So I was in here the other day, getting advice on the right pair of closed headphones in the $150-200 range, having never had a quality headphone in my life. Thanks to everyone who chimed in to help me out...
Most of the feedback I got led me to the ATH-M50's. In fact, if I wasn't able to demo multiple pairs at my local Guitar Center, I would have bought the M50's online.
Judging by all the recent commentary in here on the M50's, this may seem like heresy - but for my sound preference, they lost. And it wasn't even close. Ended up with a pair of Sennheiser HD380's for $200 instead.
Now, without a doubt, the M50's were good. I tried the Shure 840's as well, and the Beyer 7700(?) I think. So why did I end up with the 380's? Bear with me, as I'm not exactly sure how to explain what I hear in the same way everyone on here does. To sum it up in one word, it would be "faithfulness". The 380's seem to do the best job of presenting me with the music and sound in a pure, honest way. This is for better and for worse. I can tell when there's flaws in the source. On the other hand, if the music is well-mixed and done right, these headphones are unreal. Yes, the bass could be a bit more developed and up front, especially in a couple songs I've listened to so far. But, the vocal reproduction is so crisp, clean, and perfect, and the entire sound so well-balanced, that I can live with it. To me, the m-50's sounded artificial, and I especially noticed it as the volume went up or the music became bass-heavy. Something just didn't seem right to my ears.
I'm amazed by what these phones are able to handle, and show me things in the music I've never heard before. I don't know if anyone's familiar with the techno track "Sandstorm" (I'm not much of a techno guy either), but I was blown away listening to it on these phones. There's so much going on in the song that it's hard to do it justice, with high and low frequencies at the same point in the music and the quick pace of the song. Listening to it with these was nothing short of a revelation.
I think I'm beginning to understand this whole thing. I feel like I'm getting sound quality that I couldn't reproduce at home on a larger scale without thousands of dollars. I have listened to a good amount of home audio systems - and I feel like what I'm getting here is right up with some of the best full-size gear I've heard.
Wow. Just wow. You guys are awesome, and I'm VERY glad I chose to spend my birthday and some Christmas money on these. Very happy with this purchase, and looking forward to learning and experiencing more with these!