Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Studio Monitor Headphones

Average User Rating:
4/5,
  1. firev1
    3.5/5,
    "Good cans for DJs and those entering Head fi"
    Pros - Nice Treble extension, good bass,Clamping Force, portable, nice looking, no amping needed
    Cons - Clamping force which needs breaking in, slightly recessed mids, slightly bloated bass, shallow pads, closed sounstage
    So finally I gave them up for an upgrade. Now to write what I think of them.
     
    Build and Design: 
    I think these are some of MOST solidly built cans I seen comparing to the ATH-SQ5 which was my previous cans and other cans like DT 235, Shure 440 which would be important to say DJs. Its very portable to store away too with its swivel cups. There are days which I would just chuck it in my bag and safe to say when I sold it away, it was still in very good condition considering my heavy usage pattern(mobile warrior).
     
    Sound:
    I did not do a review back when I got it because I did not have a high up there reference but now that I have an idea of how these cans are.
     
    High.
    Good treble detail but slightly forgiving. The now similarly priced Shure 840s will give you better highs though.
     
    Mids
    Despite having the white box ones, I still find myself pushing the volume up to hear those vocals, so the mids are still kind of recessed. Guitar tracks sound a little flat on some songs but otherwise it is pretty minor.
     
    Bass
    Oh man, this has all the bass I need, sometimes I think a little too much but maybe that is because of bass bloat? 
     
    Overall: 
    Sound quality wise I compared these to the DT770PRO  and I'm pretty sure its just a sidestep, with the 770 needing an amp to drive it. Vocals sound a little distant compared to the DT880 and ER-4S both which are somewhat a reference to me. Soundstage is very closed though. Switching from my monitors (R2000T) or my NAD speaker system to the M50 would give me headaches. I recommend using crossfeeding like Isone Pro or Redline Monitor with them.  
     
    I absolutely recommend looking into the second hand market as these can go pretty cheap and in great condition. 
     
     
    So in the end do I recommend these? Yes, but mostly for DJs, people entering from consumer-fi and road warriors. I think the alternative, Shure 840s, DT770s are better cans then the M50. 
     
     
     
  2. ssrock64
    3.5/5,
    "Entry-Level, But Not Forgotten"
    Pros - Durable, Not-Too-Steep V-curve
    Cons - Price Hikes, Clamping Force, Not Great For Production
    These, thanks to Head-Fi, were my first audiophile-grade cans. After getting more and more into the world of headphones and getting perspective, I can go back and view these without being a first-time user.
     
    While not exceptional at the $150 I paid for it, it's still a fun V-shaped sound-sig can that I enjoyed keeping around for awhile even after upgrading.
  3. bcasey25raptor
    3.5/5,
    "Best under $150, Really? "
    Pros - Build quality, non-revealing, fun, bass, highs
    Cons - mids, comfort, Price
    (disclaimer: My rating scale is based off of what i paid for the headphones not msrp, Review is based off of what i think of them compared to their respective $150 price point)
     
     
         Ah the all mighty hyped best under $150 giant killers the m50s. Every noobs first step into audiophilia, and to many their last. Why is this such a popular headphone amongst noobs and the most recommended headphone on head-fi? I honestly don't know. There is nothing special about these headphones and they are far from giant killers beating out headphones 2x their price. I would be hesitant to pay the $150 they go for nowadays but for $96 dollars i feel they are great.
     
         Let's look at it's competition.
    We have the shure srh440, 840, and 750dj, We have the sennheiser hd 25 1 ii. Of these i owned all but the 440s so i will leave them out of this review. The srh840 from shure can be had for a really cheap price of $130 which imo is a steal for what you get. While the sennheiser hd 25 1 ii is a lot more expensive but i still believe their $199 price point is justified. Of these 3 headphones i felt the sennheiser hd 25 1 ii were the funnest to listen to, the shure srh840 were the most detailed and accurate, so where does this leave the m50s? While they don't even compare. Some would call them an entirely different can altogether, i beg to differ. The m50s are relatively neutral but have a slight recession in the mid range. The highs though relatively extended are quite harsh and the louder you listen to them the more harsh they get. They also sound slightly muddy to me. Not hugely but ever so slightly. I don't understand their praise unless everyone bought them for $100. Even then i think they are decent until you reach their $150 price point. At that price the competition far surpasses the m50s leaving the m50s in the dust.
     
         I think the true value in these cans has to be their versatility in being able to handle any genre you throw at it. They sound impressive with electronic, Rock sounds fun and aggressive, Acoustic sounds lively (though a little fake to me), and classical has enough instrument separation to still be enjoyable. Sound stage on these cans however is quite closed in.
     
          Comfort on these is average, Shallow pads with little space to circumaurally cover your ears can be a little cramped and partly leads to this closed in sound stage. I ran with this data and applied the shure srh840 pads to these cans. Soundstage was definitely improved but at the expense of the aggression. Highs are tamed which is to me a good thing but some people would hate this. Also the bass is drastically reduced. The 840 pads improves the comfort exponentially however.
     
         Now the question is do i recommend these headphones? If you can get them under $130 then go for it. They are versatile and easy to drive, but at $130 better competition shows up. We get the shure srh840, and soon the sennheiser hd 25 1 ii. The srh440 for $80 may still beat out the m50s but i am yet to hear those.
     
         I draw my conclusion that like anything on the internet things are blown out of proportion. One person recommends someone to a noobie, noobie buys it and recommends it, then everyone recommends it and it spreads like a virus. The m50s are that virus but they aren't a bad one. In the last few months the m50 hype has died down exponentially based off of a more expensive price point. It's for the best even if the m50s have brought fun and enjoyment to thousands who have had the opportunity to purchase or audition a pair. I only hope we can grow to understand that like many things, just because it's popular doesn't mean it's the best.
     
     
    Have a nice day and thank you for reading my review.
    3ternalDr4gon likes this.
  4. ytisawfulnow
    3.5/5,
    "Great sound, horrible comfort"
    Pros - Excellent sound, hardly any leakage, don't require to be amped, coiled cable, low price
    Cons - Uncomfortable, require a lot of burn in for best sound
    It seemed these were the perfect headphones which met my expectations perfectly when i first got them, great sound, not too muddy, decent bass response without being too boomy or out of control, don't require to be amped (not even on my $30 logitech computer speakers)  hardly any sound leakage, some passive noise cancelling... they seemed perfect! too good to be true. After i wore them for about a minute i already started to notice excessive discomfort these are without a doubt the most uncomfortable headphones i've ever worn, whoever has said something positive about the comfort for these probably hasn't worn them for more than 5 minutes, where do i begin? oh yeah they have a REALLY tight clamp, especially at the bottom of the ear cups under my ears i've had these for a week and have been stretching them over a box for about 34 to 43 hours but they still feel horrible, the speakers inside the headphones sticks out and rubs against my ears and it's really annoying, i tried stuffing cotton balls under the ear cups to seperate them but the sound quality got really tinny and horrible. then there's the headband, there's almost no padding on the headband and when i take them off my head hurts where the headband was, i've tried adjusting them and it just makes it worse. The sound quality of these headphones are great and probably the best i have/will hear in any closed headphone for such a good price, and that's why it's so hard for me to return them due to such discomfort, guess i'll never find the right headphones. [​IMG]
     
    Now there are some mixed opinions for the comfort on these as there always will be as different people have different shaped heads and are more/less sensitive to comfort so i would reccomend trying these on in a store for around 10 minutes and make an honest judgement about the comfort, some people will be okay with them but for me they're torture to my head.
     
    Also could you guys please reccomend me a pair of closed headphones the most similar to the M50s around the same price range that are actually comfortable, and next to no sound leakage, i'm really picky about sound leakage.
    - Thanks.
    Syros likes this.
  5. Danchou
    5.0/5,
    "Excellent closed cans"
    Pros - Sound- and build quality, value, looks pro, amazing soundstage and imaging for a closed can
    Cons - pleather gets sweaty, some beats/ drums a bit overpresent
    Overall:
    The ATH-M50 is a well built, beatiful HP. It has swivel earcups and comfortable high quality pleather pads. It comes in big white box with a leather bag and a 6,3 mm jack.
    (ATH-M50 and ATH-M50S are the same HP. M50s has straight(S) cable, M50 has coiled.)

    Sound:
    The ATH-M50 sound great out of the box, but started to shine after ~50 hours of burn in.
    They sound detailed, refined and balanced, with a strong but controlled bass.
    The biggest quality of the M50s is, that they don't really do anything wrong. They performed pretty good with evrything I threw at them, and their sonic performance is outstanding in this price class.
    I think it is hard to dislike them at all, but experienced audiophiles may find them to sound "clinical" or "booring", because they don't really shine at anything.
    Newcomer audiophiles on the other hand will be blown away for sure.

    The ATH-M50 made me realise, that a good HP is not all about sound quality.
    A HP this expensive really has to fill all it's owners needs.
    For me the isolation just didn't do it, and the pleather pads got my ears sweaty all the time.
    But that's cause I used them as a portable HP mainly, which they were not designed to be.
    Now with a high end portable HP (hd 25-1) I am as happy as i can be.

    Conclusion:
    The Audio Technica ATH-M50 is a excellent Headphone with outstanding sound quality in it's price class, but I would not recommend it as a portable HP.
    Newcomers to audiophile equipment can't go wrong with this.

    The other reviews for this product are not representative of the quality of this product. For more opinions/ reviews look at the ath-m50s review site
  6. defrenchguy
    3.0/5,
    "ATH-M50 coiled w/ Shure 440 for comparison"
    Pros - Decent "punch" for certain music/awesome DJ set/VERY COMFY
    Cons - Muffled sound/ not very "musical"
    First things first...I was expecting WAY better sound than this after having read over 30 reviews from all over on these phones....I would say the "warm" sound people speak of is the most prominent "feature" the M50's have.
     
    Taking the M50's off and then putting on my Shure 440's made is seem like a curtain was lifted off of the music and can finally clearly hear the details the music has to offer. I find myself searching and looking for details while I wear the M50's, and can simply listen and hear all the music when I wear the 440's. Using bass testing FLAC files on my Xonar sound card (192k/24bit & amped), the M50's do have some nice qualities in the mid-lowish bass range and the amount of bass is decent too. I suspect the thick padding on the inside of phones to comfort the ear could be a culprit to some of the muffled qualities.
     
    Games movies with the M50's carried with it these same "muffled" qualities, like people are eating bread while performing their music [​IMG].
     
    I play SC2 and Mass Effect 2, mostly. Sounds such as opening doors, background voices, weapon sound details, etc didn't sound nearly as clear as the 440's did. With the 440's I feel like I'm in the spaceship and fully immersed in the action because all the details are clearly heard. The M50's give me no such feelings, mostly meh. Sort of like watching a play from the upper comfy expensive seats in theaters that are quiet enough to have a conversation. To be fair, some the bass and some of the mids do sound quite nice and mostly with effects that have punch or rumble.
     
    Overall, I find them an okay can at best. They'll be a great replacement for someone who has $100-$180 to spend and enjoys terms like "punchy bass" and "warm sound" maybe somewhat "neutral".
     
    I had actually bought these because I thought they were going to be replacing the 440's but.....NOT. A. CHANCE. I basically never use the M50's, even after 15+hrs working them in. If I was a DJ, I'd likely keep these but will be selling them instead of becoming one.
     
    Wearing them on my head is another story. It's like I have a playboy bunny hugging each of my ears while another is draped over my head. Mmmmmm. Mark these up @ 6/5 stars for comfort. Keep this in mind, travelers, they are also comparatively light.
     
    The 440's let you hear everything very clearly throughout the entire frequency. The bass is very detailed, but there isn't quite as much as the M50's. Sometimes, with the 440's, the highs do get tiring with music at higher listening volumes because Shure probably put more juice into the higher frequencies, anybody know 4 Shure? This is most present with music that involves alot of cymbals, or alot other very high-pitched sounds. So super hard rock and metal might not be ideal for the 440's & better suited to the M50's. Also the quality of the recording would be more important to the 440's because of their detail.
     
    I tried the Shure 840's at a store and quite liked those as well, they sound just a little better than the 440's. Price was a little high though.
     
    I am by no means a pro audiophile, I just have a naturally discerning ear & I'm very picky and critical of stuff I buy. I thought I'd share my 10 cents (inflation has risen since the 2cents days.)
     
    Thank you for reading, head-fi's.
     
    edit: After 80+hrs burn in, nothing new to note for M50. Although the 440's continue to tickle the area below my stomach. Looking forward to changing the ear pads.
     
    Jube and Syros like this.
  7. jto168
    4.0/5,
    "Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Review"
    Pros - Great All Arounder!
    Cons - Minor Setbecks. Keyword: Minor
    Impressions/Mini-review after 1 Month of usage
     
    Sources: PC, Laptop, A/V Receiver, iPod Video 5.5G (30GB)
    Amps: Fiio E7, A/V Receiver
    Other headphones: Sennhesier HD 555
    Files: FLAC, MP3 320 CBR, CD
     
    After about one month with the M50, I can say I am satisifed and impressed with its sound.
     
    Like others have stated, these are not the be all and end all of headphones. You could even say they are FOTM, much like the Sennheiser HD 555 were back in its heyday, but the M50 is a very solid headphone considering its price point and sound output.
     
    Here are some positivies:
     
    - Good bass response: the bass extends pretty low, and hits hard. The bass is not as tight as other headphones, but can decently output enough bass to satisfy most ears.
    - Clear treble: initially the treble is pretty bright, but after some burn in it definitely relaxes and isn't as harsh on the ears. Vocals sound very good for a closed can!
    - Mids: slightly recessed, but after some burn in and the foam mod, they have improved. Further improvement can be made by adjusting EQ as needed. Not a dealbreaker considering you can address the mids with a variety of options.
    - Comfort: Very comfortable considering its clamp force (slightly strong initially) and the pleather pads are decent. I come from the comfort of HD 555 with its velour ear pads, so it does take getting used to pleather. That said, the pleather pads are very comfortable and are necessary to provide a good seal for this closed can.
    - Overall: I don't think you can find a significantly better headphone at this price point. The M50 certainly does not put other headphones to shame, but I feel that the M50 is good all around choice. Other headphones will address other needs for specific listeners - I'll explain below.
     
    Some negatives:
     
    - Mids: slightly recessed, but I emphasize that this can be addressed by the foam mod and adjusting EQ as needed.
    - Bass: good response, goes very low but is slightly muddy and confused. I like all kinds of bass and the M50 is no slouch in this matter, but I want a different style of bass ouput which prompted me to look at other cans. Think of the bass response as a subwoofer; ported, closed, passive, active, front firing, down firing. These all have different characteristics and present bass differently. Unfortunately the M50 can't satisify all bass styles, so I went looking for another pair of cans.
     
    So after a month of listening and burn in, I find myself quite happy with the M50.
     
    I listen to many genres: trance, techno, house, EDM/electronica in general, J-Pop, J-Rock, J-Metal, Visual Kei, pop, hiphop, rap, and sometimes acoustic/classical music. I love the M50 - it's a fun headphone that made me rediscover my music collection. My musical mood changes frequently so there are time when I listen to trance exclusively for weeks/months at a time, and then I go onto to J-Metal.
     
    During my listening sessions with the M50, I was listening to a lot of Tokyo Nights (deep house), deadmau5 (electronica), Dir en Grey (J-metal), Luna Sea (J-Rock), and various pop artists.
     
    I discovered I am a basshead at heart, as I yearned for more bass. The M50 have a decent bass response, but I wanted something tighter and more accurate. After some research and help from head-fi users, I decided on the Ultrasone HFI-580 as a sort of horizontal upgrade.
     
    Still waiting on the 580s to arrive, but I intend to give another follow up review/post after spending quality time with both headpones.
     
    Cheers!

    Syros likes this.