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Help me buy headphone. Is ATH m50 overrated?

Poll Results: Which would you recommend

This is a multiple choice poll
  • 22% (4)
    Sennheiser HD558
  • 44% (8)
    ATH M50
  • 11% (2)
    AKG K550
  • 16% (3)
    AKG Q701
  • 22% (4)
    Other
18 Total Votes  
post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, long time lurker on headfi, this is my first post. So I've been looking to snag a new pair of headphones since my old ones (Klipsch Image Ones I got for $35 used) broke. I'm setting my budget around $200 for the whole setup, preferably less, would maybe go a tad over for a significant sound improvement.

 

In terms of first pair headphones recommendations, I hear ATH M50's thrown around a TON. Even 2 of my friends recommended them, however, I have also read occasionally that "ATH M50 is the most overrated headphone of the century". I might reconsider though, because I saw a refurb deal for only $75.

 

The other headphones I'm consider are the Sennheiser HD558, which are supposed to be excellent, cheap open headphones. I also am considering the AKG K550 if I can find a sale on it. I also saw AKG Q701 on sale used for ~$125. I would have instantly snagged these, but they supposedly do strongly require amping, and a DAC, and the amp setup itself would cost me more than the headphones and put me a chunk over budget.

 

What I'm looking for:

My number one consideration is cost-efficiency because I am a college student. I am willing to go towards $200 and maybe a bit higher, but only if the increase in quality is actually significant. I would like to hover around the $100 range.

I want a pair of headphones with really good soundstage; I'm tired of having that "inside your head" sound and I would like a pair with really broad soundstage. (AKG K550 is supposed to have on of the best closed soundstage, and since HD558 is open, naturally that also has a good soundstage).

Comfort is also important because I wear headphones for several hours a day while doing homework.

I would ideally like a closed set because I live in a dorm and have a roommate, but if the leakage isn't bad, that'd be okay too.

 

I listen to a pretty wide range of music: I like a lot of acoustic music, Tommy Emmanuel, Jack Johnson, Taylor Swift. I also listen to a lot of pop, and some rap like Macklemore. The Klipsch Image Ones I have right now are pretty bass heavy, and I kind of enjoy that sound signature because it's fun, but I think I would also enjoy a pair of flat, nuanced headphones where I can pick out more detail.

 

So, out of these picks, ATH M50, AKG Q701, Senn HD558, and AKG K 550 or any other headphones, what would you guys recommend? I know it's kind of broad, but I'd like to hear some opinions and recommendations.

Thanks a bunch!

post #2 of 34

You need to determine whether or not you plan to use and amp.  The Q 701 is a great can with an outstanding soundstage, but requires an amp.  The others on your list probably don't (depending on what you have to drive them), but would either certainly or likely benefit from one. 

 

I suggest you start with the Buying Guide:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/a/headphone-buying-guide

post #3 of 34
The M50 is not overrated. It's just misunderstood by many new to the hobby. It's a good all arounder for a closed headphone for around ~$125 with some bass emphasis, and it's popular. So it's often purchased by people as their first major decent headphone because a lot of people know about it. And then later on they find something they like better, and they figure that means there is something wrong with the M50.

Of course that can happen. If you listen to some other different highly rated headphones--and especially if you can spend more money--you can definitely probably find something you like better. But, without the ability to do that, the M50 is a solid choice for a closed headphone, and a very good deal for $75 refurbished. This is why it's still on Innerfidelity's Wall of Fame list. Here is their review: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/audio-technica-ath-m50

Now the HD558 is equally a good open headphone in the same price range. But it will leak a good bit of sound. Not something you can probably use in the same room while your roommate is studying. And certainly no good for portable use in public.

What make/model devices are you going to use the headphones with?
post #4 of 34
Thread Starter 

So out of the ones I'm looking at, I'm pretty confident that the Q701's are the best in terms of soundstage and general sound quality, that being said, I'd like to stay below $120 for the setup, and most of the recommended amps and DAC setups I saw are around $160, which the $160+$120 would put me way over budget. If I could find a good amp that would do it justice for closer to $50, I would go for the Q701. Otherwise I'd probably go for cheaper set and maybe upgrade in the future. Thanks for the link, I'll be sure to check it out! Do you have any recommendations for a cheaper amp DAC setup that would work for Q701?

post #5 of 34

The M50 is/has been marketed as a studio headphone.  It is a poor one because it delivers a sound signature that is a long way from neutral.  Some folks like that colored sound signature and some don't.

 

Better studio cans can be found from KRK, Sony and others.

post #6 of 34
Thread Starter 

Alright thanks! that's really helpful, I think I may end up buying the M50's then, considering the low cost entry.

 

I don't have an amp or DAC, which is why right now I'm trying to buy a pair of cans that is easy to drive. I only put the Q701's in as a consideration because I saw the really good deal on a used pair. I'll probably look around at lower headphones for now, and in the next couple of years, upgrade to a better set. I'm gonna keep browsing headfi for good entry headphones, but do you have any strong recommendations for a sub$200 pair of headphones that doesn't require an amp? thanks!

post #7 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by helpmebuystuffp View Post
 

So, out of these picks, ATH M50, AKG Q701, Senn HD558, and AKG K 550 or any other headphones, what would you guys recommend? I know it's kind of broad, but I'd like to hear some opinions and recommendations.

Thanks a bunch!

 

I own the Senn HD558 and AKG K550, both have their positives. 

 

Audio Technica ATH-A900X closed headphones, used for under $150 on eBay.

Also get the Hifiman HE Velour ear pads ($10+shipping).

As the A900Xs are only 40-Ohms, they are easy to drive.

post #8 of 34
There is one problem with the M50's...the cable. This wasn't an issue when I started with them, since I kept them at home, but now I'm up to the Sennheiser HD600 at home, and have no need for the M50 there. I would bring the M50's to work, but I'm playing from my iPhone, and the cable makes a mess on my desk. #FirstWorldProblems and all...

Obviously I find this to be a very minor issue, and I only bring it up because the M50's are good and would be great at my work desk if I didn't have to deal with the calbe. The good news is that the ATH-M50x is basically a straight upgrade and comes with three cables to fit any situation. The X version will be more expensive since the market is still mixed with non-X models, but I personally would pay the premium.

Also, I think your best bet is to spend your entire budget on headphones and get a model that doesn't require an amp.
post #9 of 34

Any "open" headphone is going to leak. So if that is a major concern then remove the open cans from your list.

 

Open are also going to have the largest soundstage. There is just no way around that.

 

For a closed headphone with a decently large soundstage the AKG 550 should hit the mark.

post #10 of 34

Reading OP was like reading my own question. The only thing different (apart from music, but not too much) is that  I can use open headphones since I live alone and will be using at home from my xonar DX (no amp).

I'm pretty hooked on ATH AD900x. Am I going to be happy with that purchase or should I look for something else? Thanks

post #11 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by KnezicDex View Post
 

Reading OP was like reading my own question. The only thing different (apart from music, but not too much) is that  I can use open headphones since I live alone and will be using at home from my Xonar DX (no amp).

I'm pretty hooked on ATH AD900X. Am I going to be happy with that purchase or should I look for something else? Thanks

 

I own the ATH-A900X (closed) headphones and I use them a lot.

I would assume the AD900X (open) headphones sound a little better.

A headphone amplifier might help improve any headphone (better detail), over plugging headphones straight into the Xonar DX.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/715494/schiit-magni-includes-us-shipping

post #12 of 34

Get the K612 or better yet, the HD600. Those two are the best deals in headphones period. And stop worrying about headphone amps and dac's, a good headphone is a good headphone.


Edited by eugenius - 5/13/14 at 2:20pm
post #13 of 34
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, thanks for all the responses so far. So based on what people have said, I think I'm looking between the ATH M50 and AKG K550 (maybe K545 which is a similar but slightly more portable set). For anyone of you who've owned one or both, do you think the K550 is worth the roughly $100 extra on top of the M50's? I've heard a lot of good things about M50s having being good headphones, but also have read a lot about them having a really crappy soundstage, which is one of the areas I'm hoping to upgrade on.

post #14 of 34
If you can still get the M50 for $75, that's a heck of a good deal.

The soundstage for the M50 is fairly narrow for a closed headphone. The K550 is fairly big.

At the M50s regular price of around $125, I would say that the M50 and K550 (I own both) are each priced appropriately in terms of overall price/performance. But that's a judgement call that is based on personal listening experience. You might not feel like the K550 is worth that much more, and no one can predict that for you.
post #15 of 34
Thread Starter 

Alright, thanks so much for all your help! I think I might end up picking up the M50s and maybe buying an open set in the future. I'm probably going about it wrong trying to get good soundstage on closed headphones, when cheaper open headphones can outperform :3

One last quick question, in your opinion how comfortable are M50's? I have on ears right now and I don't really like the pressure, but I imagine with over-ears the ear pressure will be gone. Is the clamping force uncomfortable for longer sessions?

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