Pros: Gorgeous design, sparkly highs, strong lows
Cons: Weak mids, weak build quality
After using the ATH-M50s (also known as the M50's) for about two months, I have only one way to describe them. The M50s are the Swiss Army Knife of headphones. They are extremely portable, and will do absolutely everything that you need them to do.
DESIGN AND BUILD:
The design of the M50s screams “expensive!” People are often shocked to find out that they don’t cost more than $200. Everything from the chrome rings on the ear cups to the large white Audio Technica logo on the top of the headband is gorgeous. It was designed to fold in every way you could want it to, and that makes them very easy to fit in the smallest of laptop bags. Unfortunately, this does mean the cups rotate, and they’re slightly difficult to put on. The beautiful design of the M50 is not reflected in the build quality, however. The design is all plastic, and the plastic is fairly cheap feeling. The pleather on the band and cups feel like they could tear easily, if I wanted to pull on them. If your laptop bag or backpack is over 15 pounds (34 Kilograms), you may want to wear them around your neck.
The first characteristic I noticed in the M50s were the incredible highs. Vocals, crash cymbals, hi-hats, and guitar screams were all remarkably clear. The highs coming from the M50s were never painful, and rarely out-of-control.
The bass and lows in the M50s were very strong, and had a lot of oomph. In jazz and classical, the lows were very calm, much like a cello. If you love hard rock or dubstep, the bass will never disappoint. It will hide behind the highs most of the time, but the bass will come out in to the light and shake your eardrums when it needs to.
The mids are the only disappointing part of the M50s’ sound. While you’ll still hear the guitarist’s fingers sliding down the strings and every beautiful chord from the orchestra, the midrange will always be hiding behind the lows and the highs.
The M50s have a very fun listening experience that audio enthusiasts and audio novices can respect and appreciate. They can be driven directly out of an iPod, but a small amp will bring out the full power of those huge drivers. I use mine on a PA2V2 (thanks to my friend over at Audio Excursions), and it powers them perfectly.
The M50s are a beautiful pair of headphones that are durable, but not indestructible. The highs and lows are incredible, but the mids are a little lacking. For $150, these headphones are a must-buy.