Audio Technica ATH-M50 vs Monster Beats Pro
We all know the Beats Pros costs more than twice the M50s and we KNOW they absolutely do not offer twice the quality (if better at all), but from a pure performance standpoint, which is better? How much truth is there to this statement that so many users like to ignorantly throw around?
“Get the ATH-M50 instead, it’s SOOOOOOO much better than the Beats.”
Given the amount of money Monster puts into marketing, it comes as no surprise that the Beats destroys the M50 in presentation. You get a nice magnetic box with the Pros seated inside along with a pouch (with BEATS BY DR DRE written across it of course) as well as a quarter inch adapter plus a microfiber cloth. The Audio Technica arrived only in a plain white box, also with a pouch and quarter inch adapter.
In terms of build quality, the Beats again outshine the ATH-M50. While both are built like a tank, only the Pro look the part. It’s got a nice aluminum body, which combined with the leather pads, just screams luxury. The M50s are made with strong plastic which will last, but looks on the cheap side.
Because of the plastic used on the M50, they weigh quite a bit less than the Beats which make them far more comfortable. The Beats clamps MUCH harder than the M50 and combined with its weight, long listening sessions can be very uncomfortable. While the Beats have a greater clamping force, it isolates just as much as the ATs yet they leak a lot more sound. Both are roughly similar in size.
The Pros can fold up by swiveling the cups in and the M50s can spin in about a million directions. Personally I have never found a use for either since I only use them indoors. The Pros can also have another headphone daisy chained from it, but again, not the most useful thing in the world.
As a fashion accessory (it’s the Beats we’re talking about here!), they both look good but the Beats are simply more stylish. Subjective I know, but with that now famous red “b” plastered across the cups and its black/silver combo plus red cable, it just stands out. The limited edition M50 I have is sexy too, just in a different way. It’s blue on silver is quite elegant, but don’t expect any double takes.
Looks likely won’t carry a lot of weight on Head-fi but I had to include it because, what do you think most buyers actually buy the Beats for? Sound quality? Ha!
Both pairs of headphone were driven from my laptop to a Fiio E7. The Beats were slightly louder at the same volume level but neither sounded different to me amped vs unamped.
The meat of both cans is the low end so let’s start with that. The Beats line is mostly known for their low end (in a good AND bad way) which is understandable since the Pro is definitely bass heavy. The M50 on the other hand, is no wear near basshead level which many claims it to be.
They each bring a different type of bass to the table. The M50 has fantastic extension and its sub bass is VERY powerful, but that’s about it. Everything between low rumble and mids are neutral at best. The MBP on the other hand, is all about the BOOM BOOM BOOM. The low end is rolled off, but what is there, which is what I’d assume most consumers would want, is earth shattering.
The genres I listen to are not complex (top 40 stuff, so mostly pop and rock) so quality wise, I could not say which is better. They were both clear and well presented, just in differing quantities.
You’d expect the Beat’s mids to be recessed but that’s not the case, maybe only very slightly. Everything is smooth to the ears and very audible over the bass. The M50’s midrange, especially vocals, sits further back but is also very clear and coherent but thinner than the Dre. The less aggressive low end on the ATH-M50 seems to allow one pick out more detail from the music.
On the higher end of the frequency responses, I heard the M50 as being slightly harsh in some spots while the Beats were smoother throughout. The Pro sounds more forward all around and the treble is no different. That coupled with the Beats smaller soundstage and it provides quite an intimate listening experience. The M50’s soundstage was both wider and more expansive but won’t hold up to any open back phones.
Overall, I found the M50 quite anemic sounding compared to the Pro. It is not necessarily a bad thing, just VERY different. When listening to the M50 from the Pro, it’s almost akin to me listening to my HD 598 from any other pair of headphone. It sounds thin and different, but still damn good. The Beats is colored but I felt it very nicely represents what the general population would want. The Audio Technica would be better suited for studio work or to neutral seekers that do not want to go open.
Keep in mind I’m writing this more from a “regular persons” perspective than an audiophile. I’m using a cheap setup, listen to supposedly badly mastered music, care about the looks, and like bass. If you fall under this category and just don’t give a damn about the price to quality ratio and/or have unlimited money? I’d go for the Beats. *GASP!*
I am not saying one is better than the other and that is exactly the point I am trying to make. A lot of people blindly recommend the M50s over everything, ESPECIALLY the Beats, regardless if they heard them or not. You can be a “hater” all you want but just because it’s THE BEATS do not mean it is automatically inferior, certainly not to your ALMIGHTY OVERHYPED OMG M50.
Is the M50 a better value than the Beats Pro? Hell yeah! But does it sound better? Hell no!
Audio Technica ATH-M50 vs Monster Beats Studio
Packaging of the Studios is similar to the Pros so the comparison above still applies. Build quality of the Studios is not quite on par with the M50 but still quite good. It is made of glossy plastic that though doesn’t seem particularly durable, has held up well. If a complaint was to be made, it would be that they are a bit creaky but it’s not a big deal. In terms of overall looks, the Beats Studios are stylish – much more so than the Pros or the M50 but YMMV.
Like its big brother (and the M50s), the Studios are foldable which lets it fit nicely in the provided hard shelled case. Also like the Pros, it features a removable cable, a feature that is always welcomed. UNLIKE the Pros, however, is that they are extremely comfortable and light. Comfort edges out the competition by far. The missing ear cup swivel like the ATH-M50 sucks but the lack of “DJ mode”/daisy-chaining ala the Pros won’t be missed.
One of the main “feature” of the Beats Studio is the Active Noise Cancellation. To me, the feature was a mixed bag. On one hand, the noise reductions works reasonably well, but on the other, there is a constant hiss in the background. You can’t help but feel the sound would have been better without it. Passive isolation on the Beats Studio is poor both in and out and definitely doesn’t hold up to the Audio Technica. I would drop the ANC and reliance on batteries in a heartbeat for better sound and isolation. Another feature worth mentioning, is the Studios lets you temporarily mute the music by pressing the right side earcup down. Pretty nifty.
When you look at the Beats Studio in tandem with its looks, it’s easy to see why they are popular. Unlike the M50s which offer an impactful sub bass, the Studio is all about ever-so-important BOOM BOOM BOOM midbass. Actually, if you take a look at their FR you can see the sub bass is non-existent. I don’t think the Studios are as bloated as people make it out to be but they are definitely on the muddy side. The meaty bass makes the overall sound signature thick which is further exacerbated by the uneven treble. Closer examination of any anything past the bass results in disappointment. The midrange is always there but manages to lose its coherency to the low end. The high end is fairly laid back which further makes the bass known yet it’s still harsh at spots. Soundstage is the only quality that is “average” which is more than what can be said about the sound itself. The end result is a smooth sounding can with very subpar clarity.
Compared directly to the Beats, the M50 is very, and I mean VERY clean sounding. Very different too. The bass is deeper but less chunky, the midrange is thinner but more coherent, and the highs, though also slightly harsh, is more detailed and sparkly. On a technical level, there is no doubt the Studio pale in comparison to the M50.
With that being said, audiophile specifications are usually thrown out the window by consumers, so the winner may not be so clear cut. For the genres popular among the Beats target market, they offer a more satisfying bass punch. It is also more relaxed and full sounding - the M50 sounds almost clinical in comparison. Let’s also not forget the big red “b” plastered on the cups will give their wearers +10 rep.
By Head-Fi standards the Monster Beats Studio is pretty bad sounding but if you realize the standards of your average joe schmoe is set by Skullcandys and what not, then yes, they are ****ing AMAZING sounding. It’s just that WE realize, FOR THE PRICE, we can get something exponentially better. Really though, for what it is and for who it’s targeted at along with the fact that it is a fashion statement, it’s pretty okay.
Edited by GigaFi - 9/14/12 at 6:48pm