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Flat and Honest

A Review On: Audio-Technica ATH-M50S

Audio-Technica ATH-M50S

Rated # 5 in Over-Ear
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Pros: flat response signature, sturdy, quality chord

Cons: sub frequency response, comfort

I received my ATH-M50s from Flo Guitar Enthusiast radio show. That being said, how do these cans stack up as "studio monitor" class headphones?

My initial impressions were very favorable so let's take it from the top. Build quality is right where it should be in $150 price range headphones, with some plastic and some metal, soft surfaces being pleather over foam, and black acoustic cloth in the cups. The cups swivel as if aiming for DJs as well as studio mixing. Comfort-wise they have a little too much pressure for casual listening, but I became accustomed to it after a while. The swivels are a distraction for me, I like to just chuck my headphones on. The swivels do however allow you to fold these smaller to fit in the rubber pouch supplied with them. Will the rubber pouch protect these adequately? Let's hope so, you might keep them in you carry-on when flying because it IS just a soft bag around them after all. I have the ATH-M50s with the straight cable, and the cable itself is sturdy, with a spring coil butted against the plug for support in this oft-failing area. Nice touch for durability built in.  The non-breathing ear cups do provide a good isolation experience, but your ears will get sweaty after long sessions. What about the frequency range and signature of these headphones? Amazingly flat if not just a little shallow on the bass end. These are extremely well adapted to recording in the studio. I already use them as a second reference to be certain I'm not relying on the "flavor" of my speakers or other headphones. Putting these on is like turning an equalizer off. They are simply that flat. What about those swiveling cups that DJs will be interested in? Sorry gang, on a tone generator these get flaky in the sub frequencies, the big drop might become merely a big flutter for dub-step. Acoustica Tecnica claim response down to 15Hz, but at 25Hz my smile froze. For everything  lower, you will want to use a different reference. So ignore the 15Hz advertised, and realistically consider these great down to 25Hz because the tones lower than this in the can felt altered, somehow artificial. This is still an impressive number for headphones, and I can only see it as a deal breaker for DJ/ dub-step synth musicians.

Last impression: Who should buy these? Audiophiles will want to put these in their short list to consider for sub $200 'phones. Recording artists should pick these up if they have need of $200 or less 'phones. Just do it. DJs will consider this set based on value, but you guys more than any need to audition these for yourself to see if the lows are respectable for your mixes. The bass is there, mostly.

I hope this helps you make an informed decision.


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