Audio-Technica ATH-M50S

Average User Rating:
  1. WelcomeNormal
    "ATH M50s=Best portable headphone"
    Pros - sound quality, build quality, good amount of bass
    Cons - treble that is to harsh
    I am new to Head-Fi and digital audio generally, so I can't compare the M50 to any other headphones, but based on my long-ago experience selling really high-end audio, they are like experiencing the sound of an excellent pair of full-range, expensive loudspeakers, except they take up a lot less space, are more portable, cost much less for a comparable degree of sound quality, and allow private listening.  I really needed a closed-back headphone because I listen in a lot of circumstances where I can't disturb those around me, and the ATH-M50S are excellent at containing sound "leakage" while not being as insulating from allowing you to hear outside sounds (like fire alarms, doorbells, etc.) as an IEM would be.  I listen to the the M50s in the public library at what seems like a really robust volume to me, and people sitting just a few feet away from me never glare or look askance at me.  They are easy to drive (I can actually play them quite acceptably from my tiny Rockboxed Sansa Clip+, and the disparity of size between the source and the cans and sound eminating from them is kind of amusing.  With the Nuforce uDAC-2 HP serving as a replacement for the internal sound card in three different notebook computers (a Sony i7 running Windows 7, an old HP dual-core and an Asus Atom netbook - both running Ubuntu Linux), they can be driven to deafening levels without a hint of distortion at any frequency, even what we used to call "bass doubling" coming from speaker woofer cones breaking up from the cones not moving linearly trying to push large volumes of air quickly.  Another advantage of headphones with a small enclosed acoustic cavity over trying to fill a room with high-quality sound.
    The closed-back design does lead to a smaller soundstage, which is why I have the Sennheiser 650s coming, which I will use only at home where I can afford to "bleed" some sound to the area around me.  The only real complaint I can make about the M50s is comfort.  The build quality is excellent, and even though high quality plastic is used to keep them relatively lightweight, they are still a tad heavy, and the clamping force is strong, but tolerable.  Helps for a good acoustic seal, so I would be wary of trying to stretch out the headband too much.
    Supply and demand tells you a lot about the quality of any product.  When I got my pair for $110 new on eBay, the Amazon price was about $129.  Now, they are going for almost the full retail of $199 on Amazon, and the number of five-star reviews of them grows daily as people take delivery.
    Definitely a keeper.

  2. Madhawanm
    "Best Value for each Cent spend"
    Pros - + Good Clean Audio Quality + Good Bass response , +Good Highs and Mids for the price, + Good isolation, + great with Fiio E6, +Durable +Good Looks
    Cons - -Comfort, - A bit too bright, -Bass muffled without use of Amp,
    When I heard them first, I was dejected and fuming at my decision, Now, After apprx. 50 Hours of burn in , I thank my self that i didn't return them back.
    Let's start with the outside first-
    Looks- Now, I don't know why some people describe them as plain-jane looking or being too introvert/somber . I got my hands on the Limited edition and let me tell you, They are as outwards as any others, having said that, They still maintain a non flashy demeanor (Unlike Beats). The limited edition beautifly franksteins an unique combination of Silvery white with a hint of  blue tint making them attractive and fresh.
    For a serious music lover, They should match his choice. Unless you want a 300$ necklace, I personally find them really  good and sporty.
    Durability- Now, if you are thinking of portable use this would come to your mind and let me tell you, These are really Panther Tanks(Used by Germany in WWII), Strong, Robust and Trustworthy. Will survive much more than a fall. Feel free to carry them even in Afghanistan.
    Comfort- Yeah, They are not your pillow on which you could go for a nap, To be fair, they do need some time to get used do, The earpads are pleathered, which is plastic+leather, (for 150$ they really can't give you real leather), Thus turning them surprisingly hot after long continuous use. The clamping force is another issue to take care of, I advice you to stretch them according to your head size and comfort, once done, They are good to go, Regarding the earcups- They are a cons. of closed/sealed headphone, so be prepared to sacrifice some comfort for isolation and portability.
    Portability and isolation- They are not as portable as a Sennheiser PX100/200, They do fold but not as much to be treated as purely portable cans, However, If you can manage the cord and get comfortable with the headband/earpad , they can be portable,. They swivel and fold well small enough to be kept in the pouch/bag. This makes them multifunctional. They are pretty light as well for a full sized headphone.
    Regarding Isolation, I would say they do isolate pretty well, I haven't really compared them with Bose/Beats but they use active isolation and these are passive. Still, I can assure you , traffic noise, metro announcements, irritating people nearby will be blocked off and the leakage is also under permissible levels. You will never be able to crank up the sound so much that they start leaking, they will just blow your ears before that , so don't expect much leakage at reasonable listening levels.
    Sound Quality-
    Lows/Bass- Now, They are bass heavy headphones, Not nearly as bass overpowering or extenuated as other headphones, but they definitely have a LOT of bass. The one thing which i noticed was that the bass did go fairly  low, but was not as tight for my liking. I really do advice you to go for a Fiio E6 if you intent to use them with ipod/pmp, Otherwise you can go for Fiio E7/10 for laptop. Post use of an amp, the bass is really tight and extended. Still , these headphones offer the best bass amongst Sony ZX700/Shure SRH840/ Beats, so for bass lovers they are perfect.
    Mids- Hmmm..Don't compare with 500$+ category, The mids are still pretty balanced and neutral sounding. I still think that Sony ZX700/Shure SRH 840 has a bit forward range here, but overall when you listen to the M50 , the sound comes really balanced and pretty natural, You could always adjust the EQ for your need. Mids could be regarded as a lower point.
    Highs- Again, pretty relaxed and a bit bright. It does have a brighter profile then some others. This could be both a downside and positive, I still think that M50 manage the highs quite well in its price range.
    Vocals/SoundStage- Vocals are clear, though the bass can sometimes overpower if you chose the bass boost or turn the amp to high bass. Still I felt these headphones have a good vocal range. Soundstage surprisingly is pretty good for this type of headphone.
    Genre- These sound good with most, Electronic, Hip-hop, Techno, Metal/rock,Dance/Party etc. Perhaps, accoustic and jazz/classic music could be better suited with Shure's as they have a better midrange , though you compromise on bass and the highs.
    Additional Thoughts/Information- Do get an amp for them, need not spend 200-300, but anything under 100. I think for portable users Fiio E6 does the job well, if you use them primarly for home/laptop, consider getting the Fiio E7/10. The bass seems much more tighter and deeper and the overall sound is improved considerably making it rich .
    Final Words: When a device gets so many positive reviews there's gotta be a reason, and the reason is the all in one package which ATH M50 gives you. Shure SRH840/SONY ZX700 are headphones you can look as well according to your needs, but to sum it up- You can't really go wrong with these, The overall sound quality is very good for the price and their ability to be used for portable purpose increases their funcionality. Comfort wise, stretching the headband really helps and would eliminate the clamping effect and you will get used to the earpad.
    I give them a solid 4.5 star Rating.
    Syros likes this.
  3. Zub-a-Roo
    "ATH-M50s - Best $100.00 headphone for my money"
    Pros - Big Bass, Good Highs, comfortable, affordable audio
    Cons - spring on cord pulls away from jack :frowning2:
    Bought off another headfi member used but in excellent condition.  Very impressed with bass impact.  Sounds great through tubes or Soild State.  Great audiophile introduction headphone.  The Audio Technica ATH-M50s has found a place in my arsenal directly underneath the "big three".
  4. Spriggs
    "M50 Reveiw"
    Very good headphones for the price.
  5. Dudwasup
    "Very good"
    Pros - great sound, comfortable
    Cons - They dont do my Homework
    These are great headphones. For 160$ i wasn't sure how good these would be but wow they are amazing. the mids are very good and highs aren't bad either, and the bass isn't overpowering to the rest of the track. they are also very comfortable wearing for long periods of time.
  6. MattTCG
    "Impression on my m50's"
    Pros - Plays almost everything well
    Cons - Comfort
    Just wanted to share my thoughts on the vaunted m50's...not that more reviews are needed. First off, I couldn't be happier with them except for the comfort level. I need a break from them after about an hour and it's a tough concession as I really don't want to take them off!! I plan to stretch them out a little and see if it makes a difference. 
    The best way that I can describe the m50's is that they seem to be able to play just about any genre well...effortlessly. The sound is rich, articulate, a bit heavy on the bass (which I like) and inviting. The sound signature is perfect for me. I just like the way that they sound in nearly every category. The other headphones that I owned have been put through the artificial burn in period. When I put these on my head, I just didn't feel the need to give them a burn in period. I just wanted to listen, and listen and listen. I will let them burn in naturally as I use them. I just don't feel the need to get better sound from them out of the box. They are that good to me.
    These are not what I would budget/bang for the buck phones. They feel expensive, look expensive and sound expensive IMO. The fact that they can be had for around $100 may change that equation though. Maybe the best compliment that I can pay the m50's is that when I put them on I stop listening to the audio quality and just get lost in my music. The second best compliment is that they curbed my desire to go and buy "a better" pair of headphones. How long will that last? Don't know. [​IMG]
    The cable is nice and thick and metal coiled at the terminated end...nice touch. They are drive nicely without any amp. They have a heft to them that suggest the quality of the build. What would I change about them? I wish that they had more comfortable pads. That's it really. 
    If anyone is on the fence about these, don't be just buy them and enjoy!!
  7. tribestros
    "Overhyped piece of junk"
    Pros - Nice highs and mids, comfortable
    Cons - Terribly artificial bass, NOT "monitors" (that's why nobody uses them as monitors), laughable build quality
    There's always one.  Every good thing has a dissenter, and that's me.  The ATH-M50 cannot handle songs with lots of different lower frequencies going on at once because of the artificial bass extension.  For example, Nine Inch Nails' "Heresy" is a very challenging song to play on headphones; it sounds like crap on my car stereo because the subwoofer is confused on which notes to play, so too low of frequencies overpower what should be playing louder.  The M50s do the same on the FLAC version of it.  The impacts of the kick-drum are far quieter than the bass in the verses.  It's incredibly annoying.  The bass is so sloppy and uncontrolled.  Another good example, Smashing Pumpkins' "Thirty-Three", in which there is a subtle background bass that tends to get incredibly emphasized to the point it's unlistenable on car subwoofers/headphones with poor bass response.  The ATH-M50 do this.  Luckily, they have really nice mids and respectable highs.  Yet, it's shocking they bill these as monitors, they're horribly unbalanced towards the lower-end.  These headphones main competitor, the HD280Pro, are superior in every way, except for the clamping force.  Not a producer I can think of uses these, either.  NOT monitors.
    The build quality is a joke.  I went through three earpads in a year before the right speaker stopped working and the connector to the iPod got frayed.  They seem big and durable, but I've had lesser headphones be more durable.  I thought they were comfortable.  But the praise on here is sickening and misguided.  Do y'all get paid by Audio-Technica?  And at their new price, they are an even worse deal.
  8. Agony
    "ATH-M50s Review"
    Pros - Mids sound great, doesn't require an amp, balanced sound.
    Cons - Bass isn't as punchy as I wanted, trebles get a bit trilly and sharp at high volumes, needs 40+ hours of burn-in.
    I know there are too many reviews for these cans, but I thought I should put out my 2 cents. Keep in mind these are my first set of "real" headphones, as before this, the highest I shelled out was $79 for a set of Astro IEMs, which no one here has probably heard of. Anyway, let's begin.
    Design These just look amazing. They're slick, and the circular metal ring on each of the earcups looks great and adds that "expensive" look. I wouldn't mind being caught wearing these in public, and they look better than Beats, at least in my opinion. The DJ articulation is nice, as I DJ at a lot of school events. The only flaw with the design is the huge Audio-Technica written on the band. Not a major issue, rest assured, but I feel it takes away from the look just a bit.
    Price : Quality Ratio I've auditioned some of the other headphones offered by Sennheiser and V-Moda just above this price range, and I can easily, without a doubt, state that these are the best headphones you will find at a $100-$199 price range, and I think many of the other Head-Fi'ers will agree. If you're looking for cheap headphones that can perform, pull the trigger on Audio Technica.
    Comfort: I have a quite small head, so the tight clench feels nice for me. Many of the others review state comfort as an issue, and that the pleather gets sweaty. An easy fix-up is to just buy different pads, and break them in as you would break in a baseball glove. Don't smack it with a ball, just stretch them out over a box slightly larger than your head during burn-in.
    Sound Quality
    First Impressions: I didn't bother to burn these in, I was too eager to see why this was the number one headphone at it's price range. I put them on my head, plugged them in unamped to my 4S, and I was immediately in shock. They sounded barely any different from my Skullcandy FMJ buds. I decided it was time to give in and burn them in for a good 48 hours.
    After Burn-In: It was a night and day difference from the pre-burn in state. The soundstage widely improved, but it was still outplayed by some open ear cans I've heard. The sound signature itself is warm and balanced. They can't handle volume very well, as once it enters the higher volumes, treble gets very sharp, mids get a bit recessed, and the bass doesn't become all that much more present than it usually does at higher volumes. Keep in mind, these are monitor headphones, so they were built for recording and mixing. They will have a very flat-as-a-ruler sound, so EQ-ing for different genres is going to be needed for good sound. The "Rock" equalizer on my 4S seemed to clear things up for most genres, so I find myself using that a lot. Overall, these sound great, with clear trebles, great mids, and clean bass. I even got one of my friends with Beats Pro to say they were great. Most people with those horrible things usually try to justify their purchase by saying everything else is horrible.
    Bottom Line If you're looking for cheap headphones with relatively great sound quality compared to other headphones in its price range, take a look at these. They can be bought at $119 at, so check them out - they even have burned-in, yet new, M50s for sale.
    Bass: Clean and crisp, but not as punchy as I'd like.
    Mids: Can be recessed at high volumes, excels everywhere else.
    Highs: Only problem with the highs is that they get very sharp at high volumes.
    Soundstage: Not the best, but it's decent.
    tl;dr Amazing quality for the price, burn them in before judging the sound. No need for an amp.
    Thanks for reading my review, I'll catch you on the flipside.
    Syros likes this.
  9. LazBro123
    "Best Headphones Under 200 Dollars"
    Pros - Sound quality, Bass response, Comfort, Durability, Construction, Style
    Cons - No detachable cable, Cable is a bit too long
         These headphones are incredible. Fantastic sound quality. The bass response is really, really nice. It's well defined, accurate and strong, but it's not overpowering. The mids and highs are awesome too. Very crisp and I heard things in my music that I haven't heard with my other headphones. As well, these headphones look really nice and are really comfortable. The only things I do not like about these headphones is the very long straight cable. I always have to hold a bit of the cable when i'm listening to music on my iPod or my computer. Overall, amazing pair of headphones, for an amazing price! I would pay more than 200 dollars for these headphones. They are that good. Buy them.
  10. dysthanasiac
    Pros - A great combination of perfomance, value, comfort and value. And did I mention value?
    Cons - Low and high end have a tendancy to become unhinged. Mid-range clarity has a tendancy to vanish.
    To give my thoughts some context, I wouldn't call myself an audiophile.  I have an eclectic taste and appreciation for music, which I listen to on an iPod Classic.  The most "hi-fi" audio equipment I've ever owned is the pair of Ultimate Ears Super.f1 5 Pro earphones that I'd still be enjoying happily if the right 'phone hadn't developed an annoying buzz.  I can rarely discern an audible difference between songs encoded in 320 kbps formats and their lossless counterparts, but, the inferiority of sub-320 kbps files is often very apparent to my ears.
    That said, I do enjoy well-presented music.  It might very well be my favorite thing in the whole world. 
    After doing some light reading about headphones, I began my search for new ones with a conscious decision to avoid even auditioning open-air headphones.  I've never tried them, and I became convinced by my reading that I'd likely fall in love with all of the qualities that seem to have made them the consensus choice for audiophiles around the world, and I feared I would then end up spending far too much money (for me) on a pair of "36-24-36" Sennheisers or others like them.  The majority of what I read on the subject seemed to indicate that closed headphones offer the best value for the money, so that's the route I chose.
    Please keep all of this in mind when judging my use of the superlatives that are bound to follow.  I may not use certain words the way others who are more experienced in this realm may use them.  Just bear with me on that.
    These are fine headphones.  It's really as simple as that. 
    They provide full-bodied bass that never loses its natural texture.  Whether you're listening to music in which the raw tactility of the bass tones is just as important as the notes being played or music that features a delicate and measured response, these headphones don't just reproduce those sounds, they reproduce them very, very well.
    Mid-range tones are loud, clear, and so readily apparent that they're never muddied by the bass tones, no matter how far the two may occasionally overlap within the same sonic space.  They remain distinct at all times, moving freely within the mix whenever the music requires it.
    I feel like these headphones really shine - pun semi-intended - when it comes to the high-frequency tones, even though my inexperience may prevent that from being a truly accurate statement.  I think it's easy to forget sometimes just how important those highs are to music.  Hi-hats and ride cymbals are, in fact, a major driving force.  Crash, trash and splash cymbals are, indeed, important punctuations.  Each singular stroke is just as important as the next, no matter how quickly it may follow.  And these headphones just do it every time with highs that are loud, clear, distinct and never harsh.
    Perhaps most impressive of all is the ability of these headphones to expose the natural character of the instruments within the music, an effect far too often lost when listening to them through the many layers of any recorded media.  I believe that's referred to as transparency. 
    A snare drum being struck no longer sounds like "just" that; what you hear instead is the complex interaction between the drum stick, the drum head, the snares and the shell, components whose construction and combination were expressly chosen by the drummer, being used in concert with his talents and technique to produce a desired effect only achieved with that singular formula.  You hear that with these headphones.  By the same token, guitars and basses become the glorious sum of the various woods, hardware and amplification chosen by musicians utilizing their myriad skills to play them rather than just the notes they chose to play.  I've found this quality present in every piece of music to which I've listened through these headphones, and the effect is positively magisterial.
    When all of these elements are combined as harmoniously as these headphone combine them, I can't describe the joy I get from the music I hear, even that which is as familiar to me as the back of my hand.  These headphones are a revelation.
    And for the price?  They're worth more than what I paid for them, especially when judged against others at the same price point and even those priced considerably above it.  I did that, and these headphones won with ease every single time.
    I think the often-seen criticism that mid-range frequencies are recessed in these headphones is more rooted in the fact that mid-range tones are the easiest to reproduce and most headphones and speakers generally tend to get that part right.  However, low and high range sounds are an altogether different beast, and, as a result, aren't often presented correctly.  I think it's easy to merely perceive the mid-range to be lacking when sandwiched between low and high ranges that are not.
    And I suppose it's only fair that a review also include any perceived negatives.  To that end, they have a nasty tendency to expose poor music production and mastering, but what can you really do about that?  They're also not the best-looking headphones I've ever seen.  In that regard, I guess it's good that they're headphones and not a hat or something.  And they do tend to warm my ears a bit.  Just a bit, though.  (But, they're nonetheless very light and comfortable, and I've found that the range of articulation provided by the swiveled cups, a feature often derided, is actually quite helpful for maintaining constant and even contact while wearing them.)
    I awarded "only" 4.5 stars to these headphones for Audio Quality out of consideration for my lack of experience.  I didn't think it would be fair to give them a full five since, admittedly, I haven't listened to everything offered.  I honestly hope I don't ever hear something better, though, unless I can also afford to buy it, as I think such a tease would be equally unfair.  Luckily for me, I think these headphones are going to be extremely difficult to top.
    UPDATE: Burn-in can be an evil mistress.  I'll elaborate later.