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ATH-M50 Open Mod

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 

I recently made a big decision to take a leap of faith and experiment with my treasured M50's. Although it turned out to be a much bigger project than I first thought, I'm completely glad I did it. 

 

I've always wanted a good open headphone after I bought the M50 for the soundstage and transparency. So I thought I would do an experiment and make my M50's an open headphone. Of course, I didn't do this blindly, I first tested how the m50's sounded with no fiberloft and no backing, just the drivers and the pads, and found that it sounded much airier and the soundstage dramatically increased. Suprisingly, the bass took on a softer and much more articulate sound to it but didn't decrease in quantity. I also used a Canare quad and wired separate grounds to remove all crosstalk from the M50.  

 

I started by cutting a hole in the back of the m50's, about in inch in diameter. I also removed all the fiberloft and a plastic piece that was over the driver. I put everything back together and really liked the sound, but I heard a bit of echoing in the mids and highs. I decided to use the fiberloft that was in the M50 before and glue it around the driver to dampen the sound a bit and remove the echo in the mids and highs. It worked, and it also made the vocals and highs a lot warmer to my ears. I read somewhere that removing the foam from the center hole  of the driver made the M50's more musical, so I did that as well, although I didn't hear any noticeable difference. Lastly I used the Canare wire and used two ground for the left and right which removed all crosstalk and overall highlighted the soundstage. Than I just took a cover off an old speaker and used it to cover the hole in the back of the M50's. Here's the finished headphones:

 

tUi3V.jpg

 

nMywO.jpg

 

mvZSP.jpg

 

I am completely impressed with the sound. Overall, I see an improvement in the sound, this includes the bass and mids and soundstage mostly. The bass still has the M50 signature, but is a bit softer, warmer, and has a more articulate and quick punch to it. Although I do think the bass lost a bit detail, I think I like the new bass better. The mids also got warmer, but they also got airier, and much more forward. In sounds that previously were unimpressing in the vocals are much more forward and present. The highs feel much more airier as well, they did sound a bit fatiguing and sibilant at first, but I think i've adjusted to them more. The soundstage has become much wider and deeper. I'm noticing depth in songs i've never before, and it is the biggest improvement above the mids. 

post #2 of 57

cool!  NIce work and very gutsy.  I'm surprised it doesn't sound horrible. 

 

Did you try leaving the stock damping felt behind the driver?  It would cover the opening, but sound would still go through it so it would still be open, but may help tame the highs and keep the bass detail and punch.  You could also try different materials behind the driver.  It is tuned to be completely closed, so having some damping before the open back could be good even if not quite as open. 

post #3 of 57

looks cool

post #4 of 57

Nice work!  I'm still skeptical of the Bass response though.  I'll keep an out for anyone else trying this.  Then again, my M50s were balance modded so....

post #5 of 57

Very interesting, great work!  You made them look very nice too.  I'd love to see someone try something like woodie M50s too, lol.

 

M50s with soundstage and a better midrange would really be something to praise.  I'd love to hear a pair! XD

post #6 of 57

Looks nice! I'd try this if I were more DIY-inclined and had a set of phones to fall back on if (when) I screw it up

post #7 of 57

Considering the cost of the M50, I'm surprised others haven't tried to mod it to this extent. Nice job OP. I'd love to hear them.

post #8 of 57

Fantastic work! If only I didn't already love my m50's for what they are, and I had the skills, I would have definitely tried to pull something like that. Would you be able to put up a more elaborate tutorial?

post #9 of 57
Thread Starter 

Quote:
Did you try leaving the stock damping felt behind the driver?  It would cover the opening, but sound would still go through it so it would still be open, but may help tame the highs and keep the bass detail and punch.  You could also try different materials behind the driver.  It is tuned to be completely closed, so having some damping before the open back could be good even if not quite as open.

Yes, I tried many combinations, including the two you stated. They turned out adding a stuffy and congested sound. I also tried using some KSC-75 pads i had sitting around and used that instead of the fiberloft; the same happened, but to a lesser degree. I tried a different convolver impulse in foobar to try to simulate a tube sound, and it did lessen the highs sibilance. The voices are definately fuller with the impulse and when I cover the holes and it reverts back to the thin vocals the M50 had before the mod.

 

 

 

Quote:
Would you be able to put up a more elaborate tutorial?

Yes! Although I must warn you, my methods of modding aren't very clean and can sometimes be barbaric. :P

post #10 of 57

You're daring!

They look interesting indeed. 

post #11 of 57
Thread Starter 

UPDATE: 

 

After about a week of listening to the modded M50's I'm thouroughly impressed with how much the M50's have gained a more euphonic and full approach. Of course, it was just the process of my ears getting used to the new sound, but I am very happy with the outcome of this mod. I was listening to Outkast's Idlewild album and the instruments have much more space to play around in; the instruments are farther back and overall the headphones have impressed me with the amount of soundstage gained. They are less forgiving to low quality sources though, and it's definitely not enjoyable listing to music that was poorly recorded. 

 

The way I would describe the sound is full and rich with deep and quick bass, but while also having a wide and audible soundstage that gives them a euphoric sound. The mids have improved, slightly, but have gained warmth and slightly more forward.

 

With the Urei 1178 Impulse in foobar the mids pop out and become rich and full; although this didn't happen when they were closed. I consider this cheating, but if you do this mod and feel the need for more mids I suggest using the impulse. 

post #12 of 57

 hmmm interesting I wonder that the ultrasone HFi series would sound like*its contender* opening them up..... or the JVC HX700 since they are cheep lol.

post #13 of 57

You just made an Open back M50.  wink.gif

nice!


Edited by earerror - 3/7/11 at 2:09pm
post #14 of 57

 

 

Yes! Although I must warn you, my methods of modding aren't very clean and can sometimes be barbaric. :P



lol, i don't mind -- i'd like to try this mod :D

post #15 of 57
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WeeGee View Post

lol, i don't mind -- i'd like to try this mod :D


Alright! It might take me a while, as I've been quite busy lately, but I'll make sure to post a detailed tutorial on how to do this mod. :)

 

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