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Old 08-23-2010, 02:03 PM
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JxK JxK is offline
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Default Review Audio Technica ATH-M50

Note: I do not actually own the m50. They were loaned to me for two weeks, and this review is based upon my impressions of these headphones over this two week period.
Note 2:
I unfortunately sent the m50 back before I thought to take pictures myself, so Iíll give credit to google images for the pictures below.










Specs from Audio Technica Website
Type Closed-back dynamic
Driver Diameter 45 mm Magnet Neodymium Voice Coil CCAW (Copper-clad aluminum wire)
Frequency Response 15 - 28,000 Hz
Maximum Input Power 1,600 mW at 1 kHz
Sensitivity 99 dB
Impedance 38 ohms
Weight 284 g (10 oz) without cable and connector
Cable 1.2 - 3.0 m (3.9' - 9.8') Coiled, OFC litz wire
Connector Gold-plated stereo 1/8" (3.5 mm) connector with strain relief and professional screw-on 1/4" (6.3 mm) adapter




Appearance and First Impressions
Simple packaging, nothing fancy. A case would have been appreciated, but I like the fact that Audio Technica didnít waste money on a bloated box like so many other manufacturers out there.

The headphones appear simple and elegant without being overdone. They donít draw attention to themselves, but closer inspection reveals them to be quite stylish in an understated sort of way. Itís a design I wholeheartedly approve of, though the Skullcandy and Monster crowd may disagree.

The cord is perhaps the most striking feature of the m50. The m50 come in two versions, one with a straight cord and the other with the coiled cord pictured here. The coil is designed to save space, and make the headphones more ďportable.Ē More on that later.

Build
The build of the m50 is plastic-fantastic, but it at least appears and feels to be high quality plastic. The hinges themselves feel reasonably secure, and the headphones donít suffer from any excessive creaking. The cable is of good quality, nice and rubbery, with very well made stress reliefs. The stress relief on the plug deserves special mention, and is perhaps the most sturdy (if unsightly) I have seen.

Comfort
The headphones themselves are quite comfortable, and light on the head. Some might find the pressure to they exert to be slightly annoying, but that was not the case for me. The earpads are soft, and easily conform to the contours of my head.

What deserves comment though is the size of the earcups themselves Ė they are quite small in my opinion. Now, I have small ears so for me the m50 are a perfect circumaural fit. But I can easily imagine the m50 being supra-aural for larger eared individuals.

The m50 also become rather hot after extended use, more than other closed headphones Iíve tried. As always, ďhotĒ is subjective, and could very easily be a byproduct of the local weather right now. And for those of you who prefer it a little warmer, this may well be an upside.

Sound
The sound of the m50 can be described as relatively balanced, with a slight tilt toward the low end.

Bass is clear, with good extension, and respectable low end impact. It stays where itís supposed to, and there is no mid-bass bloat that intrudes into the midrange. The m50 do have a slight warmth to the sound, but it isnít anything intrusive or ungainly. It would be almost as accurate to simply state that they arenít bright sounding headphones. Needless to say, basshead phones these are not. But there is enough that bassheads would still find them listenable, just as the AKG/Etymotic crowd would find the level of added bass presence low enough to still consider the m50 manageable as well.

The midrange itself stays in line with the bass. It is neither forward nor recessed. The lack of added warmth leaves it a little dry, but in a good way, unless warmth is what youíre looking for. Balanced is the name of the game here.

Treble is a little recessed relative to the bass and mids. This does not mean that the m50 lack treble extension, not at all. The treble extends as high as I am able to hear. It is just that the treble is slightly less prominent than the mids and bass. Itís a sound signature which allows long listening without fatigue, but one which some might find boring.

Detail retrieval is very good, and the m50 are a fairly revealing headphone. The lack of treble emphasis also means they are relatively forgiving of poor recordings. Soundstage is about average compared to other closed headphones Iíve tried. Itís not anything to brag about, but still larger than what I hear with my grados.

On the Go
What impresses me most with the m50 is its impressive noise isolation compared to other closed headphones Iíve tried. They isolate about as much as my hippo VB Ė some 20db give or take a little. In laymanís terms, this means the m50 are good enough for the street, office, or bus; but not isolating enough for subway and airplane use.

The m50 fold up in the traditional sense and the earcups do rotate enough to allow you to lay the headphones down flat. This also allows you to keep one ear open to listen to your surroundings without having to wear the headphones in a shifted position.

The coiled cord of the m50 is designed as a space saving mechanism, over the 3m straight cord version. It works well enough. But for those of you with soldering skills, purchasing the straight cord version and trimming the cord to a desired length and adding a new plug would work better, as the cord would be less thick. An extension cord would easily add the extra length should you ever miss it.

Lastly, the m50 are very efficient, and do not require any sort of portable amplifier. My sansa clip is more than capable of powering them to earsplitting volumes.

A personal note
I typically listen to music at low volumes, and prefer a V shaped sound. When using the m50 I kept wishing for a little more sub-bass impact, and more treble energy/sparkle. Though I freely admit that the m50 are very proficient technically, especially at their current price point, I could not help but find the m50 to sound borderline boring for my tastes.

Conclusion
The Audio Technica m50 represent a great value for those looking for a well isolating closed headphone. They are built about as well as anything out there at the $100 benchmark, and should be comfortable for most people. Technically the m50 is very proficient, and offers a fairly balanced and non-fatiguing sound. But people who are after a little more excitement may find the m50 a little boring. Large and elephant sized eared individual should however come prepared for a circumaural fit.

Pricing
At this time, the m50 are available for about $110 at most online retailers.
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  #2  
Old 08-23-2010, 02:09 PM
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Hye JxK, great work/write up Thanks a ton for sharing...

Not a fullsize cans man myself, but these AT M50s are definitely a possibility if I ever go that route.

In fact, I believe I may have heard them [and liked em] on my shopping excursion with TDS to BH Photo....
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  #3  
Old 11-17-2010, 10:07 AM
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As someone who has been using these phones for around two months now, I will totally agree with this review.

In my opinion, though, I feel the M50 lacks impact on bass and treble at lower volumes and makes the overall listening experience a bit weak. When you're at home, this isn't a problem at all, since you can easily adjust the volume to suit your needs, but I often have trouble finding a good sound when I'm on a bus or walking outside, when I'd like to hear the particularly low bassline of a song, but don't want to turn them up to a volume that I'd find way too loud at home.

I have the coiled cord version, and while the cord seems pleasantly thick and the plug is reassuringly sturdy, it does have a tendency to wrap around itself much to my annoyance. The cord seemed to have been packed in a really strange way I don't fathom; the un-coiled part was twisted in a way that I haven't been able to straighten it out, resulting in extreme wrapping around itself.
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Old 12-12-2010, 05:44 AM
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I've had my M50s for a week now and I'm absolutely loving them.

Previous phones for years have been my trusty old Sennheiser PX100s and the extra clarity and definition you get with the M50s took some getting used to - a bit like information overload for a while until my ears stopped expecting the extra bass and warmth you get with PX100s.

But after my brain got tuned into them, I'm really, really liking hearing all the extra little nuances like vocal breath sounds and fret noise. The difficult to record things like double bass and cymbals really sound so much more realistic. I can hear the beater hit the kick drum (rather than just an ill-defined thump)! Woohoo!

I'm a guitar player, been playing in bands for many years and I've done quite a bit of recording, some in proper professional studios. I never really thought about buying a decent set of phones for casual listening until I started reading forums (a costly experience!) but listening with the M50s (to flacs and 320bps mp3s on my J3) is a real treat - almost like being in the studio with the musicians.

Last edited by selectortone; 12-12-2010 at 05:49 AM.
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Old 12-29-2010, 04:31 AM
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I just would like to add my quick 2 eurocents to this...

I've had these since...er...2 days now. I REALLY like them. They're very comy already and not even yet broken in to my head. The HD25s took much longer to get used to.

Isolation is sufficient for my needs but indeed, may not be enough for an airplane trip. They were ok for my Paris - Luxembourg TGV ride though.

These headphones are flatter than I'm used to. The highs are less forward/aggressive than on the HD25s and somehow, even though I was expecting the opposite, they seem to be more forgiving of lower encodings than the HD25s. Really a surprise.

I bought these as monitoring headphones (which they are) as I wanted to start recording some guitar (guitarist here too ) and I'm ending up using them as a portable/work headphones. They have a very pleasant sound to them. Not tuned to make music 'fun' (big bass as most manufacturers tend to do) but just... pleasant. They seem to sound right.
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Old 06-27-2011, 02:05 PM
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Ordered these this weekend. Out of curiosity, would it be beneficial to get an amp to go with them?
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Old 06-27-2011, 02:21 PM
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I don't see an amp needed at 38 ohms.
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Old 06-27-2011, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WalkGood View Post
I don't see an amp needed at 38 ohms.
+1
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Old 06-27-2011, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gebbss View Post
As someone who has been using these phones for around two months now, I will totally agree with this review..
I agree as well, and my favourite thing about them is their fairly balanced sound with only slight low end emphasis making them great for a huge range of genres. Also the fact that they don't add bass where there isn't any like many cans in it's price range.

The sweaty ears syndrome is why i stopped using them portably, which is a shame because I love their sound signature.
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Old 06-27-2011, 02:45 PM
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Still loving mine and absolutely no problems being driven by any of my players. In fact the higher impedence definitely improves the bass performance of my rockboxed iPod Video.
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Old 06-27-2011, 03:08 PM
cnhardwick cnhardwick is offline
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Thanks for all the (quick) responses. I honestly did not even consider the need for an amp since I have never owned headphones, only IEM's, until I started reading reviews that mentioned amping. Glad to know I that I am good.

@Adub Sweat/heat is the reason I have never liked headphones and only use IEM's. I decided it was time to give headphones another shot though. Hopefully they will not be as bad as I remember so long as I only use them indoors where it is cool.
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Old 06-27-2011, 11:57 PM
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I'm picking up some Sony XB-300 for portable headphone use when i dont feel like wearing IEMs and something i can not care if i break lol.
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Old 07-01-2011, 01:57 PM
cnhardwick cnhardwick is offline
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Got mine in today! They are defiantly a bit warmer than wearing IEM's, but that goes without saying. I will just have to get use to it I suppose.

I also found the soundstage surprising. I have read that the M50 have small soundstage, but coming from IEM's I figured anything would sound big, but honestly it does not sound much if wider than my TF10's soundstage. Maybe they will loosen up some as they have not even been out of the box an hour yet.
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