Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Studio Monitor Headphones

Rating:
4/5,
  1. firev1
    Good cans for DJs and those entering Head fi
    Written by firev1
    Published Dec 30, 2011
    3.5/5,
    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. 
     
     
     
    1. hipster2010
      I picked up the DT770 Pro back in the fall. These were my first real headphone purchase. I was basically deciding whether I wanted to get the 770s or the M50. Based on your review I'm glad I chose the ones I did. Thanks for the helpful review
      hipster2010, Feb 7, 2012
  2. ssrock64
    Entry-Level, But Not Forgotten
    Written by ssrock64
    Published Dec 25, 2011
    3.5/5,
    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.
    1. SanjiWatsuki
      I have to agree here. I was a monster M50 fan before I joined Head-Fi, but it was tempered after I heard more and more headphones. I still think they're a solid buy at $120, but definitely not the $150-160 price they've reached after the price hikes.
      SanjiWatsuki, Dec 26, 2011
  3. bcasey25raptor
    Best under $150, Really?
    Written by bcasey25raptor
    Published Nov 28, 2011
    3.5/5,
    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.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Zubaru
      thanks loved how you compared known headsets at same pricetag, good for a noob like me who just bought his first audiophile headset(SRH840).
      Zubaru, Jan 6, 2013
    3. Beef Anus
      840 and sennheiser hd 2 ii are over 200 in canada the m50 is 125 
      Beef Anus, Dec 8, 2013
    4. KMSROX
      I have used just about every type of cans on the market from very expensive to cheap throw away junk. They all have their place on your ears depending on not only the genre but also what one expects to get out of the music they are listening to as well as the mood one is in while listening. So many variables do come into play when listening and should be remembered when writing a review or recommendation about cans.
       
      I think one of the most important things to remember is there are just about as many different types of cans as there are genre's these days. If you listen to one particular genre most of the time then finding a set of cans is pretty easy to weed out, however if you are eclectic like myself you have two choices, spending a lot of money for several different cans to fit your mood and the music you are listening to or buy a very versatile set of cans which the ATH M50's are.
       
      I originally purchased the ATH M50's because my brand new Pioneer HDJ-1000's went kaput and I needed something right away and the place I get my cans were out of the Pioneer HDJ-1000's. After much research on the net I decided to get the ATH M50's and I am so glad I did.
       
      I do a lot of studio work and if you look at the specs on the ATH M50's they are Professional Studio Monitors and not typical cans.  They have little to no wear in time. They are very well balanced as they should be for monitors so mixing is much more accurate. Most music studios have a few pairs of ATH M50's hanging near a mixing board, even in the recording room due to the clarity, comfort and accuracy.
       
      When my replacement Pioneer HJD-1000's came I never once used them they laid in a box for 5 years and I gave them to my mom a couple of months ago. I did however purchase 3 pair of ATH M50's including the 50th anniversary limited edition in 2012 given it was also my 50th birthday and no I did not keep them in the box for a collectors thing, hell I am 50 I am using them, they are my main pair and look cool! I do have a non anniversary pair in the box that hasn't been opened yet as well as a couple more at each station. I do of course use studio monitors in the studio as well but I still prefer the studio monitor headphones for everything.
       
      Listening loud, which by the way is not good for your ears believe me my hearing is not what it once was after 25 years as a professional drummer and all the studio time and now all the studio time mixing, mastering, reviewing and general listening to music.
       
      The Pioneer HDJ-1000's were what I was using when I began working with Miljenko Matijevic the vocalist for Steelheart I listened to him hit those high notes and I, like most avid listeners of music, believe music just isn't good unless its loud. Well after 16 straight hours of listening to "I'll Never Let You Go" my right ear began to bleed. I had to refrain from wearing my cans for 3 days. The ATH M50's has it built in so they will not get loud enough to do that kind of damage to your ears. If you...
      KMSROX, Dec 17, 2013
  4. ytisawfulnow
    Great sound, horrible comfort
    Written by ytisawfulnow
    Published Nov 15, 2011
    3.5/5,
    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.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. ytisawfulnow
      Okay, well it's been a couple of weeks now and i've gotten used to these headphones a bit, I may replace them with the SRH 840 pads in the future but for now i'd probably change the .5 rating for comfort to 2.5 or 3
      ytisawfulnow, Nov 28, 2011
    3. ytisawfulnow
      And overall to 4.5
      ytisawfulnow, Nov 28, 2011
    4. luleining
      I completely agree with you. I just got my Audio-Technica ATH-M50 from B&H for $121. I was very much impressed by the sound quality and build quality. But I found them very uncomfortable for the reasons you stated. I am coming from Sennheiser HD 598 which has velour earpads and almost no clamping force. I was debating whether I wanted to return them. But I figured I may get used to it eventually. I bought Audio Technica ATH-A900x about the same time. I found them much more comfortable. All the comfort issues with M50 do not exist in A900x.
      luleining, Nov 27, 2012
  5. Danchou
    Excellent closed cans
    Written by Danchou
    Published Sep 17, 2011
    5.0/5,
    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
    1. View previous replies...
    2. defrenchguy
      Constructive input against fanboyism is useless here. I don't find either the Shure's or the ATH's very good. They're in a range that just doesn't sound THAT great. The M50's are only good online. I've yet to meet anyone who's heard much about them in real life. I don't really care what you guys like. Monkeys like ants...doesn't make ants good to eat. I bought the Shure because they were $60 cheaper than the M50's unless I wanted to risk getting them from an eBay retailer and not get the warranty. Stores here sell them here closer to 170-180. Shure's are around for $120 nearly anywhere. Excellent? Give me a break.
      defrenchguy, Jan 15, 2012
    3. FSTOP
      wow...this is your brain on crack.
      FSTOP, Jan 15, 2012
    4. defrenchguy
      Smart guy. But you're not quite up to snuff, yet, little one. Maybe someday you'll be like me.
      defrenchguy, Jan 15, 2012
  6. defrenchguy
    ATH-M50 coiled w/ Shure 440 for comparison
    Written by defrenchguy
    Published Aug 8, 2011
    3.0/5,
    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.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. bcasey25raptor
      Defrenche i disagree. These are not terrible i consider them average for their price. But much better can be had for the $159 they go for now. They are not mediocre. But they are not amazing either. These are very unrevealing so i listen to them a lot. People working in a studio need to hear all the details in their recordings and they won't with the m50s while they will with the shure srh840. The shure srh840 is brutal to badly recorded music. The m50 plays everything well and badly recorded music is presented in a way that allows you to still enjoy it. That is why i enjoy these cans. I haven't heard the shure srh440 so i can't make much of a comparison but from what i understand they are a bass light srh840. Overall the m50 is an overhyped headphone that is a lot of fun and hides things you don't want to hear. They are not high fidelity but they are not mediocre either. I would have a hard time paying more then $110 for these though. Ray actually your comment on the alessandro ms1 is uncalled for because that is why i like them. Their coloration is great for metal. Overall though i own the srh840, hd 25 1 ii, and ath m50. Of those 3 the hd 25 1 ii is the funnest and most energetic, While the srh840 is is the most accurate and balanced. I find the m50s to be odd in that they sound nearly identical to beats pros.
      bcasey25raptor, Nov 25, 2011
    3. defrenchguy
      You certainly must not be serious if you don't follow my point. Yes, thank you again for re-reiterating that the sound engineers at AT moved their freqs a certain way...this means you can read a graph. Good job. The point is this: M50=overpriced & under-performing.

      But hey folks, if you truly enjoy unclear, muddy, blanketed sound, you will die in love with the M50's. You won't hear all your music, but hey, at least you know you paid more money for some M50's and that just feels great! And guess what else? They're good for recording a particular kind of music! Now isn't that another great reason to pay more for these? I never at any point said people bought a certain item over another, I said all people are pretty much actively avoiding the M50's due to their high price and comparatively low 'all-round' enjoyability factor. And yes, many people who love graphs and "sound engineering" come into the store; they never even look at phones in that price range, they know better than to do something like that. These are not, by any means a "natural" sounding phone. Over-done bass and retarded highs? Doesn't sound very natural to me.
      defrenchguy, Nov 25, 2011
    4. defrenchguy
  7. jto168
    Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Review
    Written by jto168
    Published Aug 8, 2011
    4.0/5,
    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.