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Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Studio Monitor Headphones

92% Positive Reviews
Rated #44 in Over-Ear


Pros: Good bass, Decent Isolation, Great Value, Comfortable, Not Fatiguing, Neutral

Cons: Pleather pads (for some), Perhaps too much bass

Two years ago, I purchased my first pair of headphones. SkullCandy Hesh 1's. And. I. Hated. Them. They were incredibly uncomfortable, and the sound to me, wasn't any better than my apple ear buds. So I sold them after a day and did some serious research into the most affordable entry-level cans. I bought these and I was really satisfied. The isolation is good, I know a lot of people really like to listen to music at ear-damaging levels, but I don't, so in a small college dorm I could listen to music and watch movies, and they isolated well enough that my roommate couldn't hear them at all, which is a major plus. A lot of people just getting into headphone listening seem to think that bass is the most important quality, and while I strongly disagree, the bass in these headphones is more than enough to satisfy. One thing I will say about comfort and the pads, they aren't really soft, they are a firm pleather, and some people like them, and others hate them. About the grip: I thought it was fine, and they didn't grip hard at all. I have the HD-650's and they are like an iron vise compared to the gentle pull of the M50's.

For the value, you really can't go wrong, and these are a great introduction into the headphone world!


I'm going to try to structure this review as a series (Day 1, Week 1, Week 2), to gauge the headphones performance over time. I'm not an audiophile, but will try to be as descriptive as possible.


Here's the frame of reference: This set of headphones was an upgrade from a Sony MDR-V150 set (that had multiple breaks in the top frame), and is used primarily for listening in a office environment to streamed music.


Initial, non-audio quality impressions: The headphones are SOLID. No part of this 'phone feels cheap. The ear cup padding feels soft enough, as does the padding on the top of the set (that rests on your head). The cord (coiled in this model) seems stretchy and long enough to not get in the way rolling back and forth between the terminal and a development area (~4 ft). Setting it at first on my head, I only need to make a slight adjustment for cup length. Clamping feels just right, a little more than the Sony, but needed due to the circumaural configuration (the Sony's are supraaural). After 5-10 minutes of wear, it is not nearly as painful as the Sony's had become. Putting these 'phones on instantly adds an isolation from the surrounding environment- sounds are nearly completely deadened. This really surprised me.


Day 1 (no burn in)


Source: CyanogenMod 7-based LG Optimus S (EQ on & flat, Bass Boost off, gain "low"/"medium" in DSP manager)


Songs: Pendulum "Showdown"/"Propane Nightmares" from Amazon Cloud Player App (~192 kbps)


The bass in these songs kick! I notice the bass will drag a bit- it isn't a simple "thump", it is more of a "boom". It is more reminiscent of my Onkyo home theater subwoofer than other pro-style woofers (not to say that is a bad quality). The highs are amazing, and detail and soundstage seem great. I notice a little bit of what people are terming "recessed mids"- it seems that the high and bass are slightly more pronounced than the mids, especially when listening to the drum 'n bass sound of Pendulum (although the mids in dnb aren't that pronounced anyways). Rob Swire sounds awesome- hear no issues with "s" sounds. Guitars/drums/bass/vocals are all very detailed.


Source: Dell PC with onboard sound, no eq or fancy features


Songs: Pendulum "Showdown"/"Propane Nightmares" from Amazon Cloud Player App (~192 kbps)


No difference from above, apart from slightly better volume control (60% volume on phone = 25% on PC)


Source: Dell PC with onboard sound, no eq or fancy features


Songs: Various electronica/rock from Slacker (? kbps)


Bass is totally different- less pronounced. Mids/highs retain their detail and volumes. Where the bass was hitting hard with the Amazon player of Pendulum, the same song through Slacker elicits more of a "rumble". It is still very acceptable in comparison with the Sony (which is sad in comparison), but isn't the true potential of the 'phones. Detail and soundstage are still great. Even at a lower bit rate, I've been tricked into thinking noises were occurring in another part of the office. I have hardly heard any office sounds since I started listening. Sounds form other parts of the office is greatly reduced, as is keyboard-noise. I can still hear my phone ring (good), but any more volume and I may not! Currently sitting at ~30% volume. Higher volume brings the bass out a little more, but is a little too loud for my taste.


Mid-day checkpoint: Wearing the 'phones for nearly 3 hours, and their still tolerable. Only a couple of nitpicks: The top band isn't painful, but isn't not-noticeable at this point, and I feel pressure on the lower portion of where the cups contact my head. Part of this was relieved by draping the cable to relieve cable strain (my PC sits below head level).


I'll report back more soon!





Pros: Pristine sound quality, Great build, Price, Versatile

Cons: Heavy clamp, but you'll get use to it

Dr. Dre like this

Dr Dre with M50s.jpg


This is probably the most recommended headphones in the audiophile world. The Audio-Technica is an instant classic, the value for its price is simply unbeatable. Its versatility? A chameleon of headphones. Classical, club, dance, pop, reggae, rock, techno? name it, and this set of cans can play it.


Overall its value is 5 of 5. I would gladly pay $250 for them.


Audio Quality: Lows: The bass is punchy, but just about right. It's is not overwhelming, it doesn't make the mids and highs muddy. The balance is just perfect. Very natural bass. Mids: a little recessed, but also positive in a way, they're not going to hurt your ears as they roll off quite well. Highs: Perfect, and they are not accentuated in a way that is very tiring to listen to. Very accurate high sonics may pierce to your ears and be hard for long listening sessions. The sound of these cans are like open-back headphones, but they are indeed closed back.


Design: The M50s are plain and janes, but I quite like them. They come in black with those stainless aluminum linings which is an-ongoing signature between Audio-Technica's products. These headphones are built like a tank, it is primarily build on very high quality plastics. I assume these are ABS plastics. The headphone jack is made out of gold and steel with a spring stress relief which looks very professional. The cord is very thick and the coiled cable is something I am pleased with. Since they are a swiveling closed cans, you can use the for either studio recording or DJing. Plus, they fold small, you can always bring them in your bag, very portable.


If there is something I would change on this headphones, is to add removable cables like the PRO700MK2s.


Comfort: This is probably the only con of this headphone. The clamping force of this headphones are headache inducing, especially fresh out of the box. Audio-Technicas are very notorious known for this clamping issues. I have a WS55s and they also clamp hard. But, you can stretch them out with some books, I personally put them on my computer speakers and they loosen up over time. When you are used to them, you won't find it as an issue. Maybe velour pads could help.


Since comfort was discussed, I'm going to discuss inside and outside isolation. I though the engineers produced this heavy clamp for isolation. M50s are terrible in blocking outside noise regardless it is a closed and sealed headphones, however, they are pretty good at preventing sound leakage.


Overall: No question, this is definitely the most recommended headphone in the audiophile world. A chameleon of headphones.


Pros: Bass, detail, portability

Cons: Comfort, soundstage

I've bought these because I needed a bass-pronounced headphone since all I had back then was an AKG K242HD that pretty much doesn't have any bass at all.

These headphones are absolutely spectacular if you listen to trance, drum n bass, dubstep and even metal. I just listened to SBTRKT's last album and I really enjoyed it. The bass is tight, precise and detailed (sometimes even a bit too punchy for me, i get headaches, ahah), something you may like or not. The mids are present and you can hear everything without any problem. The highs are sparkling and really pleasant. By the way, these headphones can get a little too harsh for me if you turn the volume up a little bit, so you might need to eq to your taste. If you listen to classical, jazz, ambient don't get them. The soundstage is really small compared to my AKGs and they sound unnatural on these genres. 


This is my first review and I'm not english so please don't be too hard redface.gif


Pros: Decent "punch" for certain music/awesome DJ set/VERY COMFY

Cons: Muffled sound/ not very "musical"

First things first...I was expecting WAY better sound than this after having read over 30 reviews from all over on these phones....I would say the "warm" sound people speak of is the most prominent "feature" the M50's have.


Taking the M50's off and then putting on my Shure 440's made is seem like a curtain was lifted off of the music and can finally clearly hear the details the music has to offer. I find myself searching and looking for details while I wear the M50's, and can simply listen and hear all the music when I wear the 440's. Using bass testing FLAC files on my Xonar sound card (192k/24bit & amped), the M50's do have some nice qualities in the mid-lowish bass range and the amount of bass is decent too. I suspect the thick padding on the inside of phones to comfort the ear could be a culprit to some of the muffled qualities.


Games movies with the M50's carried with it these same "muffled" qualities, like people are eating bread while performing their music tongue_smile.gif.


I play SC2 and Mass Effect 2, mostly. Sounds such as opening doors, background voices, weapon sound details, etc didn't sound nearly as clear as the 440's did. With the 440's I feel like I'm in the spaceship and fully immersed in the action because all the details are clearly heard. The M50's give me no such feelings, mostly meh. Sort of like watching a play from the upper comfy expensive seats in theaters that are quiet enough to have a conversation. To be fair, some the bass and some of the mids do sound quite nice and mostly with effects that have punch or rumble.


Overall, I find them an okay can at best. They'll be a great replacement for someone who has $100-$180 to spend and enjoys terms like "punchy bass" and "warm sound" maybe somewhat "neutral".


I had actually bought these because I thought they were going to be replacing the 440's but.....NOT. A. CHANCE. I basically never use the M50's, even after 15+hrs working them in. If I was a DJ, I'd likely keep these but will be selling them instead of becoming one.


Wearing them on my head is another story. It's like I have a playboy bunny hugging each of my ears while another is draped over my head. Mmmmmm. Mark these up @ 6/5 stars for comfort. Keep this in mind, travelers, they are also comparatively light.


The 440's let you hear everything very clearly throughout the entire frequency. The bass is very detailed, but there isn't quite as much as the M50's. Sometimes, with the 440's, the highs do get tiring with music at higher listening volumes because Shure probably put more juice into the higher frequencies, anybody know 4 Shure? This is most present with music that involves alot of cymbals, or alot other very high-pitched sounds. So super hard rock and metal might not be ideal for the 440's & better suited to the M50's. Also the quality of the recording would be more important to the 440's because of their detail.


I tried the Shure 840's at a store and quite liked those as well, they sound just a little better than the 440's. Price was a little high though.


I am by no means a pro audiophile, I just have a naturally discerning ear & I'm very picky and critical of stuff I buy. I thought I'd share my 10 cents (inflation has risen since the 2cents days.)


Thank you for reading, head-fi's.


edit: After 80+hrs burn in, nothing new to note for M50. Although the 440's continue to tickle the area below my stomach. Looking forward to changing the ear pads.



Pros: Build quality, non-revealing, fun, bass, highs

Cons: mids, comfort, Price

(disclaimer: My rating scale is based off of what i paid for the headphones not msrp, Review is based off of what i think of them compared to their respective $150 price point)



     Ah the all mighty hyped best under $150 giant killers the m50s. Every noobs first step into audiophilia, and to many their last. Why is this such a popular headphone amongst noobs and the most recommended headphone on head-fi? I honestly don't know. There is nothing special about these headphones and they are far from giant killers beating out headphones 2x their price. I would be hesitant to pay the $150 they go for nowadays but for $96 dollars i feel they are great.


     Let's look at it's competition.

We have the shure srh440, 840, and 750dj, We have the sennheiser hd 25 1 ii. Of these i owned all but the 440s so i will leave them out of this review. The srh840 from shure can be had for a really cheap price of $130 which imo is a steal for what you get. While the sennheiser hd 25 1 ii is a lot more expensive but i still believe their $199 price point is justified. Of these 3 headphones i felt the sennheiser hd 25 1 ii were the funnest to listen to, the shure srh840 were the most detailed and accurate, so where does this leave the m50s? While they don't even compare. Some would call them an entirely different can altogether, i beg to differ. The m50s are relatively neutral but have a slight recession in the mid range. The highs though relatively extended are quite harsh and the louder you listen to them the more harsh they get. They also sound slightly muddy to me. Not hugely but ever so slightly. I don't understand their praise unless everyone bought them for $100. Even then i think they are decent until you reach their $150 price point. At that price the competition far surpasses the m50s leaving the m50s in the dust.


     I think the true value in these cans has to be their versatility in being able to handle any genre you throw at it. They sound impressive with electronic, Rock sounds fun and aggressive, Acoustic sounds lively (though a little fake to me), and classical has enough instrument separation to still be enjoyable. Sound stage on these cans however is quite closed in.


      Comfort on these is average, Shallow pads with little space to circumaurally cover your ears can be a little cramped and partly leads to this closed in sound stage. I ran with this data and applied the shure srh840 pads to these cans. Soundstage was definitely improved but at the expense of the aggression. Highs are tamed which is to me a good thing but some people would hate this. Also the bass is drastically reduced. The 840 pads improves the comfort exponentially however.


     Now the question is do i recommend these headphones? If you can get them under $130 then go for it. They are versatile and easy to drive, but at $130 better competition shows up. We get the shure srh840, and soon the sennheiser hd 25 1 ii. The srh440 for $80 may still beat out the m50s but i am yet to hear those.


     I draw my conclusion that like anything on the internet things are blown out of proportion. One person recommends someone to a noobie, noobie buys it and recommends it, then everyone recommends it and it spreads like a virus. The m50s are that virus but they aren't a bad one. In the last few months the m50 hype has died down exponentially based off of a more expensive price point. It's for the best even if the m50s have brought fun and enjoyment to thousands who have had the opportunity to purchase or audition a pair. I only hope we can grow to understand that like many things, just because it's popular doesn't mean it's the best.



Have a nice day and thank you for reading my review.


Pros: Excellent sound, hardly any leakage, don't require to be amped, coiled cable, low price

Cons: Uncomfortable, require a lot of burn in for best sound

It seemed these were the perfect headphones which met my expectations perfectly when i first got them, great sound, not too muddy, decent bass response without being too boomy or out of control, don't require to be amped (not even on my $30 logitech computer speakers)  hardly any sound leakage, some passive noise cancelling... they seemed perfect! too good to be true. After i wore them for about a minute i already started to notice excessive discomfort these are without a doubt the most uncomfortable headphones i've ever worn, whoever has said something positive about the comfort for these probably hasn't worn them for more than 5 minutes, where do i begin? oh yeah they have a REALLY tight clamp, especially at the bottom of the ear cups under my ears i've had these for a week and have been stretching them over a box for about 34 to 43 hours but they still feel horrible, the speakers inside the headphones sticks out and rubs against my ears and it's really annoying, i tried stuffing cotton balls under the ear cups to seperate them but the sound quality got really tinny and horrible. then there's the headband, there's almost no padding on the headband and when i take them off my head hurts where the headband was, i've tried adjusting them and it just makes it worse. The sound quality of these headphones are great and probably the best i have/will hear in any closed headphone for such a good price, and that's why it's so hard for me to return them due to such discomfort, guess i'll never find the right headphones. mad.gif


Now there are some mixed opinions for the comfort on these as there always will be as different people have different shaped heads and are more/less sensitive to comfort so i would reccomend trying these on in a store for around 10 minutes and make an honest judgement about the comfort, some people will be okay with them but for me they're torture to my head.


Also could you guys please reccomend me a pair of closed headphones the most similar to the M50s around the same price range that are actually comfortable, and next to no sound leakage, i'm really picky about sound leakage.

- Thanks.


Pros: Great All Arounder!

Cons: Minor Setbecks. Keyword: Minor

Impressions/Mini-review after 1 Month of usage


Sources: PC, Laptop, A/V Receiver, iPod Video 5.5G (30GB)

Amps: Fiio E7, A/V Receiver

Other headphones: Sennhesier HD 555

Files: FLAC, MP3 320 CBR, CD


After about one month with the M50, I can say I am satisifed and impressed with its sound.


Like others have stated, these are not the be all and end all of headphones. You could even say they are FOTM, much like the Sennheiser HD 555 were back in its heyday, but the M50 is a very solid headphone considering its price point and sound output.


Here are some positivies:


- Good bass response: the bass extends pretty low, and hits hard. The bass is not as tight as other headphones, but can decently output enough bass to satisfy most ears.

- Clear treble: initially the treble is pretty bright, but after some burn in it definitely relaxes and isn't as harsh on the ears. Vocals sound very good for a closed can!

- Mids: slightly recessed, but after some burn in and the foam mod, they have improved. Further improvement can be made by adjusting EQ as needed. Not a dealbreaker considering you can address the mids with a variety of options.

- Comfort: Very comfortable considering its clamp force (slightly strong initially) and the pleather pads are decent. I come from the comfort of HD 555 with its velour ear pads, so it does take getting used to pleather. That said, the pleather pads are very comfortable and are necessary to provide a good seal for this closed can.

- Overall: I don't think you can find a significantly better headphone at this price point. The M50 certainly does not put other headphones to shame, but I feel that the M50 is good all around choice. Other headphones will address other needs for specific listeners - I'll explain below.


Some negatives:


- Mids: slightly recessed, but I emphasize that this can be addressed by the foam mod and adjusting EQ as needed.

- Bass: good response, goes very low but is slightly muddy and confused. I like all kinds of bass and the M50 is no slouch in this matter, but I want a different style of bass ouput which prompted me to look at other cans. Think of the bass response as a subwoofer; ported, closed, passive, active, front firing, down firing. These all have different characteristics and present bass differently. Unfortunately the M50 can't satisify all bass styles, so I went looking for another pair of cans.


So after a month of listening and burn in, I find myself quite happy with the M50.


I listen to many genres: trance, techno, house, EDM/electronica in general, J-Pop, J-Rock, J-Metal, Visual Kei, pop, hiphop, rap, and sometimes acoustic/classical music. I love the M50 - it's a fun headphone that made me rediscover my music collection. My musical mood changes frequently so there are time when I listen to trance exclusively for weeks/months at a time, and then I go onto to J-Metal.


During my listening sessions with the M50, I was listening to a lot of Tokyo Nights (deep house), deadmau5 (electronica), Dir en Grey (J-metal), Luna Sea (J-Rock), and various pop artists.


I discovered I am a basshead at heart, as I yearned for more bass. The M50 have a decent bass response, but I wanted something tighter and more accurate. After some research and help from head-fi users, I decided on the Ultrasone HFI-580 as a sort of horizontal upgrade.


Still waiting on the 580s to arrive, but I intend to give another follow up review/post after spending quality time with both headpones.




Pros: Build Quality, Long Cable, Clean balanced sound, Very Warm

Cons: Bass (In my opinion) is a bit loose, Recessed mid- section, VERY Flat (But you might like it)

I don't like this headphone, I can't tell you otherwise.


I like open back cans because it's generally less-fatiguing for me and spacious. But for the price range, and for being closed-back these REALLY are hard to beat.


It is one the most detailed/aggressive cans I have ever tried on, but I admire it's detail ( this is why it got 3 stars.)

Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Studio Monitor Headphones

With the ATH-M50 professional studio monitor headphones, Audio-Technica has achieved an exceptionally accurate response and long-wearing listening comfort. Designed especially for professional monitoring and mixing, these studiophones feature an efficient collapsible design for space-saving portability and storage. Circumaural ear pieces swivel 180 for easy one-ear monitoring and luxuriously padded ear cushions create an outstanding seal for maximum isolation. The adjustable headband is generously padded for ultimate comfort during long mixing sessions. Audio-Technicas sophisticated driver technology and superior components deliver exceptional power handling and very high SPL capabilities while maintaining clarity of sound throughout their extended range, with deep, accurate bass and outstanding high-frequency extension. The headphones feature proprietary large-aperture drivers with neodymium magnet systems for ultra-efficient signal transfer.

BindingPersonal Computers
FeatureSingle-sided straight cable terminates to gold-plated mini-plug with screw-on" adapter
Height5 inches
Length19 inches
Weight0.63 pounds
Width16 inches
List Price$199.00
Package Quantity1
Product GroupCE
Product Type NameABIS_PC
TitleAudio-Technica ATH-M50 Studio Monitor Headphones
Batteries Included1
Is Autographed0
Is Memorabilia0
CatalogNumberList - CatalogNumberListElement566996660 ATH-M50 ATHM50
Item Weight0.63 pounds
Package Height8.5 inches
Package Length12 inches
Package Weight2.1 pounds
Package Width10.1 inches
ProductGroupMusical Instruments
UPCList - UPCListElement042005145782
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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