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Sub-$200: Audio-Technica ATH-M50S or Sennheiser HD 598

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

So, for awhile now, I've been looking around for a pair of well-balanced, sub-$200 headphones, and it seems it comes down really to either the Audio-Technica ATH-M50's or the Sennheiser HD 598's (though I am definitely open to suggestions :D). Each have their pro's and cons, which I've compiled below, but I thought I'd get some input from people who really know their equipment. Primarily, my usage would be centered around rock / metal, but also ranges into pop, electronic, etc. - which is why I'm aiming for a good all-rounder set. I realise that there's another thread comparing these two headphones, but that user was centering his comparison around techno, and it wasn't really resolved, anyway. So, if I may have your time, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this?

Pros + Cons:
 

Audio-Technica ATH-M50 - Cons

Very tight sound-stage, a lot of the sounds are grouped quite tightly.

Uncomfortable for long usage (2 hours+).

 

Audio-Technica ATH-M50 - Pros

Don't leak very much audio (a relatively large factor for me)

Great all-rounder set, which produce both midrange and high-end audio quite well, with strong, but not overpowering bass.
 

Sennheiser HD 598 - Cons

Leak a lot of sound.

Aren't strong on bass.

 

Sennheiser HD 598 Pros

Fantastic sound-stage.

Produce all ranges with a fair bit more balance than the ATH-M50's.

Removable cable.

Quite comfortable.

 

 

Thanks for your time,
Liam.

post #2 of 63
I owned both and would definitely choose the M50 over the HD598, but not at their current price point.

I think you should also be open to the Fischer FA-003/Brainwavz HM5. Those share the same design and though not confirmed, the same sound. Balanced, comfy, isolates well, and look great too. If I didn't mind non-velours, I'd buy one asap.
post #3 of 63
The shure srh840, in my opinion, slays the m50. And seems to split the difference between it and the hd595.
I am probably in the minority on that one here.
The m50 is a headfi darling, but i have a hard time understanding why.
It has withdrawn midrange, metallic treble, wobbly bass, and is cheaply made with ear pads that stiffen and become crusty within a few weeks.
The shure is more even sounding, more well made, scales up incredibly well.
Might sound boring to you at first, but that is sort of the nature of the shure. It will sound better as you improve source and amp.
Oh - lots of folks say the shure is heavy and uncomfortable. I have never thought so.
post #4 of 63

i agree the Shurwe 840 is outstanding and easily beat the M50 I had and sold. The shure is a great headphone.

post #5 of 63

As an owner for both HP's, I can say that the HD 598 is far better and a superior headphone in all aspects to the m50 except bass extension and isolation.

 

 


Edited by LEGendARY - 12/18/11 at 6:38am
post #6 of 63
Thread Starter 

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

I owned both and would definitely choose the M50 over the HD598, but not at their current price point.

I think you should also be open to the Fischer FA-003/Brainwavz HM5. Those share the same design and though not confirmed, the same sound. Balanced, comfy, isolates well, and look great too. If I didn't mind non-velours, I'd buy one asap.


 

Thanks for the reply, I've just taken a brief look at the Brainwavz HM5 & the Fischer FA-003, and you're right, they're great, and I'll definitely take them into consideration, so now it seems it's a battle between the four of them. If you had to make a choice, what would you recommend?


Edited by LDJ6915 - 12/18/11 at 6:32am
post #7 of 63
If I was gonna buy one now, I'd get the Fischer or Brainwavz, whichever is easier to acquire. People have issues with getting their FA-011s, and I dunno if that issue would also happen with the 003s. The Brainwavz wouldn't have that issue, so I'd probably go for those.

The HD598 isn't what I want for music. The M50 is great, if you got them when they were under $100. Now... too much competition at their price.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 12/18/11 at 6:39am
post #8 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWuss View Post

The shure srh840, in my opinion, slays the m50. And seems to split the difference between it and the hd595.
I am probably in the minority on that one here.
The m50 is a headfi darling, but i have a hard time understanding why.
It has withdrawn midrange, metallic treble, wobbly bass, and is cheaply made with ear pads that stiffen and become crusty within a few weeks.
The shure is more even sounding, more well made, scales up incredibly well.
Might sound boring to you at first, but that is sort of the nature of the shure. It will sound better as you improve source and amp.
Oh - lots of folks say the shure is heavy and uncomfortable. I have never thought so.


I've decided to remove the HD598's from my range for now, I think the sound-leak is just too much for my use.
In regards to the SRH840's, on first look, they seem to be great, and at a fantastic price (~$130). What you've said about the M50's seems to be right, in terms of the hype surrounding them; I've head a few people say that, but tried to dodge it a bit. So if it came down to a 3-way between the Shure's, the Brainwavz HM5's, or the M50's, you'd say the SRH840? 

post #9 of 63

I've had my M50Ss for several months now, and unless I go the in ear monitor (ER-4S) or noise-canceling (ANC7B) route, they will remain my closed headphones for the purpose of trying to drown out the sounds of my fellow office drones. This probably doesn't help you make up your mind, but here's my take.

 

--the coax cable mod increased the comfort and ear aperture nicely, so that they're pretty comfortable (more so than the 840)

--the coax cable mod also helped tame the highs a bit and opened the sound up a little, likely due to there being more space in the "listening room"

--an amp with near-zero output impedance is helpful for controlling the bass quality, and I enjoy tight, balanced bass out of the M50Ss with my pure class A zero output impedance amp

--I listen at quite low volume compared to most people, and the M50 excels at this low volume (see Fletcher-Munson loudness curves) -- I certainly don't have "withdrawn midrange," "metallic highs," or "wobbly bass" at all

--the earpads are in fine shape after an estimated 300 hours of usage, can't notice any wear or difference from brand new (but keep in mind I have the coax mod in place), and these overall seem to be very durable audio gear

--I owned the 840 and was never quite satisfied with it from a headfeel perspective or from a sonic perspective -- and your mileage may vary if you listen at a higher volume, but I'm not a fan of loud music -- the M50 is more satisfying to me mechanically and sonically by a good 30% over the 840

--I paid $40 more for my 840 than I did for my M50

--I also very briefly had the 940 and that was not my cup of tea

--I also have the Denon D1001 which is very light and comfortable but the headclamp could be stronger, the isolation is very poor, and the sound is somewhat "smoky" even compared to the 840 (bass is better though)

 

All that said about the M50, I am considering stepping up the isolation beyond what passive closed studio monitors like the 840, M50, Sony V6/7506 etc. are capable of by looking into the in ear monitors and noise-canceling sets... Depends what's most important, and the way things have gotten where I work, more isolation would actually yield the best sonic improvement...


Edited by Nepenthe - 12/18/11 at 7:19am
post #10 of 63

It depends on how you´re going to use your headphones.

 

Whilst the Sennheisers are far from ideal for using outside the house, they´re great for using indoors when no one´s around/alone in the room/they don't mind the leaking. I've had both the M50's and the Senns, and I'm in the process of returning the M50's, as their mids leave a lot to be desired compared to the Sennheisers.

 

If you can, try and shop around. If there's a local musicstore, see if they let you try out different pairs and determine which one you find best. What sounds good is for everybody something personal. Some may find the 598's bass lacking and want something more tight sounding, whilst others think that the bass is great and the soundstage is fantastic. It all depends on the listener, really.

post #11 of 63

Also, have you considered the Sennheiser HD25-1 II?

 

It's about $175.

post #12 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nepenthe View Post

I've had my M50Ss for several months now, and unless I go the in ear monitor (ER-4S) or noise-canceling (ANC7B) route, they will remain my closed headphones for the purpose of trying to drown out the sounds of my fellow office drones. This probably doesn't help you make up your mind, but here's my take.

 

--the coax cable mod increased the comfort and ear aperture nicely, so that they're pretty comfortable (more so than the 840)

--the coax cable mod also helped tame the highs a bit and opened the sound up a little, likely due to there being more space in the "listening room"

--an amp with near-zero output impedance is helpful for controlling the bass quality, and I enjoy tight, balanced bass out of the M50Ss with my pure class A zero output impedance amp

--I listen at quite low volume compared to most people, and the M50 excels at this low volume (see Fletcher-Munson loudness curves) -- I certainly don't have "withdrawn midrange," "metallic highs," or "wobbly bass" at all

--the earpads are in fine shape after an estimated 300 hours of usage, can't notice any wear or difference from brand new (but keep in mind I have the coax mod in place), and these overall seem to be very durable audio gear

--I owned the 840 and was never quite satisfied with it from a headfeel perspective or from a sonic perspective -- and your mileage may vary if you listen at a higher volume, but I'm not a fan of loud music -- the M50 is more satisfying to me mechanically and sonically by a good 30% over the 840

--I paid $40 more for my 840 than I did for my M50

--I also very briefly had the 940 and that was not my cup of tea

--I also have the Denon D1001 which is very light and comfortable but the headclamp could be stronger, the isolation is very poor, and the sound is somewhat "smoky" even compared to the 840 (bass is better though)

 

All that said about the M50, I am considering stepping up the isolation beyond what passive closed studio monitors like the 840, M50, Sony V6/7506 etc. are capable of by looking into the in ear monitors and noise-canceling sets... Depends what's most important, and the way things have gotten where I work, more isolation would actually yield the best sonic improvement...


Thanks for the info! It's nice to have some balance to the negative notes on the M50's. Originally, I had thought a lot of it to be hype, but under closer inspection, it seems these headphones are a legitimately solid set. For me, isolation is only important for the outside observer, as I'm usually not in an environment where I'll have a lot of outside noise. To be honest, the only thing holding me back from going for the M50's right off the bat is that when there is a negative comment about them, it's usually pretty bad - now I guess you could put this down to the fact that you just can't please everyone, etc. but my better judgement says to be cautious. The only thing I'm really worried about is the sound-stage issue - the one thing that would drive me nuts, is if it was too dense. 

 

If I had to choose at the moment, I think I'd still go the M50's, quickly followed by the Brainwavz HM5 - which too seem to have some quite favorable reviews.

post #13 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nepenthe View Post

Also, have you considered the Sennheiser HD25-1 II?

 

It's about $175.


Actually, I have - I've tried them in person, too. I didn't really find them to my liking, sadly.

post #14 of 63
The M50 was my second pair of decent headphones (AD700 was my first), and the M50s are still among my very faves. I guess hating on them is the hipster thing to do, but I can't knock them at all. They're great all arounders, and a downright steal at less than $100. Post headband stretch, they were superbly comfy (and I'm a comfort whore who tends to hate pleather), isolated very well, and had solid bass without being severely bloated. Perhaps if they still sold the blue box version, I'd have a pair if they were $90 or so.
post #15 of 63

HD598 without hesitation.

 

M50 is not in the same league about SQ.

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