Pros: A decently balanced sound, Punchy Bass, Cheap, Built like a tank, great introductory headphone, easy to drive
Cons: Bass can be uncontrolled at times, sibilance can occur, highs are lacking, horrible pleather pads
I see a lot of people saying how overrated these headphones are lately, but most of the time these people compare these headphones 50% to twice its price or higher. In my opinion the ATH M50s are one hard to beat package for a beginner looking to get into better audio at a cheaper price. These headphones are better than many retail stores headphones that cost twice as much or more. I have been using these headphones for hundreds of hours over the past 2 years and have finally upgraded to the Mad Dogs (which blow these out of the water in the majority of categories).
I do not think these are balanced or flat sounding like some people claim, these headphones do have an easy to listen to sound signature especially for a beginner or some one on a budget. Where these headphones excel is definitely in the lower frequencies. However being a huge fan of these the sound has a major flaw, and that is the highs. These headphones have a lot of sibilance even from uncompressed 16/44.1 files from ipod. Some of my favorite bands like Skillet and System of a Down are nearly un-listenable on these headphones. However many types of rock sound pretty good on these headphones, and they excel at Dubstep and rap. I find instrumental type music to be kinda boring on these headphones. The sound stage is quite small which make these a poor choice for gaming and movies even though these headphones have a fun sound (imo).
These headphones do not require amplification, however I do find the ipod amplifier quite lacking (if you are using an ipod). I ended up buying and trying some of the fiio amps. The fiio amps do provide a little bit of extra juice for the driver and it helps the sound a decent amount. The LOD cable definitely probably makes the biggest difference (and is a must have if you are buying an amp for the ipod). Overall if you need a little extra sound without going to a new headphone an amplifier may be helpful.
It is pretty decent but starts to get worse as the pads get older and start cracking.
Top notch for a plastic headphone at around $100. These things are nearly unbreakable. The only broken pair I have ever seen was a pair with a dog chewed cable. One thing I would like to bring up is that not all the headphones are built equally. My headphones sound quite a bit better than my brothers (same box), but mine are a year older and have been played much more. This either proves a) that burn in does make a difference in some headphones and is not a myth or b) not all the M50s batches sound the same. Another complaint is that the cable choices are annoying. Either you have a obnoxiously long cable which is annoying for portable use or you have an annoying coiled cable (imo). I chose the straight cable and to limit the length I braided the cable like you do with hair and it reduces the cable to a 1/3 of its length and is much more manageable
You may be questioning why I gave these 5 stars after all the complaints I had in this review. Well I must say while the sound is not perfect and definetely what I would not consider an audiophile sound headphone but more of a fun one (get the SR80i if you want a cheap audiophile sound), the build, decent sound, and price is what helps this earn the 5 stars. I see them for what they are a great beginner headphone. There are better sounding headphones for a bit more cash ($50-$100) but for somebody on a budget that extra cash is a lot of money. Overall I recommend these headphones to all my friends trying to get into audio and try to prevent them from buying an over price consumer headphone.