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Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Thoughts on Audio Technica's ATH-M50 Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

Let's start by introducing the pair I got in the mail.




These are Audio Technica's ATH-M50 headphones and the site has them listed as professional grade studio headphones. That's all well and good, but when you see the price you wonder if it can really live up to that label. At anywhere between $160 to $180 online these headphones are priced well below what you will find most other studio cans. 






































As you can see, I opted for the white version as I prefer their looks to the slightly more plain black version, but they're also available in a limited edition silver and a limited edition red color.

They also fold up for ease of carrying. 






























































In the box you get the pair, some documentation, a matching carrying pouch, and a ¼" adapter in case you have some other professional audio equipment. These headphones also come with a one year limited manufacturer warranty. All you have to do is fill out the included documentation and send it in within 10 days of purchasing them.







































The pouch is pretty plain; no embossing or logos. It has a nice clean look. It's made of the same leatherette material as the cups on the headphones.


 



































It's nice that they included a ¼" jack adapter so that I can use it on my guitar amps/preamps. The adapter simply screws onto the threaded end of the 3.5mm jack.

The jack itself feels to be really well built and I like the spring to relieve tension where the chord terminates. 







































I knew going into this that, unlike other mid-range professional grade headphones, this pair were constructed of exclusively plastic as opposed to a combination of plastic and aluminium that you see on other headphones in a similar price bracket. 

Now onto my experiences with this pair of headphones.

What I liked

Sound

First and foremost, if you're spending this kind of quid on a pair of headphones this is what you are most concerned with. Well you should be at least. And I'm pleased to say that, by no means, does this set disappoint in this area. It's also worth mentioning that the sound is good out of the box, this isn't a set of headphones that you'll have to 'burn in' in order to get the sound you're after.

With 45mm Neodymium drivers powering this set you'll have no problems hitting the lower registers of your music. The bass is powerful, but not overly so. It's well pronounced and well balanced with most every genre I've listened to. I really enjoy the level on this set as opposed to the muddy bass and scooped mids/highs I've heard on others. *cough cough Beats

The range of these headphones is what I find most impressive personally. Lows, mids, and highs are all present and extremely clear. With this kind of clarity you'll be finding new dynamics in your music that you may have not noticed were there previously. 

These are closed-back headphones so the amount of noise cancellation you get is extremely good. You won't be bothered by anything going on around you and likewise no one will be bothered by you. 


Price

Like I said you can find these on Amazon and similar stores for as low as $160 typically. If you have a Prime membership these are a no-brainer. 


Coiled Cable

A few of the headphones (black/white I believe) have the option of a coiled, or standard cable. I opted for coiled so I wouldn't have to sacrifice length to get portability. It's a nice feature and just something to consider if you're like me and plan to carry these around with you for use with an MP3 player.


Comfort

The leatherette on the cups of these headphones is really soft and the cups themselves have quite a lot of cushion. The underside of the headband is also padded and has a softer, more cloth-like material on it. The fit isn't too tight or too loose. I've had no problems or complaints about wearing this pair for extended periods of time.


Looks

I catch a lot of flack for valuing aesthetics a little too much when it comes to my purchases, but I believe here it's necessary. These are something you are going to be seen out in public with, and, in my opinion, that means they have to look good. I like this pair because they're simple without being boring. Other sets are festooned with outlandish logos or painted in some tacky color scheme. 

What I didn't like

Build quality

Like I said, I knew going into this that the construction was primarily plastic, but all the reviews I read said that the build quality was still phenomenal. I suppose I didn't take this into as much consideration as I should have. While they still feel particularly sturdy there's no changing that they are made of plastic. The plastic feels a little cheap to the touch and they creak, squeak, and groan loudly and often. 


Coiled Cable

While I said I enjoy the convenience of the coiled cable, there is one caveat. The coil puts weight at a single point of the cable and it's quite a lot of weight. It apparently is more than my phone weighs so wherever the coil goes is where my phone goes. If I lay it on an edge and the coil slinks off of the surface my phone is going to follow it to the floor. You have to be mindful of where you put the bulk of the weight. 


Headphone Jack

One of my biggest complaints about this pair of headphones is the jack itself.




















In the picture above you can see that the area at the base of the jack is very large and very flat. This means that if anything that you're planning on plugging into has any sort of bevel or obstruction around the jack it's not going to fit. It hasn't been that much of an issue for me yet, but I've seen stories of people not being able to use it on phones with cases and situations like that. 

Another issue I have is that the cable is not removable. I suppose this is where the M50's begin to show their age. It's almost a standard feature at this point to see removable, interchangable cables at this price point, and in my opinion at the price it's also a must. I find myself often wishing I could change which side of the headphones had the connection.

Finally
I've really enjoyed my experience so far with these headphones. If you're looking for a solid, quality pair of beginner headphones these are absolutely perfect for that. You're going to love the way they sound. Some others that I was considering buying are the Beyerdynamic Custom Pro One's and the V-Moda Crossfade M-100's. I'll include a link to both those as well as my pair below. Thank you for taking the time to read my review and I hope this helps if you were on the fence or just in the market for a pair of studio headphones.

Audio Technica ATH-M50 (white, coiled cable)

Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro (white)

V-Moda Crossfade M-100

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