Audeze MM-500


100+ Head-Fier
Audeze MM-500 Review
Pros: \
Sleek aesthetics with solid build quality
Neutral tonal balance in lows and mids
More realistic-ish timbre
Tightened and controlled sounding
Lighter than previous Audeze planars
Cons: \
Ergonomic issues for large heads
Weak low end heft
Recessed highs
Relatively small soundstage
Pricier than competitors


I’ve had Audeze MM-500 for moderately many days thanks to the loaner opportunity from Todd The Vinyl Junkie (TTVJ). I highly appreciate Todd gave me a chance to try it out as I’ve long been curious how Audeze’s new generation middle-tier headphones would sound like.

If I recall correctly, Audeze claimed they didn’t intend to replace LCD-X with MM-500. I suspect they might possibly want to rebrand or just hope marketing benefits coming from Manny Marroquin instead of LCD lineups. Based on my experience for the past couple of weeks, however, MM-500 matches and competed against LCD-X 2021. So, to me, I’d recognize that it’s another newly joined LCD family member without an LCD name.

Aesthetics / Build Quality / Wearing Comfort​

With prior-gen LCDs (LCD-X and LCD-4 in particular), Audeze has never disappointed me in design and comfort except for being very heavy. The newer LCD-5 came with a slightly different design language and I didn’t dislike it at all. Lighter weight was a huge plus to me, too. However, the ergonomic decisions made with LCD-5 didn’t quite fit my larger-than-average head.

MM-500 is more or less the same as LCD-5 for these aspects. The design became slightly more industrial by employing metal in cups and headband, and more consistent non-glassy metallic black colorways. Overall aesthetics feel like a nice mixture of LCD-5 (shape, structure) and LCD-X (coloring, material). It’s simply one of the sleekest headphones I’ve ever seen in this hobby.

Comfort-wise, however, my opinion is a little mixed. The positive change was its weight. The main reason why I finally gave up and let my LCD-X go was the weight (>600g). MM-500 improved its weight significantly down to 505g on my scale. This is much more acceptable although it’s slightly heavier than LCD-5 due to more metals instead of carbon and resin.

Nonetheless, MM-500 replicated the same ergonomic issues of LCD-5 with my larger-than-average head. Shortly speaking, I found it uncomfortable for long listening sessions. This is because MM-500’s headband structure causes substantial clamp force and high pressure on top of the head. I believe MM-500 improved ergonomics slightly to the extent that shorter listenings weren’t as much problematic as LCD-5. But beyond the first 30 minutes, the longer I wear, the more my head feel tortured. Note that those with zero problem with LCD-5 or having smaller head sizes won’t have this problem.

As an aside, I’d hypothesize that MM-500’s steel headband can be stretched out naturally or forcingly to loosen the clamp. Replacing head straps may improve comfort, too. Unfortunately I couldn’t experiment either as I strongly oppose any actions to tamper loaners.

Subjective Evaluation: Tonality​

All my listening was done with SMSL M500 Mk3 as a primary dac. Its builtin headphone amp along with SMSL HO200 were used to drive MM-500. For the comparison, I mainly compared to Hifiman Arya Stealth and HD650 as I am having them sitting around me. Secondary comparison included LCD-X 2021 and HE6SE as I owned them for a reasonably long time (1+ years). I also included HE6 and LCD-5 but these were from memory hence readers should be aware of potential recall bias.

The tonal balance is closer to LCD-5 than to LCD-X or 4, which I believe is a newer Audeze voicing direction/philosophy: mid-centric, forwarding, and/or relatively recessed in highs. But I should add the tonality isn’t quite the same as LCD-5 no matter how close extant frequency response graphs look. I also found that MM-500 resembled HD650 in tonality -- imagine hd650, reduce upper bass hump, extend low end a bit, cut high frequency a bit, add some planar sounding traits, then you’d get what MM-500 tonally sounds like. I’m inspired to say MM-500 (arguably) has the most neutral midrange tonality among mid-priced planars for 1-2k usd budget.

However, there were some frequency regions where MM-500 might not fully satisfy those coming from prior LCDs or other mid-priced planars: mainly very low sub-bass and mid-upper treble. On the low end front, it didn’t hit or feel strong. No, it’s not bass-limiting like the HD650. I’d make it clear that MM-500 had no problem in extending down to the lowest audio frequency most people hear. But to my ears, the low end (around 35hz or below) heft was rather subdued subtly over pre-2020 LCDs. This is probably due to newer material in the ear pads. Audeze changed ear pads around late 2020 if I recall correctly. Since then, LCD models with these newer pads always exhibit relative weakness in subbass compared to prior pads: soft and loose to some extent. Fortunately MM-500 seems improved over LCD-X 2021 which I think suffers from this issue most apparently. Please note that what I claim only applies to very low registers. MM-500 is never bass-shy or bass-weak headphones by any means.

Treble is more of a realm of individual preference/mileage (i.e., “not bad but not my cup of tea”). MM-500 didn’t sound as dark as classic LCDs due to its upper midrange being nuanced and even forwarding. But highs were moderately recessed in the presence region and maybe some of the brilliance region as well. I personally like to have more energy in this frequency band as it’s closely associated with the audiophile nirvanas. During my listening, I found MM-500 wasn’t very proactive to express the following items: the presence of high tone female vocals, electric guitar’s buzzing, crispness of snare drums, overtones of cymbals, double bass’s sheens, and so forth. These things are usually heard better with taking more risk of sibilance, pierce, sharpness, and/or edginess (e.g. Stax lambdas or HFM Arya make it easier to hear all these -- but I always find both a little too fatiguing to my ears). So, I fully get it is indeed very difficult to get things right for everyone’s taste. And I see people with treble-sensitive ears perhaps appreciate how mm-500 limits treble like similarly-balanced HD650 has been loved for so long by many.

Subjective Evaluation: Technicality​

Speaking of technicality. I do think MM-500’s sonic performance is, simply put, right up there with other solid mid-tier planars like LCD-X 2021, HE6/6SE, and Arya Stealth. Frankly, I don’t think there is not a single dominant winner. MM-500 holds its own very well against competitors in its own light.

Busy and complicated passages are always a big challenge for mid-tier headphones, especially when a large number of instruments are involved simultaneously. With many other headphones in this price range, things likely begin to be blunted, loosened, or distracting. Clarity is often either lost or sacrifices resolution/finesse. I believe they’re all hinting that driver control is less tight than necessary levels that music needs. In this respect, MM-500 exhibited more acceptable performance in any tracks I threw in. I indeed really liked how MM-500 handled challenging tracks (so-called “big” music). It sounds tighter and more controlled presumably with slight overdamping and strong magnets. It might not resolve the last bit of trailing ends or ultimate nuances though, which are not what I’m expecting in this price range.

I also liked how MM-500 reproduced timbre. We all know good tonality is heavily correlated with realistic timbres. It’s not surprising that MM-500’s good timber may be largely attributable to great midrange balance and a little subdued treble (i.e., winning combo of hd650) as I described above. But I do believe there’s probably something else related less to frequency response and more to driver material/mass, which I think is also nailed by Audeze.

Nonetheless there are a couple of areas in technical performance where MM-500 weren’t strong enough. One of them is soundstaging. While it can reproduce images with well-separated positional differences (i.e., no 3-blob things typically shown in budget planars), the degree of lateral dispersion is ok at best. The same thing can be said to the depth definition. Its mid-centric and forwarding nature made cues sound closer to or more in front of me. ABing MM-500 and Arya Stealth, the former was a bit more claustrophobic to me by comparison, especially for a few seconds right after switching. Though the small and close soundstage made MM-500 less distracting or diffusing.

Another shortcoming is its transient and macrodynamics. I found Arya Stealth was generally a bit stronger and punchier in bass. MM-500 did have punch and impact but I couldn’t hear as great immediacy and responsiveness in attacks as Arya-S. And from memory, HE6 families were even better in this criterion. In highs, MM-500 didn’t open up as much as HFM headphones. MM-500 seems a little overdamped to get better controls while HFM favors minimal or zero back damping. On second thought, it might be tuned this way intentionally for music production purposes. IDK. I’d digress.


My measurements were taken with the MiniDSP EARS at 95db SPL@300hz with the homebrew hybrid compensation target curve that mixed HPN, HEQ, and additional adjustments based on B&K Room Curve.

Also refer to another measurements done by Andrew Park at :

Please note that my frequency responses are averaged results based on 5 different positions (center/up/down/front/back) to control positional variance. Results from optimal positioning might differ even with the same measurement fixture/rig.

Highlights below.
  • A little attenuated on low ends but fairly neutral up to 2khz. In my experience, it’s rather hard to see neutral response between 1khz and 3khz in open-back planars, particularly in this price range or below.
  • 3-4db boosted around 3khz which is consistent with my subjective perception of forwarding and mid-centric sounding.
  • Subdued energy between 4khz and 10khz. Roughly 8-9db lower than the 1khz SPL level.
  • I don’t think I heard a mild bass hump at 50hz as the graph suggests. Probably an artifact. Also, a small narrow peak around 4.5khz is a typical artifact of my measurement fixture with certain headphones. Please do not over-interpret these.









Closing Thoughts​

It was a great chance for me to check out where Audeze would be heading toward. They seem to desire to change themselves dramatically. Those favoring traditional Audeze/LCD flavors might be disappointed with this direction. But I can see a new group of unignorable people would seriously consider these new Audeze products and I don't doubt more headphones in different price points will come out along with the new tuning philosophy.

That said, despite some shortcomings such as price or ergonomics, MM-500 also exhibited many good improvements over prior Audeze planars. Highly neutral and forwarding midrange coupled with nuanced upper mids must be more in line with many modern vocals. Drivers are well controlled with tightened sounding, which may help listeners more easily focus on each component in complicated situations in challenging tracks. And all such benefits are leveraged by timbral excellence. Overall, I can't help but agree with Audeze’s claim that MM-500 is a purpose-built tool designed for audio engineers and producers. While this may not be for generic audiophiles, if this is what you’re looking after, MM-500 is definitely worth shortlisting and giving it a shot.

Relevant Links​

Last edited:


Reviewer at Ear Fidelity
Audeze MM-500
Pros: Gorgeous
Insane build quality
Great packaging
Very, very durable
Very easy to drive
Highly neutral sounding
Superb detail retrieval
One of the most insightful on the market
Brilliant stock cable
Cons: High clamping force makes them less comfortable than they could have been
Not too engaging, but they are not meant to be


It’s been a while since we reviewed an Audeze product. This company has a special place in my heart, as their LCD-3 has once been the most expensive audio product I ever bought, back in like…2013 or so.
Since then, I tried most Audeze products, and last year we reviewed their newest revision of the LCD-X model, called the LCD-X 2021. This headphone has won our “2021 headphones of the year” award, thanks to its sublime craftsmanship, great sound quality, and tuning that is just easy to fall in love with.
A year has passed, and since then, Audeze has launched a few new models, including their new flagship LCD-5. I know many of you have requested the LCD-5 to be reviewed here and actually to be included in our “Battle Of The Flagships” article…hang on, we’re trying our best to finally make it happen one day!

Back to the topic though. The LCD-5 is a groundbreaking product for Audeze, as it marked a milestone for the brand making the biggest change to their products ever. Basically, the LCD-5 was a complete redesign of their previous models, sharing basically no parts with the (now retired) previous flagship, the LCD-4.
Also, the most shocking aspect is the tuning, which has been changed completely. Audeze has been known for its thick, dark, and lush sound signature for more than 10 years now, and the LCD-5 took a completely different approach to the frequency response. This was the first, truly neutral and reference-like tuned Audeze headphone in history (I only tried it quite briefly though), and I started to wonder, if this is going to be the new standard for Audeze, or if the LCD-5 was just meant to be different.

Some time passed, and Audeze came up with a new, highly interesting model – the MM-500. It is made in a collaboration with a 10-times Grammy winner, Manny Marroquin himself. And you guessed it…the MM-500 continues the trend of a new tuning for Audeze, sealing the question of whether it’s temporary or not with the LCD-5 for good now.
There’s one thing I want to express my thoughts on – the entire collaboration thing. See, people in audio don’t really believe in those kinds of situations, where an audio brand cooperates with a Music/Engineering star to launch a new product, and for a good reason apparently – there have been a few tries in the past, but all of them failed in a way.
There’s nothing to worry about though. Take guitars for example – most legendary guitar models ever were indeed created in a collaboration with an artist. Les Paul’s Gibson would be the perfect example of that.

So, it’s not an aspect of whether it’s a good idea to do it or not, but how you execute the entire thing. Manny Marroquin is a legend, but he’s also highly connected to the entire “audio thing”, so this collaboration doesn’t feel out of place at all.
Okay, let’s put that aspect aside for now, and let’s dive into the new Audeze MM-500 and see if it’s good enough to justify its rather high ($1699) price.



Let’s start with the unboxing experience. The Audeze MM-500 comes in the same box as the LCD-X 2021, which we have reviewed some time ago here.

So, we’re dealing with a pelican-style, hard case that is extremely secure and it gives a lot of protection to our new valuable headphones. Actually, this case reminds me of some studio equipment hard cases, and knowing that the heritage of the MM-500 is sound mastering, this feels like the perfect choice.
I always appreciate this kind of presentation. Some display cases are really cool to unpack and they often give you that luxurious feeling at first, but at the end of the day, they all end up in a closet or in the attic. This one is different – you can easily use it for traveling with your headphones or just use it as storage, and you don’t have to worry about what’s inside.
I’ve always been more of a “function above looks” type of guy, and this case is just my cup of tea – functional, protective, and useful.

Inside the case, you’ll find the MM-500 and a cable. The latter is a 2m braided cable made of high-purity OCC copper. This cable is very comfortable, it’s not microphonic at all, and it’s just a joy to use. We have all seen stock cables that are stiff, heavy, microphonic, and just bad. This one is totally the opposite, and you won’t really have to think about getting an aftermarket one unless you simply want to upgrade your audio game. Some other manufacturers should watch and learn.

Design, Build and Comfort​


I’m going to start this paragraph with a bold statement – the Audeze MM-500 is the best-looking and feeling headphone in my collection.

First of all, the design. It’s very professional, industrial, and raw. These are not designed to be flashy or luxurious looking, these are tools, and they definitely look like one. I absolutely adore their design every time I look at them (which is well… every day). There’s just something about this color combination, the shape, the finish, and the materials used that scream “pick me up and touch me”, and I do so a lot. Actually, even when I’m not listening to them, I often just grab them and do a little touching, just to feel good. I might sound like a crazy person, but this is just my experience.
This leads us to the actual build quality, which is spectacular. I remember stating that the LCD-X 2021 feels like a tank in a hand, that it’s so solid and just big and bulky, but this is just another level. Nothing squeaks, there are no sharp edges, and everything feels extremely solid and just pleasant to the touch. Apart from the LCD-5, these are built totally differently than every single Audeze headphone ever created, which is essential to Audeze’s latest releases.

What makes me really happy is the headband construction, which uses a suspension strap. Some manufacturers are still using traditional headbands with no suspension straps, and I just cannot understand why. The strap makes every headphone so much more comfortable, it distributes the weight much better, and it is just superior to everything else on the market. I’m happy to see Audeze just going straight to suspension strap headbands in all of their headphones, this is without a doubt an excellent choice.

What’s not so excellent though, is the clamping force, which is quite brutal. These would have been one of the comfiest big planars on the market, but the clamping force is just a lot for many people, me included. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t make the MM-500 unusable or even uncomfortable, but it’s definitely too strong for me, resulting in a slight discomfort after about an hour of listening to them. Not terrible, but would have been much better if the clamping force was reduced.

However, the clamping force was probably designed to ensure a proper fit, as (even though it’s an open-back design) the MM-500 actually requires a good seal to sound best. If this was intentional and it actually helps to ensure a proper fit, then I’d say that it was a fair decision. The headband is spring-loaded anyway, so you can actually stretch the headband a bit to loosen up the clamp, but if you’ll just grab them out of the box and put them on your head, you’ll be surprised by how hard they squeeze your head.


Now, let’s get to the earpads – these are more reminiscent of their older models than their new LCD-5 flagship. However, because the earcups are quite a bit smaller than their older LCD models, the earpads have been reduced in size as well. Don’t worry though, as these are plushy and still quite big, so they should easily fit your ears with some breathing room. The depth of the ear pads is actually great, and my ears never touch the drivers, which is very important for comfort in my book.

Overall, the MM-500 looks absolutely astonishing in real life, and it’s built just as well. This feels very solid in the hand, is a blast to look at and I don’t see them taking any damage even if dropped to the floor. This is what a studio-oriented pair of headphones should be – practical, functional, and most importantly, very durable.



The Audeze MM-500 is a mix of new and old Audeze in the tech department. It uses a driver of the same size as their flagship LCD-5, with the same magnet array called single-sided Fluxor magnet array, consisting of 14 magnets.
The old is the older style of the diaphragm, hence only the LCD-5 uses the new Nano-Scale Parallel Uniforce diaphragm.
All of this contributes to an incredibly low impedance at 18Ω and an SPSL sensitivity rating of 100dB. This means that the MM-500 is very easy to drive, and it feels pretty logical knowing that these will be used in studios as well. The good news is that you don’t need a powerful amplifier for these to sound great, so you don’t really need to invest a lot into your chain.



Now onto the most important – the sound. The Audeze MM-500 is a step in a new direction for Audeze, the way that was started with their new flagship, the LCD-5. For years, Audeze has been known for its laid-back, rich, and dark tonality, which was perfect for long listening sessions. This is the main reason why people really began to love Audeze – they just sounded different, incredibly pleasing, and highly enjoyable.

The “old” tuning had its cons too though. The competition, and most importantly, Hifiman has been pushing more and more detailed and neutral headphones to the market, being a more popular choice for people who want a more neutral and accurate sound. So, the decision was made, that with their new flagship model, Audeze will take a new, more neutral approach to their tuning.

The LCD-5 has been a great success, I only tried it once briefly and I really liked it immediately. That neutral and natural presentation, with a forward and intoxicating midrange presentation, stole my heart after 10 seconds. Well, the time might come when you’ll be reading the review of the LCD-5 on Ear Fidelity eventually.
Back to the MM-500 though. This announcement came out of nowhere and made quite a buzz. A new headphone, quite similar to the LCD-5, made with Manny Marroquin, studio-oriented priced at $1799. Wow, that sounded really exciting, and basically, no time has passed since I got the notification from Audeze that the MM-500 is on its way for a review.
So, after a brief experience with the LCD-5, I was about to try the new Audeze tuning for real now, with a lot of different gear, with no time limits.
The MM-500 was definitely a hit for me right from the get-go. It sounds fresh, very natural, and incredibly capable, but we’ll get there.

Let’s start with the bass. It’s very fast, firm, and well-controlled. There’s more emphasis on the midbass, with subbass being somewhat recessed. This does two things: give you that energy and kick, but the subsonic rumble is not the strongest. For a studio pair of headphones, this might actually be quite a good thing, as it gives you more control over the driver. At the end of the day, you can introduce a bass shelf under 100hz, as these drivers handle EQ incredibly well.
So, no matter the music you’re listening to, the bass is always snappy, and physical, and has a fantastic resolution. This proves to be a very universal type of bass delivery, with great handling of the majority of music genres. If you’re into hip-hop or electronic music, a bass shelf might be mandatory for you to get that rumbly and thick note presentation.
Where the MM-500 shines in terms of bass is jazz and acoustic recordings. Because of its highly technical and tight low frequencies, instruments sound very natural and accurate.
What’s important to note – even though the MM-500 is not really hard to drive, it does benefit a lot when plugged into a good quality amplifier, and actually, powerful ones proved to have a better overall bass presentation for me. Even though the MM-500 definitely doesn’t need the level of juice that the Feliks Envy outputs, it still sounds incredible out of it, definitely offering a better bass response than with other amplifiers I’ve tried.


The midrange is definitely the star of the show here. You’re probably aware of the fact that the LCD-5 is quite a mid-forward pair of headphones, and the MM-500 is no different. The vocals sound very forward here, and they have a beautiful tone to them, sounding rich and very accurate at the same time. Some people already called these a “planar HD650”, and I totally agree with that statement. The HD650 by Sennheiser had that lush and forward vocal presentation that just sounded incredibly natural, and the MM-500 sounds very alike. If you really like vocal in your music, these might be the perfect choice for you, no doubts about it.
And guess what – my absolute favorite part of music that I listen to is vocal, I have always been a fan of vocal-oriented music. This is why I immediately fell in love with the MM-500, as they do offer one of the best vocal reproductions in any headphones on the market, regardless of the price. I would say, my third favorite behind the Susvara and Meze Elite, and definitely in front of the HE1000se, D8000 Pro, or the Abyss Diana Phi. There’s just something intoxicating in that forward, smooth, yet incredibly technical and fast-sounding midrange that I find making me listen to more music, which is just the best recommendation I could give.
My classic test, the song called “A Thousand Shards Of Heaven” by Lunatic Soul proved the MM-500 to be incredibly natural and engaging sounding, with beautiful tonality and highly detailed presentation.
The upper midrange is even more elevated, which occasionally tends to sound a bit too forward. Once again, not a big deal, as you can simply EQ them to your liking if you find that frequency range too hot for you. Nonetheless, this slight emphasis helps female vocals come forward, even more, giving you that needed shine and presence with Diana Krall or Melody Gardot.
I must admit, while I’m personally not a fan of forward upper-mids, some Archive tracks with female vocals sound absolutely spectacular, thanks to that forward and highly technical presentation. It just all comes down to your preferences and the music you’re listening to.

Let’s get to the treble now. It is once again – highly technical sounding with excellent detail and resolution. Just like the bass and the midrange, it isn’t really thick sounding, but rather it focuses on providing a fantastic speed and bite. What’s most important though is how the MM-500 manages to stay incredibly technical, while not being harsh or forced sounding at all, which further improves the overall experience. Once again, this is a fantastic studio pair of headphones capable of showing every single little detail in music without pushing it too much, which makes for a perfect choice for both audiophiles and sound engineers. I also find the treble uncolored in any way, resulting in a sound that is amazingly neutral and lifelike. Pair it with its great dynamics and quite a forward presentation to get a very engaging pair of headphones for rock, metal, and electronic music. The only thing you’re going to care about is the quality of mastering. Poor-sounding records might come down as lifeless and unpleasant sounding with the MM-500, but it’s not the headphone’s fault, quite the opposite actually. The latest Audeze model is just incredibly technical and neutral sounding that will never hide anything from the mix, but rather present every single flaw in the master on a hot plate. If you’re into an ultimate critical listening experience, the MM-500 is really hard to beat, even by many more expensive headphones on the market.

The soundstage continues the entire technical and studio-oriented sound. It focuses mainly on layering, accuracy, and imaging, but it does it in an interesting manner. See, the overall size of the soundstage is rather small, when compared to some of its competitors, but I actually believe that it was intentional. Once again, the MM-500 is a really forward-sounding pair, meant to present the music in the most neutral and studio-like way. This means that you’re getting everything pretty close to you, including the staging capabilities. Even though the soundstage is rather small, it is amazingly accurate and “right” sounding, which makes for a very pleasant and lifelike experience. Also, the MM-500 performs excellently with games as well, giving you very accurate imaging, that will help you locate the “other guys” from the opposite team. If you want the ultimate size of the soundstage, the HD800s is your guy, but if you want a highly accurate and forward type of experience, the MM-500 performs fantastically.


Audeze LCD-X 2021


This is the first comparison that came into my mind when I received the MM-500. The LCD-X is the best-selling model in the history of Audeze, and its 2021 version has proven to be the best iteration of this model.
However, these two models are actually very different. I always loved the build quality and design of the LCD-X, but Audeze improved it with the MM-500. First of all, it is lighter and it feels even more substantial in your hand. The LCD-X 2021 is an extremely well-made headphone, but the MM-500 is just even better. Also, the entire construction has been shrunken a bit to provide a more transportable design.
When it comes to comfort, the MM-500 is more comfortable, but it’s definitely not a night and day difference. The newer model is lighter, but the clamping force is much stronger, resulting in a fit that is more secure on your head, but it can lead to slight discomfort during long listening sessions.

Lastly, the sound that these two reproduce has some similarities, but the overall presentation is vastly different. The LCD-X 2021 is definitely thicker, warmer, and darker sounding of the two, resulting in a more relaxing and laid-back experience that might be more pleasant if you’re into chill listening. The MM-500 however is much more technical and mid-forward sounding, providing superior detail retrieval and insight into the material, which will be highly desired in the studio environment. What’s very impressive is that these two have a studio heritage, but the MM-500 feels more mature and better suited for the type of experience that Audeze has gone with.

Hifiman Arya SE


These two sound a lot more similar than the previous comparison. First first things though, the build and comfort.

The Arya SE is more comfortable than the MM-500, without a doubt. Hifiman has been the master of comfort when it comes to high-end headphones in recent years and it’s unlikely that they will give that position away anytime soon. However, when it comes to the build quality, the MM-500 feels a lot sturdier and just more refined, with its metal construction and great finishing.
Both headphones look incredibly good, and I actually believe that these are the two best-looking headphones on the market right now.

When it comes to sound, both headphones aim for that ultimate technical performance and neutral tonality. The detail retrieval and resolution are definitely on the same level, but there are some differences in the overall sound. First of all, the MM-500 is the more forward-sounding of the two, as well as more neutrally tuned. The Arya SE on the other hand offers a bigger soundstage and more bass impact.

What’s most important for me is that the Arya SE often sounds a bit too much for me, with its highly saturated treble and insane energy of the sound. The MM-500 is less tiring sounding of the two, hence I can listen to it for longer periods of time. Both are excellent for gaming, but the MM-500 is definitely a better choice for music production, because of its incredibly natural and detailed sound.

Drop + Sennheiser HD8XX


I don’t have the HD800s on my hand, but I do have the Drop + Sennheiser HD8xx. This is a slightly re-tuned version of the legendary HD800 series.

First of all, the build quality and comfort. The 8xx is the more comfortable of the two, but it’s not surprising for me, since I find the HD800 series headphones the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever used. Lightweight, literally no clamping force and Alcantara earpads all make for a headphone that I can wear for many, many hours without even the slightest problem.
It is with the actual build quality that the MM-500 wipes the floor with the 8xx. The latter feels just plasticky and not really durable when compared to the newest Audeze release. The MM-500 feels incredibly solid and it’s meant to survive a lot of abuse in the studio, which the 8xx would definitely not survive.

When it comes to sound, the MM-500 is again, definitely a better choice. The 8xx has its pros with its legendary, huge soundstage, and fun-oriented bass response, but the MM-500 is a lot more detailed, has better resolution and its tuning is a lot more natural. The 8xx feels wonky and shouty in comparison, while the MM-500 sounds just “right”. Apart from that huge soundstage, I cannot think of a single reason why you should choose the 8xx over the MM-500.


The Audeze MM-500 is very easy to drive, and thanks to its amazingly natural tone, you can basically pair them with anything you want. Yes, they still sound best out of a high-end system, but it’s not necessary for you to enjoy them. The MM-500 can be paired with a DAP like the latest iBasso DX170 and this pairing is going to give you a highly technical sound with a lot of texture.

If you’d like to introduce a bit of warmth, you could try pairing the MM-500 with Burson Playmate 2 or the Yulong Aurora. This will give you a little bit of body to the sound and transform the MM-500 into a slightly less technical-sounding headphone.

Also, you can just simply plug these into the Feliks Audio Envy to get that incredibly fast and snappy sound that just feels impossibly detailed. While I would most certainly recommend that, you don’t really have to have a $6000 amplifier for these babies to shine. Everything clean and detailed sounding will definitely do the job.



The Audeze MM-500 is the next step in the evolution of Audeze after the LCD5. The new design and build are just spectacular, and it is by far one of the best-looking and feeling headphones that I’ve ever experienced in my entire life (and I experienced a lot, you know this).

It is the sound that matters the most though, and once again, Audeze did an incredible job with these. The MM-500 has a studio heritage and it’s definitely present in its sound, which is hugely detailed, fast, snappy, and very natural sounding, with a mid-forward presentation. Even though they are very technical, they do not sound too extreme or forced, resulting in an experience that is not tiring or just “too much”.

Audeze re-enters the sub $2000 market with quite a fantastic product, and the MM-500 is now my nr.1 recommendation for a technical marvel in its price category.

Wildly Recommended.

Gear used during this review for the sake of comparison and as an accompanying equipment:
  • Headphones – Hifiman Susvara, Final D8000 Pro, Audeze LCD-X 2021, Hifiman HE1000se, Drop + Sennheiser HD8XX, HEDDphone, Hifiman Edition XS, Hifiman Arya SE
  • Sources– XI Audio K-DAC, Feliks Envy, SMSL SH-9, EarMen Tradutto, SMSL DO100 + HO100, Burson Playmate 2, Yulong Aurora
Big thanks to Audeze for providing the MM-500 for this review. I wasn’t paid or asked to say anything good or bad about this product, all of the above is just my personal, unbiased opinion. Audeze hasn’t seen this review before publishing it.
You can get your Audeze MM-500 here or here.
My compliment was censored. I didnt think I was too positive. What the H?


Headphoneus Supremus
The first headphone from Audeze's new MM Series
Pros: Very good tonality
Easy to drive
Superb technicalities
Razor sharp imaging
Cons: Headband has a bit too much pressure
The Audeze MM-500 is Audeze's first headphone from the new MM Series, designed for mixing in the recording studio. During development, no less a master than 11-time Grammy winner Manny Marroquin was on hand to offer advice and support. And he says about the MM-500: "With the MM-500 I feel confident to deliver the best mix".


With the introduction of the LCD-5, Audeze pursues a new concept in design and comfort, which also finds its application here. The shape, design and size of the MM-500 is very reminiscent of the LCD-5. The weight is also less compared to the classic LCD series, although the LCD-5 is still slightly lighter 420 g vs. 495 g. The carbon headband of the LCD-5 will make the biggest difference here. Another difference is the shape of the pads, which are angled inward on the LCD-5. The transducer size is identical on both (90mm). The MM-500 also uses the Fluxor magnet array and Neodymium N50 magnets, but not a nano-level driver like the LCD-5 has.


The workmanship of the headphones is very good and is in no way inferior to the model of the more expensive price range, in this case the LCD-5. The scope of delivery includes a carrying case, a 6.35 mm connection cable, a cloth bag and a warranty card.

Due to the weight and weight distribution, the headphones sit very well on the head. Unfortunately, it is also a bit tight, as the new headband exerts a contact pressure that should not be underestimated, which can become uncomfortable especially on a larger head during longer listening sessions. However, you can pull the headband apart a bit to relieve the pressure or hang the headphones around a stapple books for a few days, that definitely helps! The first series of the LCD-5 also included a headband with very high contact pressure. Audeze has greatly improved that with the introduction of a new headband. I hope they do the same with the MM-500!

With an impedance of only 18 ohms and a sensitivity of 100 dB/1 mW, the MM-500 is very easy to use portable. My Shandling M8 has no trouble in low gain getting the MM-500 to play sufficiently loud and with authority, unbalanced connected.

The LCD-X was Audeze's first headphone for professional audio and the brand's best-selling headphone. Can the MM-500 follow in its footsteps? Well, first of all, they are quite a bit apart in price. The MM-500 is clearly the better sounding headphone! Technically more comparable with the LCD-5 than the LCD-X, so I would like to describe the sound in the following with reference to the LCD-5.

The LCD-5 began with the introduction of a whole new sound concept. The typical warm, smooth Audeze house sound was replaced with a new tuning with more upper mids and highs that saw the light of day in the form of the LCD-5! More presence in the mids, more detail, and all at such a high level that the LCD-5 is technically one of the best headphones ever for me, if not the best! There is a slightly bigger "but" here, though. Namely, it doesn't sound quite right to me without EQ. There is a little too little bass on the one hand and too much energy in the range around 3 Khz on the other. But if you are willing to use an EQ, you get an incomparable sound over headphones that is not available from any other manufacturer! How is the MM-500 tuned? You can hear the similarity to the LCD-5, but it doesn't have much in common with the older LCD models. You hear this incredibly punchy and strong slam in the bass range. In addition, the upper mids, which come crystal clear and direct. And a high frequency range that is teeming with details and still comes across as pleasantly smooth and not annoying. The advantage of the MM-500 over the LCD-5 is that I no longer need EQ! What I improved with the EQ on the LCD-5 is already very well done here in the delivery state. One or the other may be in the range around 3 Khz perhaps still a little more sensitive than me. Then you could still easily lower 2-3 dB in this range. However, in my opinion, no bass shelf is necessary.

Technically, it clearly puts an LCD-X in its place in terms of transients, resolution and cleanliness. Compared to the MM-500, the LCD-5 has an even cleaner sound with more speed. However, the distance is by far not as high as the price suggests.

The stage distance is on LCD-5 level with razor sharp imaging of the individual sound events. Here, I can easily focus on one source and listen to it. This is the kind of stage I like. I am an audiophile, whether this is the way a studio professional wants to listen I can't fully judge. But a Manny Marroquin with all his successes certainly can! From the point of view of an audiophile, however, I can clearly attest that the MM-500 is a playback device with which you can listen to your reference recordings for hours on end across genres. If you have tamed the headband.

The bass range is certainly one of the first features you come into contact with on the MM-500. As powerful, punchy and deep down as possible, that's the bass of the MM-500. Very detailed too, although it doesn't quite reach the precision of an LCD-5 or CRBN.

The MM-500 is a headphone that never sounds too thin. The sound always has enough foundation. The mids have presence, voices come across crystal clear and genuine without screaming at you. Guitars sound crisp, just the way I like it.

The MM-500's drivers are technically strong enough that no detail is missed in the high-frequency range. With the LCD-5, however, you can hear some details even more easily. Here, however, the question is always whether it is not due to the fact that this also has less bass and the details are therefore easier to hear out.

My music is 90% rock & metal, but I also have a large collection of jazz and classical recordings. For rock, pop, metal and EDM, the MM-500 is incredibly good! Made for this kind of music. But also classical (Kleiber's Beethoven Concerto) or jazz (Jen Chapin Master Blaster) as well as Eagles (Hotel California) invite you to bob along.

In terms of sound, Audeze has achieved a great success with the MM-500. A clear leap compared to the LCD-X and the better tuning compared to the LCD-5. My full recommendation!

Many thanks to @AudiophileAri who has assist me with the review unit!