Worthy step into audiophilia?

A Review On: Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Studio Monitor Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Studio Monitor Headphones

Rated # 35 in Over-Ear
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Price paid: $140.00
brgavino
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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!

 

 

 

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