Audio-Technica ATH-M50S by sphykik
I am currently mixing on a set of Mackie MR8s, which are bargain, but they have a grainy midrange and inaccurate bass response. I needed a set of headphones that would be comfortable, accurate, and affordable.
After considerable research I decided to try the ATH-M50s headphones.
The headphones come with a nice faux-leather bag, and are a bit lighter than I expected, although certainly not "cheap" feeling. A screw on 1/4" adapter comes already attached, and the headphones have a one-year warranty.
I first plugged the Audio-Technicas into my M-Audio Profire 2626 interface and was pleased by the sound quality, but the mids sounded harsher than I was expecting, and the bass was a bit flubby. After an hour of burn-in they sound significantly better, but they really shined after playing overnight.
The highs are crisp, but not brittle or overly sibilant. The mids are much better than my Mackies, although I feel they are the weakest part of the headphones. The bass is present, tight, and punchy, without being overly-hyped.
I listed to the them with several genres of music - classical, modern metal, and bluegrass. I feel the headphones shine on metal, pop, and rock. Devin Townsend's "Deconstruction" (a wonderfully wacky album, mixed by the incredible Jens Bogren) sounded fantastic. The bass is killer, and the competing guitars, vocals, and samples are all clear and easily distinguishable.
One thing I will add - the Audio-Technicas are pretty easy to drive. A laptop or iPod can power them and get them to a decent volume, but the headphones sound much better through an interface, or proper headphone amp. They would not be my first choice for daily listening on a portable device.
One more thing - the "ATH-M50" and "ATH-M50s" are basically the same thing. The "s" is the straight-cable version, while the M50 comes with a coiled cable. I got the straight cable, which is about 10' long.
Overall, I high recommend these headphones. The mids are not quite as well defined as you would find in a high-end set of monitors, but for a $160 set of headphones, you really can't ask for better.