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Audio-Technica ATH-M50S


Pros: Nice highs and mids, comfortable

Cons: Terribly artificial bass, NOT "monitors" (that's why nobody uses them as monitors), laughable build quality


There's always one.  Every good thing has a dissenter, and that's me.  The ATH-M50 cannot handle songs with lots of different lower frequencies going on at once because of the artificial bass extension.  For example, Nine Inch Nails' "Heresy" is a very challenging song to play on headphones; it sounds like crap on my car stereo because the subwoofer is confused on which notes to play, so too low of frequencies overpower what should be playing louder.  The M50s do the same on the FLAC version of it.  The impacts of the kick-drum are far quieter than the bass in the verses.  It's incredibly annoying.  The bass is so sloppy and uncontrolled.  Another good example, Smashing Pumpkins' "Thirty-Three", in which there is a subtle background bass that tends to get incredibly emphasized to the point it's unlistenable on car subwoofers/headphones with poor bass response.  The ATH-M50 do this.  Luckily, they have really nice mids and respectable highs.  Yet, it's shocking they bill these as monitors, they're horribly unbalanced towards the lower-end.  These headphones main competitor, the HD280Pro, are superior in every way, except for the clamping force.  Not a producer I can think of uses these, either.  NOT monitors.


The build quality is a joke.  I went through three earpads in a year before the right speaker stopped working and the connector to the iPod got frayed.  They seem big and durable, but I've had lesser headphones be more durable.  I thought they were comfortable.  But the praise on here is sickening and misguided.  Do y'all get paid by Audio-Technica?  And at their new price, they are an even worse deal.


Pros: Stylish, comfort, great sound, value, good quality

Cons: long cord, pressure may cause headaches or make your head hurt

This is a review by a person, with little headphone experience.  The best headphones I have had before these would have to be the v-moda bass freq. I've had the skullcandy crushers, and some other of $20 or less phones.  This is probably a review for those who are on this forum and are noobs, since their ears are probably not as developed and won't appreciate the gifts of a $500 pair of headphones(good ones). At first I considered the Monster Studios as they were probably the only pair of headphones that i had heard of due to advertising and huge stores, and since they had such a high price tag i thought they had to be amazing.  I did try them on and they sounded good at first, but after thinking about the listening experience, the bass was muddy, and the sound was muddy as well. It just felt condensed.  Anyways, thanks to this site i saved 200 bucks, and got these babes.


Main things I noticed:

-These actually isolate very well, i was quite surprised with how well they do.

- These have great bass, quantitively less than the Studios but not by much.  Quality wise they are way better.

- The pleather and the design of this heapdhone was crazy good.  They were comfortable for me, and they look really good which was a big factor. Ears do swear a little, but you only notice once you take them off.

- The spinning ear cups don't bother me much.  They are kind of cool cause you can spin it off and you don't have to take off the heapdhones if somebody is talking to you

- The only two cons of this headphone is that the cable is rather long and that the headphones create pressure on your head but that goes away after a while.  The thing with the cable is that you can wrap it up and its fine. 




Most people that don't do too much research or just look at price will probably go with the beats studios or bose.  I was quite convinced about those two before i came here.  I was going to buy the studios, because of how i thought they looked good and the noise cancelling feature was good because i could listen to my music and feel alone as if nobody was there.  These are just as good looking, and they are definitely better quality.  These cans are better than than any pair of bose over ears, and the studios with the bose and studios set up at stores in their best conditions.  I play this out of my ipod, and its way better. I listen to hip hop and rap and these are great for those genre's of music.  The bass is perfect and the cans produce crisp and basically beautiful sound.  Buy these if you want a cheap pair of headphones, that perform like expensive headphones that provide good bass, without compromising sound quality and having good isolation.  As you can tell i don't know audiophile terms, but these are amazing.  Everything you could want for 99 bucks


Pros: Excellent value, substantial sub-bass , non-fatiguing, relatively neutral/accurate, folds for traveling

Cons: Pleather gets sweaty, rotating earcups annoying if you're not a DJ, soundstage a bit small, not for those after perfectly neutral frequency response

(Disclaimer: This review was written while considering the very low price-point of the M50, and what you can get for that amount of money. It does not mean the M50 can go up against the high-end headphones that cost several hundred to thousands of dollars. My main headphones are high-end headphones, and the M50 is only used while I'm doing tracking or traveling. I wouldn't use it as my everyday headphone since I have superior headphones for that, such as the Audez'e LCD-2.)


The ATH-M50 is one of those rare products where the quality/price ratio really hits the sweet spot, and in fact is like a small miracle in the world of pro audio. When you get Grammy Award-winning audio engineers and producers like George Massenburg, Frank Filipetti, Al Schmitt...etc singing its praises publicly, you know it's got to be something special. (Though let's be honest--those guys probably wouldn't mix on the M50, although they'd do tracking on them.)

The M50 pulls off the difficult balance of being neutral, accurate, and detailed while not causing listening fatigue, and that is one of the most important things to get right when it comes to any audio device. If the device hurts your ears with shrill or piercing treble, then no matter how "detailed and revealing" you think it is, you won't be able to withstand the sonic torture anyway. Designed as professional studio monitors, the M50 can be used all day long without any listening fatigue, and it's tonal balance is accurate enough that many respected audio engineers would not hesitate to do tracking with them (though mixing on them is probably asking a bit much). Being sealed headphones, they also are a favorite among musicians and singers when recording, as they do not bleed into the microphone like open headphones (which means you also won't bother the people sitting near you, unlike open headphones where others will hear a tinny version of what you're hearing).

One of the most outstanding characteristics of the M50 is its sub-bass extension (50Hz and below), which is both deep and substantial. The quantity of bass is slightly more than neutral, so it's a good headphone for those who likes a bit more bass than neutral. Its raised bass is a broad and gentle curve and sounds quite natural and pleasing, and is not annoyingly bloated or distorted. 

The mids and the treble are smooth, and the treble never gets gratings like many other headphones. If I must nitpick, I might say that the treble is slight hard and has a metallic timbre when compared to open-back headphones. But it doesn't get in the way of the music too much and it's only noticeable if you do A/B comparisons with headphones that have very smooth/neutral treble response and know intimately how specific instruments are supposed to sound (such as the cymbals on a drum kit). What I really love about the M50's upper mids and treble is that it follows the rule of "First, do no harm." With other headphones that "fake" detail by raising a few to several dB's in the lower treble/high-mids region, some songs can sound very shrill and fatiguing--especially on sharp snare hits or vocal sibilance--but on the M50, those tracks sound quite balanced and natural, never harsh and irritating.

The soundstage of the M50 is smaller than the average open-cans, because of its sealed design. This is perhaps the only thing sonically I wish it could be improved upon, but this does not mean the soundstage of the M50 is claustrophobic or in any way detrimental to the listening experience--it's simply not as open and lush as headphones like the Sennheiser HD6XX/5XX series (and other high quality open-cans).

Physically, the M50 is pretty comfortable to wear, but pleather tends to get a bit sweaty, and is a necessary evil for sealed-headphones. The rotating earcups are a bit annoying when taking the M50 on and off, since sometimes you have to rotate the earcups back into the correct orientation. For traveling, the M50 folds down to about half of its normal size, and that makes it very easy to travel with, not to mention more durable because it's harder to accidentally bend them or twist them out of shape. The overall look of the M50 has a pleasant, no-none-sense professional appeal--they really do look like they were designed to feel right at home in professional studios.

On a side note, the Sennheiser HD280 Pro is often recommended to musicians who need sealed-cans, and I highly suggest anyone considering a pair of nice sealed cans check out the M50, as they walk all over the HD280 in every single way possible, while still remaining very reasonably priced.


Pros: Frequency Response, Detail, Build Qual.

Cons: Treble, NO soundstage, Bass is too boomy, Aggressive and unforgiving

A headphone originally designed to monitor, Yet has been pushed to audiophile territory as a beginner headphone.


Although recommended, The ATH m50 is actually very boomy in it's presentation and will always be aggressive. It's primary goal is to give you an adequate amount of detail during mixes in a studio and NOT  to enjoy/listen to music.


Yet people STILL recommend it, claiming it competes with headphones at twice its price range, and offering it to people that don't know any other headphone but their skullcandy earbuds or Beats by Dr Dre.


When coming from a headphone as bad as BEATS or skull candy, the M50 sounds like an open-aire headphone. In my opinion, This is where all the hype comes in. Since you have never heard a halfway decent headphone in your life you tend to assume this thing sounds like it's 300$. But it's really not the case.



In the world of audio fidelity, The more you pay for something, The better it sounds (well, usually if you buy from a good brand). My un-amped  HD600 does a better job than the ath-m50 for casual music listening...But that headphone IS actually double the price of the M50.


I know, comparing it to a headphone double it's price is not really fair, But In my opinion there are better options for 100 bucks. You can get a  Sennheiser HD 558, or even a GRADO sr 80i which are both better options. 


Pros: Versatile, Strong build quality, Great Isolation, Price

Cons: A bit heavy for long term listening, Pads can make the side of your head sweat, takes some work to find it's sweat spot

I was looking for a great pair of over-ear's to use for work purposes. Did not want to go open back as sound leakage is a concern when sitting next to my co-workers. Did my research and came across these as well as the aiaiai tma-1 studios and I am not disappointed that I went with this set of cans. Sound stage could be more but for a closed back work set I cannot complain. I play through an Int'l Galaxy S3 rooted with the Siyah kernal which lets me tweak the built in Wolfson Micro WM1811 DAC, being that the M50's sound really great with an AMP I paired that with a FIIO E11 and it really turned this into a "FUN" to listen to pair of cans, If your looking for FLAT, PURE then these may not be what your looking for. But for great sounding music to make the work day go by these are great and still let's you appreciate the quality of your tracks. I did however, find the "muddy" mids that some were talking about, but I seemed to be able to work that out with some EQ adjustments. It was not really enough to cause me to not pick these up to begin with but worth a mention. Bass packs a nice punch in a good clean way, High's are nice and bright. Clamping is nice a snug but not to tight, decent quality cable and A LOT of it!


My current and only issue with these is that they sit a little heavy which I would imagine could make it a little difficult for long term listening for some.


NOTE!: These are not meant to be a portable can (which i am fine with, I sit for a living), they are meant for DJ's and Studio's. So keep that in mind that they are a LARGE set of CANs. 




Pros: Great sound, good enough for mixing. Very isolated. The weight and design gives a quality impression.

Cons: The treble is a bit sharp, even after the 40 h warmup. Long sessions will create spot pressure on the top of your head.

My title, pros and cons sums it up rather well. Do NOT forget to warm these babies up for at least 30 h. They will change a lot in character, the first experience might be horrible, whilst after 40 h you love them.


It should be added that the treble sensitivity of your ears will affect your liking of these. Very demanding ears have listened to these and come to totally different conclusions. So listen to these at your local store before buying, your ears might not like the intense treble.


Pros: Crisp, clear detailed sound, with excellent (not excessive) bass

Cons: Not the most comfortable phone for extended listening.


After scouring the Head-Fi forums, and noticing that HeadRoom.com included the ATH-M50S in their "ten best" list with the next best headphone at a much higher price point, I pulled the trigger on these for $110 new from an eBay seller that was a large professional music equipment dealer (an excellent source for good prices on headphones apparently, because they carry the full manufacturer's line - including microphones - I have a pair of new Sennheiser 650s coming from another pro music audio dealer that I got for $319), and have been overjoyed with the ATH-50S coupled to a tiny NuForce uDac-2 HP ($99 headphone-only DAC-amp) ever since.


I am new to Head-Fi and digital audio generally, so I can't compare the M50 to any other headphones, but based on my long-ago experience selling really high-end audio, they are like experiencing the sound of an excellent pair of full-range, expensive loudspeakers, except they take up a lot less space, are more portable, cost much less for a comparable degree of sound quality, and allow private listening.  I really needed a closed-back headphone because I listen in a lot of circumstances where I can't disturb those around me, and the ATH-M50S are excellent at containing sound "leakage" while not being as insulating from allowing you to hear outside sounds (like fire alarms, doorbells, etc.) as an IEM would be.  I listen to the the M50s in the public library at what seems like a really robust volume to me, and people sitting just a few feet away from me never glare or look askance at me.  They are easy to drive (I can actually play them quite acceptably from my tiny Rockboxed Sansa Clip+, and the disparity of size between the source and the cans and sound eminating from them is kind of amusing.  With the Nuforce uDAC-2 HP serving as a replacement for the internal sound card in three different notebook computers (a Sony i7 running Windows 7, an old HP dual-core and an Asus Atom netbook - both running Ubuntu Linux), they can be driven to deafening levels without a hint of distortion at any frequency, even what we used to call "bass doubling" coming from speaker woofer cones breaking up from the cones not moving linearly trying to push large volumes of air quickly.  Another advantage of headphones with a small enclosed acoustic cavity over trying to fill a room with high-quality sound.


The closed-back design does lead to a smaller soundstage, which is why I have the Sennheiser 650s coming, which I will use only at home where I can afford to "bleed" some sound to the area around me.  The only real complaint I can make about the M50s is comfort.  The build quality is excellent, and even though high quality plastic is used to keep them relatively lightweight, they are still a tad heavy, and the clamping force is strong, but tolerable.  Helps for a good acoustic seal, so I would be wary of trying to stretch out the headband too much.


Supply and demand tells you a lot about the quality of any product.  When I got my pair for $110 new on eBay, the Amazon price was about $129.  Now, they are going for almost the full retail of $199 on Amazon, and the number of five-star reviews of them grows daily as people take delivery.


Definitely a keeper.


Pros: + Good Clean Audio Quality + Good Bass response , +Good Highs and Mids for the price, + Good isolation, + great with Fiio E6, +Durable +Good Looks

Cons: -Comfort, - A bit too bright, -Bass muffled without use of Amp,







When I heard them first, I was dejected and fuming at my decision, Now, After apprx. 50 Hours of burn in , I thank my self that i didn't return them back.


Let's start with the outside first-


Looks- Now, I don't know why some people describe them as plain-jane looking or being too introvert/somber . I got my hands on the Limited edition and let me tell you, They are as outwards as any others, having said that, They still maintain a non flashy demeanor (Unlike Beats). The limited edition beautifly franksteins an unique combination of Silvery white with a hint of  blue tint making them attractive and fresh.



For a serious music lover, They should match his choice. Unless you want a 300$ necklace, I personally find them really  good and sporty.


Durability- Now, if you are thinking of portable use this would come to your mind and let me tell you, These are really Panther Tanks(Used by Germany in WWII), Strong, Robust and Trustworthy. Will survive much more than a fall. Feel free to carry them even in Afghanistan.


Comfort- Yeah, They are not your pillow on which you could go for a nap, To be fair, they do need some time to get used do, The earpads are pleathered, which is plastic+leather, (for 150$ they really can't give you real leather), Thus turning them surprisingly hot after long continuous use. The clamping force is another issue to take care of, I advice you to stretch them according to your head size and comfort, once done, They are good to go, Regarding the earcups- They are a cons. of closed/sealed headphone, so be prepared to sacrifice some comfort for isolation and portability.


Portability and isolation- They are not as portable as a Sennheiser PX100/200, They do fold but not as much to be treated as purely portable cans, However, If you can manage the cord and get comfortable with the headband/earpad , they can be portable,. They swivel and fold well small enough to be kept in the pouch/bag. This makes them multifunctional. They are pretty light as well for a full sized headphone.


Regarding Isolation, I would say they do isolate pretty well, I haven't really compared them with Bose/Beats but they use active isolation and these are passive. Still, I can assure you , traffic noise, metro announcements, irritating people nearby will be blocked off and the leakage is also under permissible levels. You will never be able to crank up the sound so much that they start leaking, they will just blow your ears before that , so don't expect much leakage at reasonable listening levels.



Sound Quality-


Lows/Bass- Now, They are bass heavy headphones, Not nearly as bass overpowering or extenuated as other headphones, but they definitely have a LOT of bass. The one thing which i noticed was that the bass did go fairly  low, but was not as tight for my liking. I really do advice you to go for a Fiio E6 if you intent to use them with ipod/pmp, Otherwise you can go for Fiio E7/10 for laptop. Post use of an amp, the bass is really tight and extended. Still , these headphones offer the best bass amongst Sony ZX700/Shure SRH840/ Beats, so for bass lovers they are perfect.


Mids- Hmmm..Don't compare with 500$+ category, The mids are still pretty balanced and neutral sounding. I still think that Sony ZX700/Shure SRH 840 has a bit forward range here, but overall when you listen to the M50 , the sound comes really balanced and pretty natural, You could always adjust the EQ for your need. Mids could be regarded as a lower point.


Highs- Again, pretty relaxed and a bit bright. It does have a brighter profile then some others. This could be both a downside and positive, I still think that M50 manage the highs quite well in its price range.


Vocals/SoundStage- Vocals are clear, though the bass can sometimes overpower if you chose the bass boost or turn the amp to high bass. Still I felt these headphones have a good vocal range. Soundstage surprisingly is pretty good for this type of headphone.


Genre- These sound good with most, Electronic, Hip-hop, Techno, Metal/rock,Dance/Party etc. Perhaps, accoustic and jazz/classic music could be better suited with Shure's as they have a better midrange , though you compromise on bass and the highs.


Additional Thoughts/Information- Do get an amp for them, need not spend 200-300, but anything under 100. I think for portable users Fiio E6 does the job well, if you use them primarly for home/laptop, consider getting the Fiio E7/10. The bass seems much more tighter and deeper and the overall sound is improved considerably making it rich .


Final Words: When a device gets so many positive reviews there's gotta be a reason, and the reason is the all in one package which ATH M50 gives you. Shure SRH840/SONY ZX700 are headphones you can look as well according to your needs, but to sum it up- You can't really go wrong with these, The overall sound quality is very good for the price and their ability to be used for portable purpose increases their funcionality. Comfort wise, stretching the headband really helps and would eliminate the clamping effect and you will get used to the earpad.


I give them a solid 4.5 star Rating.






Pros: Mids sound great, doesn't require an amp, balanced sound.

Cons: Bass isn't as punchy as I wanted, trebles get a bit trilly and sharp at high volumes, needs 40+ hours of burn-in.

I know there are too many reviews for these cans, but I thought I should put out my 2 cents. Keep in mind these are my first set of "real" headphones, as before this, the highest I shelled out was $79 for a set of Astro IEMs, which no one here has probably heard of. Anyway, let's begin.


Design These just look amazing. They're slick, and the circular metal ring on each of the earcups looks great and adds that "expensive" look. I wouldn't mind being caught wearing these in public, and they look better than Beats, at least in my opinion. The DJ articulation is nice, as I DJ at a lot of school events. The only flaw with the design is the huge Audio-Technica written on the band. Not a major issue, rest assured, but I feel it takes away from the look just a bit.


Price : Quality Ratio I've auditioned some of the other headphones offered by Sennheiser and V-Moda just above this price range, and I can easily, without a doubt, state that these are the best headphones you will find at a $100-$199 price range, and I think many of the other Head-Fi'ers will agree. If you're looking for cheap headphones that can perform, pull the trigger on Audio Technica.


Comfort: I have a quite small head, so the tight clench feels nice for me. Many of the others review state comfort as an issue, and that the pleather gets sweaty. An easy fix-up is to just buy different pads, and break them in as you would break in a baseball glove. Don't smack it with a ball, just stretch them out over a box slightly larger than your head during burn-in.


Sound Quality


First Impressions: I didn't bother to burn these in, I was too eager to see why this was the number one headphone at it's price range. I put them on my head, plugged them in unamped to my 4S, and I was immediately in shock. They sounded barely any different from my Skullcandy FMJ buds. I decided it was time to give in and burn them in for a good 48 hours.


After Burn-In: It was a night and day difference from the pre-burn in state. The soundstage widely improved, but it was still outplayed by some open ear cans I've heard. The sound signature itself is warm and balanced. They can't handle volume very well, as once it enters the higher volumes, treble gets very sharp, mids get a bit recessed, and the bass doesn't become all that much more present than it usually does at higher volumes. Keep in mind, these are monitor headphones, so they were built for recording and mixing. They will have a very flat-as-a-ruler sound, so EQ-ing for different genres is going to be needed for good sound. The "Rock" equalizer on my 4S seemed to clear things up for most genres, so I find myself using that a lot. Overall, these sound great, with clear trebles, great mids, and clean bass. I even got one of my friends with Beats Pro to say they were great. Most people with those horrible things usually try to justify their purchase by saying everything else is horrible.


Bottom Line If you're looking for cheap headphones with relatively great sound quality compared to other headphones in its price range, take a look at these. They can be bought at $119 at SoundProfessionals.com, so check them out - they even have burned-in, yet new, M50s for sale.


Bass: Clean and crisp, but not as punchy as I'd like.

Mids: Can be recessed at high volumes, excels everywhere else.

Highs: Only problem with the highs is that they get very sharp at high volumes.

Soundstage: Not the best, but it's decent.


tl;dr Amazing quality for the price, burn them in before judging the sound. No need for an amp.


Thanks for reading my review, I'll catch you on the flipside.




Pros: Sound- and build quality, value, looks, soundstage and imaging (for a closed can)

Cons: pleather gets sweaty, some beats/ drums are overpresent

The ATH-M50 is a well built, beatiful HP. It has swivel earcups and comfortable high quality pleather pads. It comes in big white box with a leather bag and a 6,3 mm jack.
(ATH-M50 and ATH-M50S are the same HP. M50s has straight(S) cable, M50 has coiled.

The ATH-M50 sound great out of the box, but started to shine after ~50 hours of burn in.
They sound detailed, refined and balanced, with a strong but controlled bass.
The biggest quality of the M50s is, that they don't really do anything wrong. They performed pretty good with evrything I threw at them, and their sonic performance is outstanding in this price class.
I think it is hard to dislike them at all, but experienced audiophiles may find them to sound "clinical" or "booring", because they don't really shine at anything.
Newcomer audiophiles on the other hand will be blown away for sure.

The ATH-M50 made me realise, that a good HP is not all about sound quality.
A HP this expensive really has to fill all it's owners needs.
For me the isolation just didn't do it, and the pleather pads got my ears sweaty all the time.
But that's cause I used them as a portable HP mainly, which they were not designed to be.
Now with a high end portable HP (hd 25-1) I am as happy as i can be.

The Audio Technica ATH-M50 is a excellent Headphone with outstanding sound quality in it's price class, but I would not recommend it as a portable HP.
Newcomers to audiophile equipment can't go wrong with this.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50S

Audio-Technica has introduced a straight-cable version, ATH-M50s, of its flagship ATH-M50 headphones. Designed to provide an exceptionally natural response for professional monitoring/mixing, the headphones feature a closed-back, collapsible design with 45mm neodymium drivers, circumaural ear pieces (180° swivel) and luxuriously padded ear cushions.

FeatureSingle-sided straight cable terminates to gold-plated mini-plug with screw-on" adapter
Weight1.6 pounds
List Price$199.00
Package Quantity1
Product GroupMusical Instruments
TitleAudio-Technica ATH-M50S Monitor Headphones
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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