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Review of the ATH-M50 headphones

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I just wanted to to do a little informal review of the Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones to help some people new into the highend headphone world like me. So hear goes......

Overview:
I wanted a set of good cans for work so I needed them to be closed, as I couldn't deal with much noise leakage. I listen to a lot of electronic music from people like John Digweed, Sasha, Oakenfold etc and wanted a can with good bass, but wasn't sloppy. I was recommended these cans by a few members and decided to take the plunge. These are the first cans I have had that were over $20. Though, I have most of my audio experience with high end car audio equipment and have heard some really nice setups. I am used to a lot of bass in my music. Currently I have a 1000W of bass in my mobile application and about 400 watts of midbass and highs. I like the in your face sound. Just to give an idea of what my ears are used to hearing.

Looks/Construction/Comfort:
I personally love the look of these cans. They are are all black with some sliver accents around each earphone. You can see that a lot of attention was paid to detail. Each side is marked as L or R, which I really like. The cans can collapse into a smaller size to fit into the included bag. The headband is also very nice looking and comfortable(well padded). Another nice touch is the words "Audio Technica" spelled out on the band, to allow you to show them off a bit. Each side also swivels so that you can lie them flat if you like. They also come with a very long cord, which I like. I can put them on and move around my desk without fear of pulling them off. But you will need to wire-tie the excess length. Overall the construction is very durable and they are very nice looking. One point to make is that they have nice pleather pads on each side but they can get a bit uncomfortable after an hour of use. I felt some pain on each ear after wearing them continuously for an hour. The ear cups got a little sweaty. But this is something I expected and it might be a blessing in disguise since this forces me to take them off and give my ears a rest before putting them on again.

Sound quality:
I bought these headphones for use with unamped sources. I wanted to use them on my desktop, IPOD and laptop computer without an amp/dac etc.

I first tried them on my desktop and they sounded ok. I have an old 5 year old desktop with integrated sound(nForce3). I have my desktop hooked up with the Logitech Z-5500 system. The control unit of this system has a port for the headphone. I was surprised to find that they did not drive the headphone that well. I had to turn the volume up pretty loud on the control unit to get good volume from the cans.

Next, I tried them with my IPOD 5th gen classic unit. My music is all in 256 bit VBR format. These cans sound good out of the IPOD, better than the desktop surprisingly. But I have to turn up the volume more than 2/3rds to get them pretty loud. But other than that, they sound good with the IPOD.

Finally, I tried them with my new T500 Thinkpad laptop. I was blown away and quite surprised. They sound the best plugged directly into the laptop. They have a lot more impact, clarity and volume level as compared with the other sources. I have no idea why. Aren't laptop cards weak?

Overall these cans sound great. Their bass impact is very good and deep. Bass is not a concern here, in my opinion. The bass seems clear and tight and not sloppy. I have about 50 hours of burnin on these and the bass definitely tightened up. Even if they had less bass I would not mind. If you want more bass than this, I think your music will get clouded. I do wish the highs were a little more sharp and pronounced and the trebble could be a little clearer as well. But over all they sound great. They also provide a good amount of noise isolation but if they are turned up somewhat loud there is some sound leakage. They nice part is that they isolate to the point where you can't hear nearby conversations and your own clicking on the keyboard, but you can hear the phone ring. One thing I must say is that I think high end headphones are a good value. They are compact and give you an amazing sound for a fraction of what you would pay for high end home or car audio speakers. The one thing that I learned is that they won't give you the same experience as regular speakers as far as the feeling of air movement and bass hitting you in the chest. But the headphone experience is definitely unique and just as enjoyable as regular speakers. In fact I am finding that I like listening to a lot of tracks on these headphones rather than regular speakers.

Conclusion:
These are my first high end cans so I don't have a lot of frame or reference but I have heard high end speakers. I would say that these cans are well made, nice looking and sound good. If you can get them below $150, they are a good deal, but I don't think paying more than this for them is worth it.

Pros:
- Good solid construction
- Looks nice
- Good sound isolation, but can still hear things such as the phone ringing.
- Great bass, both in terms of impact and depth.
- fairly comfortable
- 1 year warranty.

Cons:
- The bass is a little over emphasized
- The highs could be sharper as well as the midbass
- They get uncomfortable to wear after an hour
- When turned up on the louder side, they do leak some sound, but that might be true of any other can as well


Let me know if you have any questions/comments. Thanks for reading.
post #2 of 14
Thanks for the review! =]

Hope you won't feel the need to upgrade too soon. But just a hint: it only gets better from here.
post #3 of 14
Nice review.

RE: laptop sound cards - its difficult to say really what a laptop can sound like. Macbooks sound pretty decent. My cheap ass Acer 5315 sounds like poo on a stick. It may also be a question of synergy. The way your T500 sounds may just happen to compliment the ATs well.

Oh, you had the EQ on the iPod off right?
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mysteek View Post
Thanks for the review! =]

Hope you won't feel the need to upgrade too soon. But just a hint: it only gets better from here.
Well, I came to the conclusion that I would need 2 pairs of cans, one closed for work and a very highend one for home. The ATH is for work and I am planning on doing something more highend for home. Right now thinking something like the Grado RS1i or the Sennheiser HD600 or HD800(if I can afford it) and nice amp, Dac and source. SO yes, the bug has bit me already
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by robjrock View Post
Nice review.

RE: laptop sound cards - its difficult to say really what a laptop can sound like. Macbooks sound pretty decent. My cheap ass Acer 5315 sounds like poo on a stick. It may also be a question of synergy. The way your T500 sounds may just happen to compliment the ATs well.

Oh, you had the EQ on the iPod off right?
You know, I didn't check that. I will take a look at that and report back when I get a chance. Thanks for that idea.
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Fire Snake View Post
You know, I didn't check that. I will take a look at that and report back when I get a chance. Thanks for that idea.
Personally I haven't been able to find one iPod EQ preset that improves the M50s sound. IMO, leave it off.
post #7 of 14
the longer you use them the longer you can keep them on. I had problems with both the head band and the pressure of them when i first got them. After almost a month I have no problem wearing them for more than 8 hours a day. I also only use mine at work.

I run mine out of a Dell D830 and I think they sound better out of the laptop then the ipod touch ...
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Primetime1337 View Post
the longer you use them the longer you can keep them on. I had problems with both the head band and the pressure of them when i first got them. After almost a month I have no problem wearing them for more than 8 hours a day. I also only use mine at work. .
Agreed. Mine are comfy as. If they clamp too much just gently push them outwards, try them on, gently push them outwards, try them on etc.
post #9 of 14

Nice review!

 

And yay for car audio!  Sounds like a bumping system!

post #10 of 14

Another M50's review...these are the Do it all headphone. 

post #11 of 14

Heh... As I wore mine for much of the day yesterday I was thinking just how much I appreciate these cans. Really great sound and comfort for me.

Around the house it's the iPod Classic that drives these and does a very respectable job. The Benchmark DAC1-Pre does an even better job!

 

BTW... the bass response will improve with time. So, enjoy, and nice write-up.

 

shane

post #12 of 14

Good write up. A desktop amp and 50 hrs or so will correct your first two Cons, so not really the fault of the phones, but I understand a lot of people are using these unamped.

post #13 of 14

Fire Snake, what do you think of the sound quality between plugging your M50's in the jack compared to through the Z5500? I have the Z-2300's and sometimes plug in my M50's

post #14 of 14

They loosen up perfectly, at the beginning I too could only wear these for an hour at a time (especially as I wear glasses so they press the plastic against my temples) but now I can wear em as long as I want, and even though sweat builds up I almost don't notice it at all UNTIL I take the cans off my head lol.

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