Clip-on headphones don't get much respect. The category is synonymous with cheap models targeted mostly to joggers. So while Audio-Technica's ATH-EW9 is most definitely a clip-on design, the similarities to other sports headphones end there. It's not just the ATH-EW9's gorgeous, polished cherrywood earpieces that set it apart from the crowd; every detail of the design exudes sophistication. The headphones top Audio-Technica's Import Series line, which was previously available only in Japan. The $329 list price is pretty steep, but the ATH-EW9 is heavily discounted online.
Audio-Technica's ATH-EW9 earpieces are crafted from Japanese Hokkaido cherrywood, polished to a medium-gloss finish, and mounted on metal swivel clips that click into position on a vertical hinge. The ear pads exert minimal pressure, and since the ATH-EW9 weighs next to nothing (1.1 ounces), comfortable long-term wearing is assured. Even the minijack plugs are classy; instead of the usual molded plastic fittings, the ATH-EW9's are beautifully finished metal pieces. Nothing about the aesthetics of the design is less than exquisitely presented; even the padded travel pouch feels special.
The Audio-Technica ATH-EW9's Y cable is just 4.5 inches long on the left earpiece and 22 inches on the right earpiece. The overall length is pretty darn short--just 42 inches--so we had to carefully "dress" the cable to avoid snags; Audio-Technica includes a 40-inch-long extension cable.