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Overhyped piece of junk

A Review On: Audio-Technica ATH-M50S

Audio-Technica ATH-M50S

Rated # 5 in Over-Ear
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Price paid: $100.00
Posted · 196028 Views · 22 Comments

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.


thank you for the honest review and not hype from newbies. Not judging newbies, but they do get over hyped. No comparison to Shure SRH840? Which are supposedly a lot better.


(love the review)
I actually haven't heard the 840s. I need to get my hands on a pair.
I am certainly not an experienced listener to headphones but I have had a genuine hifi interest for as long as I can remember. I have auditioned systems in various parts of my country and I must say that calling these phones pieces of junk is a bit harsh. I agree the bass isn't tight and controlled out of my Macbook or my IP4, it's in fact really messy so mixing bass in these with a signal as unclean or underpowered as my Macbook and IP4 produces must be impossible with AAC256 files. However with a real signal and a real amp there might be a difference? What amplification have you used?
I have just had these phones an hour or so and shouldn't really comment yet. Sorry. But I have now listened at som emore songs, among them "twenty thousand leagues under the seas" like Jules Vernes' book but by a swedish band called Bo Kaspers orkester. Really complex baselines works just fine. Also Herbie Hankock " "The joni Letters" sound fine but a bit on the heavy side with somewhat blurry base but still quite good.
I was using it out of a NuForce uDAC2-hp. My 280s, 60i, OE1 all sound controlled, it was just the Audio-Technicas. Like you said, a bit heavy with some blurry bass. Combine that with poor build quality, there's my issues with the phones.
Ok. Paired with a brighter sounding amp. that gives some more control to the bass they should be fine.
I am very surprised by your review..Smashing Pumpkins happen to be one of my favorites too and I simply LOVE them on my m50, I I havent come accross onesingle number where the bass overpowered anything. I listen to Rock (60s, 70s, 80s, 90s), Jazz, Blues, Soul...and these cans make everything shine. Having auditioned over 25 cans all over Berlin (yeah ALL of the Sennheisers too) I realised NOTHING comes close to m50s; not even those that cost twice the price. No I didnt get paid by Audio-Technica, but looks like you sure got ripped off by a made in China fake or something.
Nope, they were authentic.
True and Very overhyped
I thought the M50s were the best headphones for 200 dollars because these were my first high quality headphone. Then, I got Ultrasone HFI 580, which I got for CHEAPER, and are a few times better than the m50s.
@LazBro123 True, this is the defining statement "I thought the M50s were the best headphones for 200 dollars because these were my first high quality headphone"
I totally agree with knugge, these are good headphones. In fact they do sound fantastic for its price I must say. My set up is simple, Bravo v2 amp with Genalex tube, Music steamer II for DAC with little adjustment on the sound card but and EQ, holly s@#t!!!. Not the best cans though, but it CAN handle the dynamics very well!
BS, I've got HD700 and I'm getting ATH-M50 for portable use, I've already had a listen to the ATH-M50's and they are more awesome than the AKG K271 Mk2 that I have + more comfortable + about half way to HD700 (Not saying that HD700 is ****)
You people are either Deaf or fools, seriously.
@XVampireX I never said the M50 is a bad headphone. I just said that there are better options out there for the price it used to sell for ($160-$200). For $100-$120 (came down in price overtime), it's a great headphone that beats out any pair for that price. The reason I don't like the M50 is because of the recessed midrange, the sorta boomy slow bass and the almost shrill highs. Not shrill like Ultrasones or Grados, but almost.
Great info in this one. I was considering these headphones (and will get them anyway) as looking for an introduction to higher-end products (I was a bit tired of sticking to Razer gaming headsets...), and this provided me the information I needed. I'm not a bass fanatic, but i would like the presence. Considering now getting a FiiO along with it in order to carry the "muddy" bass. The durability isn't much of a deciding factor to me as I treat my headphones like my children. I'm not worried about the build quality too much.
However I must disagree in the comments you made about the positive reviewers. I believe that they take the price into consideration, as if you put this up to some other higher-end products, it is only quite customary that the $50+ difference would be present.
your "confused" bass issue in your car sounds like an enclosure issue more than anything else.
We need to clear this up.
Something I stated myself.
They're Monitors, that's a fact, but a set of Monitors to someone else may not be Monitors to you, we all have different preferences, and we won't always side each other.
Lastly, don't say they aren't used as Monitors, falls under what I last said, and I know several people who record in my local area who keep a pair of these in studio for some cases, not all the time, but some cases they may come useful.
I regret buying them so much. and I bought them used so they were burned in. I have bought 50$ cans that sound better. they somehow feel like my old rx700. amped or not I have to say they are not bad...BUT OVERHYPED. I would not use them for monitors but they are the prettiest pair I won that dont get me 2 much attention with good enough reproduction to at least enjoy music on the go. headphones these days just look too awkward. I feel as though they would deserve the hype if they were at 80 90 bucks or so.
Hmm. I finally bought some new pads to replace the HORRIBLE factory ones (SHR 840), and now I can use them without excruciating pain after a few minutes. Although I have purchased better, much more expensive hp's since then I have to say I'm very impressed by the sound.

This is however using the Aune T1 as DAC/amplifier, and I find that this amp brings out the best of them. Much more energetic and balanced sound, and I like how the non-reference sound works excellently on electronic music (bass is big, and yes; completely unnatural). Very fun and engaging. I don't think I will choose them before my HD650's for allround usage (and in particular mixing), but they certainly pull their weight in other genres as well, and I will probably bring them on trips now and then. I would say they are very far from being junk. Each to ones own I guess.
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