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Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Studio Monitor Headphones

93% Positive Reviews
Rated #51 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: See Review

Cons: See Review

The M50 Professional Studio Monitor Headphones by Audio-Technica

Type: Closed-back dynamic
Driver Diameter: 45 mm
Magnet: Neodymium
Voice Coil: CCAW (Copper-clad aluminum wire)
Frequency Response: 15 - 28,000 Hz
Maximum Input Power: 1,600 mW at 1 kHz
Sensitivity: 99 dB
Impedance: 38 ohms
Input impedance: 47kOhm
Weight: 284 g (10 oz) without cable and connector
Cable: 1.2 - 3.0 m (3.9' - 9.8') Coiled, OFC litz wire
Connector: Gold-plated stereo 1/8" (3.5 mm) connector with strain relief and professional screw-on 1/4" (6.3 mm) adapter
Accessory Included: Protective pouch

Exceptional audio quality for professional monitoring and mixing
Collapsible design ideal for easy portability and convenient storage
Proprietary 45 mm large-aperture drivers with neodymium magnet systems
Closed-back cushioned earcup design creates an outstanding seal for maximum isolation
Adjustable padded headband for comfort during long mixing/recording sessions
Single-sided coiled cable terminates to gold-plated mini-plug with screw-on ¼" adapter
Available in white color with coiled cable (ATH-M50WH), black color with straight cable (ATH-M50s), and silver color with straight cable (Limited Edition ATH-M50s/LE)

I have waited a while to write this review. After over a two years of use I have come to understand just what the ATH-M50 is, and dramatically what it is not. As with many things on Head-Fi, it is not that simple to just write a short review. Hopefully I can shed some light on what the M50 is for headphone enthusiasts in 2016.

Around 2011 life was a little more simple for the M50s, they were $70 and filled a hole in the market. The hype soon followed and a headphone legend was born. At that point in history it was easy to see the trend, as we were experiencing a wave of new members and in 2011 it seemed, headphones were now going mainstream. The M50s in those days offered an entry level walk into the world of quasi-audiophile land. Gazillions were sold and many jumped on the sonic soap-box to tell the world of their new find. The model became an affordable headphone for the masses. It was and is a good all-around-er of sorts and is basically everywhere! It plays all genres at an "OK" level, never excelling or ever truly failing.

In 2012 many seasoned members also started to get curious as to why the M50s had become the most recommended headphone on Head-Fi. Not only were they recommended but also ridiculed and put down. We also found a group to be wildly defensive explaining how the M-50s were the best headphone under $400, anywhere. Some maniacs offered them to be more flat than most headphones on the market offering a trueness untouched by only a few flagship headphones. Still good or bad, press is press and the more threads were written the more advertisement the headphones achieved.

The new headphone phenomena:
Many times there is a wave of interest called the headphone of the month, or the flavor of the month. At times it may not be a headphone but could be an amp. People in the hobby are searching. There is always a product that gets traction in the marketplace. Much of the time this newness, can be a form of hype, where products become the next hot thing, regardless of lasting sound qualities. Whole audiophile groups can gravitate towards a sound because it is new and different, but not always better. At times whole sonic pitfalls can get masked on a group level. There can even be times when the naysayers are afraid to speak-out due to peer-pressure. Later when the dust settles products then actually appear true in reality as to what they really are and what they are not. Whole groups can get caught up in this research frenzy only to flood the used market a year or two later when the next THING comes along.
Musical perception is funny like that, much of the time an incomplete character can actually attribute to a new product sounding fresh, when in reality it is not adding anything but taking away a response trait. At times you have to wonder if the popularity of the M50 was not that it was revolutionary but in-fact left-out many of the qualities searched for in a sound signature?

I have other headphones but just out of curiosity I succumbed to the peer pressure in the end. I didn't get the new M50x which has detachable cables, but the original M50 with the coiled cable. On a side note the original M50 is still offered with a straight cable today. The M50x offers both coiled and straight cables.

I had heard it a couple times and knew what I was getting into. What I hoped was to slowly become enamored with the headphones and gave myself time before making a full assumption as to sound-quality or character. Upon first holding them you realize they are well made. They have a rugged plastic, metal and aluminum build. Usage is easy due to simple right and left markings and multiple movements allow a simple and complete ease of use. They only weight 10oz so they are easy to wear and get ear placement with. The plug is solid steel and exits with a gold plated mini-plug making use with a phone on the go easy.

There is a generic low-flash style to them, most of all nothing to get scratched or scuffed. You could see these in a studio environment where they could be thrown around without consequence. The 180 degree rotation of the cups allows you to wear them around your neck with the cups laying flat. In many ways the M50s contain a special magic in construction due to the fact that they are low weight, non squeaky and have well engineered strain relief in all the best places. They move in every possible direction allowing there to be a level of confidence (nothing to bend, ever) sometimes missing with more straight and strict designs or ideas. All these crazy angled joints don't fail and become loose or creaky. The cord though long and heavy, still ends up being strong and unchanging over time. The standard black color resists scuffs or discoloration skidding just under the radar in X-fashion style. Everyone's head and ears are a different size and headphone placement and fit are critical with most headphones allowing the user to gain both comfort and placement for the best possible sound. The M50s fit well and stay in place, they work around glasses and are generally a nice experience. I did find the leather style ear pads to be a little hard and rugged feeling. Of course, just like the perception of sound quality, most ideas are in relationship to what your past experience is. Many have made a choice to change out the ear pads for aftermarket cloth style pads, which are noticeably softer. Even DJs put them to use due to being closed back and showing a strong beat could be used to beat-match in live DJ sessions.

As of 2016, Amazon.com sells the old M50 for $133 and the new M50x for $152. Amazingly there are 5180 original model reviews, with 80% being marked as 4.7 stars out of a possible full five star score. The newer M50x gets 2819 reviews also averaging 4.7 stars. So judging by Amazon.com folks are pretty happy. Again reading reviews there you find it's the first entry level Hi/Fi headphone many have ever owned.

So the question that comes to mind for many is if I don't buy a pair what would I get? Another good question is how and why do these seem to excel for their target consumer and why do folks like them so much?

I will attempt to answer these questions as well as do some other comparisons to put the Audio Technica ATH-M50 in a realistic view. I'm also going to go into maybe why we read so many positive reviews and why owners defend them with such emotion.

The sound:
If you have read this review so far then you may also have read the unbelievable reviews by the Head-Fi M50 lovers around. Like most stuff you read, it's just one persons opinion, and better to be viewed as just that, a single experience. Amazingly I still have the exact same thoughts about the sound signature as I did when I first heard them. My mental ideas as to the accuracy and color, the fun and individual character of the headphones have not wavered ever since I first demoed them with a friend years ago. My original idea is that they had a moderate sound-stage, a non-layered or complex treble and slightly over-pushed lower bass signature. The moment I heard them the lower mid detail was fun and slightly dramatic in character.

After years of ownership I thought I would find the treble maybe a little more interesting? There is a theory here that if you live with a headphone that over time you learn to almost hear into a sound signature and come to a higher level understanding of sorts. After years of trying, I have to admit, emotionally I'm still confirming my initial ideas, and have become even more confident in what I feel the M50s are.

The negatives and positives of the sound signature.
First off we always have to remember these are well-built $133 headphones that play just as well from a phone and scale up to a point with a nice home system. I have come to realize that the boring part of what they do has to do with the mid and treble sound-stage. The fact that the mids are actually recessed don't help matters but contribute to this sterility at hand. Combine that character with the fact that much of the musical information is all coming from exactly the same point source. If you place your finger on the symbol on the outside of the cup, that is the exact place 80% of the sound-stage is coming from. Such a signature has an exciting aspect when the lower mid-bass or room echo gets placed outside of this central cone. The only positive thing is that all audio signals become easy to understand due to all the information being emitted from one place. Imagine a group surrounding you and all talking at the same time, then listen to the group being place shoulder to shoulder across from your ear. The visual example is having you keep looking all over the room, but the second example has all the information coming from a point area of interest.

In daily use if you just didn't have any other choices much of these sound-stage issues could be overlooked. Also I do realize my opinions are from listening to the M50s side-by-side with much more expensive headphones with better sound-stage and side-by-side headphones with better treble detail and sound-stage which cost less. Many members have made the jump from the Audio Technica M50s to the Fostex TH-X00 from Massdrop.com. In many ways the two headphones are similar in that they are closed back and contain a dramatic lower bass apposed to treble centric headphones like the AKG-k701 open back headphones. The Fostex line ends up being a nice place to climb to after the M50s as the sound signatures both have some parallel aspects. In so many ways the Fostex line gets an improvement due to the increased detail in the sound-stage and treble area, which we find missing so much of the time.

Listening to the 1978 Van Halen self titled Japan Import first pressing "You Really Got Me" the hi-hat has a nice sparkle and 3D placement in the sound-stage head-space. Such sonic artifacts are actually entertaining because so very little musical placement comes out of that small congested mix 2.5 inches out side of your ears. When a nice treble sparkle makes it out into the air outside your head, it does add excitement. Still when the bass starts in the song it seems at a level inconsistent to how the song REALLY is? The lower bass level is of such non auditory impact, I actually had to switch over to my reference headphones the Denon AH-D 7000 closed backed headphones to listen if the problem was in the recording or another area in my playback system? As guessed the Denons are slightly less responsive to signal and needed extra volume to replicate the playback volume level. Also as guessed, the lower mid and lower bass detail was there but somehow drowned out in the mix by the M50s. So I may come off as hypercritical of these $133 headphones? I'm going to get to what they do well at, but still, even after a lot of trial and error, I just don't find these headphones to be as special or as magic as some find them to be. They perform a job in the most simple and basic of ways. They do offer a no nonsense sound which does have clarity of sorts? It's maybe this generic all around performer at a great price which has made the legend what it is?

Still, we must come to the realization, there are no perfect headphones made. What we are left with is musical instruments which are either loved or tolerated for their minor imperfections. After using headphones for years and years, the one best thing is the M50s are easy to drive, they don't distort even at high volume levels and have a warm bass response even from a phone. If that sounds like a simple thing, be forewarned it is almost never achieved by a single headphone model. In practice the M50s do contain a nice complex smooth lower mid which is entertaining fast and fun. Such a signature seems to scale up with a better source and coincides with a wider sound-stage offered by the lower mid and bass response.

If I was to design a perfect fix for the signature I would ask for a more complex and spread out upper mid and treble sound-stage. There is also a super low bass response set of tones which have no detail at all, a place in the response where all definition seems to fall into a blurry smear of muck? At first I actually thought this area could be with the recording or upstream playback equipment? Still after further testing I came to realize this area in the response is just a character of the headphones. The bass is detailed in the lower mids and lower bass but the sub-bass has a definition area of total loss.

So what is fun?
Listening to The Beatles 1962/1966 Compilation CD Japan First Pressing song "Help!" showed a dynamic musicality. When those lower guitar strums arrive they have a rock and roll time and movement. Still the recessed mids just don't do the vocals any justice? This ends up being a perfect song to demonstrate why these are not vocal headphones, they just are not.

Again music from a band like the Beatles needs vocals that are complex and upfront, not buried in the murk and muck of our M50 receded mid-range. Some headphones are vocal centric, some just replay what the track contains, and some just pull everything in the mid back. So to sum up our sound signature we have a pronounced bass response detailed to a point, but not lower. We have a pulled mid range which does not excel at vocals and a sparkly treble which again does not hold a very complex personality. I make this sound drastic but in reality the M50 does all this in a slightly reserved manner. It does all the above in a polite and modestly simple fashion. All this in such a smooth way, many members EQ the headphones back to a place they figure overcomes many of the issues I suggest here. I myself do not use EQ but know it's a tool used daily to try and address the issues at hand here.

In the end we have an entry level headphone which is sturdy and can be driven out of anything with a power switch. It does a number of things wrong but in an almost non-noticeable way. Such a polite response and at such a mass produced price and volume they have become pseudo-audiophile for the masses. They offer an easy to read sound signature with just enough color and warmth to endear people. They have just enough clarity to get an improvement for most buyers. They are built well enough to last for most and still seem to fit a certain area of the headphone markets needs. The ATH-M50 is almost a stepping stone on the road to better things, a Head-Fi right of passage of sorts. Still in all it's genericness it does a combination of things well and exists as a jack of all trades but master of none. There is a musicality that can have you forget the AM-radio vocals, a bass that can distract you from your sound-stage, and finally a construction that could make you forget it was 90% plastic. They are a first-timers favorite which like many firsts in life are romantically blind and near-sighted. My motto for their stance is "naïvety is bliss".

Listening to "Nothing Else Matters" Metallica-Metallica 1991 turned out to be my favorite song ever with the headphones. I like to think the recording overcomes much of the inherently wrong attributes of the signature. Remember too that there is music out there which can make many a headphone shine and sparkle. The song has an abnormally lush and expansive sound-stage. Such dynamics seem to energize the headphones to another level. When the bass drums kick-in they are married to the frequency response, also remember they do put compression on rock vocals 100% of the time, something the M50s continue to accentuate with vocals. And in all this your treble is not strident or sharp, there is a slight high-end smoothness which never gets too much, even on loud rock music. Still if the treble was better it would make a world of difference with the sound of the orchestra in classical genres here. Maybe nowhere is our boredom more noticeable than in classical playback? Still remember that as a rule our older Head-Fi members are going to be frequency lacking in treble as it is the first and major loss in the hearing spectrum for old timers here. Luckily those same old timers have often mixed our CD remasters and added that treble range right back into the digital remaster. Most likely our target purchaser here is the under 40 crowd with all their treble hearing correctly in place. If anything that treble hearing accuracy is going to help with our M50 sucked out mid-range. Added the bass energy for genres like Rap and it's no wonder the M50 is the Coke Cola of the headphone world.

So in ending I'm listing my sources and playback equipment and due to prior testing know my hardware and software are showing me the reality of our headphones at hand. In ending I still feel there is a place in the world for the M50s, they still fill a gap, though that gap gets smaller every day. They may not be the original value they were at $70, but do a job that few headphones can do, when you factor in SQ, build quality and daily ease of use. I may have sounded critical here, still my goal is to try and explain why these headphones are realistically not always as great as recommended. I'm not selling mine as I find them entertaining despite their flaws and shortcomings . I have not heard all the headphones in the world but the M50s are unique in a world filled with $133 headphones to buy.

Equipment used:
JDS Labs c421 Headphone Amp
PC Foobar 2000 with 16 bit 44.1 kHz FLAC files
Schiit Audio Asgard One Solid State Headphone Amp
Cambridge Audio DAC Magic Plus (line out mode)
Audio Technica ATH-M50 Headphones
AKG k701 Headphones
Denon AH-D7000 Headphones
Sennheiser HD-439 Headphones (cost less and have better treble and sound-stage, though only better for Classical and New Age genres in the end)
AKG k512 MK2 Headphones (cost less and have better treble detail and sound-stage) (lacking bass)
Woo Audio 3 Headphone Amp

👍 Well built and easy to use
👍 Easy to drive and does most genres well
👍 Easy to find, both on the used market and in new market
👍 Even at 2016 pricing ends up being a value
👍 Offers the masses a fun and warm modern sound signature
👍 $133 free shipping
👍 Headphones can provide a fun experience for new members
👍 Easy resell mode

👎 Has a tight congested sound-stage
👎 Has receded mid-range playback not befitting vocals
👎 Maybe many more choices of "keeper" headphones to choose instead
👎 Bass response is both heavy and at a point not detailed
👎 V shaped signature can be fun at first but covers important sonic details in the long run
👎 Leather style ear pads can feel rough in comparison to some choices out there
👎 Could have purchased Sennheiser HD598s instead? (Better headphone which costs less)

Final thoughts :
Much of sound and musical perception is a personal experience. As with much of what you read, this is just my humble opinion. YMMV

If I was going to recommend headphones it maybe would be the Sennheiser HD600 at $110 more for strictly home use. Of course the price is almost double the cost of the M50s. Still for first full-size headphones someone could buy both then sell which ever he or she didn't like as both have a fairly simple and fast resale.

If the member needed portable a direct comparison would be get the Sennheiser HD598. Still it would be interesting to read about folks preferring the M50s over the HD598. With the sale price of the HD598s and their ability to be both home audiophile headphones and portable headphones, I don't see why anyone would buy the M50s?

I truly believe in using a wide range of gear and wide range of music to get a feel for a pair of headphones. Another factor is time used to test equipment. Combining product of the month hype with the new toy hype has never arrived at reality but further added to the deluded opinions at hand.

Music Used:

No headphones were harmed in the making of this review, though many cans of beer were sacrificed to the Gods of Audio.


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.



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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