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MartinLogan Mikros 90 Reference On-Ear Headphones

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #19 in On-Ear

Posted

Pros: Currently very affordable and incredibly sonically poised

Cons: Clamping force might bother some listeners

Bass: solid, balanced and extended with excellent pitch. Can be Stygian and prodigious with the right recordings.  May lack mid-bass warmth/emphasis for some listeners.

Midrange: open, clear, coherent, tonally saturated and complex. Vocals are rendered with breath-taking realism.

Highs: clear, detailed and extended with no glare. Excellent sparkle and finish on tambourine, rider cymbal and high brass.

Soundstage: recording- and equipment-dependent. Can assume strikingly large 3-D proportions. The music floats free in space with no sense of closure/constraint.  Superb separation within, and delineation of, the performance space.  

 

Excellent resolution of massed instruments and vocals. These headphones allow you to hear deep--and I mean deep--into the details of the recording, and into the relative strengths and weaknesses of your upstream gear.  

 

I get a very good seal by wearing the headphones slightly low and forward on the ear, slightly swiveled in along the natural angle of protrusion of my ear, and with the leading edge of each ear cup at about my mandible hinge/back end of my cheekbone..

The MLs scale up extremely well, venturing--IMHO--into the "reference" category.  On my home rig, the Mikros 90 even give my HifiMAN HE-6--which run balanced, straight out of my speaker terminal outputs(!)--a serious run for the money!

After initially ordering, I wasn't sure what to expect, but the Mikros 90 have exceeded my expectations with plenty of (head)room to spare. I would rate these, hands down, near the top in the Top 10 list of all the headphones I've ever owned and/or listened to to date. Given their current street price, these are a runaway "no-brainer".

Have not auditioned the KEF M500 yet, but would like to eventually do the a/b alongside the Mikros 90.  

UPDATE: See link to comparative review: http://www.head-fi.org/t/695615/kef-m500-versus-martin-logan-mikros-90

Equipment:
Home:
EVS-modified SONY BDP-S780
Neotech UPOCC interconnects

Fitz-improved Bada PH-12 (2x Tung-Sol 6SN7GT and 1x Sylvania 6SN7GTA)
(or) Linn Intek integrated (headphone out)
Dakiom F-273 feedback stabilizer
Pipeline ET-4 cable
GIEN carbon fiber disc mat
MyAudioCables power cords
PowerVar AC conditioners

Office:
EVS-modified Oppo DV-970HD
Virtue Audio interconnects
KMF Audio headphone amp
Dakiom F-273 feedback stabilizer
Pipeline ET-4 cable
SID disc mat
MyAudioCables power cords
PowerVar AC conditioners

 

Music:

Ultimate Joe Williams

Digital Duke

The Essential Sarah Vaughn

Toots Thielemans: Footsteps

Lee Rittenour: Festival

Cal Tjader: The Roots of Acid Jazz

Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time Out

 

Henri Mancini: Movie Classics

Hiroshima: Go & Third Generation

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass: Classics Volume 20(?)

 

The Yardbirds: Roger the Engineer (Over, Under, Sideways, Down)

Iron Butterfly: Light and Heavy/Best of

Jefferson Airplane: Fulton Street/Best of

Elton John: Greatest Hits & Tumbleweed Connection

Steely Dan: Decade of Steely Dan

Cat Stevens: Tea for the Tillerman

The Marshall Tucker Band: Best of

BTO's Greatest

 

Commander Cody: Best of/Too Much Fun

Earl Thomas Conley: Greatest Hits

 

Baltimore Consort: On the Banks of the Helicon

Posted

Pros: Excellent treble, good transient response, nicely detailed on higher mids and treble, good instrument separation & imaging, transparency

Cons: A little shy on the bass, price, hard to get a good seal sometimes

The Sexy Martin Logan Mikros 90

Hey guys,

When I have seen these headphones for the first time they got my attention with their looks.  They have a very nice design and a stylish and sturdy build quality. They are intended to be a fashion headphones, that is for sure, and I’ll be damned if I have seen a better looking headphone. They really blow the competition out of the water with the looks, feel and style.

Martin Logan Mikros 90

They are almost completely covered in leather. The headband has a very strong & thick metal body. The cable is detachable and even if it has volume control on it, it still is a very good cable. Why am i telling you this? Because the cable from Focal Spirit One can be used with the MikrosAfter using the cable from Spirit One, I have realized that the stock cable from Mikros bring more detail, better transient response, and open the sound more.

Martin Logan Mikros 90

While admiring the looks, I realized they are Martin Logans! Now it really got my attention. I really respect and admire this company for the excellent speakers they make.  When I first heard their entry level electrostatic speakers, the Martin Logan ElectroMotion ESL, they really blew me away. I have never heard such sound-stage, level of details, transparency, transient response, etc in a speaker system, especially at that price.

P1290099

These headphones are on ear and you must be attentive with this as if you don’t set them well on the head, you won’t get a good seal and it will affect the sound ( bass & body the most).

From what I have seen, the cups set on the ears with an angle, so I think these are meant to be like that, as angled drivers usually offer more sound-stage and a better stereo image.

Some people may find the clamping force a little too strong, but I think it gets looser in time.

The package comes with a nice portable storage box that I think is also made of leather, the detachable cable and with a 3.5 to 6.3 adaptor.

Sound Impressions

The first listening impression was somehow weird and a little disappointing, as I felt they lack body & bass. After a few minutes of changing some songs it started to get to me. They really have some interesting features that make them stand out of the crowd.

Treble

This is one of the strongest points of these headphones. The treble is crystal clear and very well extended & detailed without being harsh or sibilant. I never heard such quality treble in an closed headphones yet. It is amazing!

Mids

The mids are quite good. The voices are clear & transparent but lack some body. The guitars and other similar instruments have a very good impact and presence.

Bass

Ok this may seem one of their weakest points at first glance. The first thing you will notice at your first listen is the lack of body. However, if you give them a chance you will notice it has a very good punch and the bass is very well controlled & extended . After burn in the bass kicks in.I am sure there will be people to consider the bass to be too shy but I like it. On some songs I enjoy the fast, controlled , well extended  & punchy bass.

Details

The details were very nice especially on the higher mids and treble.

Transient response

This is another thing that really drew my attention. The plucking of the guitar, the percussion, hand claps, etc were very impressive.  The decay is natural and not lazy at all. I just love how the piano, guitars, violins sound on these babies.

Transparency

Never expected this level of transparency from a portable headphone, but the music really gets the hold of you and letting aside the strong clamping force, you forget about the headphones.

Instrument separation & sound-stage

If you look at the headphones you wouldn’t think they will have a wide sound-stage, especially with their size and the fact that they are closed, but they sound very open and clean to my surprise. The instruments are very well separated  and placed into space.

Conclusions

The Mikros is a very interesting pair of headphones and managed to impress me on many levels. They are good for instrumental music, classical,  jazz & vocals, even though these genres could use some bass presence too sometimes.

One other thing you should remember, is that they don’t like poor recordings.

I, however enjoy listening to  some house music & electronic , like ATB, Armin van Buuren, Infected Mushroom, etc on them too, but not as much as with other headphones like spirit one, d7000, amperior, momentum , etc.

Don't forget to let them break in for at least 20h, as they really open up, even the bass starts to get better.

Martin Logan bring an interesting new approach and style to the market with these headphones.

So if you care for the looks, crisp & detailed treble, transparency and are not into heavy bass, but still punchy and tight bass, give them a listen.

I tested them with Burson Conductor, Galaxy S4, Fiio E17.

Loved them from the S4 and E17. These headphones really grew on me. I am starting to think of buying one myself.

E17 and the Mikros 90 are a very good combo, as fiio really adds bass presence. I found myself listening to rock in this combo and enjoying it :D

Because of this combo and their very transparent and clear sound I give them 4.5 stars. 

Pros

  • excellent treble
  • good transient response
  • nicely detailed on higher mids and treble
  • good instrument separation & stereo image
  • transparency
  • excellent build quality & very good looks
  • decent isolation
  • portable
  • storage box

Cons

  • lacks body & bass presence
  • hard to get a good seal sometimes

Martin Logan Mikros 90

Posted

Pros: Great detail, scales well, built well, extremely portable

Cons: Look... OK, fit is finicky, need a ton of burn in, needs different pads imo, kind of uncomfortable

Everything But the Sound

 

The observations were made over about 3 months and hundreds of hours of listening.  Amping helps, the QC3 pleather over Mikros foam mod explained later I feel is almost essential.


 

Presentation

Presentation definitely holds some importance.  Just like with food that's presented well, or a cool outfit for a character in any series, style has its importance.  Looks wise, they look a bit old.  Not classy old, just kind of studio monitor old. They're all black, with the only hints of contrast lying in the silver rim of the ear cup and the silver arms.  The headband is all pleather (probably a metal band in the middle, with a generous amount of cushioning, wrapped in pleather).  They just look a little plain.  They could've done better, but it doesn't stop me from wearing them outside on the bus or whatever.  They're not that ugly.  Presentation applies to the the style and feel of the headphones, the packaging, the sound signature/balance.  The style is OK.  I do wear these in public on a daily basis but I am only sometimes self conscious about it.  It’s not the plain-ness of the headphones that makes them look awkward, it’s the headband not hugging my head enough.  I’m sure it looks a little goofy.  Also, the headphones don’t feel like they're $300.  They just feel like headphones.  The packaging is OK.  Not much to speak about it.

6.5/10

 

Build Quality and Construction

The M90 is nicely built.  They feel almost unbreakable, similar to the way the Momentum feels unbreakable.  I hear no creeks or cracks or anything I've heard from just about every plastic headphone I've heard. Great, so no problems.

8.5/10

 

Comfort

Out of the box, they're not comfortable. Way too much clamping force.  You can easily fix this by stretching the headband.  Though don't make it too loose or too tight since the sound can be effected. In the end though, these are still on ear headphones, so comfort is limited.  Compared to the $300-$400 competitors, I'd give it:

6.5/10

 

Gripes

Very finicky and relatively difficult to get a great seal.

Take some burning in and a small amount of modding

-1pt(s)

______________________________________________________________________________


 

Sound

 

Bass

The bass is actually just about neutral.  Perhaps with a small amount of roll off.  Really, the bass is fine, but the bass itself is not directed around the ear enough.  It’s still good, but from the WS99 or FC300, the bass is distributed better.  This isn’t where the Mikros does the best, but they definitely excel.


 

Mids

The mids are also pretty great.  They’re really one of the things this can strives for.  The vocals sound great, the guitars, everything.  With a the stock pads, a not-so-good source and poor recordings, expect intolerable sibilance.  The midr-ange, unlike most of its competitors, is very well balanced.

14.5/15


 

Highs

The detail is just amazing.  They have more detail then the Momentum, and all of the competitors I’ve heard at that price. I don’t even know what to write to be honest.  Just the best treble out there.  Also, it’s not recessed, actually a little boosted.

15/15

 

Soundstage

Out of the box, and with the stock pads, I felt like the soundstage was severely lacking.  So lacking that I almost gave up on them.  Now the soundstage is extremely good, especially so for an on ear.  I now don’t feel like I’m missing too much soundstage coming from the MDR MA900.  There is perfect instrument separation. There may be some lack of width but in depth it stands out.  There’s some pretty hardcore competition though.

8.5/10

 

83.5/100

Though this point system means nothing if not compared to anything.  So without further ado:

 

Comparisons:

Style

 
 

Presentation

Construction

Comfort

Portability

Gripes

Extras

Mikros 90

6.5

8.5

6.5

10

-1

+2

Momentum

9

9.5

7

9

0

+2

M500

7.5

9

7

6

-2

0

FC300

7.5

6

6.5

8

-2

0

1R

9

6.5

9.5

8

-2

+1

WS99

7

7

6.5

7

-1

0

Spirit One

7.5

7

7

8

-2

+2

L1

9.5

10

6

4.5

-2

+1

M50

7

7

6

6

-1

0

 

 

Bass

Mids

Highs

Soundstage

Total

Sound Total

Extra Total

Price

Mikros 90

11.5

14.5

15

7.5

81

48.5 (#1)

32.5

$100

Momentum

12

11

12

7

78.5

42

36.5

$300

M500

13

13

12

7.5

73

45.5(#2)

27.5

$300

FC300

13.5

11

11

9

70.5

44.5(#3)

26

$150

1R

11

11

8

9.5

71.5

39.5

32

$200

WS99

14

12

8

7.5

68

41.5

26.5

$200

Spirit One

14

11

8

7.5

70

40.5

29.5

$240

L1

11

11

9

9

69

40

29

$160

M50

11

9

7

6.5

58.5

33.5

25

$140


 

 

Contributing Factors

 

Presentation (10/100)

  • Style
  • Packaging
  • Easy of use
  • Easy to get used to

 

Construction (10/100)

  • Materials
  • Durability

 

Comfort

  • Softness, width and depth of pads
  • Heat resistance
  • Clamping force
  • Weight

 

Portability

  • Size
  • Case
  • Isolation
  • Cable (removable, short)

 

Gripes

  • Finicky?
  • Lack of replaceable pads?
  • Other issues?

 

Extras

  • Accessories and Benefits?

 

Bass

  • Depth
  • Tightness
  • Balance
  • Distribution

Mids

  • Vocals
  • Detail
  • Mid-range Clarity
  • Balance

 

Highs

  • Largely detail
  • Sibilance?
  • Largely balance

 

Soundstage

  • Width
  • Depth
  • Height
  • Accuracy and Imaging

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Simple Mods:

 

The Stretch Mod: a mod in which you stretch the headband to a setting more comfortable.  This is essential since out of the box they clamp very tightly.

 

The QC3 Pleather + Mikros Foam Mod rotated 90 degrees: it is exactly what it sounds like.  Take some QC3 pads:

(http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009GDVTN4/ref=s9_simh_gw_p23_d0_i3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1XCJV96X1D55SQJAA4BW&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846), take out the foam, replace it with the Mikros' foam and rotate it 90 degrees.  This is the best sound I’ve been able to get out of the Mikros.  With this mod, you get a nice upgrade in SQ.  Comfort is the same, but bass depth is slightly improved, balance is improved, sibilance goes away, mids become clearer, soundstage rounds out.

 

The Beats Solo Pad Mod: buy Beats solo pads: (http://www.amazon.com/Replacement-Pads-Cushions-Beats-Black/dp/B006JDU6YM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397658169&sr=8-1&keywords=beats+solo+pads); take off the stupid plastic plate on the back, and put them on the Mikros.  It is a tight fit but it does indeed fit.  This mod is ok.  It recesses the midrange, boosts the bass and treble, giving you a more laid back vocal performance.  I don't like it all that much but I'm sure some would.  It may be slightly less comfortable than stock, or slightly more comfortable (the former in my case)

 

The Reverse Mod: Instead of the right channel being on your right ear and and vise versa, just reverse the headphones.  The seal you get is improved.  I don’t do this because I can’t get around the vocals being behind me but many people can’t go without this mod.

______________________________________________________________________________

 

Added Notes + Comparisons

 

The Mikros may not be very stylish, but it's acceptable.  The construction seems great, and my pair seems to be in like new condition, and the headband is ultra flexible.  I question as to how long the arms will stand up, but I bet it'll be long.  The Mikros is not as comfortable as some of these over ear cans.  On it's own, it's moderately comfortable, but against others, they feel strenuous. The Mikros is extremely portable, since the cups rotate, it comes with a hard case. it's small, and it isolates extremely well.  They are finicky (gripe).  The cable is detachable, comes with a case, nice packaging (extra).

 

The Momentum (MOM) looks great to me.  It's constructed extremely well, almost unbreakable, though someone on Head-Fi did complain about the connector on the ear cup being damaged.  The pads are tiny, so they are either on ear, or partially on/over ear.  This does a number on comfort.  They're easily portable since they're a small, isolate, and come with a bag. However, they don't fold and the bag is huge so...  No gripes, and the packaging, and accessories are great.

 

The M500 is a good headphone, but it really doesn’t have anything (sound wise at least) that the Mikros doesn’t offer, or do better in.  The Mikros granted sounds different, but I think it’s safe to say the Mikros technically/statistically at last is the better sounding headphone in all areas.  From bass to mids, to tonal quality, to treble detail and control, the Mikros just can’t be beat.  The midrange of the M500 does com close in quality though.

 

I really like the FC300 for two reasons (it is my second favorite closed headphone):

1: it sounds just as good as the Momentum, or M500, or P7, or anything really below $400.  It only costs $150.

2: The sound signature is so enjoyable.  It’s very exciting but not too exciting.  I think it works for all genres (well, if you can deal with boosted bass) and all people.

 

However, the Mikros sounds noticeably better, and that’s really all it comes down to.  I’d recommend them though, since they look better.

 

The 1r is presented EXTREMELY well.

1: The packaging is great

2. They look out of this world

3. The pads look nice and sqooshie

4. They sound quiet in your hands.

However, the sound signature isn’t the type to pull you in like the FC300.

Compared to the Mikros, they don’t fare all that well sound-wise.  They compete somewhat well with the Momentum etc, but overall, if great audio quality is what you’re looking for, I steer clear of the 1r.

 

The WS99… Well, sound-wise they’re in that Momentum tier.  However, they are uncomfortable and the bass is just a little too aggressive for.  A great bass head can, but the FC300 sounds more balanced.  They beat the Mikros out in bass performance, but in mids and treble, not so much.

 

The Spirit one sounds essentially like the WS99 with a smaller soundstage and slightly tighter bass.  The build is OK, and the styling suffers from the headband sticking out of your head.

 

Th UE6000 looks great, but sounds boring.  Like a WS99 with a slightly larger soundstage but slower bass, and less treble.

 

100 pts:

Sound is 55 pts

Portability is 10 pts

Comfort is 15 pts

Style is 5 pts

Build is 15 pts

______________________________________________________________________________

Sources

Source(s):  I used mainly the Samsung Galaxy 5 Player, the iPod Touch 4g, Sansa Clip Zip, and Fiio X3.

>250 hours of use on the ears

Music Choices: I listen to a good variety of music.  Though, my favorite genre is J-Rock.

Music:

J-ROCK:

(320 kbps MP3) FLOW THE MAX by FLOW (the song Won't You Stay and many others)

(320 kbps MP3) The One by UVERworld (the song The OVER and many others)

(320 kbps MP3) The Last by UVERworld (the song Hi Mondaisaku and many others)

(320 kbps MP3) 26 a Go Go!!! by FLOW (most of the songs)

(FLAC) Jinsei x Boku by ONE OK ROCK (all the songs, all the time)

K-Pop:

(FLAC) PSY Five by PSY (the fantastic song It's Art)

Rap:

(320kbps MP3) Food and Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Part 1 by Lupe Fiasco (all songs)

Soundtrack

(FLAC) The Lion King Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer (all songs)

and a variation of different artists and albums

______________________________________________________________________________

MartinLogan Mikros 90 Reference On-Ear Headphones
Description:

Inspired by the sonic clarity and detail of our legendary electrostatic speakers, the Mikros 90 reference in-ear on-ear headphones deliver the realism, richness, and purity of sound that MartinLogan's discerning customers have come to expect. Obsessive attention to detail, sleek minimalistic design and high value materials are deeply engrained in our design philosophy that we've extended to Mikros headphones. Designed and voiced in house by the same team that has created 30-years of electrostatic speaker innovation, Mikros 90 was carefully crafted with premium materials like genuine leather, light weight aluminum, and solid noise isolating ear pads. Each piece comes together flawlessly to create a uniquely MartinLogan experience.

Details:
DetailValue
BindingElectronics
BrandMartin
ColorBlack
EAN0877929007539
FeatureIncludes soft, replaceable ear pads which isolate up to 92% of ambient noise for outstanding sound quality with natural deep, extended bass and an open, revealing midrange. The Mikros 90 body is constructed from genuine leather and lightweight polished aluminum to provide years of deepening enjoyment. Included with each headphone is a compact carrying case to assure safe stowage when traveling. Apple-approved in-line remote and microphone controls volume, play/pause, track, voice control, and seamless transitions between music and phone calls on compatible Apple devices. Remote and microphone also function with a variety of smart phones, digital media players, and similar devices with a standard 3.5mm 4-conductor socket. Inspired by the sonic clarity and detail of MartinLogan's legendary electrostatic speakers.
LabelMartinLogan
ManufacturerMartinLogan
ModelMikros 90
MPNMikros 90
PublisherMartinLogan
StudioMartinLogan
TitleMartinLogan Mikros 90 Reference On-Ear Headphones, Black
UPC877929007539
Warranty1 year parts and labor
CatalogNumberList - CatalogNumberListElementMLHP
Item Height7.8 inches
Item Length2.4 inches
Item Weight0.36 pounds
Item Width6.9 inches
Package Height3.3 inches
Package Length10.2 inches
Package Weight2 pounds
Package Width8.6 inches
PackageQuantity1
PartNumberMikros 90
ProductGroupCE
ProductTypeNameHEADPHONES
UPCList - UPCListElement877929007539
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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