Pros: Bass, Clarity, Definition
Cons: Sub Bass, Midrange presence
I wanted a closed set of cans for work-- and I like to show off new headgear every so often because I live in headphones at work. The flashy white pair of ATH-M50s fit the bill. Take that Beat lovers!
First impressions when plugging them into my WA6 was -- "Are you certain they're not Beats-- relabeled?" Wow the bass thumps! Fun. I was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of detail and clarity through the upper frequencies.
Not a very open sound-- The HD800 is wide and airy-- these are definitely about a closed in, personal experience. This isn't a knock-- I like headphones with a point of view-- and these ATs favor a direct approach-- deliver the music.
They're supremely efficient. Not much power needed here. They can easily be driven by an iPod, iPhone or any player, though amplification improves the sound, without question.
They are a snug fit-- and barely qualify as an "over ear". Again-- this is a part of that personal delivery of sound. You are aware they are on your head-- it's a snug fit, but not overly clamped. Decent sound isolation-- they should-- given that they are closed. Pleather covers mean sweaty ears, but they are comfortable.
Negatives-- way too much midrange. A quick trip to EQ window on iTunes fixed that, but they are mid-rangy out of the box. It's a metallic mid range that without correction would wear on my ears. There's not much in the way of detail and transients that the higher end headphones deliver. They don't kill the reverb, but it's not that open feeling you get with higher end models. While the bass thumps-- the deep deep bass trails off.
The cable is coiled-- It's like a trip back to the '70s. I scratched my head over that one. But they do build both 1/4 and 1/8 jacks into the non-detachable cable.
I'm going to hang on to these for a while-- they're fun, they thump nicely. If I were a DJ, I'd think these were pretty much an ideal pair. Not going to break the bank-- I can afford to break them-- and they sound nice. The ATH-M50s are a forward, fast sounding set of cans.
Comparison: Jumping between the B&W P5 and the M50s-- immediately-- The 50's deliver much more bass-- the P5 is even more mid-rangy- but the mid range is much smoother than the 50s. More upper end detail on the P5-- and the P5 wins on transients, but the M50s provide a better overall upper end experience-- it feels more balanced. The P5 is more sensitive to adjustments on your ear. A slight move changes the entire sonic signature. The lack of bass and sub bass on the P5 and the over mid-range put the 50's much higher on my sonic scale over the P5 and the construction is better. The P5 wins on comfort and looks. If given the choice-- I'd take the ATH-M50 -- if given the choice at gunpoint.