MartinLogan Mikros 90 Reference On-Ear Headphones

Average User Rating:
4.875/5,
  1. remwang
    5.0/5,
    "very detailed build, sound is smooth and rich"
    very detailed build, sound is smooth and rich
  2. Trunks159
    5.0/5,
    "Mark of a True Audiophile"
    Pros - Great detail, scales well, built well, extremely portable
    Cons - Look... OK, fit is finicky, need a ton of burn in, needs different pads imo, kind of uncomfortable
    Everything But the Sound
     
    The observations were made over about 3 months and hundreds of hours of listening.  Amping helps, the QC3 pleather over Mikros foam mod explained later I feel is almost essential.

     
    Presentation
    Presentation definitely holds some importance.  Just like with food that's presented well, or a cool outfit for a character in any series, style has its importance.  Looks wise, they look a bit old.  Not classy old, just kind of studio monitor old. They're all black, with the only hints of contrast lying in the silver rim of the ear cup and the silver arms.  The headband is all pleather (probably a metal band in the middle, with a generous amount of cushioning, wrapped in pleather).  They just look a little plain.  They could've done better, but it doesn't stop me from wearing them outside on the bus or whatever.  They're not that ugly.  Presentation applies to the the style and feel of the headphones, the packaging, the sound signature/balance.  The style is OK.  I do wear these in public on a daily basis but I am only sometimes self conscious about it.  It’s not the plain-ness of the headphones that makes them look awkward, it’s the headband not hugging my head enough.  I’m sure it looks a little goofy.  Also, the headphones don’t feel like they're $300.  They just feel like headphones.  The packaging is OK.  Not much to speak about it.
    6.5/10
     
    Build Quality and Construction
    The M90 is nicely built.  They feel almost unbreakable, similar to the way the Momentum feels unbreakable.  I hear no creeks or cracks or anything I've heard from just about every plastic headphone I've heard. Great, so no problems.
    8.5/10
     
    Comfort
    Out of the box, they're not comfortable. Way too much clamping force.  You can easily fix this by stretching the headband.  Though don't make it too loose or too tight since the sound can be effected. In the end though, these are still on ear headphones, so comfort is limited.  Compared to the $300-$400 competitors, I'd give it:
    6.5/10
     
    Gripes
    Very finicky and relatively difficult to get a great seal.
    Take some burning in and a small amount of modding
    -1pt(s)
    ______________________________________________________________________________

     
    Sound
     
    Bass
    The bass is actually just about neutral.  Perhaps with a small amount of roll off.  Really, the bass is fine, but the bass itself is not directed around the ear enough.  It’s still good, but from the WS99 or FC300, the bass is distributed better.  This isn’t where the Mikros does the best, but they definitely excel.

     
    Mids
    The mids are also pretty great.  They’re really one of the things this can strives for.  The vocals sound great, the guitars, everything.  With a the stock pads, a not-so-good source and poor recordings, expect intolerable sibilance.  The midr-ange, unlike most of its competitors, is very well balanced.
    14.5/15

     
    Highs
    The detail is just amazing.  They have more detail then the Momentum, and all of the competitors I’ve heard at that price. I don’t even know what to write to be honest.  Just the best treble out there.  Also, it’s not recessed, actually a little boosted.
    15/15
     
    Soundstage
    Out of the box, and with the stock pads, I felt like the soundstage was severely lacking.  So lacking that I almost gave up on them.  Now the soundstage is extremely good, especially so for an on ear.  I now don’t feel like I’m missing too much soundstage coming from the MDR MA900.  There is perfect instrument separation. There may be some lack of width but in depth it stands out.  There’s some pretty hardcore competition though.
    8.5/10
     
    83.5/100
    Though this point system means nothing if not compared to anything.  So without further ado:
     
    Comparisons:
    Style
     
      Presentation

    Construction

    Comfort

    Portability

    Gripes

    Extras

    Mikros 90

    6.5

    8.5

    6.5

    10

    -1

    +2

    Momentum

    9

    9.5

    7

    9

    0

    +2

    M500

    7.5

    9

    7

    6

    -2

    0

    FC300

    7.5

    6

    6.5

    8

    -2

    0

    1R

    9

    6.5

    9.5

    8

    -2

    +1

    WS99

    7

    7

    6.5

    7

    -1

    0

    Spirit One

    7.5

    7

    7

    8

    -2

    +2

    L1

    9.5

    10

    6

    4.5

    -2

    +1

    M50

    7

    7

    6

    6

    -1

    0


     
      Bass

    Mids

    Highs

    Soundstage

    Total

    Sound Total

    Extra Total

    Price

    Mikros 90 11.5

    14.5

    15

    7.5

    81

    48.5 (#1)

    32.5

    $100

    Momentum 12

    11

    12

    7

    78.5

    42

    36.5

    $300

    M500 13

    13

    12

    7.5

    73

    45.5(#2)

    27.5

    $300

    FC300 13.5

    11

    11

    9

    70.5

    44.5(#3)

    26

    $150

    1R 11

    11

    8

    9.5

    71.5

    39.5

    32

    $200

    WS99 14

    12

    8

    7.5

    68

    41.5

    26.5

    $200

    Spirit One 14

    11

    8

    7.5

    70

    40.5

    29.5

    $240

    L1 11

    11

    9

    9

    69

    40

    29

    $160

    M50 11

    9

    7

    6.5

    58.5

    33.5

    25

    $140



     
     
    Contributing Factors
     
    Presentation (10/100)
    1. Style
    2. Packaging
    3. Easy of use
    4. Easy to get used to
     
    Construction (10/100)
    1. Materials
    2. Durability
     
    Comfort
    1. Softness, width and depth of pads
    2. Heat resistance
    3. Clamping force
    4. Weight
     
    Portability
    1. Size
    2. Case
    3. Isolation
    4. Cable (removable, short)
     
    Gripes
    1. Finicky?
    2. Lack of replaceable pads?
    3. Other issues?
     
    Extras
    1. Accessories and Benefits?
     
    Bass
    1. Depth
    2. Tightness
    3. Balance
    4. Distribution
    Mids
    1. Vocals
    2. Detail
    3. Mid-range Clarity
    4. Balance
     
    Highs
    1. Largely detail
    2. Sibilance?
    3. Largely balance
     
    Soundstage
    1. Width
    2. Depth
    3. Height
    4. Accuracy and Imaging
    ______________________________________________________________________________
     
    Simple Mods:
     
    The Stretch Mod: a mod in which you stretch the headband to a setting more comfortable.  This is essential since out of the box they clamp very tightly.
     
    The QC3 Pleather + Mikros Foam Mod rotated 90 degrees: it is exactly what it sounds like.  Take some QC3 pads:
    (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009GDVTN4/ref=s9_simh_gw_p23_d0_i3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1XCJV96X1D55SQJAA4BW&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846), take out the foam, replace it with the Mikros' foam and rotate it 90 degrees.  This is the best sound I’ve been able to get out of the Mikros.  With this mod, you get a nice upgrade in SQ.  Comfort is the same, but bass depth is slightly improved, balance is improved, sibilance goes away, mids become clearer, soundstage rounds out.
     
    The Beats Solo Pad Mod: buy Beats solo pads: (http://www.amazon.com/Replacement-Pads-Cushions-Beats-Black/dp/B006JDU6YM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397658169&sr=8-1&keywords=beats+solo+pads); take off the stupid plastic plate on the back, and put them on the Mikros.  It is a tight fit but it does indeed fit.  This mod is ok.  It recesses the midrange, boosts the bass and treble, giving you a more laid back vocal performance.  I don't like it all that much but I'm sure some would.  It may be slightly less comfortable than stock, or slightly more comfortable (the former in my case)
     
    The Reverse Mod: Instead of the right channel being on your right ear and and vise versa, just reverse the headphones.  The seal you get is improved.  I don’t do this because I can’t get around the vocals being behind me but many people can’t go without this mod.
    ______________________________________________________________________________
     
    Added Notes + Comparisons
     
    The Mikros may not be very stylish, but it's acceptable.  The construction seems great, and my pair seems to be in like new condition, and the headband is ultra flexible.  I question as to how long the arms will stand up, but I bet it'll be long.  The Mikros is not as comfortable as some of these over ear cans.  On it's own, it's moderately comfortable, but against others, they feel strenuous. The Mikros is extremely portable, since the cups rotate, it comes with a hard case. it's small, and it isolates extremely well.  They are finicky (gripe).  The cable is detachable, comes with a case, nice packaging (extra).
     
    The Momentum (MOM) looks great to me.  It's constructed extremely well, almost unbreakable, though someone on Head-Fi did complain about the connector on the ear cup being damaged.  The pads are tiny, so they are either on ear, or partially on/over ear.  This does a number on comfort.  They're easily portable since they're a small, isolate, and come with a bag. However, they don't fold and the bag is huge so...  No gripes, and the packaging, and accessories are great.
     
    The M500 is a good headphone, but it really doesn’t have anything (sound wise at least) that the Mikros doesn’t offer, or do better in.  The Mikros granted sounds different, but I think it’s safe to say the Mikros technically/statistically at last is the better sounding headphone in all areas.  From bass to mids, to tonal quality, to treble detail and control, the Mikros just can’t be beat.  The midrange of the M500 does com close in quality though.
     
    I really like the FC300 for two reasons (it is my second favorite closed headphone):
    1: it sounds just as good as the Momentum, or M500, or P7, or anything really below $400.  It only costs $150.
    2: The sound signature is so enjoyable.  It’s very exciting but not too exciting.  I think it works for all genres (well, if you can deal with boosted bass) and all people.
     
    However, the Mikros sounds noticeably better, and that’s really all it comes down to.  I’d recommend them though, since they look better.
     
    The 1r is presented EXTREMELY well.
    1: The packaging is great
    2. They look out of this world
    3. The pads look nice and sqooshie
    4. They sound quiet in your hands.
    However, the sound signature isn’t the type to pull you in like the FC300.
    Compared to the Mikros, they don’t fare all that well sound-wise.  They compete somewhat well with the Momentum etc, but overall, if great audio quality is what you’re looking for, I steer clear of the 1r.
     
    The WS99… Well, sound-wise they’re in that Momentum tier.  However, they are uncomfortable and the bass is just a little too aggressive for.  A great bass head can, but the FC300 sounds more balanced.  They beat the Mikros out in bass performance, but in mids and treble, not so much.
     
    The Spirit one sounds essentially like the WS99 with a smaller soundstage and slightly tighter bass.  The build is OK, and the styling suffers from the headband sticking out of your head.
     
    Th UE6000 looks great, but sounds boring.  Like a WS99 with a slightly larger soundstage but slower bass, and less treble.
     
    100 pts:
    Sound is 55 pts
    Portability is 10 pts
    Comfort is 15 pts
    Style is 5 pts
    Build is 15 pts
    ______________________________________________________________________________
    Sources
    Source(s):  I used mainly the Samsung Galaxy 5 Player, the iPod Touch 4g, Sansa Clip Zip, and Fiio X3.
    >250 hours of use on the ears
    Music Choices: I listen to a good variety of music.  Though, my favorite genre is J-Rock.
    Music:
    J-ROCK:
    (320 kbps MP3) FLOW THE MAX by FLOW (the song Won't You Stay and many others)
    (320 kbps MP3) The One by UVERworld (the song The OVER and many others)
    (320 kbps MP3) The Last by UVERworld (the song Hi Mondaisaku and many others)
    (320 kbps MP3) 26 a Go Go!!! by FLOW (most of the songs)
    (FLAC) Jinsei x Boku by ONE OK ROCK (all the songs, all the time)
    K-Pop:
    (FLAC) PSY Five by PSY (the fantastic song It's Art)
    Rap:
    (320kbps MP3) Food and Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Part 1 by Lupe Fiasco (all songs)
    Soundtrack
    (FLAC) The Lion King Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer (all songs)
    and a variation of different artists and albums
    ______________________________________________________________________________
    benjitb likes this.
  3. pataburd
    5.0/5,
    "Among the very best I've ever heard: balanced to a tee across the entire frequency spectrum, brimming with musical detail and eminently satisfying."
    Pros - Currently very affordable and incredibly sonically poised
    Cons - Clamping force might bother some listeners
    Bass: solid, balanced and extended with excellent pitch. Can be Stygian and prodigious with the right recordings.  May lack mid-bass warmth/emphasis for some listeners.

    Midrange: open, clear, coherent, tonally saturated and complex. Vocals are rendered with breath-taking realism.

    Highs: clear, detailed and extended with no glare. Excellent sparkle and finish on tambourine, rider cymbal and high brass.

    Soundstage: recording- and equipment-dependent. Can assume strikingly large 3-D proportions. The music floats free in space with no sense of closure/constraint.  Superb separation within, and delineation of, the performance space.  
     
    Excellent resolution of massed instruments and vocals. These headphones allow you to hear deep--and I mean deep--into the details of the recording, and into the relative strengths and weaknesses of your upstream gear.  
     
    I get a very good seal by wearing the headphones slightly low and forward on the ear, slightly swiveled in along the natural angle of protrusion of my ear, and with the leading edge of each ear cup at about my mandible hinge/back end of my cheekbone..

    The MLs scale up extremely well, venturing--IMHO--into the "reference" category.  On my home rig, the Mikros 90 even give my HifiMAN HE-6--which run balanced, straight out of my speaker terminal outputs(!)--a serious run for the money!

    After initially ordering, I wasn't sure what to expect, but the Mikros 90 have exceeded my expectations with plenty of (head)room to spare. I would rate these, hands down, near the top in the Top 10 list of all the headphones I've ever owned and/or listened to to date. Given their current street price, these are a runaway "no-brainer".

    Have not auditioned the KEF M500 yet, but would like to eventually do the a/b alongside the Mikros 90.  
    UPDATE: See link to comparative review: http://www.head-fi.org/t/695615/kef-m500-versus-martin-logan-mikros-90

    Equipment:
    Home:
    EVS-modified SONY BDP-S780
    Neotech UPOCC interconnects
    Fitz-improved Bada PH-12 (2x Tung-Sol 6SN7GT and 1x Sylvania 6SN7GTA)
    (or) Linn Intek integrated (headphone out)
    Dakiom F-273 feedback stabilizer
    Pipeline ET-4 cable
    GIEN carbon fiber disc mat
    MyAudioCables power cords
    PowerVar AC conditioners

    Office:
    EVS-modified Oppo DV-970HD
    Virtue Audio interconnects
    KMF Audio headphone amp
    Dakiom F-273 feedback stabilizer
    Pipeline ET-4 cable
    SID disc mat
    MyAudioCables power cords
    PowerVar AC conditioners
     
    Music:
    Ultimate Joe Williams
    Digital Duke
    The Essential Sarah Vaughn
    Toots Thielemans: Footsteps
    Lee Rittenour: Festival
    Cal Tjader: The Roots of Acid Jazz
    Dave Brubeck Quartet: Time Out
     
    Henri Mancini: Movie Classics
    Hiroshima: Go & Third Generation
    Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass: Classics Volume 20(?)
     
    The Yardbirds: Roger the Engineer (Over, Under, Sideways, Down)
    Iron Butterfly: Light and Heavy/Best of
    Jefferson Airplane: Fulton Street/Best of
    Elton John: Greatest Hits & Tumbleweed Connection
    Steely Dan: Decade of Steely Dan
    Cat Stevens: Tea for the Tillerman
    The Marshall Tucker Band: Best of
    BTO's Greatest
     
    Commander Cody: Best of/Too Much Fun
    Earl Thomas Conley: Greatest Hits
     
    Baltimore Consort: On the Banks of the Helicon
    pro1137, Endcode, JamesTrab and 2 others like this.
  4. dan.gheorghe
    4.5/5,
    "Interesting new headphones: Good looking, very well build, excellent with instrumental music, classical, jazz, transparent vocals"
    Pros - Excellent treble, good transient response, nicely detailed on higher mids and treble, good instrument separation & imaging, transparency
    Cons - A little shy on the bass, price, hard to get a good seal sometimes

    The Sexy Martin Logan Mikros 90

    Posted on August 4, 2013by HeadMania
    Hey guys,

    When I have seen these headphones for the first time they got my attention with their looks.  They have a very nice design and a stylish and sturdy build quality. They are intended to be a fashion headphones, that is for sure, and I’ll be damned if I have seen a better looking headphone. They really blow the competition out of the water with the looks, feel and style.

    [​IMG]

    They are almost completely covered in leather. The headband has a very strong & thick metal body. The cable is detachable and even if it has volume control on it, it still is a very good cable. Why am i telling you this? Because the cable from Focal Spirit One can be used with the MikrosAfter using the cable from Spirit One, I have realized that the stock cable from Mikros bring more detail, better transient response, and open the sound more.

    [​IMG]

    While admiring the looks, I realized they are Martin Logans! Now it really got my attention. I really respect and admire this company for the excellent speakers they make.  When I first heard their entry level electrostatic speakers, the Martin Logan ElectroMotion ESL, they really blew me away. I have never heard such sound-stage, level of details, transparency, transient response, etc in a speaker system, especially at that price.

    [​IMG]

    These headphones are on ear and you must be attentive with this as if you don’t set them well on the head, you won’t get a good seal and it will affect the sound ( bass & body the most).

    From what I have seen, the cups set on the ears with an angle, so I think these are meant to be like that, as angled drivers usually offer more sound-stage and a better stereo image.

    Some people may find the clamping force a little too strong, but I think it gets looser in time.

    The package comes with a nice portable storage box that I think is also made of leather, the detachable cable and with a 3.5 to 6.3 adaptor.

    Sound Impressions

    The first listening impression was somehow weird and a little disappointing, as I felt they lack body & bass. After a few minutes of changing some songs it started to get to me. They really have some interesting features that make them stand out of the crowd.

    Treble

    This is one of the strongest points of these headphones. The treble is crystal clear and very well extended & detailed without being harsh or sibilant. I never heard such quality treble in an closed headphones yet. It is amazing!

    Mids

    The mids are quite good. The voices are clear & transparent but lack some body. The guitars and other similar instruments have a very good impact and presence.

    Bass

    Ok this may seem one of their weakest points at first glance. The first thing you will notice at your first listen is the lack of body. However, if you give them a chance you will notice it has a very good punch and the bass is very well controlled & extended . After burn in the bass kicks in.I am sure there will be people to consider the bass to be too shy but I like it. On some songs I enjoy the fast, controlled , well extended  & punchy bass.

    Details

    The details were very nice especially on the higher mids and treble.

    Transient response

    This is another thing that really drew my attention. The plucking of the guitar, the percussion, hand claps, etc were very impressive.  The decay is natural and not lazy at all. I just love how the piano, guitars, violins sound on these babies.

    Transparency

    Never expected this level of transparency from a portable headphone, but the music really gets the hold of you and letting aside the strong clamping force, you forget about the headphones.

    Instrument separation & sound-stage

    If you look at the headphones you wouldn’t think they will have a wide sound-stage, especially with their size and the fact that they are closed, but they sound very open and clean to my surprise. The instruments are very well separated  and placed into space.

    Conclusions

    The Mikros is a very interesting pair of headphones and managed to impress me on many levels. They are good for instrumental music, classical,  jazz & vocals, even though these genres could use some bass presence too sometimes.

    One other thing you should remember, is that they don’t like poor recordings.

    I, however enjoy listening to  some house music & electronic , like ATB, Armin van Buuren, Infected Mushroom, etc on them too, but not as much as with other headphones like spirit one, d7000, amperior, momentum , etc.

    Don't forget to let them break in for at least 20h, as they really open up, even the bass starts to get better.

    Martin Logan bring an interesting new approach and style to the market with these headphones.

    So if you care for the looks, crisp & detailed treble, transparency and are not into heavy bass, but still punchy and tight bass, give them a listen.

    I tested them with Burson Conductor, Galaxy S4, Fiio E17.

    Loved them from the S4 and E17. These headphones really grew on me. I am starting to think of buying one myself.

    E17 and the Mikros 90 are a very good combo, as fiio really adds bass presence. I found myself listening to rock in this combo and enjoying it :D

    Because of this combo and their very transparent and clear sound I give them 4.5 stars. 

    Pros

    1. excellent treble
    2. good transient response
    3. nicely detailed on higher mids and treble
    4. good instrument separation & stereo image
    5. transparency
    6. excellent build quality & very good looks
    7. decent isolation
    8. portable
    9. storage box

    Cons

    1. lacks body & bass presence
    2. hard to get a good seal sometimes

    [​IMG]

     




    christobale likes this.