9iE also comes with a newly introduced eight-braid hybrid cable. It’s a mix of Silver Plated Copper, pure silver and pure Copper. The cable itself is on the thicker side, but I still didn’t find it uncomfortable. Astell&Kern delivers the cable with a 2.5 mm balanced plug, ready to be used with their audio players. They however, also supply a pigtail adapter to 3.5 mm single ended.
Sonically I find the AK T9iE very much to my liking. It has a close to neutral signature with slightly elevated low end. Some people don’t like the treble of the T9iE, as it’s on a neutral and dryer side. Personally, I don’t have an issue with that, but I’d also prefer something richer.
I don’t want to go into too much detail now, as the full review still is coming for it. So keep your eyes open and try to get an audition of this tiny and mighty IEM.