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ATH-M50s Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M50S

4.25 4.25 out of 5, based on 4 Reviews

At $159 USD, the ATH-M50/M50s is an incredible bang for the buck. Crisp highs, reasonably well-defined mids and tight bass create a very accurate monitoring environment for those on a budget.


6th January 2012

Audio-Technica ATH-M50S by sphykik

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
ATH-M50s Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

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.

Cheers!

17th January 2012

Audio-Technica ATH-M50S by jimmymio

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 2 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.75
ATH-M50s Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

Great headphones. They sound great and are clean and very transparent. Maybe a little bit uncomfortable after long periods of listening. Unless you are going to spend 2-3 times as much, these are the bet thing out there IMHO.

17th January 2012

Audio-Technica ATH-M50S by Lunatique

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
ATH-M50s Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

The M50 is one of those little miracles that puts a smile on your face.

To give this review a proper context, I'll need to list the other headphones I have so you understand what the M50 is being judged against.

My other headphones are:
Stax 007MK2 (with Stax SRM-717 amp)
Audez'e LCD-2
Denon AH-D950
Denon AH-D7000
Sennheiser HD650
Sennheiser HD600
Sennheiser HD555
Equation RP-21
Pioneer SE-DJ5000
Westone 3
Westone 4
Shure SE-530PTH
Shure SE-535
Shure E4C
and my studio monitors are Klein+Hummel O300D's.

The best thing about the M50 is how much bang for the buck you get for such a low-costing product. At $150 retail, it sounds much better than a lot of headphones that cost much more.

The main selling point of the M50 is its sub-bass response. It is one of the few headphones out there that can output authoritative sub-bass quantity at deep extension (it can do 30Hz, while a lot of headphones roll-off before they reach 30Hz). The M50 is also mainly non-fatiguing and pleasant sounding, and fairly neutral (compared to many other headphones). It's only when you compare it to much more expensive headphones that you start to be able to pick it apart.

The M50 is sealed, so it's great for tracking, and it also folds, comes with a carrying bag, and is quite durable, so it's great for traveling too. The pleather earcups could get sweaty for some people, so I recommend you buy headphone sanitary covers (google for them). The M50 is pretty comfortable to wear, though the headband could use a bit more cushioning.

Now, the negatives of the M50. While it has pretty good sub-bass extension, the bass is a bit prominent, though not detrimentally so (compared to many of the ridiculous celebrity name headphones that have laughably bloated/hyped bass that lack any articulation whatsoever, yet cost much more). The mids are slightly lush, but in a pleasant way. The treble is slightly etched and metallic, but it's not grating or fatiguing--just noticeable. The overall balance is still better than most headphones out there, despite the low cost, so it's actually quite remarkable what this entry-level headphone is capable of.

In conclusion, the M50 is an amazing performer for its price, and shames many much more expensive headphones on the market. You'd have to spend a lot more money to find anything that's significantly better.

Pros:
-For its price, it's amazing sounding, being relatively neutral, and beats out many much more expensive headphones.
-They're relatively non-fatiguing.
-Have good deep-bass extension that most headphones don't have.
-It's portable and can be folded.
-It's cheap, so you won't feel bad if you break it accidentally. And you can afford to buy a bunch of them for the whole band or fill the studio with them.
-Pleather earcups can get sweaty, so buy headphone sanitory covers for them.

Cons:
-The bass is slightly prominent.
-The mids slightly lush.
-The treble a bit etched and metallic.

 
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