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Audio-Technica ATH-M50S

  • Audio-Technica has introduced a straight-cable version, ATH-M50s, of its flagship ATH-M50 headphones. Designed to provide an exceptionally natural response for professional monitoring/mixing, the headphones feature a closed-back, collapsible design with 45mm neodymium drivers, circumaural ear pieces (180° swivel) and luxuriously padded ear cushions.

Recent Reviews

  1. AndyDandy
    Ear assault
    Written by AndyDandy
    Published Apr 8, 2017
    Pros - decent amount of detail for the price, engaging sound signature
    Cons - spiky, harsh and aggressive treble, boomy bass, no soundstage, uncomfortable stock pads
    After reading all the glowing reviews on youtube and amazon, I thought I would give these cans a try.
    For the first half an hour I loved these cans, I thought they were fun, engaging and detailed enough for my liking. Then my ears started to hurt, more and more, to the point where I had to take them off my head and let them rest for an hour. At low listening volumes, these headphones are decent, but if you raise the volume above 40% (on an iPhone), the treble becomes so aggressive it feels as though knives are stabbing your ear, particularly with electronic music. The bass gets very muddy and bleeds into the midrange on certain tracks.
    Clamping force out of the box was pretty strong, and the stock pads are rubbish.
    Swapping with velour hm5 pads drastically increased the comfort, but worsened the sound. The treble's harshness amplified and I had to take off these headphones every 5 minutes due to listening fatigue. I added toilet paper between the pad and the driver, and the treble calmed itself down, but now all the details were missing. The headphone now sounded incredibly blurry, but listenable.
    These are NOT studio monitors, I would go as far as to call them mildly V-shaped.
    The m50x I would call the "gateway" headphone into the audiophile world, because most people either owned Beats or EarPods before, and growing tired of the poor sound, go look on youtube and amazon for a superior audio alternative and find these. When I walk around the city, the m50x's are the third most popular headphone I see (behind beats and EarPods). I find it at least somewhat commendable when I see people wearing these in public, not because they are a good choice, but because it tells me they are at least trying to get better sound quality than from EarPods.
  2. Vortexian
    Bombproof and good-sounding headphones for a great price. Driven by almost any portable source, but prone to further worsen the sound from subpar DACs
    Written by Vortexian
    Published Mar 20, 2016
    Pros - Very solid construction (folding mechanism, cable and high quality plastic), clear and detailed bass, overall "driven" and "responsive" sound.
    Cons - High head pressure, ear sweating, low quality vinyl in earcups and arch coating. Not for sound mastering (noticeable midbass and treble accents).
    I've been using these phones for nearly 7 years and, I think, I can first of all conclude some "long life" specifics of these earphones:
    1) They are really bombproof. I've dropped them lots of times, sat on them, crushed them with a laptop in my backpack, got caught by the cable at different obstacles (completely destroyed two player mini-jack sockets). And they are still mechanically perfect. But the head-arch coating became torn on the sides and the ear cups became cracked and stone-hard.
    2) These phones had really "monitor-grade"  and "unaccented" sound for, well, first 40 hours of listening. After initial burn-in the pronounceable bass appeared, the headphones started to sound in more "raw", "dark", "wet" way. And that's what I was looking for - growling vocal and "raw" Thrash Metal guitar became perfectly enhanced.
    I liked this until I tried a new freshly burnt in M50. I really thought, that mine have "burnt out" - they sounded a lot more "raw", but the lack of clarity was drastic.
    But when I changed the ear cups to the brand new ones, the almost-new M50 and my 7 year old M50 became indistinguishable again. So, the condition of the ear cups can seriously affect the sound, at least in the case of M50-s. I still use old and cracked ear cups when I want to listen to something like Cascadian Black Metal.
    3) The wearing comfort is not the best, but quite acceptable (unless your ear cups have already turned into stone-hard condition). The arch spring strength has not changed over 7 years - they are still tight-fit and stay aligned on the head even while running or driving off-road. But, anyway, I find it hard to continuously wear them for more than 4 hours. But what I really like about the construction is that it's quite easy securely to mount the headphones to a single ear (one ear cup is on the ear and another is resting behind another ear), so there is no need to completely take off the headphones to answer the phone or make a short conversation with someone.
    4) The headphones are loud enough with virtually any device (from 20$ pendrive players to desktop DAC-AMP combos), but the quality difference is extreme (that's obvious). What is not so obvious, at least for me, is that the sound quality varies so much among different flagship mobile phones, lower-end hardware DAC players and higher-end codec players. ATH-A900X and Shure SRH840 were signifcantly less affected, than M50-s.
    Now, about the sound and genres:
    They have a great "drive", despite their quite average sensivity. Perfect examples of what I really like how it sounds on these earphones are: Thrash metal, Technical Death Metal (e.g. Vader - Red Code), high-paced Techno, bass-rich Melodic Death Metal (e.g. Amorphis - Majestic Beast), heavier representatives of Power Metal (Sabaton, Powerwolf, Manowar), Industrial metal or Industrial with non-electronic bass (e.g. Samael - For a thousand years).
    Though, these headphones are not crystal clear, so they are not the best for high-pitched Oldschool Electronic music or Classical music (violin and tenor vocals are mediocre at most) with one exception - these headphones are not so bad for double-bass and cello-rich compositions. Jazz Fusion sounds too flat with too much bass.
  3. uncopy87
    Written by uncopy87
    Published Nov 4, 2015
    Pros - good sqi
    Cons - too heavy
    I think the sq is good but personally i dont like flat sounding headphones.
    1. thatBeatsguy
      The M50? Flat-sounding?
      thatBeatsguy, Nov 4, 2015
  4. Zennheiser
    It's not awful, but it's nothing to write home about. I sent mine back.......
    Written by Zennheiser
    Published Apr 19, 2015
    Pros - Nice Packaging, laid back mids and highs
    Cons - Pretty much everything else
    The highs and the lows are, for lack a better descriptor "dry".  There are people who "like" this sort of leanness, but it's never sounded "real" to me.  It's the difference I hear in vintage (dry)Teac/Tascam analog tape gear vs. the better Pioneer machines from the mid-'70's forward. (The better European machines as well, even though reliability problems are legion, depending on brand.) How something measures and how it sounds are sometimes very counterintuitive.  I was disappointed and let's leave it at that.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Zennheiser
      I'm a retired professional musician/teacher.  Most of what I listen to is what's increasingly dismissed as "marginalized" owing to my age demographic.  My idea of the greatest rock band of all time is Blood, Sweat & Tears.  (I'm casual friends with Roy Halee, although I haven't spoken with him recently, we're both trumpet players...)   I'm sorry that you dislike what I disliked and our biases somewhat cancel. They're not BAD headphones, and that seems to be the "common denominator" in the commentary about them.  My biases are toward Jazz/Classical/Acoustic and what most  think of as highly produced (prepared/rehearsed) types of music.  I.E., Mercs/RCA Living Stereo minimalist miked  type things. That probably marginalizes ME a bit. I'm a fan of AT.  I have several of their mics, including a  pair of the 4050's, the single point 822 (I know it's getting long in the tooth but man does it a great job if you can't be picky about setup) and I'm quite fond of the AT-150MLX MM cart.  (I've owned at least a dozen of their cartridges and liked nearly all of them.)  So, please underestand that I'm not biased against the brand.  But the rest of what I have by them raises my expectations.  The price point thing is getting weird now, because there's spurts of (to me, at least) WILD street price inflation hitting us differently depending on what part of the Pacific rim items come from. (Japan's gone nuts, but only on certain things...strange...) Those Superlux 'phones are more or less about the same (but the other brand name they're being imported under is down around $30.00 or so shipped, or was..) These things are in flux now more than ever.  Peace...
      Zennheiser, Apr 20, 2015
    3. Stephan
      ^^^What the heck are you talking about? You're all over the place with that post, very hard to follow, and what you just said had nothing to do with your review, and you named dropped a semi famous musician for no apparent reason, I'm confused...
      Stephan, Apr 20, 2015
    4. Zennheiser
      Interesting.  I said that I was a retired professional musician and teacher, and proffered the comment to provide some background on why I like what I like and how I came to like it. That was the only reason it was mentioned.  Roy Halee is NOT a famous musician. I know him because we met on a trumpet group and he private messaged me about some posts I had made pointing out why so many of the records he and Lou Waxman were involved with rank as some of the best sounding popular music records of their time and place, specifically on the label he worked for.   (They get reissued, i.e.,"Mo-Fi"-ed a LOT.) I didn't know he was a member there until he contacted me and a friendship was struck.   What he IS, is a well known Producer (Simon & Garfunkel, and B,S&T among others) which again, is why I included mentioning him. I addressed Koolpep's question regarding what music I listened to and what MY biases are.  (We all have them.)   My crucible is Real (acoustic) instruments in a real (if arbitrarily created, as in the case of Halee's pop recordings) space.  It was meant to be a civil reply to a comment I took at face value.  I don't expect everybody to like what I like.  It's irrational to think that everybody would.  I'm always listening and I like discussing music (in general) and gear (in general-unless it degrades into a P***ing contest, which is where I have no interest in seeing this discussion go.)  It's just one more opinion, but I made my living in Music and I trust my own perceptions. Which is what we all should do.  I've made no attacks on anyone's preferences.  I just spoke to mine.    If you like the AT Headphones, good on 'ya, man.  But I can't keep everything I try, so choices had to be made. Sorry that you had trouble understanding the context, especially since the reply was to satisfy a request FOR context.   The tone of your post tends to make me think that you don't care to understand.  The presentation of the headphones were "dry" (some might invoke the descriptor "threadbare".) Instruments sound thinner and "smaller" as opposed to creating the instrument in a way that allows the listener to suspend disbelief and the signal chain disappears.  So without trying to invoke more invective, for me, they lacked "transparency".  I was disappointed.  A lot of people aren't. I have no connection with Audio Technica whatsoever, other than as a retail customer.  It's one person's opinion.  
      Zennheiser, Apr 21, 2015
  5. whitemass
    Rounding Three Years Usage
    Written by whitemass
    Published Mar 6, 2015
    Pros - Durable, Long Lasting, Great Beginner Set
    Cons - Read Review
    Level: Amateur Mostly
    Experience: First Personal Pair
    We can all agree it's been reviewed too much?
    My turn please...
    I'm aware of the reputation these carry, how audio should sound to a newbie, and the relative price point for most people is fairly affordable.
    But after having such a long rep, and being the most top recommended headphone out there, I see where some things are wrong in my book, and that I, obviously as every other soon-to-be/experienced audiophile have different preferences per sound.
    They lack to me, but I see where a newbie could melt over these if it were their first on ear.
    Female Vocals are a shiny whistle, the bass isn't too much, but enough to give a good bite if you want something with better sound quality than a pair of Beats, which makes these a sensible choice.
    Love shiny guitars? Lossless albums really cater to these, if it's a Rock subgenre, or something of the same nature.
    Vocals aren't too candy coated, sound doesn't leak, acoustics sound fine, vocals can be breathy on tracks.
    With all this positive said, what's my issue?
    I can argue that my issue was mistakable in buying these, but then I'm looking back on my year of 20.
    I had no audio experience, I'd seen these headphones given high ratings, and I'd always been searching to get the best for my habits, and some suitable to my listening habits. Come on, we aren't all rich.[​IMG]
    So, here's my small input on issue, don't let these silly opinions void your purchase.
    I feel as if these are chaser headphones. They're great, but the mids lack, I feel as if I'm trying to find more value by changing my preference in kbps.(256 kbps, VBR v2, or FLAC is what I prefer)
    Another issue that kinda killed me off after my Six Month Period with these was more personal. I don't just listen for quality, I generally revisit a bunch of albums over and over, and when I do, I get caught in long listening hours. So why am I whining? The M50s' are strenuous, I could/can only get through a max of 3 listening hours before my head has enough. 
    With all said, they're my only present set I have, if I had a job, I'd probably have more headphones.
    So, with all of my personal complaints out, what's my verdict?
    #1. They're Monitors for sure, keep in mind, a Monitor Headset to you isn't always going to be a monitor set to somebody else.
    #2. If you personally enjoy the feedback given on them, BUY THEM, only as a beginner headphone.
    #3. If you're new, headphones you buy for serious listening need to be something that'll last you a while, especially if it's your first set.
    My feedback is this, they're gonna please someone who generally wants to get into serious listening habits, unmasking hidden instruments in songs, and hearing backgrounds.
    Someone who's coming from a headphone a bit lower scale? I came from the ATH-WS55, they're a moderate upgrade, but before you commit to the purchase, go out and listen to different headphones, frequent them, see if they are gonna be what you truthfully want.
    Last words, these headphones have somewhat of a "Cult Following", and they're recommended to anyone who wants to take their listening seriously.
    I feel this needs to stop, we need a chart, a chart of headphones around $200 range to show people options, not force them into something they may have not completely read up on.[​IMG] 
  6. ChrisDesir
    First headphones, never forget these choice i made.
    Written by ChrisDesir
    Published Feb 5, 2015
    Pros - slightly bassy, Good mids, good lows, good detail
    Cons - nothing just feel like its missing something on you on prefence, unless you upgrade to other headphones youll find what you prefer.
    had these after my beats broke, was speculate about it if it was going to be better than the beats, i was right,  they was far better than the beats. ever time i have friends who have there beats on , i told them to listen to them and then they ask me where can you buy them. these headphones are really good for beginner who have that ears and want get ready for more in the headphone world . these headphones are like training wheels, for what choice of headphones you prefer (high,lows,and mids), like which you prefer to have far greater but slightly lack the others once you get the audiologist headphones.
  7. beepover
    Very good sound, but theres so many better headphones. Very Heavy and a bit bulky
    Written by beepover
    Published Dec 31, 2014
    Pros - Decent sound, good comfort
    Cons - Heavy and bulky
    Worse then HD600, HD650, AKG 701, Ultrasone 780, HD595..So theres better. Its good for the price...Anything above 150 is getting very high.
    1. RERO
      I'm not the biggest fan of the M50, but I think your comparisons are a bit unfair to be honest. The ones you listed are either open, much more expensive and/or discontinued. Plus your review is just plain empty.
      RERO, Jan 1, 2015
  8. GoldenGuy66
    Not that hawt!
    Written by GoldenGuy66
    Published Nov 9, 2014
    Pros - Frequency Response, Detail, Build Qual.
    Cons - Treble, NO soundstage, Bass is too boomy, Aggressive and unforgiving
    A headphone originally designed to monitor, Yet has been pushed to audiophile territory as a beginner headphone.
    Although recommended, The ATH m50 is actually very boomy in it's presentation and will always be aggressive. It's primary goal is to give you an adequate amount of detail during mixes in a studio and NOT  to enjoy/listen to music.
    Yet people STILL recommend it, claiming it competes with headphones at twice its price range, and offering it to people that don't know any other headphone but their skullcandy earbuds or Beats by Dr Dre.
    When coming from a headphone as bad as BEATS or skull candy, the M50 sounds like an open-aire headphone. In my opinion, This is where all the hype comes in. Since you have never heard a halfway decent headphone in your life you tend to assume this thing sounds like it's 300$. But it's really not the case.
    In the world of audio fidelity, The more you pay for something, The better it sounds (well, usually if you buy from a good brand). My un-amped  HD600 does a better job than the ath-m50 for casual music listening...But that headphone IS actually double the price of the M50.
    I know, comparing it to a headphone double it's price is not really fair, But In my opinion there are better options for 100 bucks. You can get a  Sennheiser HD 558, or even a GRADO sr 80i which are both better options. 
      MrTechAgent likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. yalper
      GoldenGuy66 always had different taste than me, that's why I take it with a grain of salt...
      yalper, Nov 10, 2014
    3. Myxypyzlyk
      If you put the bigger aperture Shure HPAEC840 Replacement Ear Cushions on the ATH50x the sound is completely different sounding-all the muddy flabby bass goes to a precise sound (in fact all the ranges become more precise). As soon as I replaced thestock pads the sound was so neutral and precise. I have a Fiio E07K amp with it and only tweak up the bass and it's fantastic.
      Myxypyzlyk, Nov 15, 2014
    4. ClearConscience
      This is truly one of the most ignorant comparisons of any headphone I have ever read.  Not only did you make apples-to-oranges comparisons between price to such an extent that you were comparing the m50 with headphones that cost twice or even triple the price, you were making apples-to-oranges comparisons in the type/kind of headphone as well.  You didn't compare the m50 to a single other closed headphone.  Why are you even here?

      What you've written does more to confuse and deceive than it does to educate.  Honestly, what you've written is a detriment to the reader.
      ClearConscience, Dec 9, 2014
  9. alexau123
    Great first Headphone!
    Written by alexau123
    Published Oct 31, 2014
    Pros - Nice bass, comfort, durability
    Cons - sweaty ear pads, a bit bright, treble can be fatiguing at times
    The ATH-m50 is my first ever headphone, not including the $2 ear-buds of course.  Before the m50, I was just listening to ear-buds and didn't have much affection for music reproduction.  However, this has changed once I had the m50 in March 2014, which made my wallet quite unhappy as I made several other purchases such as the AUNE T1 DAC/AMP and the Focal Spirit One.
    I think the m50's overall comfort is not bad, especially compared to my Focal spirit One.  You do feel the clamping force on your head as soon as you put it on and it does not disappear even after six months of use.  The clamping force didn't annoy me much, but when I listen to it for long session, I had to take them off every hour or so as the ear-pads were too sweaty and uncomfortable.  Another reason for this, is that the pleather ear pads are not very soft and changing it to the velour ear pads may be better.
    Build Quality:
    The m50 is build like a tank although it is full of plastic.  I do take a lot of care for my headphones, but after six months of use, there are still no dents or scratches that I can find!
    The bass is definitely emphasized which can be good or bad depending on the genres you are listening to, although emphasized, it is not bothering and is very enjoyable.  The treble is sometimes fatiguing as it reaches the higher notes, which is quite disappointing for me as I found the spirit one to be much better for my taste and music.  Soundstage is better than the Spirit one, and good for a closed back.  The soundstage is not mind blowing, but it does give a good overall presentation of where the music are coming from.  I THINK they do burn in, as I found the bass to be much tighter after a few months use, however it may just be more perception.
    The m50 is definitely a good entry to Hi-Fi although it is not a Hi-Fi headphone, it gave me an enormous difference in listening to music.  I can be sure of one thing, once you listen to the m50, you can never ever go back to your $2 ear-buds again!
  10. Pompone
    Excellent bargain
    Written by Pompone
    Published Jun 3, 2014
    Pros - quality for money, top sound, robustness
    Cons - fatigue that comes with extensive usage
    Excellent product. Used mainly with McBook/ipod/iphone with external DAC (ESI Dr DAC Nano) or with Audio technica portable amp (ATH-pha30i). Used in flight as well as at home, in public transportation, ...
    Bass are present, trebbles are crisps and mediums are beautiful. Those cans are very well balanced. I would not say bass are muddy or whatever audiophile term is used for sloppy engineered devices. Digital sound makes our ears very sensitive to exactitude and flaws in recordings. Recording techniques are incredibly more accurate than even 15 years ago. Also, the current preference for music/sound is a lot of low meds (not even talking about bass, except for night club sound). Just listen to Al Schmitt's recordings of Dianna Krall and compare that with Sinatra or Billie Holiday or even Harry Connick's from another time. So, in the end, a pair of cans must be able to address 1920's jazz, Mahler or Beethoven, as well as LMAO, DJ mixing or high milage music (electronic lounge stuff). If you listen to noise rather than music (I mean natural instruments), you can use a Monster Dr@$¨!, but if you want to listen to music in any situation, at a good price, then the M50 is the deal.
    I wanted the best product for the money. I already was using in ear ATH CK10, after wearing off Shure, Koss and a few others. I also wanted to replace my AKG 240 monitor. I wanted a studio/pro device because if those guys chose such products it means it cannot be all bad, especially in terms of robustness, reliability, value for the buck and neutrality. I checkd the AKG, but finally ended up with ATH.
    I listened to better stuff, like Stax or Sennheizer HD 700, 800, 650 with dedicated amplifiers (by Sennheizer), but in the end, considering my usage and (again) the value for money, the M50 came as an obvious choice. I'm not a ATH freak, but I know that japanese take pride into desiging high quality stuff, even if manufacturing in China.
    I'm not putting 5 stars because the ratio price/money could even be improved, but I'm not being obnoxious.


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