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.