AUDIO TECHNICA ATH-MSR7

Rating:
4.28571/5,
  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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. 
     
    0520141124_202618.jpg  
     

    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]
     
    P1250215.jpg
     
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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:  
    062014-11-24_174004.png  
    072014-11-24_174044.png  
    082014-11-24_174055.png  
    092014-11-24_174104.png  
     
    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.  
    10P1240612.jpg  



     
     
    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.  
    11P1240621.jpg  
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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.  
    13P1240626.jpg  
     
    The drivers are angled toward the ears, again, similar to M50LE and M50x.  
    14P1240936.jpg  
     
     
    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.  
    15P1240638.jpg  
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    18P1240636.jpg  
    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:
     
    Albums2014-121000px.jpg  
     
     

    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