Audio Technica ATH-M50
- Good Build Quality
- Clear, Detailed, Clear Sound
- The are reasonably priced
- Low Sound Leak
- They are very comfortable
- Cable is not detachable
- The earcups are shallow
We’re going to be looking at
the Audio Technica ATH-M50
Now the M50’s are a community favourite.
They’re a really commonly recommended headphone
on Head-Fi, which is the audio and headphone
And the M50’s were actually the first set
of full-sized headphones soon after I joined
Now there’s a number of reasons why the M50’s
are so popular.
That’s because they offer a good reference
level for neutral sound quality that you can
get, and good build quality that you can get
for around this price point.
That said, for a number of years I’ve owned
the M50’s now, and I think they are a number
of things they do really well, and a number
of things, they don’t do so well.
So starting off with the build of the headphone
the M50 is a professional studio monitoring
headphone, so it’s designed to last a long
time and to be used for production houses
and recording studios.
So what you get is a really chunky durable
design, really well thought out.
very easily adjustable, and it folds up really
easily into this nice little contact shape,
which is really cool.
The whole build is made out of plastic but
it feels really solid and reassuring.
You get this 3m cable in this version.
This is the straight cable version and a metal
plug at the end.
There’s also a coiled cable version that you
can get with about a 1.2m cable.
There’s a couple of things to note about the
Out of the box, clamping pressure is quite
high on the M50.
So what that means is that if you wear it
for an extended period of time, especially
if you have glasses, it can get a bit uncomfortable
after a while.
The other issue with the M50’s design is that
the clamping force combined with the synthetic
material used for the earpads is not particularly
breathable, so you’ll find that in hot weather
they can get a bit study.
The other thing about the M50’s design is
that a lot of people recommend these or look
at these as portable headphones, and I personally
don’t think that they work very well as portable
One thing is because they’re actually quite
physically large as headphones.
And they can look like you can just stepped
out onto the street from the recording studio.
That said a lot of people walk around nowadays
with big headphones on their heads so I suppose
that’s not such a bad thing.
The other thing I find is that with a 3m cable
it can be quite awkward to use in a portable
Even if you tie it up with a rubber band you
still have a length of cable hanging out of
You can get the coiled cable version but I
find with coiled cables because they’re coiled
and quite dense, they’re quite heavy and they
actually pull on one side of the head, so
they’re not the most comfortable type of cable
to be using for a portable headphone.
The last issue with portable use of the M50
is that the headphone jack is so chunky and
big that it can be difficult and awkward to
use with portable players in your pocket,
especially because when you’re standing up
or sitting down the length of the jack and
the spring that forms part of the strain relief
can get a bit awkward.
In terms of sound the M50’s are a meaty sounding
They’re a bit on the warmer side of neutral,
they have a chunky, visceral bass response,
but they also have a bit of a peak in the
treble which is characteristic of a lot of
Audio Technica cans.
It means that female vocals, especially stand
out quite nicely on the M50.
But it also means that sometimes on badly
recorded music or at higher volume they can
sound a little aggressive.
So again if you’re using this as a portable
headphone when you turn up the volume, it
may not be so great for your ears.
The other thing about the M50’s is that the
soundstage, while it’s quite well defined,
can sound a little congested and closed in.
The bass can sound wooly at times because
there is a bit of a mid-bass hump, and overall
it’s not the most open sounding of headphones.
But for the price the audio quality out of
the M50 is again, really good, a really good
Now I find that with the M50’s, because they’re
so popular and they’re so commonly recommended,
you often find people comparing them, or trying
to compare them, with all kinds of headphones
that are in completely different categories,
that are really inappropriate comparisons,
So, you know, people might be asking should
I get these or some pair of open-backed headphones
or a much more portable set like the Sennheiser
I think that the M50’s are really great headphones
for the price but they aren’t necessarily
great all-rounder headphones and I think that
in terms of portable headphones, you can get
headphones like the Sennheiser Momentum, the
Sony MDR-1R or the Logitech UE 6000, that
offer a much more practical and easy to live
with a package, even for home and portable use.
That said the M50’s will always have a special
place in my heart because they were the first
set of full-size quality headphones that ever
bought and they’re especially good considering
that they are so popular on Head-Fi, that
if you start with your journey of getting
headphones with the M50’s its very easy to
make comparisons with other people on what
something else might sound like.
So they’re really invaluable as a reference