AUDIO TECHNICA ATH-MSR7

Rating:
4.28571/5,
  1. earfonia
    Gorgeous design with great sound!
    Written by earfonia
    Published Dec 22, 2014
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Very nice design, modern and elegant with premium feel. Sounds great with matching amplifier.
    Cons - Sound signature is sensitive to pairing with different amplifier or player. Careful pairing to get matching amplifier or player is recommended.
    Last October 2014, Audio Technica Singapore informed me about their plan for their new products launch. When we met, i had the chance to test the new ATH-MSR7. Connected it to my iBasso DX90, I was immediately impressed with it. Sounds good looks good. Probably one of the best looking AT headphone from modern design perspective, MSR7 is simply gorgeous and elegant. The housing is made of a mix of aluminum and magnesium, and some plastic parts. Build quality is excellent with premium feel. MSR7 is available in 3 colors, Black, Gunmetal, and Red for the MSR7LTD. The MSR7LTD with red colour and gold accent must be Tony Stark favorite headphone. 5 stars for the design.
     
    http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/headphones/9f55d2de9afd8f31/index.html
    http://www.audio-technica.com.sg/node/799
     
    Discussion thread:
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/738758/new-audio-technica-ath-msr7-and-ath-msr7ltd


     
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    Curious how's MSR7 performs, I borrowed it from AT Singapore for review, together with the ATH-M50LE & ATH-M50x for comparison.  
    Our perception of what we consider as natural tonal balance, tonal balance that we perceived as having balance composition across the audible spectrum of frequency, might be varied one to another. Beside influenced by personal preferences, the way we perceive tonal balance of a pair of headphones also depend a lot on the recordings we use for evaluation. So, in my opinion, 'perceived natural tonal balance' is not something exact like measured frequency response, but to be understood with some degree of variation in mind. Comparing the 3 models, MSR7, M50x, and M50LE, though having different sound signature, their tonality is more or less still in the range of relatively balanced tonal balance. Each has slight different emphasize on certain frequency regions creating different sonic characters. I would say, sound quality wise they are about in the same league. Truly great performer headphones from Audio Technica. They also have similar size. Comparing the three, it is not about which one is a better headphones, but which one matches better with ones personal preference and their system. Since many might be familiar with M50LE and M50x sound signatures, it would be easier to describe MSR7 sound signature, using the older models as comparison. Design wise, MSR7 is distinctively different (subjectively nicer) from the professional look of M50LE and M50x. But sound signature wise, they are complementing each other to accommodate various individual preferences.
     
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    Pros:
    Very nice design, modern and elegant with premium feel.
    Metal aluminum/magnesium mix housing, for lightweight and rigid housing structure.
    Very reasonably priced for the sound quality and build. Excellent value!
     
    Cons:
    Sound signature is sensitive to pairing with different amplifier or player. Careful pairing to get matching amplifier or player is recommended. May sounds analytical with moderate level of sibilant when paired with analytical sounding amplifier. Warm sounding amplifier, such as tube amplifier, is highly recommended for MSR7.  
    Suggestions For Improvement:
    To adopt 4 pins / poles connector at the headphone end to separate ground wire for the left and right drivers.
    Slightly deeper and more spacious ear pad for larger ears.
     
     
     
    Sound Signature
     
    As good as it looks, MSR7 doesn't dissapoint. It sounds relatively balanced with some emphasize on clarity. Wide frequency coverage, good low bass and upper treble extension, with mild emphasize around the upper mid area (around 3-4 dB @ 3 kHz). It leans more towards clarity, and may close to borderline of analytical sounding when paired with analytical sounding amplifier. With some extra clarity, MSR7 loves tube amps and other smooth and warm sounding source such as my Centrance DACport. Also tested, that MSR7 pairs wonderfully with Audio Technica AT-HA22TUBE amplifier. With matching amp, MSR7 sounds balanced and natural, and I don't consider it analytical. But clearly not for those looking for warm and intimate sounding headphone.
     
    I learned that MSR7 sound signature may varies greatly with different amplifiers and players. This is one factor that MSR7 is quite different from M50LE and M50x, that MSR7 is more sensitive to pairing, while M50LE and M50x are relatively more amplifier friendly. During the review, the pairing factor is significant enough to make me dislike it, or like it. For example, I don't like MSR7 to be driven directly from my ifi iDSD Micro headphone output, rather analytical, edgy, and the upper mid hump sounds too obvious. Both are excellent products, but they simply don't match. When MSR7 is driven by DACport or AT-HA22TUBE, MSR7 sounds wonderful & pleasing, music to my ears. So don't give up too quickly when you try MSR7 and it doesn't sound very good, probably it hasn't met the right partner. Do consider to try it with warmer sounding amp or player. Choosing the right amp or player for MSR7 should be seriously taken into consideration when testing or buying MSR7. Impression in this review is based on the setups that sound good to me, mostly with my DACport and Yulong DA8. My Fiio E12DIY with AD8599 Op-Amp + LME49600 buffer also matches MSR7 sound signature quite well. In the recent Audio Technica product launch event in Singapore, the setup of AT-HA90USB (DAC) > AT-HA22TUBE (Amp) > MSR7, really amazed me. 
     
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    With various amplifiers, players, and DACs I've tried, MSR7 sound quality would be ranging from 3.5 to 4.5 stars. 4.5 stars is for setups with very well matching amplifier or DAC, like the AT-HA22TUBE and Centrance DACport. I strongly suggest for MSR7 user to try AT-HA22TUBE. From all the setups I tried, MSR7 sounds best with AT-HA22TUBE, they seems to be designed to compliment each other. The pair sounds wonderfully musical! MSR7 bass sounds so good and full bodied, stronger than when paired with other system. Vocal sounds fuller and smoother with nice clarity. ATH-MSR7 + AT-HA22TUBE simply sounds a few times their price. When you plan to buy MSR7, spare some budget to buy AT-HA22TUBE as well. Trust me, it's worth it. [​IMG]
     
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    MSR7 is relatively easy to drive, but the 35 ohms needs a little more voltage than average IEMs, and does benefit and scales well with proper amping. Though generally smartphones will be able to produce enough loudness, but they won't be able to show the true potential of MSR7.  
    When comparing with the older model, the well known M50LE, MSR7 has around 3 dB less bass, and 3 dB more upper mid than M50LE. While M50x has slightly more V shape tonality, with slightly more bass and sparkling treble than M50LE. The slightly less bass and higher upper mid on MSR7 make it more forward sounding with higher perceived clarity than M50LE. Acoustic guitar recordings for example, sounds fantastic on MSR7, as well as other instrumental recordings.  
    Using EQ (Reaper ReaEQ) to adjust the tonality of the MSR7 to make it closer to M50LE tonality, here is what I got:  
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    Please note, the above EQ doesn't make the MSR7 sounds like M50LE, only to bring the tonal balance of MSR7 closer to M50LE. The difference is only around 3 dB on some frequency regions, not much.  
     
    Some simplified comparisons between the 3 models:  
    Perceived linear tonal balance, more linear to less linear:
    M50LE
    MSR7, slightly more upper mid and less bass.
    M50x, slightly more V shape tonality, with more bass and sparkling treble.  
    Perceived clarity, higher to lesser:
    MSR7
    M50x
    M50LE  
    Bass volume, more to less:
    M50x
    M50LE
    MSR7  
    Presentation, Forward to Laidback:
    MSR7
    M50x
    M50LE  
     
    Although from the comparison above, some might concern that MSR7 doesn't have enough bass, MSR7 is definitely not bass anemic. But also clearly not for basshead. My personal preference for bass level is closer to M50LE, but I don't consider the MSR7 bass is lacking either. 3 dB different is not much. Especially with AT-HA22TUBE, bass sounds full bodied and musically engaging. MSR7 bass level is good and natural, with good detail, texture, and rich low bass extension, but MSR7 tonality is rather emphasized more on clarity than bass.  
    Midrange sounds natural, and as mentioned above, rather forward sounding. Those who prefer Audio Technica forward vocal might like MSR7 vocal, while those who prefer laidback vocal will most likely prefer the M50LE vocal.  
    The mild hump on the upper mid brings up a little the lower treble region as well. Pretty good for instrumental, but the lower treble emphasize makes MSR7 sounds a tad less airy than M50LE and M50x, especially on classical orchestra.  
    Level of detail, dynamic, and imaging, on those 3 models are pretty close, and about in the same league. Very good level of detail, engaging dynamic, with reasonably spacious imaging for closed dynamic headphones. Noise isolation is excellent, most probably due to firm headband, good quality ear pad, and rigid metal housing.  
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    Design and Comfort  
    Similar to M50LE and M50x, MSR7 can be folded and stored flat. This is a very useful feature, especially for traveling, to make it less bulky and takes less space in a bag.  
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    The headband clamping force / pressure is quite firm, more or less similar than M50LE and M50x. The MSR7 stays firm on head with very good noise isolation. The headband pressure level doesn't cause discomfort to me even after long period of wearing. But some people, especially ladies, might prefer lighter pressure headband. So for those sensitive with headband pressure, be sure to try it before buying. Please take note, similar with other closed headphones, proper fit is crucial for optimum bass response. Leaks by improper fit will reduce bass level.  
    Ear pad size is quite similar to M50LE and M50x, but slightly shallower. It mildly touches my pinna (outer part of the ear) when I wear it. I do prefer larger and deeper pad.  
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    The drivers are angled toward the ears, again, similar to M50LE and M50x.  
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    Cable
    MSR7 cable is detachable. It uses common stereo 3.5 mm stereo mini plug for connection at the headphone's side. But not any cable with 3.5 mm stereo mini plug can be used, it requires stereo mini plug with beveled step, for proper insertion. Stereo mini plug without beveled step cannot be properly inserted. I tried Oyaide HPC35 cable that I use for my Philips Fidelio X1, with MSR7. While Oyaide HPC35 matches really well with Fidelio X1, the slightly bright character of the cable doesn't match well with MSR7, a bit too much emphasize on clarity. For MSR7, I would prefer to use a more organic sounding cable rather than the analytical one.  
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    19P1240644.jpg With Oyaide HPC35 cable.
     
     
    The MSR7 unit I tried is a demo sample, without the box and complete accessories. According to Audio Technica website, 3 cables are provided, one with microphone for smartphones use.  
    I actually prefer a separate ground wire for each left and right driver. Stereo 3.5 mm plug for connection to the headphone side doesn't separate the ground wire for the left and right drivers. Single shared ground wire for both drivers causes high level of crosstalk. I did some test and recabling for my ATH-M50 a while ago, to show that it is important to separate the ground wire for each driver, to reduce the level of crosstalk:
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/484744/crosstalk-on-audio-technica-m50#post_6601078  
    I believe that Audio Technica implemented 3.5 mm plug on the headphone side of MSR7 is simply for practical purpose. Easy for user to get replacement cable when the original cable is faulty. But single shared ground connection is not the best implementation for maximum sonic performance. 4 poles / pins connector that separate the ground wire for each driver is the better approach. Hopefully in the future Audio Technica will adopt 4 pins / poles connector for the headphone end, to separate the ground wire for each driver.  
     
     
    Summary
    ATH-MSR7 is a great performer from Audio Technica, with natural sound signature that inherited the clarity from Audio Technica house sound. Gorgeous design that simply looks good and sounds good. Kudos Audio Technica!  
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    Features and Specification:  
    45mm ‘True Motion’ Hi-Res audio driver
    Unique Dual-layer Air-control technology controls the air stream in the housings
    Triple-venting acoustic airflow design
    Layered metal structure to reduce unwanted resonance
    Soft memory foam earpads for long-term listening comfort
    Available in black (BK), gun metal (GM) and limited edition red (LTD)
     
    Driver Diameter: 45mm
    Maximum Input Power: 2000 mW
    Frequency Response: 5 ~ 40,000 Hz
    Sensitivity: 100 dB 
    Impedance: 35 ohms
    Weight: 290g
    Connector: 3.5 mm gold-plated stereo mini plug
    Cable: 1.2 m, 3.0m and 1.2m with mic for smartphones
    Accessories Included: Pouch
     
     
    Equipment used in this review:
     
    Audio Technica AT-HA22TUBE: Very good sounding tube amplifier. Warm yet detailed.
    Audio Technica AT-HA90USB: Mini desktop DAC with MUSES Op-Amp.
    Audioquest Dragonfly v1.0c: DAC + HeadAmp combo. Marvelous little DAC. Transparent, airy, and powerful. Slightly lean to analytical sounding.
    Centrance DACport: DAC + HeadAmp combo. Very organic and musical sounding. very smooth sounding treble, pretty close to AD8599. Always match very well with bright or analytical sounding earphones & headphones.
    Fiio E12DIY with AD8599 Op-Amp + LME49600 buffer: Portable headphone amplifier. One of my favorite portable headphone amplifier. Quiet, black background, clean and powerful sounding. AD8599 sounds smooth with good depth and spacious imaging, slightly dark, very smooth treble with very good and powerful bass. AD8599 is one of my favorite Op-Amp.
    iBasso DX90: Portable player. Natural sounding, not warm and not analytical. Good dynamic, detail and resolution.
    Yulong Sabre DA8: DAC + HeadAmp combo. My reference DAC beside my Mytek Stereo 192-DSD. One of the best DAC + HeadAmp combo I've ever heard. Very spacious, detailed, smooth, full bodied, realistic dynamic, and very musical.
    Samsung Galaxy S4
     
     
    Some recordings used in this review:
     
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    Disclaimer: I'm not working for, or affiliated with Audio Technica.
     
     
     
    2015-10-08 Update:
    After using MSR7LTD for a longer period, I increase the rating from 4 stars to 4.5 stars.
    ATH-MSR7/LTD is really a great headphone, superb detail and resolution with good dynamic. Very transparent and revealing. Excellent for Pro Audio monitoring. Despite the rather bright tonality and strong headband clamping force, this model is actually an excellent headphone for Pro Audio, and those who like detail and transparency. It grows on me as I realizing, more of its potential, therefore I think it is deserve a better rating.



      Bas72, w357, getclikinagas and 9 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. earfonia
      @Vatikus I have no idea. Never tried it.
       
      @tlotlo22 What tube amp does is usually adding the tonal density around the mid and bass, without actually adding the bass loudness. We hear like the bass and mids are more intense and full bodied. Tube amp also generally smoothen the treble. So overall impression might sound like more bass, but actually not. The taming of treble is the more important aspect of tube amp for MSR7.
      Sorry, I cannot help you with the 2nd question. 3rd question, though I haven't pair them directly, but I think HA22TUBE will perform well with AD1000X.
       
      @Pokemonn Welcome to the club!
      earfonia, May 14, 2015
    3. blackmondy
      This cables that comes with it are abysmal. I got someone to make me a good cable and the sound intsantly became much more airy.
      blackmondy, Jun 10, 2015
    4. chekock1
      Hi, Can somebody answer me a question, How is the durability of these headphones?
      chekock1, Oct 3, 2015
  2. twister6
    High Resolution audio in Style!!!
    Written by twister6
    Published Feb 15, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - smooth reference sound, excellent build and beautiful design, 3 sets of replacement cables
    Cons - no hardshell case, some microphonics, clamping force
    Before I start my review, I would like to Thank Audio-Technica US for proving me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.
     
    Based on the amount and the content of headphone reviews I posted in the last few years it's not hard to guess that I'm not a big fan of full size headphones.  A lot of it has to do with a fact that I prefer a portable music setup where I find full size headphones to be too bulky even if they sound good or the other way around - headphones looking cool to wear outdoors while having a subpar sound quality.  As a result, my IEMs (ATH-IM03 and ATH-CKR10) get more outdoor mileage in comparison to full size (ATH-M50x) which usually spends more time at home.  If you catch my drift you see that I'm a big fan of Audio-Technica headphones, so when I heard about ATH-MSR7 announcement I couldn't wait to test these and to see if they're going to restore my faith in portable use of full size headphones.  Here is what I found.
     
    Arrived in a rather large box, and just like with most of the other products from AT, you have to take your time with a tour of an exterior packaging to appreciate what awaits you inside.  I'm not just talking about the high res glossy image of MSR7 in gunmetal/brown tone of the model I received or a detailed pictorial description of 3 detachable cables as well as complete Specification list down to microphone spec.  I'm talking about a very detailed walk-though of their 45mm "True Motion" Hi-res Audio driver design down to every single component and a complete description of Dual-layer air-control venting technology inside of earcup.  This goes beyond of showing a high level of pride AT has for their product, they actually want you to understand how it works - something any headphone enthusiast will appreciate greatly.  Going through details of their exclusive "True Motion" driver design with a highly responsive diaphragm and lightweight voice coil, special dual acoustic resistors for a more balanced audio reproduction, and their dual layer metal construction with a triple-venting acoustic airflow design really opens up a "black box" to make you appreciate more how much work went into this high resolution pair of headphones.
     
    Out of the packaging sleeve, when you open black carton box and remove inner accessories box (with cables and storage pouch), you get a rather dramatic presentation of MSR7 sitting inside of the form-fitted plastic mold covered with a loose bunched up layer of synthetic material.  It definitely has a WOW! factor, especially a gunmetal finish of earcup details mixed with a brown pleather earpads and headband.  Another available finish is a more traditional black/black and also a limited edition red, but from what I understand AT US will only carry Black and Gunmetal versions.  I was very pleased with looks of MSR7 model I received for review, especially since this is a first time I had full size headphones with other than "black" finish.
     
    Unboxing pictures.
     
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    As I mentioned already, accessories include 3 sets of detachable cables and a storage draw string pouch.  Even though it has a quality nylon on outside with a soft inner layer to protect headphones from scratches, I have to admit of being a bit disappointed about lack of hard shell case.  As a spoiler alert, M70x comes with a great hardshell zipper case which I would have love to see with MSR7, but unfortunately that case is not compatible with MSR7 due to a thinner headband design of M70x.  Obviously it's not a showstopper since you can probably find an aftermarket case to fit MSR7, maybe even something for a flat storage since earcups rotate 90 degrees, but still it would have been cool to see the original case design from Audio-Technica similar to M70x model. 
     
    With cables, you get a pleasant surprise of a standard 3.5mm connector on each end, no need for a proprietary lock mechanism with 2.5mm plug going into earcup.  You get 3m straight audio cable with straight connectors on each side, 1.2m audio cable with right angled connector toward audio source, and 1.2m cable with inline remote/mic and right angled connector toward audio source.  All 3 cables have a matching brown rubbery outer shielding (sturdy build, but rather a cheap feeling) which is flexible and not too thick or too thin, and a nice strain relief where both 1.2m versions have a matching plastic gunmetal connector housing.  There is also a noticeable microphonics when cable rubs against your cloth.  Smartphone cable with remote was cleverly designed with a single universal multifunction button for Play/Pause/Call (single click) and multi-click for skip next/prev - all of which should work with either Android or iOS phones.  Mic is on the opposite side of that remote with a rather cool small mesh screen somewhat resembling earcup air-vents, and with a decent sensitivity performance to pick up your voice.
     
    Accessory pictures.
     
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    When it comes to the actual design, MSR7 looks and feels stunning!  Build quality is really good, it feels very solid with no creaks whatsoever.  It has a very tasteful combination of metal and thick plastic materials where sometime it's hard to distinguish until you touch different parts to feel the cold of aluminum/magnesium alloy used on the back of earcups or bi-color plastic rim on the outer  earcup edges, as well as plastic used in y-fork and headband joints.  I really like the red accent in the design which creates an illusion of red led glow - very cool effect!  A bit surprised they chose to have Left/Right label spelled out above y-fork joint instead of showcasing "MSR7" which is hidden inside.  Headband has a stainless steel metal spring and a nice click-action height adjustment.  The padding is rather thick with plenty of foam on inner part to rest comfortably on top of your head.  Unfortunately, clamping force out of the box was pretty strong, and you will need at least a few days to loosen it up.  I kept it on a soccer ball and after 3 days noticed an improvement.  Earpads are plush and soft with a nice memory foam and a decent oval opening, very comfortable for my average size ears.  Combination of soft earpads and a decent clamping force contributes to a good sound isolation with a passive noise filtering, though it's not completely dead silent - thanks to a noticeably large air-vent at the bottom back of earcup cover.
     
    Design detail pictures.
     
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    So the big question is if MSR7 sound quality lives up to its looks?  And the answer is definitely YES!!!  After a proper 50-60hrs of burn in and using Cayin N6 as a source, listening to MSR7 was like a deja vu of my not so distant review of ATH-CKR9 and CKR10.  Believe it or not, but MSR7 sound signature reminded me a lot of combination with lows/mids from CKR9 and upper mids/treble from CKR10.  Overall sound has a well balanced signature with a smooth reference quality.  I want to be clear that I didn't find it to be bright analytical, but rather a smooth high resolution reference with a good retrieval of details.
     
    Starting with lows, it extends down to sub-bass with a modest quantity which is still noticeable but not on the same level as M50x.  I do hear a nice sub-bass rumble with a focus to support a fast mid-bass punch rather than to add weight to low end.  Bass is well controlled with a clear separation from mids.  Mids do have a nice full body, and feel not too warm or too bright but still very clear and detailed.  Vocals, either male or female, sound organic and smooth, a typical Audio-Technica "house" sound.  Treble has a great extension, also very detailed, bright, and crisp, and no signs of sibilance.  I do have to add that my N6 settled in after many hours of playback, and I consider it to be a rather neutral/balanced source, thus sound analysis is based on that reference.  For a smoother and more organic sound you probably better off with a neutral or warmer source, where using brighter sources (like AP100) made upper mids and lower treble sound a bit harsh.
     
    When it comes to soundstage, I found it to be above average in width/depth.  MSR7 has a rather good layering and separation of instruments/vocals that doesn't feel congested, and definitely a good positioning/imaging.  It wasn't exactly on 3D level, but still convincing to my ears.  Also, as you can guess, these headphones are designed for a portable use, and I had no issue driving it directly from my Note 4 or laptop, and didn't require amp driving it from my DAP either.  Can it benefit from amping?  Perhaps if you want to add some more character to a sound, but I enjoyed it as is.  As a matter of fact, MSR7 is among a few headphones I can listen to straight from my laptop without USB DAC and still find them quite forgiving even with subpar low res recording.  I guess that goes along with my earlier comment about "warmer source" benefit which is what I find my laptop to be.
     
    Considering huge popularity of ATH-M50/-M50x, I'm sure a lot of people will have a question how these models compare.  Even so M50x is labeled for monitor/studio use, it has a fun signature with balanced warm sound and enhanced bass, especially sub-bass which is higher in quantity in comparison to MSR7.  Also, M50x sounds warmer and a little thicker in mids and with less retrieval of details in comparison to MSR7.  Furthermore, M50x doesn't have the same level of treble extension as MSR7.  In my opinion, these two headphones target a different audience where if you want more bass and planning to use headphones for an extended period of listening - M50x will provide that with its more comfortable fitment and warmer and smoother sound sig.  Otherwise, to step outside in a style while enjoying a great detailed reference quality sound - MSR7 is the way to go!
     
    Overall, I would seriously consider MSR7 to be my new favorite pair of full size headphones with a design, a style, and a sound quality which hits a sweet spot in my book.  For a very long time M50x was my all around pair of headphones for everyday use with my laptop, but it was lacking a level of details I needed for a more critical listening.  For that I used to switch to HP150, which also required USB DAC/amp, and perhaps moving forward its place will be taken by M70x (more in the upcoming review).  MSR7 is bridging a gap between my "fun" and my "critical" listening needs, allowing me to use the same pair of headphones for any music style I'm in mood for, and to enjoy it if I'm either doing a casual listening or watching a movie or working on some music production.  Also, they are not too bulky to wear outside.  If you take into consideration an excellent sound quality, a great solid build, a very bold luxurious design, and a convenience of portable use with fold-flat earcups and detachable cable (including smartphone control) - MSR7 is one heck of a value!  Definitely gets my high recommendation mark!
     
    A happy AT family: M50x, MSR7, and M70x
     
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    1. View previous replies...
    2. reddog
      Thanks for the great review.
      reddog, Feb 20, 2015
    3. technobear
      I've just bought a pair of these after hearing them at the Bristol Show. I too am a long time M50 user (as my travelling 'phone with a laptop and an Arcam rPAC) and I agree with every word of this review. I was also looking for a bit more resolution and top end air than the M50 can provide. The MSR7 is a very nicely balanced headphone that is fun to listen to and at the same time satisfying to listen to. I find them just as comfortable as the M50 - I forget I've got them on. Rainman26 asked about leakage. There is none. Mine are breaking in face down on a dining chair 10 feet away and I can't hear them at all. Isolation is good too.
      technobear, Feb 22, 2015
    4. Nekrosov
      Great review!
       
      Can you compare HP150 to MSR7, please?
      Nekrosov, Jul 29, 2015
  3. LonghornTech
    Buy these for sound and beauty, not for comfort or accessories. Great overall value at $250
    Written by LonghornTech
    Published Mar 6, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Excellent refined sound (Details, Soundstage, Clarity), Beautiful matte and chrome finishes, 3 cables
    Cons - Forward treble and mid can be fatiguing, bass could be more powerful, creaking plastic, comfort should be better, no hard case
    I wrote this on Amazon, thought I'd share it with you all. Please, ask questions. 
     
    Audio Technica has crafted a pair of headphones that might make you second guess your pair of MX50s, or any other headphone in this price range.

    Here is a guide to the ATH-MSR7's examining what they do right and where they fall short.

    Build/Appearance
    Pros:
    + Very "public" friendly (GREAT looking set of headphones)
    + Matte finish on the aluminum housing and nice colored accents as well as chrome touches in several places
    + Brushed chrome slider

    + Outward bulk is as minimal as it can be given the size, no strange gaps, stay pretty flushed to your head
    + Good durability and flexibility
    + They may slide a bit, but they stay on your head if you're walking, turning head quickly.
    + Aluminum casing around the drivers and metal headband look and feel impressive
    + Balanced weight, no manufacturing oddities
    + Earphones twist (the correct way, unlike QC25 which fold outwards if you are wearing them around your neck -.-)
    + Large adjustment range to suit different sized heads
    + Tolerances are all tight and flush
    + Cable has tight fit into left headphone

    Cons:
    - Strange decision to put (LEFT/RIGHT) on outside of headphones. Not that unappealing though...

    - Lots of creaking plastic when expanding headphones (everything except driver housing and slider is plastic)
    - Not foldable
    - Squirmy cable with large jack housing
    - Weight (290g) - not such a big deal
    - Adjustment slider is a bit stiff

    Comfort
    Pros:
    +Earpads are large, fit all the way around your ear
    +Earpad depth is DECENT, some might look for a little more breathing room - ears are VERY close to drivers
    + No sharp parts or anything like that
    + Just enough padding on the headband which wraps around a good portion of it

    Cons:
    - Earpads are not memory foam - they are soft, but why not make them even softer?
    - OK the headband. It's not curved correctly. Out of the box it pressed down onto the top point of your head. Flex it a bit, break it in. NO ISSUES
    - OK the clamping pressure. Again, out of the box it is a bit irritating. Because the earpads are so large, the pressure from the bottom of the earpads was getting to the top of my jaw after about an hour. Again, flex it, break it in, open it, close it, open it. *lots of creaking* It will work out. STILL, pressure is above average for sure.
    - Again, 290 oz is a good amount of weight on someone's head.

    Sound Quality - I'm going to try to keep this simple and unbiased
    + DETAILS. Lots of details.
    + Impressive Clarity, no muffling of vocals
    + Soundstage is impressively wide for a closed back headphone - all instruments and vocals have their own "space"
    + Natural and relatively neutral.
    + Reaches high and low: Good bass, mid and treble presence
    + Tight, focused bass that can drop fairly low

    Cons:
    - NOT a relaxing headphone. Ears seem to work hard with these on, focusing in and out to deal with those upfront mids and trebles especially at higher volumes
    - Bass is not for bassheads or for anyone who is looking for dynamic bass response
    - Because it is closer to neutral than most consumer headphones, it won't sound as full, rather music sounds more separate and clear
    - Flirts with sibilance in the treble - what's this mean? S's sound a bit raspy and sharp

    Neutral - Personal Preference
    = Vocals and treble are very much upfront
    = Mids are emphasized
    = Bass is only present when it needs to be
    =Treble is not smoothed out (more sharp than soothing)

    Isolation/Sound Leakage - A short summary
    - Not great. Isolation average at best. It muffles outside noise, but nowhere nears cancels it. Sound leakage is decent. Better than the QC25's, about the same as UE6000. It's what you expect, not spectacularly worse or better.

    Accessories
    = 3 cables: short, longer, longest. The short one is for your average consumer, comes with inline remote that comes with mic and ability to play/pause, NO VOLUME. Works on Android/iOS
    - Fake leather...Vinyl? well. It's a bag. And that's a shame. It should be a hard or semi-hard carrying case at this price point. It's a nice bag, feels good - the headphone fits fine, but it's still just a bag.

    Comparisons
    Sony MDR-1A ($300):
    Boy these looks similar. Well, the Sony is more comfortable by a long shot w/ memory foam earpads, lighter, smaller footprint and no clamping force/headband issues. (it's incredibly comfortable vs. mildly comfortable). The Sony is plastic all the way around though it is arguably better designed. Why? The cable is designed so that it does not run up on your shoulder. The cable has this neat twisting input and most importantly the plastics don't creak. That being said: The MSR7 is arguably more impressive to hold and look at with its matte aluminum driver casings and sturdy build. Sound quality is entirely subjective. They may look the same, but they act differently. Sony is less neutral, much smoother and more relaxing. It lacks the details of the MSR7 and the vocals are a lot more subdued. The bass is very present, and fairly well behaved. The treble and midrange are definitely not as upfront.
    Recommendation: Rap, Metal, R&B, Hard Rock listeners go with the Sony's. Classical, Acoustic, Alternative, Indie: Go with MSR7

    Bose QC25 ($300):
    Just to shorten this, we'll say that the QC25 is about as comfortable as the MDR-1A, they remind me a lot of each other (w/o having had both at the same time). All plastic again. Very light, memory foam, etc. Comes with semi-hard carrying case. Noise cancelling as you well know is very impressive (INCREDIBLE on a plane, not as good with ind. voices). The MSR7 has better clarity, better soundstage, more present mid range and treble. The QC25's are pretty well balanced, with a decent bass (close to MSR7, not as refined) and good mid and treble range, They are still much more relaxing a listen. They are a jack of all trades but a master of one.
    Recommendation: If you plan to wear your headphones in public a lot (loud places), get the QC25, no question. Otherwise, MSR7 sound is more detailed.

    Audio Technica MX50 (~$160 at time of review):
    Here we go. The younger brother (kinda). This one is tough. Well they are similar in many ways. The MSR7 has slightly improved earpads (softer). Clamping force is a little stronger on MSR7. Otherwise, comfort is pretty similar. Build is similar, except you have aluminum instead of plastic, frankly the MSR7 look a lot more "grown up." Weight is similar. The MX50's fold up (That's nice.) MX50 cord is a little better (who cares at this point?). OK, sound: MX50 has more bass, MSR7 has a little more detail and better soundstage. While the MSR7 bass is a little more refined (less boomy) the MX50 bass gives a much more dynamic, better overall impression. MX50 mids and treble not as forward as MSR7, so more relaxing listen.

    Logitech UE6000 (Discontinued, available for $115)
    UE6000, again, is more comfortable. Less so than the Sony's and Bose headphones, but the lighter weight body makes the difference here. Clamping force is also a relief. Overall, the sound is worse than the MSR7. It's not as detailed and much less clear. The bass is just a tad bit more pronounced, but given the lack of clarity, well, it's not worth that loss. Build quality is good...it's plastic again...fabric carrying case (not a bag), comes with headphone slitter which is nice. I should say came with it, these are discontinued.

    Others to recommend in similar category:
    Sennheiser Momentum 1 ($188 at time of review) and Momentum 2 ($350) and Wireless ($500)
    Bowers and Wilkins P5 II ($300) and P7 ($400)
    Bang and Olufsen BeoPlay H6 ($400)
    NAD VISO HP50 ($300)
    Denon AH-D600 (~$300)
    V-Moda M100 ($300)
    and many more...

    Summary: Beautiful design and nice matte black aluminum finish marred by some creaky plastics. The comfort level is a notch below "good" because of the weight (290g), clamping force, and headband pressure. Accessories are OK, 3 cables of varying length and just a cloth bag. Sound quality is excellent, though not relaxing. The mids and treble are very forward and border on fatiguing, especially at higher volumes. That being said, details are excellent, soundstage is impressive, bass does a good job, and nothing sounds unnatural. Isolation and sound leakage are nothing special.

    No point to recommend these to you, because I do not know who "you" are. Facts are facts and preferences are preferences. But these are good headphones. They do a lot of things well. I hope if you read this, you know which direction to go in.

    Here are some other things:
    ***These headphones were tested on a Dell XPS 13 (2014) and LG G3. No amp. Various sources (Google Music, Soundcloud, Youtube, "Hi-Res" audio, Surround sound tests, bass tests, etc.)

    Please feel free to comment and ask questions. I really do hope this helped. If it did, please give me some credit for this exhausting review.

    *EDIT: I will add compatibility with glasses wearing folks in the future...and whatever anyone else would like.

    Longhorntech
      nimnz and JuSOCOM like this.
    1. Jeff Y
      I had both this and the NAD Viso HP50 and gave this one to my friend as  a birthday present. HP50 is the same price but overall I think it gets rid of all the cons you have there plus the soundstage is bigger.
      Jeff Y, Mar 7, 2015
  4. AsnOtk
    Great headphones for $200 range
    Written by AsnOtk
    Published Mar 10, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Beautiful sleek design, beautiful treble, tight bass present but not too much
    Cons - Comfort requires getting used to, slightly "creeky" headband
    I purchased these headphones and burned them in for 1 week with the "sine wave" file available on the head-fi forum. This isn't a detailed review after years of use - simply a first impression after few weeks of use.
     
    MSR7 as a portable Headphone (general)
     
    I find these design amazing. These are pretty bulky, but they look amazing on one's head (at least mines). Although a big headphone for portable use may seem unsuitable, I feel that these "look" amazing for outside use - as it also fits in great when hung around your neck.
     
    However, although this headphones are advertised as "portable" headphones, I don't think the sound signature is the best for those use. The treble is really beautiful, crisp and clear, but it can go to the extent that it may be a bit too sharp for outdoors use as you tend to use louder volumes outside where there is background noise..However, the sound has softened up after burning it in, and I only burned them in for 2 days so perhaps it will soften up even more after more use. Also, there is slight noise isolation, however it is not the best. The surroundings won't be able to hear what you're listening to, but you can hear them. This makes it an "ok" isolating headphones, and I feel that they could've improved it considering the size and clamping force.
     
    MSR7 as an indoor headphone
     
    Sound in general
    I think that the MSR7 suits more as an indoor headphone. The treble is so crisp that it makes vocals stand out really clearly. I love listening to genres such as J-Pop because this headphone makes the bass present but not to the extent that it is in your face - and all the different instruments support the vocals extremely well, heightening the listening experience. Classical music are also extremely great because the soundstage in this headphone is decent for a closed headphones, and make every instrument clear and distinct. The mid-range centric frequency response are also really suitable for many classic music. - This is why I love Audio Technica, the sound signature is typical of Audio Technica, overall pretty neutral but having a really strong, clear and distinct mid-range.
     
    However, as I said in the portable section, this sound can be slightly sharp and sibilant. This can make bad recordings really stand out and to the extent that it can be irritating. Because this headphone has a wide frequency range, and every range is so clear, small "unwanted noise" can really stand out when listening using these headphones. If the recordings are recorded in a poor environment, and white noise, hissing noise, excess background noise, it is probable that they will be irritating to your ears.
     
    Although the treble are slightly forward, in general these are a pretty neutral headphones, so I feel that these will also be compatible for mixing use.
     
    Comfort
    These are not the most comfortable headphones out there. The clamping force is strong, headband isn't the softest out there either, and it is really bulky and heavy. There is a force applied onto your ears as well as on the top of your head, but both of these forces are extremely strong making them slightly uncomfortable after prolonged use. I like to take them off for around a minute for every 3-4 hours of use recently.
     
    Build quality
    I really feel that this headphones are a sturdy beast. It looks sturdy and I am not worried about it breaking at all. HOWEVER, the materials used in the inside of the headband makes it creek when stretched out. There is probably a slight stress in the material, which is clearly a design or production failure. I would have expected them to fix such an obvious "faultiness" in these headphones for this price-range. Although it can be irritating at the start, I will not be worried about it "breaking" or anything as long as you treat them decently.
     
    Cable
    The cable is really standard, so you will be able to plug in cables that came with your other headphones unless they are the "abnormal" ones. However, the cable that came with these headphones are also good. They are not coiled, because they are meant to be "portable", but they are thick enough to be durable but not thick enough to the extent that it can be annoying. The rubber coating is really thick and I'm sure that this can protect the wires inside as long as you treat them normally.
  5. acain
    Reference Sound At A Reasonable Price
    Written by acain
    Published May 12, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Lot's Of Cables, Highly Detailed, Balanced Sound
    Cons - Shallow Pads, Pads Hard To Put Back On, Right Angle Plug Sticks Out
    This review is for Audio-Techinca ATH-MSR7(black). Let me introduce myself: My name is Adam I have been into audio equipment since high school. Mostly into full size speakers and car speakers, over the past two years I have been getting into portable audio and headphones and IEMs. One of the main reasons for jumping into portable equipment was do to the convenience and my job. My work requires me to wear ear plugs for 8 hours a day. I mainly use IEMs, unless my boss isn't around. I will throw a pair of headphones on. I was given the opportunity to review one of Audio-Technica's ATH-MSR7. The MSR7 is part of their SonicPro line up, and comes with their Hi-Res Audio stamp. All of their products that receive the Hi-Res Audio standard, their transducer frequency performance to at least 40kHz. More and more companies are trending towards Hi-Res Audio, from DAPs, headphones, IEMs, and streaming music. Audio-Technica needs no introduction. I am pretty sure everyone has heard of them. My first experience was probably back in the early 80's, using my brothers AT turntable scratching records like I was some kind of DJ.  There are other reviews of these on the forum, but the more the better. Hearing is subjective, so what I hear could be the total opposite of what you hear. If you're looking for a review with crazy audiophile terms and graphs, move on. I consider myself as an average consume,r and my reviews are written towards the average consumer. I like to keep my writing style simple for the average Joe to understand them, or maybe it's because I am a horrible writer. I started my journey to Head-Fi by researching the web for headphone reviews. Just about all reviews for headphones and ear buds will bring you right to Head-Fi. I don't consider myself an audiophile. I am just an average guy that has a crap load of headphones and IEMs. I guess some people would consider that an audiophile, or just crazy. There are even people I know that tell me "You're soooo stupid. How many pairs of headphones can you wear at once?" But if you're reading this, I bet you own at least two pair.  I guess I could call myself a collector of ear warmers, or ear canal expanders. Call my kind of people what you want, because we are growing at an unstoppable pace. Pretty soon we audio equipment lovers will be the majority, and not the minority. Okay, that's enough of me rambling on about me, and what ever else that was.
     
    Before I get into the review, I would like to thank Frank at Audio-Technica for sending me out the MSR7's to review. I am not an employee, or am I being compensated for this review. This review is based on my honest opinion and all the pictures were taken by me.
     
    Here is a link to Audio-Technica website to locate dealers. The MSR7 come in three different colors, and can be purchased for $249.95 (see link below.)
    http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/headphones/9f55d2de9afd8f31/index.html
     
    _MG_0017.jpg _MG_0018.jpg
     
     
    SPECIFICATIONS 
     
    Driver:                                                 Closed Back Dynamic 45mm
    Output Sound Pressure Level:           100dB/mW
    Frequency Response:                         5 - 40,000 Hz
    Maximum Input Power:                       2,000mW
    Impedance:                                         35 ohms
    Weight:                                                290g
     
     
    _MG_0026.jpg
     
    PACKAGING
     
    I won't go to much into details about packaging since there are other reviews. The MSR7's come in a nice box, with a very nice glossy picture on the front and side. There is also a picture of their "True Motion" Hi-Res Driver technology. The back lays out how the housing is assembled. Opening the box, there is another box holding all the accessories. Lifting the accessory box out, you will find the MSR7 presented very nicely. They are laying in a molded piece of plastic, draped with black fabric, almost like a headphone coffin. Very nice eye candy and gets your brain stimulated. I don't know about you, but first impressions get me excited and turns me into a little kid on Christmas again. That's about it. AT does a good job with boxing to ensure they won't be damaged during transport. The box is very eye catching, and for sure would catch my attention sitting on a shelf in a store.
     
     
    ACCESSORIES  
     
    1 Carrying Pouch
    Cable For Smart phone With Mic   (1.2m)
    Cable (1.2)
    Cable (3.0)
     
    MSR7's are advertised as portable headphones and come with three cables. That's right - three of them. One with smart phone controls, one without, and another one without that has a very good length to it. The shorter cable is the perfect size for on the go - it's not too long or too short. I really liked the length of the cables. Most of the time I find them to be in-between too short or too long. The longer cable is great for home use. You could sit pretty far away from your source, or even walk around a little bit. They also provided a protein leather drawstring bag, embossed with their name and logo. It's a pretty nice bag, although I wouldn't want to throw it into a backpack. A hard shell case would have been more functional, especially branding them as portable headphones. Overall, I was pleased with the three cables. They didn't include a 1/4 adapter. I guess since it's a portable headphone, and who doesn't own a bunch of them?
     
    _MG_0034.jpg _MG_0040.jpg
     
     
    BUILD AND FIT 
     
    Let me start off by saying I have an abnormally large head sitting on my shoulders. At first look of the MSR7's, they look mostly made of plastic, but it actually has a lot more metal than I thought. The housings are made from an exclusive aluminum and magnesium mixture. AT states these materials reduce unwanted resonance, and to enhance the texture of the sound. The cups contain three vents, with two of them visible for the drivers to breathe. If you look at the picture on the back of the box, there is a lot going on inside these housings. The MSR7's ear pads and headband are both made of protein leather. Both sides can be adjusted up and down with grooves to lock in place for people like me with large heads. You can also rotate the cups to lay them down on a flat surface. They also pivot on a hinge to form to the side of your face. The headband is made of some kind of metal, and can be manipulated to the width of your head. The pads can be removed to replace them or to clean. Myself, I found them hard to get back on.
     
    _MG_0064.jpg _MG_0066.jpg _MG_0070.jpg
    _MG_0067.jpg _MG_0073.jpg _MG_0078.jpg
     
    Now to the cables. They are all made from the same material: a nice soft supple rubber with gold plated connectors. On the ends, there is a piece of rubber for strain relief. The part that plugs into the headphone is straight. The other end that plugs into the source or phone is a right angle plug. This is one of the biggest things that I didn't care for. The right angle plug sticks out pretty far for a portable headphone. Also the angled connector is two parts: the inside is partly plastic and rubber, with a plastic housing snapped over it. The first time I unplugged the right angle connector, I felt the housing lifting up, and you can actually feel it and see it. I don't think it will break. It just feels a little cheap. It does look nice, and is a very unique looking plug, but it doesn't feel right. The cable with the mic and remote is placed perfectly just below the chin line. It's a one button function for all controls, with a mic on the other side for taking calls.
     
    Overall, the MSR7's have a very eye appealing look to them, with their electric blue accents, and their shiny beveled edge on the cup. They will catch many people's eye with their modern appeal. I have read other reviews saying they were a little heavy. I actually thought they were kind of on the lighter side for over the ear headphones. Their clamping pressure is a little snug at first, but what headphones aren't? Personally, I would rather have them tighter than loose. Headphones will always loosen up over time. The fit was very comfortable for me even after extended use,. The headband is very soft and forms to your head, without a lot of pressure. I did find the ear cups to be a little shallow with my ear, almost touching the driver housing. The driver housing also sticks out slightly like a speed bump. But overall, they are very comfortable and very compact for outdoor use.
     
    _MG_0071.jpg _MG_0059.jpg _MG_0062.jpg
    _MG_0050.jpg _MG_0058.jpg
     
    SOUND
     
    I guess this is why you're reading this. So, how did they sound? They sound good, thanks for reading. Just kidding! The MSR7's are very easy to drive. I used all Hi-Res files when listening to them. Most of my listening was done on my AK100II and Fiio X1, stacked with the Fiio E07K. The MSR7's sounded GREAT from first note, even before racking up hours on them. If I had to sum it up in one word, it would have to be BUY these. Sorry, that's two words, isn't it? Frequencies extend in both directions of the spectrum nicely. Some reviews have stated that these are on the brighter side. I would have to disagree. The MSR7's higher frequencies for sure stand out, but I think it's more because it brings out the higher notes that you have been missing from other headphones that can't reproduce them like they should be.
     
    AT's MSR7's low end is very smooth and detailed. I wouldn't recommend them for a bass head. They are not lacking bass at all. Mid-bass is more present than sub-bass, both being very well controlled, and without taking over the rest of the music. I have read a couple of other reviews saying the mids sound recessed or veiled. I have to disagree with this also. The mids are not upfront or set back to my ears. They are balanced, sound lush and highly fluid, especially with live recordings. You will be able to hear every breath taken, to every mouth bump on the microphone from the performer. That's how detailed the mids are reproduced with the MSR7's. The higher frequencies are where these stand out with out, being bright, unless you crank the volume up. But what headphones don't sound bright when turned up loud, when you're getting the clarity and clearness like the MSR7's do. The upper frequencies separation of different instruments is the best I have heard in this price range. I honestly haven't heard cymbals sound so real from an other headphone in this price range, and others priced much higher. Imaging and separation are the MSR7's strong points, and for being a closed back design, that's really impressive.
     
    One thing is, the MSR7's are not forgiving with bad recordings. They will pick your music apart, and put out what you put in, which in my opinion is a good thing. I listened to mostly hip-hop and 90's music, and the MSR7's sounded good with every kind of music I listened to. They will sound their best with live music, and with real instrumentals. You could say they are a reference sounding headphone. Making phone calls worked as expected with great sound quality on both ends.
     
    _MG_0090.jpg _MG_0099.jpg _MG_0100.jpg
     
     
    FINAL THOUGHTS
     
    I would highly recommend these for anyone to purchase without a second thought. Their build quality is top notch with great looks. You will be hearing things you have been missing from other headphones. These are a great pair for critical listening. You can even use them for making phone calls. With everybody going portable, you might as well use a high quality sounding headphone for phone calls. At this price point, I can't think of any other headphone that will offer this kind of clarity. Some people might find $249 a lot for a headphone. Some think $40 is a lot. If you're in the same hobby as I am, you will think it's a bargain. Thanks for reading. I hope this helped any one interested in purchasing these.
      arvinm21, benny e d, Rish732 and 15 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. earfonia
      Great review with very nice pictures!
      Agree to this:
      "One thing is, the MSR7's are not forgiving with bad recordings. They will pick your music apart, and put out what you put in, which in my opinion is a good thing. "
      It is actually both audiphile and professional headphone in a cool and stylish design :wink:
      earfonia, May 14, 2015
    3. jmorgan127
      Side Question... What headphone stand is that?  I am in the market for one and like that,
      jmorgan127, May 15, 2015
    4. Beagle
      no bass
      Beagle, May 17, 2015
  6. Suraki
    One of the best sealed headphone for this price
    Written by Suraki
    Published May 18, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - detailed and balanced sound, 3 cables, all-purpose
    Cons - just average soundstage, heavier
    Pros:
    - Extremely detailed sound (if you want more, multiplies the price!)
    - Balanced sound with slightly mid/mid-high forwarded
    - 3 cables by default
    - It feels well built
    - Almost everything playing well
     
    Cons:
    - Lack of air (not the best choice for big orchestral compositions or other complex musical structures)
    - Little heavy (especially as portable device)
     
     
    P.S.
    Without burn in (a day or more) the MSR7 is a little sibilant.
  7. keanex
    A worthwhile option in the $200 closed headphone range
    Written by keanex
    Published Sep 25, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Aesthetics, sub-bass quality and quantity, driver quickness, musicality
    Cons - Midbass bleed, peaky upper mids

     
    Pros: Stylish aesthetics, removable cable, musicality.
    Cons: Shouty upper mids, rolled off treble, sluggish midbass.
    Tonal Balance: Mild v-shape
    Style: Closed circumaural
    Listening Set-up: Musicbee (WASAPI/FLAC) -> Matrix HPA-3U
    Cost at Time of Review: $220
     

    Reviewing Process

    I’ve had the MSR7 for approximately a month with daily use being primarily for light jogs through a quiet neighborhood while plugged into my Sansa Clip Zip. I have spent a great deal of time with the MSR7 and feel comfortable sharing my opinion of them, but experience is always better than reading reviews. I encourage all readers to demo products before buying them when able to.
     
    Thanks to Audio Technica for the review sample.
     

    Build & Fit

    Build
    The MSR7 are constructed of metal and plastic and feel to be built consistent with the general quality of the $200 headphone market. When handled nothing feels overly loose or overly tight and I don’t hear any creaks or groans when making adjustments. The pads and headband appear to be stitched cleanly and securely as well. Nothing about the build stands out as being phenomenal, but I can’t find anything to complain about.
     
    Fit
    Comfort is about average in every regard. Downwards force is mild due to the lightness of the body, but the headband padding is thin causing the downwards force to be increasingly noticed over time. Clamping force is enough to be secure without causing a headache, strong enough for a light jog but I wouldn’t trust them with strenuous exercise. The pleather pads are a bit thin, my ears nearly touch the drivers, and could certainly benefit from a bit more padding, I’d be interested in trying the HM5 pads on these actually. Isolation is above average though which makes these great for travelling or in close quarters listening situations.
     

    Sound Quality

    TL:DR
    The MSR7 aims for a balanced sound but it doesn’t quite hit the mark, but the mild v-shape makes for an exciting and genre friendly sound while on the go. Clarity, quickness, and overall bass quality are where the MSR7 shine, all while capable of being driven from even modest portable sources.
     
    Bass
    As usual I like to run the Bass Shaker Test first when assessing the bass linearity and quality of the driver. At the press of the button the MSR7 produce a low growl that gradually gains a bit of volume, but overall the bass sounds nearly linear with no signs of unwanted distortion or driver rattle, those are all good signs!
     
    In real world listening the sub-bass response is quite good; extending cleanly with respectable quickness and weight. Songs that rely on strong sub-bass response are welcome here, there’s no pretense of a sub-woofer, rather silky smooth lows that carry a satisfying weight to them. Controlled and smooth, the sub-bass doesn’t disappoint me in the slightest.
     
    As a whole the midbass has a few minor flaws: overly prominent, lack of control, and lack of resolution. Let’s break this down and add it all up. To start, the midbass has a mild prominence to it which isn’t necessarily bad on it’s own, but it’s further exaggerated by a dip within the lower midrange. The combination of the two gives the bass notes preference in the soundstage over lower midrange instruments which include frequencies within: male vocals, acoustic piano, acoustic guitar and drums. This is further compounded by driver having a bit of sluggishness within this region, which causes the midbass notes to linger a longer than they ideally should. Lastly, the midbass lacks the clarity to fully convey the texture and quality of the bass notes, adding a subtle one-note quality or muddiness through this range.
     
    None of these issues are huge, I want to make that clear, it’s simply a perfect storm of each imperfection adding up to distract from the overall clarity and crispness of the midbass. These qualities hurt the nuances heard in band based instruments, but in less nuanced electronic and pop music the midbass is lively with an enjoyable kick to it. The lows are far from horrible for rock, jazz, or other band based music, but the tuning makes them most enjoyable with the likes of Portishead, Jamie xx or Madonna.
     
    Mids & Highs
    As I talked about above, the midrange has a mild recession which in some cases distracts from the nuances within the lower midrange. Furthermore there’s a peak in the upper midrange, notably within frequency ranges of female vocals, violins and snare drums. This not only adds sibilance, but an unbalanced brightness that makes volume control a bit difficult for affected songs. Two songs that highlight this dilemma are Portishead’s Glory Boxand Kendrick Lamar’s Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe. This peak is followed by and odd treble response that seems rather peaky and rolled off; hi-hats tend to sound quiet within a mix as do some other cymbals, while others sound clear and present.
     
    Outside of the odd peaks the midrange is clear and quick with a thin leaning tone that’s not too far from natural. Detail retrieval is also relatively good, certainly not comparable to the much more expensive ZMF Blackwood, or the HD600, but resolving enough to be satisfying for on-the-go use. Overall an enjoyable experience.
     
    Presentation
    There’s no doubt that this is a closed headphone when listening to it. The soundstage is neither wide, nor is it particularly deep, but it’s cohesive in its imaging capabilities. Left/right separation is great and positioning sounds correct to my ears. The soundstage tends to crowd up with more intensive or complex music though as the music sounds as if it’s coming from in front of, rather than around, my head.
     

    Conclusion

    It sounds as if I am being harsh on the MSR7, and perhaps I am undeservedly. I actually quite like the MSR7 as a closed full-sized headphone to use for light walks around the neighborhood. They feel sturdy, have a removable cable, isolate well, and have a pretty versatile and energetic sound signature. The MSR7 are competent closed back headphone with quick drivers, perhaps quicker than the HD600. They lack the refinement of a full-sized open back, but they’re not meant to compete with the HD600 or even the Ad900x for that matter. For what the MSR7 is, it makes for a fine choice and one that I recommend.
      Jeff Y and Light - Man like this.
    1. Light - Man
      Sounds to me like a good honest review! I was considering these but went for the Yamaha HPH-MT220 which I am happy with.
      Light - Man, Sep 26, 2015
  8. DimarzioMesaFan
    Best Overall Headphones For The Money
    Written by DimarzioMesaFan
    Published Dec 13, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Detailed, Clear Sound. Responsive Bass. Reasonably Good Isolation.
    Cons - Shallow Earpads. Flimsy Cable Connectors. Leans Toward Bright
    Context
     
    Hello everyone, this is my first review on Head-fi. I generally just lurk most of the time as I feel there is no point having discussion over subjective topics especially on a particularly elitist topic. I am 24 years old with what I would consider above average hearing based off the experience I've had with those around me. Everyone calls me an audiophile that knows me but I always reply that I am no where close to being one compared to my actual audiophile friends and some of what I've seen on sites like this. My budget is extremely meager as I've got plenty of student debt but I try to get the best I can get without hurting myself financially. My current setup is definitely the best one I've owned although I've listened to plenty of amazing several thousand dollar setups just for the sake of making me jealous I guess. I am very practical and I'm not going to ******** you and tell you that the most minor change is going to make some massive improvement to sound.  I purchased these headphones from my place of employment at a steep discount but even at the MSRP I feel the cans stand on their own and are worth the price. I personally think its a bit silly to include a plethora of pictures as it is widely available in many reviews and product pages on various websites so I'll spare you the data usage.
     
    Enter The MSR7
     
    Since the topic has been covered quite well I won't go into absurd detail and bore the hell out of you but I can confidently say there are no better headphones (to my ears) for the money. I am running the Fiio X3ii and more recently in tandem with the Fiio A3 amp. I've used several DACs built into various computers and phones with these as well and while they are still solid I feel it is a different experience on something like the X3ii even though its an entry level DAP. 
     
    Sound Profile because that is what you really care about anyways right?
     
    Relatively expansive sound for closed back earphones which is what attracted me to them on initial impressions with quite good separation to my ear. These of course aren't going to be like some ~$500 open back headphones but honestly the sound quality is comparable in my opinion. Everything is extremely snappy and responsive with no particular range sounding muddled so there really isn't a lot to complain about.  If you are looking for some very detailed (especially at the higher range) cans then this is the way to go for the money. Most reviews will mention that these headphones are bright which I completely agree with, but not really in the fatiguing sense to me. I can listen for several hours without any problems and I am certainly someone who is very sensitive to bright sounding gear and prefers bass by far. There are a few songs that can get into the annoying range depending on your listening volume but I would say 95% of the time I am not thinking about it. Bass is very clear and clean but slightly lacking for my taste personally, the mid range is very pleasant and actually weirdly warm to me while the upper ranges are brilliantly shining but certainly not for everyone. Overall I would give it 7/10 compared to everything I've heard but a 9.5/10 compared to closed back headphones only. Part of the reason I'm so lenient about it being a bit bright is because the quality of the sound is so pristine I just fall in love with songs all over again while listening with these, some reviews have complained they are 'ridiculously' bright but of course that is subjective. I can honestly tell you as someone who very much dislikes bright sounding gear it is completely fine. 
     
    -Examples-
     
    Vivaldi: La Inverno - 1
     
    [​IMG]
     
    One of my favorite pieces beautifully recreated, I highly recommend this compilation set. This song really lets the MSR7s shine, beautifully separated instruments, crisp and pristine highs. Flowing energetic mids and a tinge of bass to accent the entire piece. The best you can ask of any headphones is to let you faithfully experience the music and this song epitomizes the strengths of the MSR7s. It is difficult to put into words because I find myself just experiencing the music and not thinking about it, every minor detail of the music is exposed. Honestly and I'm not embellishing, there is a pretty small difference on this track between the ATH-MSR7 and the Hifiman HE-400 except of course the separation is more accentuated and more full sounding. That is a ballsy thing to say but it is how I personally feel about this specific track so don't go crazy that I just compared the beloved Hifiman to the lowly Audio Technica. (beloved Ortho and lowly dynamic)
     
    Trivium: Shogun
     
    [​IMG]
     
    In this song you have a pretty wide range of sound and the MSR7s bring out the aggressive raw sound of the drums. Every snare hit is crisp and snappy, the cymbals are extremely natural sounding and you aren't let down by the sound of the guitar either. The deep respite of the strumming combined with the heavy mid range chugging provides a good opportunity to hear how the headphones handle the relative 'business' of metal music. There is a lot to hear all at once but there is no point with these headphones where I feel lost in the sound in a negative sort of way. I can focus in clearly on any instrument and I'm not missing out on anything. This is a great example though of the brightness of the headphones, I feel that with most metal music in general, with such a heavy emphasis on the drums and relatively aggressive sound doesn't do the MSR7s any favors. If you are sensitive to brightness in sound then the snare will certainly make you cringe at a louder volume. Being my favorite genre, this is what motivated me to seek a slightly darker influence on the MSR7s with the Fiio A3. 
     
    Wu-Tang Clan: Hellz Wind Staff
     
    [​IMG]
     
    While I could go in depth about how amazing Jazz and blues sound on these cans I figured i'd go another direction, yep its the one and only and not to be ****ed with. Hip-Hop has a notoriously and intentionally muddy sound which in a strange way adds to the soul of the music as bizarre as that might be to see someone say. Being vocally focused of course it narrows what the MSR7s can really do for you. I think the cans are fantastic with vocals but when you listen to hip-hop it feels very open and spacey which isn't really what you typically want. Most of the time you want a very full, in your face kind of sound. While the vocals do deliver certainly I can't help but feel I'm missing some impact and it is tough to pinpoint but it is definitely at the lower range where it is missing some oomph so to speak. Not to say I don't enjoy it but a more bouncy fun headphone like the V-Moda M-100 is much more enjoyable for this type of music.
     
    -Summary- 
     
    I've gone on and on about the detail of the sound but overall I'd say these headphones really suit mid-upper range full sounding music. Classical, Blues, Jazz, Rock, Rap, Pop. They aren't optimal for EDM, older school Hip-Hop, and Metal although still enjoyable of course. In a similar price point I'd say go for the Fidelio X2 if those genres are of vital importance although as I mentioned earlier the Fiio A3 mostly solved my minor complaint.
     
    Build Quality
     
    The overall build of the headphones I feel is quite good, very comfortable in my opinion and it feels like it should for the money. I won't go over too much of the specifics as it is of minor importance but overall they feel very durable and I've had no problems. They are nice and light but not too light and the clamping force is strong but not overmuch in my opinion. I'll quickly summarize my issues
     
    1) Cables although seemingly high quality and nicely tangle resistant have pretty garbage connectors on them. Within just a couple months of usage the connectors are already noticeably shaky and the included cell phone (mic) cable registers as disconnected with the slightest motion which pauses the audio of course.
     
    2) Inside the earcups they made the odd design choice of having a raised circle inside the center which really isn't doing anything for you sonically and for some people (me) touches your ear and causes some discomfort over time. A good solution to this I saw online is getting the Brainwavz HM5 pleather earpads as a replacement and inserting a riser inside (or glue foam). 
     
    That is really all the complaints I have. They are still vastly more comfortable than most of my previous headphones (cough cough V-moda you shallow earcup bastards). 
     
    Noteworthies
     
    So I thought it might be worth mentioning that most of the problems I have with these headphones in terms of sound is mostly remedied by the Fiio A3. Its a dirt cheap amp and the headphones don't really need it but it does soften up the sound just ever so slightly which is very helpful for Metal and EDM in particular. I have also played around with the original Vali from Schiit which I personally love especially for the price, I'm a bit sad to see it totally replaced instead of having a second option with the new Vali 2 but I think most people didn't like it as much as I did. In addition to this I've tried the Schiit Stack which I actually didn't like personally, I feel it had the opposite effect that the Vali and Fiio A3 had and sharpened the sound to the point of annoyance with these earphones.
     
    I am not one to really care much about isolation but the headphones do a reasonable job of it. On a flight my ears personally get quite wonky, nothing sounds right and I get intense ringing in my ears so it is difficult to vouch for any headphones but the isolation in other environments is quite good, at my comfortable listening level (slightly loud) I can't hear anything around me. 
     
    Easier to read Amp/Dac combos I've tried:
     
    Fiio X3ii - Natural sound, strong mids, sharp highs. Small EQ tweaks help but too much ruins the sound quality.
     
    Fiio X3ii + Fiio A3 - Softens up the sound just ever so slightly, great pairing and very cheap. Perfect budget combo for these headphones
     
    Fiio X5ii - Very minor differences. Hard to discern with these headphones to be honest compared to the X3ii. With some higher end headphones I feel like the X5ii has a warmer sound but I don't hear it on the MSR7s
     
    Schiit Modi + Magni - Clear all around and strong sound overall but annoyingly sharp highs in my opinion. More so than normal
     
    Schiit Vali 1st gen - Softens up the sound just  a pinch and overall sounds better to me than my usual setup of the Fiio X3ii+A3
     
    O2/ODac - Similar sound to the Schiit Stack but just a touch warmer in the high range with extremely minor increase in bass
     
    Summary
     
    The headphones have their flaws but I don't want to give the impression they aren't good. I personally like to focus on the negatives more so than the positives because any jerk off can tell you how perfect the thing they purchased is but I'm not going to lie to make myself believe I bought the best thing on Earth. That said I honestly feel these are the best headphones for the money even though I didn't pay MSRP, I would without a problem. Show me the Oppo PM-3 on sale for $300 then I'll think twice probably or if I had a more limited taste in music I would most likely go with the Fidelio X2 but to cover all the bases I really love these headphones. I didn't want to write a review until I lived with them for a while, which I'm glad I did to get a full impression, I've seen a lot of reviews bragging about the cables but that was far and away my least favorite thing about the headphones even though that is a bit knit picky. I also want to congratulate you for bearing through this entire review, it isn't my forte and I don't particularly want to bore people with the same details they can read in 100 other reviews.
  9. Chiek
    Favourite pair of earmuffs and portable over-the-ear cans
    Written by Chiek
    Published Jan 21, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Thought I was in heaven when I listened to 'Jump right in' by Zac Brown Band and Remember when by Alan Jackson
    At -20oC right now in the middle of the Norwegian winter, these beautiful ear muffs keep my ears from frostbitten, while piping in my favourite genre of folk music. Like Unkle Bob's Satellite. Listening to Zac Brown Band's songs like 'Knee Deep' and 'Goodbye in her eyes', made me cry because it just sounded too good to be true. 
     
    Once one has gone through a few headphones, rating new cans get a little easier if one can just make reference to the previous cans. This way I can dispense you guys of meaningless jargons beyond treble, bass and soundstage. 
     
    So comparing these with the over-the-ear portable headphones in the same price range that I have, I like these pair of headphones more than Sennheiser momentum in design & comfort (by a lot) and Sony MDR-1A in sound (not by much, both are very pleasing).
  10. Egoist
    The best headphones I have bought (only like 4th pair so...)
    Written by Egoist
    Published Jan 30, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Beautiful mids and amazing details and sound stage. Just makes music alive
    Cons - Comfort can be a issue in the beginning, Mainly plastic, picky on music (quality)
    (first review) After having many troubles with my Sennheiser momentum on ears (v1), the breaking down of my wonderful Vsonic gr07s and the over powering bass of my RHA T10is. I've decided to look for a new headphone that will finally please my ears other than the gr07 which was not even close to being call durable. 
     
    First I'll give you some backgrounds on what kind of person I am so this review doesn't seem too bias. I listen to J-Pop, C-Pop, Jazz, EDM, Classical, And tons of female and male vocals are involved in these genres epically the stuff I listen to. I like a clear and detailed sound without too much treble (the s sounds) or bass that over powers and makes the mid ranges sound muffles (what happened on RHA T10i). I had sony extrabasses for a year so I do like bass but not too much of it. I use my headphones extensively, everyday, and for iems I used to sleep with them but now I have cheap ones that I sleep with. 
     
    Design/Comfort
    So lets first start with the design, I personally find these beautiful(I bought the black and blue version). It's clean and stylish. While having a decent weight on your head that feels comfortable for me. However not a fan of the plastics dues to squeaking occurring after some use. But overall the design is solid with the exception of the thin ear pads which some pointed out but wasn't a problem for me since I have small ears. Now on to comfort. This is something I am not too proud of, however, it is something that is fixable. When I first tried the MRS7s at e-earphones in the Akihabara Store in Japan I loved the sound, but hated the fit. The earcups were fine but the clamping force almost made my already small head hurt. (it's smaller than most girls) The guy at the store suggested that I put them on tissue boxes every night and wear them during the daytime. Which worked out wonderfully. It solved the fit problem for me in about a week completely. However I think for people with wider heads could result in a far more un comfortable situation. But I personally feel that the comfort factor is what turned most people away from this headphone. 
     
    Sound Quality
    To be honest, I want to say these are the best pair of headphones I have tried; it's just my opinions (I tried the HD 600s, Shure 846, grados GS1000.etc) It may not be the most detailed but it makes the music I listen to sound more appealing to my ears personally. the Highs are clear but not piercing, and the bass is punchy and detail but still not enough for a bass head in my opinion. However, the mids are what I feel these headphones really offer. Comparing a track 黑白 by方大同 really showed me where these headphones shined. The male vocal is clearly defined, and the jazz played in the background just gave me this emersed experience that I haven't had with any other headphones I've tried with this track. The Sennheiser momentum on ears compared to this sounded muffled and un detailed. lacking sound stage and clarity. And being more expensive really disappointed me. The fit also kinda irritated me. However, these are quite picky in terms of what you listen to. most of my music are all lossless or 320k mp3 which is fine. But if the file was badly recorded you can hear all the harsh details. Some people mentioned that using an amp would greatly improve the sound, I have a Fiio A3 which I used regularly, but in my case, I haven't found any significate improvement other than slightly more details from the instrumentals. Overall if you like most genres that benefits from an outstanding mid, this might be a good consideration. 
     
    Summary
    These headphones are something I truly like. It's a pretty flat signature with a defined mid. I would definitely recommend to anyone who is willing to deal with the comfort issue, and feel that it is seriously a great value.
      SteveOliver likes this.