Audio Technica ATH-M50 Review
Dec 2, 2008 at 2:03 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 178


100+ Head-Fier
Nov 11, 2008
I just got these today so ill do a quick recap of what I've see so far.

Burn in Factor: these headphones require burn in, a lot of burn in, i suggest hooking it up to an amp and eqing it for the most bass you could possibly get, you can feel bone conduction in your jaw and skull if you do this and it feels like the drivers loosen up quicker.

Straight out of the box: I thought i wasted 110 dollars

5 minuets later: i heard a HUGE improvement.

30 minuets playing time: started to feel like i was getting my moneys worth, a little lacking in the bass

1 hour playing time: bass starts to show, sound quality increases

2 hours playing time: bass comes in nice and full, further increases in sound quality

3 hours: enough bass for you john.

it is safe to say that it is still burning in and SQ will continue to increase for a few more hours.

sound quality: good highs, violins come in nice and clear. treble is great. mids are very good, brass and saxophones really sing in these. they are, however, slightly scooped when compared to bass and the highs, but this is barely noticeable, you have to be listening closely to discern this. lower mids are very good, guitar comes in nice and clear don't notice and scooping at all. there is a lot of bass and it packs a bit of a punch. it is very smooth and it seams to go with the flow and the most important factor is that it is not muddy at all, it is very clean (sorry john, i know you like your bass skull candy style, very muddy). These are great for drummers who want to do any recording, percussion is awesome. couldn't hear any sibilance, but my ears are untrained so i wouldn't take my word for it

sound stage: I am going to have to go with center stage, about 5 rows back.

sound signature: after they burn in, the m50's are very warm sounding phones.

comfort: it clamps a lot, but if you put them on a square tissue box for a while they loosen up and become very comfortable. i could wear these for several hours at a time. since they are closed, they can get warm.

sound isolation: O.K. with the music off it blocks a bit, but not much, when you turn it on it blocks out most outside noise (my mother yelling at me is an exception).

sound leakage: very little and only at loud volumes. no one is going to notice unless they are on top of you

size: these are huge, much bigger then they look in the pictures

portability: not much of a problem given that it comes wit ha carrying case

style: great aesthetics. I wouldn't mind being caught wearing these in public at all. very nice design.

driving it / amp. these phones are very easy to drive, no amp is required although one will help sound quality. i drove these with my second generation ipod nano unamped without any problems.

this is the end of my review, if you have any questions feel free to ask me.
*Post Review... 2 years later*
I have decided to do a re review of these headphones after experiencing them for close to two years.  As of this point I have listened to my phones for several hundred hours and have gotten over the awesome experience of taking my first step into the hi-fi world. They just sounded so much better then anything else I have ever owned that it was pretty much impossible for me not to bias my original review.
First I'll give you the essentials you need to know if this review is going to make sense to you.
- The main genres of music that I listen to are punk and ska. Bands like the Flatliners, Streetlight Manifesto, the Menzingers, and Catch 22 sum up my musical tastes to the greatest extent. The point of this is, if you listen to hip-hop, pop, or country music, we probably have a much different idea of scale in terms of what defines an acceptable amount of bass mids and highs. If the idea has not yet come to you I'll put it into words, go onto youtube and listen to the bands I just named because they are awesome... and not at all because doing so will help you to better understand this review.
- my source is flac / ogg v0 --> S:Flo2 --> eq setting = normal --> headphone out --> ath-m50
Now for the juicy part, the actual review....
    Now since meat is always the most juicy fresh and raw, and the only news that people actually care about is the juicy news (defined by people magazine as the bad news), I'll start out by giving you the bad -- the raw truth. Close your eye's if you don't want to see it, but ill write it anyway in big bold letters:
the mids are recessed
Now regardless of what anyone else claims, if they say other wise they are just being delusional. No, it is not just that there is not enough mids for me, they are actually noticeably recessed. How badly are they recessed, well now we get into opinions but I will give mine anyway: on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being non-existent and 10 being not recessed , id give the mids an 8 .
     Here is where the problem comes in, the combination of the mids being recessed and the bass and drums being so prominent (I'll get to that latter in this review), makes the problem that much worse depending on how much bass is being dropped. A good example would be Sleep Your Life Away by the Flatliners: drum and bass lines get dropped and snorted like no druggie has ever done before, it's an eargasm, but it makes the middle class recession into a great depression. All the money that was being spent on jump starting the economy is now being spent on fighting a huge drug war, and the mids are drowned out. It's frustrating when you can hear the singing but it is just not loud enough. Imagine this: you're a starving college student rummaging through your stuff for any morel of food you can find, and you come across half a poptart, so you eat it, but now your thinking OMG I NEED THE OTHER HALF OF THAT POP TART NOW AHHHHH!!!!!!! thats how it feels.
note that everything you just read in that last paragraph was greatly exagerated just to make a point. It is not really anywhere near that bad. you probably won't notice it unless your ears are trained to.
Now that I got that off my chest it is time for the good:
the bass, the drums, price/quality ratio.
and good bass sounds like 
Then ath-m50's sound like
But no seriously, the bass is good, and there is a lot of it. By a lot of it I don't just refer to it being loud and prominent like those bass heads love so much, I mean the range of frequencies that you get is amazing. Closed headphones in this price range have the ability to do something that no open headphone which did not cost significantly more could possibly do, and that is to deliver low frequency bass. Now the bass is obviously going to be partly boomy, you have to understand that these are closed back headphones and so there are going to be some limitations, but overall the bass is pretty clear and hits nice and sharp. Think of a straight edge razor which has been sharpened within the past year, but hasn't been stropped very recently.
     Now let's get into the drums. These sound amazing, when the bass drum hits I can feel the diaphragm move, everything hits clean and comes in nice in clear. The only thing in this department that give the phones trouble sometimes are symbols and hi-hats, but even those come in pretty well.  No complaints in this department, the phone's do their job well. Not really much more for me to say here.
      Price to Quality ratio: As so many people have said you really do get more than you pay for, it should be illegal for these to sell at $100 price point. For what you are paying, taking into account that these are closed back, sound quality is amazing. With the exception of when the bass drowns out the mids, instrument separation is pretty good and clarity is great. Their build quality is great, If these break it is probably because you were doing something stupid with them. There should be no reason to complain about this what so ever, what more could you reasonably ask for at such a low price?
Time for the neutral:
- The highs come in good. They are neither terrible nor spectacular, just so boringly neutral that I have yet to see anyone talk expansively about them. They are the b- student who does everything just well enough for their parents and teachers to be satisfied, but not well enough for anyone to give a crap.
- The sound signature is warm
- sound stage: Think of that crazy fan girl at any concert standing directly in front of the stage yelling her head off and failing in her desperate attempts to touch the singers leg, subsequently making the nearby audience almost feel bad (by that I mean laugh inside) at how pathetic she is acting. Anyway the point is you basically hear the music from the same sonic standpoint that she does, from a meter or two away.
comfort: They are neither soft feather pillows nor rocks. They are pretty comfortable, but like most headphones they can get annoying after several hours of use. They can also get a little too warm after a while.
size, portability, aesthetics, leakage.... see first review above.
Dec 2, 2008 at 3:02 AM Post #5 of 178


New Head-Fier
Nov 29, 2008

Originally Posted by nullPointerException /img/forum/go_quote.gif
holy ***, 117 euros? I paid 110 dollars, and dollars are worth less then the euro.

yeah in italy there are too robbers, grado sr60 is 128 euros
Dec 2, 2008 at 3:19 AM Post #10 of 178


Headphoneus Supremus
Jun 1, 2005

Originally Posted by hauntingtheholy /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I never heard anyone say they heard improvement after "5 minutes of burn in" - lol. Are you sure the first SONG you listened to just wasn't one that showed off the HP's abilities?

I have with at least 2 different headphones, HD595 and JBL 410 Reference that I recall off hand.
Dec 2, 2008 at 3:33 AM Post #13 of 178


100+ Head-Fier
Nov 11, 2008

Originally Posted by 1Time /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Nice review. Looking forward to a follow-up after more burn in and if amped.

ill make some updates tommorow, ill play around with my dads sherwood reciever and eq it a bit
Dec 2, 2008 at 4:37 AM Post #14 of 178


New Head-Fier
Oct 31, 2008
I just ordered mine today from headroom. you said they're huge, are they bigger than the everglide s-500 because I have a pair of those and they are absolutely monstrous.

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