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Audio-Technica ATH-IM50 Dual symphonic-driver In-ear Monitor headphones White (Japan Import)
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|Sold By||NINJYA,U.S.A||Margaret's Magic||Amazon.com||Amazon.com||Amazon.com||IPC-Store|
|Color||white||black||Single Driver IEM (Smoke)||Black||Black/Silver||Black|
|Item Dimensions||—||3.54 x 7.76 x 2.05 in||1 x 1 x 1 in||7 x 3 x 2 in||1.12 x 2.5 x 5.8 in||3 x 3 x 3 in|
Dual Symphonic Drivers for high-resolution sound reproduction. Equipped with newly developed Symphonic dual-driver designed to reduce distortion. Detachable cord with high quality connector, designed to be attached firmly during usage. Premium Comply Foam earbuds (included) provide both a comfortable fit and outstanding sound isolation
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As a reference point for my review, my current stable of in ears phones are the radius atomic bass 2, klipsh S-4, MEElectronics Sport-Fi M6, Monoprice 108320, and a pair of sony's so old the identifying marks have worn off. My current good value for the buck sound reference are sennheiser 280HD Pro headphones. I've never gotten my hands on multi-driver balanced armature in-ear monitors though.
FIT: keep in mind fit is one of THE most important parts of sound quality with in ear phones.A bad seal and/or mis alignment with your ear canal can make even the best set sound AWFUL. Unfortunately it is also the hardest thing to determine buying online. SO this part is going to be a a bit wordy in an attempt to be useful. In terms of fit, I'm large+ for the ear canals, but have pretty normal sized ears. Even going with the largest tips with the usual out of the box set of three leaves me with my one ear with a slightly larger canal gapping if I move around much at all. These are big, if you have teeny ears you might have issues. If you find the shiny monoprice monstrosities listed above to be uncomfortably large or shaped funny, you DO still have a chance with these. These are pretty sensitive to alignment, but surprisingly not that sensitive to a good seal. Even a minimal seal gives plenty of base and reasonable mid-bass as well. I'm using the included comply tips, and they basically just rest on the end of the ear canal rather than being wedged in there. Regarding my stable, the atomic bass 2 got sony hybrid tips installed to get a reliable seal in my bigger ear. The largest tips in the S-4 kit work for me as long as I don't sweat too much. The Sport-Fi M6 work with the double and triple flange tips but the wires are fairly uncomfortable unless I use the triple flanges. The monoprice cheapies that people either love or hate absolutely don't work for me. I can either have their sharp lumpy bodies stay in place, or I can have the tube aligned so they produce their best sound, not both. Sound isolation is poor for an in ear. They don't keep the outside world out nearly as much as others, and based on my wife's verdict on how loud I'm permitted to crank them up while she is trying to fall asleep, they don't do so hot in the other direction either. The king of isolation for me are the sport-fi m6 with triple flange ear pieces from the selection they come with. That combo is works so well that I wouldn't wear it where there's any chance of interacting with traffic or other unexpected things. To be honest, so far I would compare these with normal headphones worn outside the ear in that regard. For me, using the comply tips not wedged into the ear canal, they are not quite as good at muffling sounds as my 280HD Pros. I don't know if I can do better, mainly because having really nice sound without becoming 100% isolated to the outside world is something I'm enjoying.
BUILD: The materials are not fancy. There are no miracle of modern materials science and manufacturing technology here. They aren't little jewels in your ears. They are slabs of injection molded plastic with a cable reminiscent of small on ear phones form the 80s in both size and texture. It's not the super skinny, super floppy type of cable popular today. The jack is also L shaped. Beware of both those things if your planned playback device is a smartphone in a case. Also note that they are not small, I tried reusing one of my semi-rigid cases for them and mashed the heck out of the comply tips. They popped back, but my biggest case is going to cause additional wear. That being said, they are designed with some care. Things are in the right place, they are smooth where they should be, they avoid using a common ground lead, the memory wire is textured in an appropriate manner, etc. Given my usual treatment of gear, I expect they will last well. As a point of reference my set of first gen radius atomic bass phones lasted me almost 4 years, and had a huge number of complaints of a quick death from memebrs of team: push it harder, or if that doesn't work hit it with a hammer (tm). My S4's are about 2 years into regular use, and I've had no issues either. If you find either of those to be benchmarks of delicate crap, disregard my opinions on build quality.
SOUND: I'm not some crazy audiophile, I do however enjoy listening carefully to my music as an activity in itself, and have built built a few sets of speakers to get sound quality I couldn't otherwise afford. However, in general I don't regard a super flat response curve to be the holy grail of sound except for maybe mixing audio for film or things along those lines. I have some nice flat monitors and some nice flat (not absurdly expensive though, so not perfectly flat) studio headphones from forever ago if I'm doing something along those lines. For recreational listening, flat is not the answer. I'll EQ the snot out of the music if it's too flat and even. I like my bass, but I like that bass to be thick and meaty rather than really tight and clean, or insane and booming. I like my vocals to have presence, and I like to hear the details in the instruments.
That being said, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THESE SUCKERS. I can see why lots of people say they are like the AT-M50 have been transformed into in ear monitors. I haven't listened to the AT-M50s, but my knee jerk response is to compare them to my 280HD pros rather than any of my in ear stuff. That or decent to good sound reinforcement setups at a ~1000 seat venue. I'm not saying that's what it is, but it's the closest point of reference to me without referring to a string of worn out closed back circumnaural headphones I have owned that are unlikley to mean anything to anyone and you couldn't try at a store even if it specialized in headphones.
So, my usual checklist for sound:
1) does it sound good without EQ? Yes, they do. They sound much better with EQ, but they sound decent without and seem to do so for a range of sources. Most of my referenced stable of headphones have not fared very well hooked up to my current smart phones as a source. Those I use for that NEED EQ. I enjoy these more with appropriate EQ for the subject matter, but I still find them enjoyable without, even on my smartphones. They are nifty enough they have me seriously thinking about headphone amps/external DACs/high quality DAPs to see just how good they can get. Regardless, they don't seem notchy or significantly weak in the middle of their range, which is what really kills me. I'm much more tolerant of something missing at the ends of the spectrum than I am of gaps or just being nearly able to hear the details I want ot hear while hearing stuff around it loud and clear. For my in-ears, I liked my atomic bass in ears the best for no EQ, but they did have some weird notches/really weak spots in the spectrum to my ears. The IM50s aren't flat, but everything seems to be there without trampling its neighbors.
2) How's the sound stage? Damn good for an in-ear, and reasonably good for headphones in general. People can say whatever they want, but even including stuff I have tried out no headphone is a substitute for actual physical space. To me a good sound stage requires delivering a sense of space and distance between the instruments, between the "band" and the listener, and between the "band" and the "venue". To me every headphone fails on the sense of distance between the "band" and the listener. In ears usually make it sound like everything is happening inside your skull. The better ones make it slightly beyond. These actually hold up well to closed back around the ear style cans in that regard and sound like everything is happening inside a motorcycle helmet or thereabouts. These beat my 280HD Pros on one factor there though, and that is that they give a slightly better sense of space regarding the "band" and the "venue". The 280s have solid bass, but it does sound like it's solid bass listened to in a small room regardless of the source material and how they present the rest of the spectrum. The IM50s don't do that to the bass and appeal to me much more for that. It's definitely out classed by open back over ear designs I have tried that include the grado sr80 and some mid line open back AKG cans I have borrowed.
3) How are vocals? Very good. I'll echo things I have read in other reviews and say that just how good they get depends on how the source material was recorded and mixed. The more isolated and detailed the recording was, the more detail you get back out of it form these things. But in general, vocals have a decent presence and can be really brought up front with EQ if that's what you like/want.
4)How's the bass? Nice, real nice. If you are the kind of bass head who wants to feel it in their chest, sorry, headphones won't do that. If you are hoping it will at least make your sinuses resonate or something. Nope you are out of luck there too. If you are the kind of basshead who equates boomy with good bass, you'll be disappointed there as well. It's just solid meaty bass, just like I like it. It moves beyond just a sound to having a near physical presence. I have some industrial music where the recording has bass tones in it that at a live show you will literally reach out and touch you. They physically effect you. They don't with any phones, but with the IM50s, they certainly get your attention and make the back of my neck tingle maybe your sinuses as well. Those kind of things are where I think these actually outperform my 280HDs. The bass doesn't feel trapped in a small space, it may not best them on raw power, but if you asked me which were more realistic, I'd probably say the IM50s on the majority of my collection. For my in-ears, the atomic bass with a nice tight fit of the tips IN the canal used to own the top spot for bass. These not only beat them, they embarrass them.
5)How's the microphonics? really very good. One installed in my ears and adjusted I can engage in basic activity without noticing any. They walk all over my other phones, ESPECIALLY the HD280s and their squeaky plastic and coiled cord.
6) Did someone steal the tweeters? Maybe. I really don't own anything that I know shines in the highs in a specific way. it certainly isn't as alive in the highs as the klipsh S-4s. Is it selling stuff short? I can't tell yet. I'm not sure if it's missing some of the extension in the high end or if it's just bringing out a lot more to pay attention to.
7) So how is it all around? I like them. To me the benchmark of good phones are if you enjoy your music more on them. With a bit of EQ tweaking, I'm finding a lot of songs a lot more fun to listen to. Some standouts.. Pretty much everything Kodo drummers. AC/DC's back in blakc is always fun, but with these suckers I'm shocked at the details in the remastered version I have. Johnny Cash American IV: The Man Comes Around basically sounds like you live inside his guitar and he is singing in your ear, and it's a pretty awesome guitar. Louis Armstrong's What a wonderful world gives you a sense of just how much air a big band is moving up close, even on recording equipment form way back then. Listening to live recordings, big venues sound big and small sound small.
Some things it doesn't make awesome, but it changes their personality. Morphine for example. These suckers REALLY bring the baritone sax out front to the point of somewhere between overpowering and fatiguing. Anything that's carried by vocals and acoustic guitar is mostly really nice, unless they went from a piezo pickup without stopping at a miced amp first. I generally don't like that, but these enhance what I don't like about it.
Some things is sucks at. It's pretty weak when it comes to a bunch of heavy metal recordings. It doesn't necessarily deal well with that much stuff going on in the mids with any compression thrown on top. Pantera's Cowboys from hell just sounds like dookie no matter how much I play with the EQ. Poor recordings can become unlistenable. I have a bunch of old bootleg CDs where these take it form poor single source live recordings to a mess of noise where you have to work to pay attention to the music.
Ive only had these for about two weeks now and only used them for around 15-20 hours so my review might not be the best for build quality but i'll update this review if anything happens and ill leave my first impressions.
Upon opening the box i felt something was a little sketchy. The box had no stickers for sealing and the flaps already had creases in them as if it had already been opened (could have been from roughage through shipping). I was even more sure that the ones i had were fake because when i listened to them for the first time I used the medium sized rubber ear tipped that were already on the earphones and they sounded very bad. It was super tinny and was lacking in every possible way (coming from cheap apple and sony earphones). I was almost 90% sure i had fake headphones but just to validate that they were fake, i decided to try on the small ear tips. This single-handedly changed my opinion. The earphones fit correctly on my ears, the noise isolation actually worked really really well (although for iems they go pretty deep), and the sound signature was accurate to the description. It lacked a little bit of bass but the mids really brought out the vocals and the highs werent as bad as people said they were. I would say the product is great for my style of pop and r&b music but bad for bassy rock and hip hop. If the build quality is as good as it looks to be (the cable is quality for sure) then these were a great buy that will last years. Ive also used them for running and they sound great on that as well!
Sound is mediocre tbh, not very comfortable either.
I'm sure you could do worse for 50$ but I can't recommend these IEMs at all.
I am now using these everyday I have 6 others to chose from if I`m just sitting around I use these because of fit. The nozzle on these is just too big for my ears. I am using the comply T-500 tip that comes with these. It really doesn`t matter which tip I use I really am not happy with any, I need to put on some Sony Hybrids and try them.
Under $ 100 these are quite nice, I would like to see what Audio Technica balanced armature has to offer, but need another $200 to find out.
Most recent customer reviews
once I figured the placement and how to keep them in place, they sound great.
Take it from a 20+ years of experience as Soundman.