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Audio Technica ATH-M50 - What's all the fuss about?

post #1 of 82
Thread Starter 

Hi folks.

 

On the back of the incredible reviews the Audio Technica ATH-M50s have picked up on Head-Fi, I decided to give them a whirl.

 

I'm a little baffled as to why they're considered so strong for the price.  They're ok, but:

 

1) The bass seems a little over-emphasised  But it isn't the right kind of bass, in that it feels somewhat ill defined..

2) The mids seem recessed to the point that I feel I am missing intended detail and emphasis.

 

Have to say, compared to the Fischer FA-004s (which is miles cheaper) there's no competition to my ears.

 

What do you find so strong about the ATH-M50s?  Am I missing something?

 

They're driven by an O2 headphone amp and Xonar Essence as source, so doubt I am.

post #2 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deckard1979 View Post

Hi folks.

 

On the back of the incredible reviews the Audio Technica ATH-M50s have picked up on Head-Fi, I decided to give them a whirl.

 

I'm a little baffled as to why they're considered so strong for the price.  They're ok, but:

 

1) The bass seems a little over-emphasised  But it isn't the right kind of bass, in that it feels somewhat ill defined..

2) The mids seem recessed to the point that I feel I am missing intended detail and emphasis.

 

Have to say, compared to the Fischer FA-004s (which is miles cheaper) there's no competition to my ears.

 

What do you find so strong about the ATH-M50s?  Am I missing something?

 

They're driven by an O2 headphone amp and Xonar Essence as source, so doubt I am.



I agree for the most part. I have the Sony MDR-7506 and while there were things I liked about the m50, I found my Sonys do most things better, most importantly most instruments and vocalists. My girlfriend and I spent about an hour A-Bing them and the Sonys were clearly the better headphone at $100 for them vs $160 for the A-Ts.

 

They're not terrible, but there is much better out there for the price.

 

post #3 of 82

The soundtrack you are listening

 

- the type of music

- quality of the recording

 

Your own ears

 

- peoples ears are all different, what you hear might not be the same to the guy next to you.

 

Preference

 

- Totally subjective, some people might call bass boomy while others might not. Some might prefer it to be boomy while others do not.

 

Equipment

 

Mix all these things and couple of other things together and you get one huge mess. That is why there is no best headphone. The M50 sound signature has proven to be quite good for most of the people. That doesn't mean it will sound good to you.

post #4 of 82
Thread Starter 

Agreed - will probably cash these in, unfortunately, which is a shame because the seller was fantastic.  What do you like about the 7506s?

 

I want a sound that is close, bright and sharp.  I want maximum fidelity as the type of music I most often listen to requires intimacy (early Joni Mitchell for example).  I also want a comfortable, closed headphone (so things like Grado are out of the question).
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by He11fire217 View Post



I agree for the most part. I have the Sony MDR-7506 and while there were things I liked about the m50, I found my Sonys do most things better, most importantly most instruments and vocalists. My girlfriend and I spent about an hour A-Bing them and the Sonys were clearly the better headphone at $100 for them vs $160 for the A-Ts.

 

They're not terrible, but there is much better out there for the price.

 



 

post #5 of 82
Thread Starter 

My ears are pretty standard, but perhaps my taste in music is not.

 

It does not surprise me that the M50 has fans.  It just surprises me that it has this many.

 

I can actually compare them in a sense to a pair of 'Beats' (eg. bass emphasised and lacking in definition), though admittedly they're nowhere near that bad.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Papander View Post

The soundtrack you are listening

 

- the type of music

- quality of the recording

 

Your own ears

 

- peoples ears are all different, what you hear might not be the same to the guy next to you.

 

Preference

 

- Totally subjective, some people might call bass boomy while others might not. Some might prefer it to be boomy while others do not.

 

Equipment

 

Mix all these things and couple of other things together and you get one huge mess. That is why there is no best headphone. The M50 sound signature has proven to be quite good for most of the people. That doesn't mean it will sound good to you.



 

post #6 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deckard1979 View Post

My ears are pretty standard, but perhaps my taste in music is not.

 

It does not surprise me that the M50 has fans.  It just surprises me that it has this many.

 

I can actually compare them in a sense to a pair of 'Beats' (eg. bass emphasised and lacking in definition), though admittedly they're nowhere near that bad.


I've said a few times to people that the way the ATH-M50s signature is how I expected the Beats to sound without hearing them first. Once I heard the Beats Solos, you're right, it was so, so much worse. An insult to music fidelity.

 

About the Sonys: I used them with stock pads for a year before I upgraded and started to play with them a bit, buying Beyer 250 velour pads and modifying the cable to make it a break-away. I still sometimes switch back and forth between the stock and Beyer pads because I feel like it does affect the sound ever so slightly and I'm not sure which one I like more. By the way, my latest upgrade made me truly realize how great the Sonys are for the money. I can see myself buying/selling a lot more headphones in the next few years, but I don' t think the Sonys are going anywhere. My latest upgrade is 5x more expensive according to their MSRPs, so you have to make big jumps to leapfrog the 7506s.

 

With the stock pads: They're very detailed, maybe a times just A BIT too bright (nothing major and does not decrease from my die-hard love of the 7506s), with solid and accurate but unspectacular midrange, and decent bass. The bass is a bit tight for my tastes and would occasionally leave me wanting more. No harshness or distortion at listenable volumes and overall a pleasing but slightly analytical sound as a symptom of the fact that they are monitor 'phones.

 

With the Beyer pads: They take a bit of the "bite" away from the treble and smooths them out a bit. It also increases the bass, but I think it increases it by bloating it slightly. It doesn't feel quite as refined as it did with the stock pads, but is sometimes a lot more fun. The Beyer pads possibly decrease the overall accuracy in other ways as well, as I sometimes suspect that the bass is bleeding into the lower mids, but I'm not knowledgable enough to say for sure.
 

Overall, the 7506s are a studio standard and are phenomenal for the money. If you find them harsh in the treble area or lacking in bass (or both), I recommend trying the Beyer pads for another $20. Those might modify their response curve enough to make them more to your liking. Hope this helps!

 


Sam

post #7 of 82

Probably depends on the music you listen to. My M50s don't sound boomy at all and for acoustic chill/indie/folk type of music they sound fantastic, IMO.  I tried my chill playlist with the beats and personally they sounded kinda muddy, nothing like the M50s.  Comparing them in this "genre" is like comparing apples to oranges. 

 

Papander is totally right, it really comes down to what you hear, not what everyone else seems to agree on.  I love my M50s, I don't care if they are over-hyped or not.  

 

Los

post #8 of 82
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info.  Judging by your description of what the Beyer pads do, I'd probably stick with the stock pads.  There probably isn't anything 'too bright' for me - someone commented on another thread about removing the foam pads on the FA-006s 'making your ears bleed', while to me the improvement after removal was night and day.  Why take high fidelity and muffle it with cheap foam?
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by He11fire217 View Post


I've said a few times to people that the way the ATH-M50s signature is how I expected the Beats to sound without hearing them first. Once I heard the Beats Solos, you're right, it was so, so much worse. An insult to music fidelity.

 

About the Sonys: I used them with stock pads for a year before I upgraded and started to play with them a bit, buying Beyer 250 velour pads and modifying the cable to make it a break-away. I still sometimes switch back and forth between the stock and Beyer pads because I feel like it does affect the sound ever so slightly and I'm not sure which one I like more. By the way, my latest upgrade made me truly realize how great the Sonys are for the money. I can see myself buying/selling a lot more headphones in the next few years, but I don' t think the Sonys are going anywhere. My latest upgrade is 5x more expensive according to their MSRPs, so you have to make big jumps to leapfrog the 7506s.

 

With the stock pads: They're very detailed, maybe a times just A BIT too bright (nothing major and does not decrease from my die-hard love of the 7506s), with solid and accurate but unspectacular midrange, and decent bass. The bass is a bit tight for my tastes and would occasionally leave me wanting more. No harshness or distortion at listenable volumes and overall a pleasing but slightly analytical sound as a symptom of the fact that they are monitor 'phones.

 

With the Beyer pads: They take a bit of the "bite" away from the treble and smooths them out a bit. It also increases the bass, but I think it increases it by bloating it slightly. It doesn't feel quite as refined as it did with the stock pads, but is sometimes a lot more fun. The Beyer pads possibly decrease the overall accuracy in other ways as well, as I sometimes suspect that the bass is bleeding into the lower mids, but I'm not knowledgable enough to say for sure.
 

Overall, the 7506s are a studio standard and are phenomenal for the money. If you find them harsh in the treble area or lacking in bass (or both), I recommend trying the Beyer pads for another $20. Those might modify their response curve enough to make them more to your liking. Hope this helps!

 


Sam



 

post #9 of 82

The hype for the ATH-M50 stems from a bunch of reviews from a number of years ago, when it first came out. Since then, a lot of headphones have been introduced in its price range that beat it, it's gone up in price, and people have become disenchanted with it. Check out this thread for a few more reasons.

 

As for replacements with an up-close, bright sound, I would've immediately recommended Grado, especially considering you didn't like the bass boom of the M50. However, in lieu of open headphones as an option, a number of Shures and Pioneers come to mind.

post #10 of 82
I think the Sony xb500 with an EQ will be what you need. For the cost the Sony and panasonics HTF-600 can't be beat. I would like some m-audio Q40.
post #11 of 82

The M50 phenomenon is basically a mini-viral. Everyone on youtube in the past 2 years who got sick of Dre Beats were recommended M50's, and made videos to recommend M50's, which in turn spurred more people to get these; non-audiophiles really JUST look for big bass and so-called "crisp" treble anyway, which M50's offer in abundance due to its mids recess. Also other major non-audiophile forums like Reddit tend to over-recommend M50's as well, just due to its accessibility and how everyone kind of knows it.

 

All of these went down for the past 2 years at least, so there's a huge number of people who have the M50's and would vouch it in a heartbeat to people they know looking for relatively (to Beats) cheap and high performance cans. And the cycle goes on.

post #12 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by jerg View Post

The M50 phenomenon is basically a mini-viral. Everyone on youtube in the past 2 years who got sick of Dre Beats were recommended M50's, and made videos to recommend M50's, which in turn spurred more people to get these; non-audiophiles really JUST look for big bass and so-called "crisp" treble anyway, which M50's offer in abundance due to its mids recess. Also other major non-audiophile forums like Reddit tend to over-recommend M50's as well, just due to its accessibility and how everyone kind of knows it.

All of these went down for the past 2 years at least, so there's a huge number of people who have the M50's and would vouch it in a heartbeat to people they know looking for relatively (to Beats) cheap and high performance cans. And the cycle goes on.

Recessed mids? Nu-uhh
post #13 of 82
I don't want to make it seem like I don't the m50, because I do. I just already had a set that I LOVE and prefer over the m50, especially when price paid is taken into consideration.

I also don't think that they're the jack of all trades or tremendous value (@ MSRP) that some people make them out to be. I still recommend them to people occasionally, but it's for pretty specific cases and mainly based on their looks and relative portability.
post #14 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by He11fire217 View Post

I don't want to make it seem like I don't the m50, because I do. I just already had a set that I LOVE and prefer over the m50, especially when price paid is taken into consideration.
I also don't think that they're the jack of all trades or tremendous value (@ MSRP) that some people make them out to be. I still recommend them to people occasionally, but it's for pretty specific cases and mainly based on their looks and relative portability.

Well yeah, I wouldn't say they are the end-all of all budget cans.
I think it's become the reverse FOTM effect, people keep pointing out the obvious, it almost becomes more of an issue with the m50's status rather than focusing on the importance- the sound.
Yes, they aren't perfect nor technically high-end, but they sure do make a great bargain. All with hints of the infamous audio-technica sound.
post #15 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sil3nce View Post


Recessed mids? Nu-uhh


I've had my pair of M50's for the past year, I know how they sound. I've done various iterations of parametric equalizations for them too, the gist of the perceived FR from these cans is a significant (~6 to 7 dB) recessed mids, as well as two significant treble peaks.

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