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ATH-M50 bass response?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
I just got my pair of ath-m50's this week. From what I've read, they have an arguably flat response, which is exactly what I need for mixing. Now here's the thing... I've also read that they have a slightly exaggerated bass, which I prefer, but has so far proven to be false. In fact, quite the opposite seems true. The m50's seem to have brilliant mids and sharp trebles. If anything, I feel that it has a weak bass. I was listening to some trance (Above & Beyond, Gareth Emery, Lanui, Michael Cassette), club songs that supposedly already have bass out of proportion. What I found was piercing mid-range snares and razor-sharp high hats. The bass was wholesome and robust, but was overwhelmed by the succinct mids and highs. Has anyone else notice the noticeable lack in the bass frequencies of the m50's? Am I just too much of a basshead? Are the comments claiming m50's to have exaggerated bass just heresay? Would burning in make a difference?
post #2 of 32
It always depends where you're coming from. I guess you're used to bass heavy loudspeakers and maybe subwoofers. These do produce a lot of impact sound on your body. Headphones don't.

Are you listening at rather loud volumes?
post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 
On the contrary, since I've been on the move for the past 4 years of my life, I've been restricted to using a pair of CX300's mostly. Regarding the volume, I do turn it up quite a bit when I listen to trance, and I have read that at high volumes, low and high frequencies become more pronounced. My experience with the M50's so far, though, is that the mids are consistently prominent (overwhelming at high volumes), the highs are clean and emphasized, and the bass is clear but always a little weak.
post #4 of 32
This is all speculation from my end, but I think it's because you're used to the "boomy, uncontrolled" bass that is common with mainstream average joe consumer headphones and/ or <80$ canalphones...they are known for the boomier bass...( I THINK between 40-120 hz..)

From experience (all I listen to is trance :P) is that some producers tend to use not only those freqs, but lower..and your headphones may be much more balanced so that you feel the bass is almost not present, when it fact that's how it was supposed to sound.

Canalphones depend on the low freqs for proper isolation, which may explain why you felt a decrease in bass..
post #5 of 32
Thread Starter 
Well I've been working around with parametric EQ's and frequency monitors for a while (I do composing on software sequencer), and I've noticed that the "low" bass is generally in the range of 20 to 100 Hz. "High" bass, or what I think of as instrumental bass, is generally in the range of 120 to 450 Hz. What I've noticed as being lacking is not so much the club-shaking low bass, but the instrumental bass around the 150 range. Whenever there's a catchy bass line, I always strain to hear the details, whereas I sort of cringe at the enthusiasm of snares, pianos, and vocals (mids to highs).

I've also noticed something else that I'm concerned with regarding the m50's... the soundstage. Even on songs where the atmospheric pads are huge and warm, I hear almost all of the sound right up next to my ears, instead of in a "wide concert hall." I mean, I still detect the fantastic stereo separation from the song itself, but there's not very much depth, in terms of position.

More opinions would be greatly appreciated!
post #6 of 32
I completely agree with the OP. I bought mine 2 days ago. I'm a little worried that these won't work for me. I just borrowed a pair of Sennheiser HD650. They were definitely more bass-heavy and the high end was completely smooth. They were some years old. Does anyone have any first-hand experience with the ATH M50? Will it lose the harshness and even-out over time?
post #7 of 32
I'm interested to hear more about bass-response with the M50s, as they are at the top of my list for phones to buy this monday...

I listen mostly to rap/hip-hop/metal etc. so enjoyable bass is important to me, but I understand the benefits of an analytical and flat sound stage.

For these reasons I am also considering the HD-590s @ $180 and ATH-ESW9A, but the ATH-ESW9A @ $230 is above what I am willing to pay.

OP, I suggest letting the phones burn in over night with some bass-heavy music...then report back.
post #8 of 32
My guess is you're plugging them straight into your computer or mp3 player, skipping the amp and aren't even fully hearing what the M50s are capable of producing.

Whats your setup OP, are you using foobar, bit-perfect etc?
post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 
Graphicism, you caught me. I'm listening to the m50's unamped, straight out of a computer jack. In my defense, the many posts and reviews I've read have all given me the impression that m50's perform well even without amplification (especially with an impedance of 38 ohms). Now, I have to admit, I have possibly one of the worst possible sound cards and on a notebook, but I'm not talking about the quality of the sound here, I'm talking about frequency response.

To reiterate, I'm not saying the m50's have bad sound quality. On the contrary, the mids are BRILLIANT--beautiful! The highs are sharp and precise. The bass is pronounced, though outshadowed. But when it comes to the response rate of the frequencies, I feel almost without a doubt that the high mids/low highs frequencies are exaggerated. At the moment, I'm under the impression that the bass is not "weak" at all, but overpowered.

TNT, I prefer not to burn them in intentionally, but to let it occur over time. I sort of want to have some first-hand experience of burning in (I'm a skeptic).
post #10 of 32
Another problem: your ears have been conditioned by the Sennheiser CX300s, which are notorious for being bass-heavy IEMs.

A rise of 7-8 decibels correlates to a doubling of perceived loudness, so as you can see, you've been listening to bass that doesn't exist in your tracks.

The above includes the M50 and the famously flat as a ruler ER-4S. Figure out if you want "enhanced" sound or accurate high-fidelity, both have their places.
post #11 of 32
Originally Posted by silentshou View Post
Graphicism, you caught me. I'm listening to the m50's unamped, straight out of a computer jack. In my defense, the many posts and reviews I've read have all given me the impression that m50's perform well even without amplification (especially with an impedance of 38 ohms). Now, I have to admit, I have possibly one of the worst possible sound cards and on a notebook, but I'm not talking about the quality of the sound here, I'm talking about frequency response.
Yeah I wouldn't really pay attention to the ohms, especially when I'm sure you've heard it said every headphone improves with an amp. You're right you can find a lot of posts talking up the M50s ability to sound good without an amp however this usually comes from people that haven't heard them with an amp, so in other words they don't know what they're missing. I don't have first hand experience with the M50s but I see it all the time with Denons D2000; works fine without an amp, plenty of bass and so on. When in truth they are one of the most source resolving headphones I've heard.

peli_kan; While the CX300s might be bass heavy it is an unfair comparison to look at both frequency responses and point out the obvious. A much closer comparison would be the notably bass forward D2000s, how do they compare to the M50s, perhaps then you'll find your answer.
post #12 of 32
Thread Starter 
peli_kan, much appreciation for those graphs! It's nice to have some visual representation of what is being experienced.

Graphicism, I'm not familiar with the effects and the implications of using an amp. My impression was that amps merely increased the output of the signal without bias (i.e., without emphasis at particular frequencies), so I am having trouble understanding how exactly an amp could make for a more desirable frequency response (in this case, weaker mids and a more pronounced bass).

I think I should mention that I'm struggling between accuracy and enjoyability. I did purchase the m50's as entry level "studio" headphones so that I could better monitor my own music, but I would sort of be glad with the contrary as well (i.e., inaccurate response for greater enjoyability while listening to music in general). At this point I think I would be content in knowing that they have accuracy above all, since making music is my focus at the moment.
post #13 of 32
before my ath m50's were broken in i thought the same thing after 12 hours the bass starts to get powerful
post #14 of 32
It really all depends where you coming from. My M50s compared to my MS1i's sound like bass monsters. Compared to CX300s I'd imagine they sound bass lite. The M50s do have a bump in the bass. I personally think it sounds 'enjoyable balanced' - since they sound great with no eq.
post #15 of 32
I will say headphones are terrible as a reference. Especially when concerning something like trance, your headphones are missing a whole portion of the low end frequency. From one bass head to another, headphones will never completely satisfy your tastes for bass. Even skullcrushers or dre beats will satisfy. You quite honestly need a subwoofer or one of those Aura Bass Shakers to really fill in that missing aspect.

I think you may need to give some other headphones a chance, and you may find what you are looking for. I eventually found Ultrasones for my Electronica tastes and have no need to look further. Not only does bass go deep, but is by far the tightest I have heard from a bassy headphone yet, no exceptions or runner ups. I really do love the M50 for many of the reasons you have already stated. They would be my second choice beyond an Ultrasone most definitely. I've come to realize that any headphone will not be able to accommodate that super low bass. Once you realize this, headphones do what they are suppose to, and I'm very happy with that
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