Customer Reviews: Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Professional Studio Monitor Headphones (OLD MODEL)
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on September 12, 2011
This is a video review from the MKBHD YouTube Channel: [...]

This is my new all-time favorite pair of headphones. I've gone through my Beats by Dre phase. I've gone through my in-ear buds phase [high school]. I've been sent numerous pairs of headphones to review for my YouTube channel. Only 1 has received a 10/10 with an outstanding price/performance ratio. And that's the M50s.

Enjoy the video!

PS - You should totally subscribe to the MKBHD YouTube channel =]
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on April 21, 2013
Let me start by saying I've owned the Black ATHM50 (coiled) and the ATHM50W (White), and, being a soldier, they've been through rough times, but they've EACH lasted 2-3 years each. And when I saw that there would be a Red/Black Limited Edition one (2 of my favorite colors) I couldn't RESIST!!!

The ATHM50 series of headphones have a history of being "The best monitor headphones ever", and after owning two (Three now), I've come to first hand experience the unbelievable sound that only Audio-Technica is capable of. Now, I've had a GOOD few pair of headphones (ranging from $20-$150) from the past 7 years I've been interested in music, sound design, and finally sound engineering, so I've had a good run with plenty of different brands of headphones before buying the ATHM50's. From the day they arrived, to the day that they died, I've fallen in love with these Headphones.

I initially bought them because I wanted to be able to hear EVERY SINGLE THING in a song, and these babies do just that. The tiniest sounds in music can be heard with these headphones, and you'll be simply ASTONISHED at what you miss with other headphones. I'll breakdown the important aspects of these headphones below.

- Highs: Crispier than Krispy Kreme Donughts. Wow, that was a bad reference... But in any case, the Highs are crisp, clear, and laser precise. Nothing escapes these headphones.

- Mids: Vocals are ESPECIALLY good with these headphones. Mids are very warm an feel nice against the other amazing sounds being resonated from the ATHM50's

- Lows: As a producer and sound designer... These things are AMAZING FOR BASS. They aren't amplified at all, which is a GOOD thing, because as a music writer, I cannot STAND IT when I make the bass on a song lower because the headphones built in subwoofer was just too dang loud... These headphones make it so that the bass that is produced is the bass that was intended to be heard, not amplified a gazillion times...

- Build Quality: The headphones, physically, feel VERY sturdy and, well, ARE very sturdy. The headband can be a bit tight, but with a bit of stretching and breaking in, it fits snug against your head and ears. The Ear Cups that cushion against your head are VERY, VERY comfortable and feel like 2 big marshmallows. They're very nice! The coiled cable saves a LOT of room, so for those who like coiled cords, you're going to LOVE these. They have a straight cable version too, just not sure if the Limited Edition Red one comes in a straight cable.

- Design: As you know, originally, the ATHM50's ONLY came in Black and White, with the Special Edition Anniversary Silver one a year or so after. The FIRST thing you'll see about these headphones is the BEAUTIFUL Red and Black finish. The color itself is SO EYE POPPING it's RIDICULOUS. Now we can all have a but of style to accompany these AMAZING headphones! Just as aesthetically pleasing as they are functionally pleasing.

GRANTED, although these are INTENDED for professional Mixing and Sound Engineering, these work AMAZINGLY on ANY audio device. Ipod, Consoles, PC, you name it, it all sounds INCREDIBLE. I find myself using it for movie viewing too, and lemme just tell you, that is one HECK of a ride! :D

These are Limited Edition, so they could go pretty fast, so I would pick one up PRONTO!!!

In comparison to headphones like Bose and Beats by Dre, these blow EVERYTHING out of the water. Beats? Not for me, too muddy of bass and they are just too darn expensive, not to mention they require 3 AAA batteries. Bose? They're good for LISTENING, not for professionally making/mixing/mastering music.

All in all, for $150-$160, The Audio-Technica M50RD's LOOK amazing and SOUND amazing, and aren't those two things the most important aspects of buying headphones?

Look no further, you will NOT find greater headphones under $200. GURANTEED. Audio-Technica is THE best headphones company. PERIOD
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on March 31, 2012
I'm not a professional- I'm just a person who really loves her music, and I don't know much of anything the specs on this pair of headphones. What I can offer is what I did and how these headphones sound from an average person's point of view.

First off, I got this pair of headphones about a year ago, and I got them for about $130, tax included. When I got them, they sounded pretty good; just about as good as my pair of skullcany ink'd earbuds (those earbuds are pretty awesome even though they do break after about three months). Before purchasing the headphones, I read a couple reviews about how this pair of headphones need to be "burnt in". I did some research on google, and found out what "burning in" was (basically you plug in the headphones and play white noise/ pink noise for a certain number of hours). So I burnt in my headphones for about 60 ish hours (I wasn't really counting- I was just playing the noise while I labored over homework). To my surprise, they sounded better after that. The m50 headphones actually gets better as it ages (the voices get crisper, the sounds sound more natural).

Honestly, I love this pair of headphones (they sound way better than my (5th) pair of skullcandies now) for several reasons:
- I don't feel them after a while. It feels like I'm just plainly not wearing them
- The material's comfortable (I have really flat straight hair and an average head) and isn't too big or small.
- The sound quality is amazing. I'm not kidding when I say that the voices are so much crisper. The sound quality is really balanced too. The skullcandies tend to put more emphasis on the well, heavier side of music (beats, etc). A classical piece sounds as good as say a deadmau5 song though the m50's (which is pretty darn good).
- The headphone jack is really well built. It's not going to fall apart like my skullcandies anytime soon.

A couple things that might be helpful to know:
- The cord's insanely long. I had to get a ribbon to tie up most of it. Otherwise I end up tripping on it or tangling it.
- The sound quality's still really amazing at low volumes. My ears are really sensitive (more than an hour or two with the skullcandies at the lowest volume on my I-pod will make my ears feel awful), and the m50's don't hurt my ears. I listen to the m50's for 4-5 hours a day, and my ears are fine (the volume is usually on 2-4 on my laptop, which is a Dell Studio).
- I wear glasses, and after a while, the glasses frame will leave an indent on the sides of the headphone cushions. I wouldn't advise wearing flimsy plastic frameless glasses with this pair of headphones.
- The headphones block sound pretty well. When I put them on, I definitely can't hear my mom talking (sorry, Mom). I can hear her voice if she shouts, but I can't make out the words. I travel with my family a lot, and the headphones did a good job blocking out the airplane noise.
- These fold in pretty well. It took me a while to figure out how they fold in since they can flip, turn, and twist in every which way.
- What I actually listen to: J-pop, J-rock, rock, pop, classical, techno, a bit of country, well, a bit of everything.

The only thing I'm worried out for this pair of headphones is where the cord connects to the left "ear cup". It's not as strong as the headphone jack. I guess it's not supposed to be?

I don't have any other pair of headphones, so I don't really have anything to compare the m50's to, but if the price ever falls below 130, I'd get a second pair (my current pair never leaves home). Some of the old reviews say that these headphones used to be below 100, but I doubt that the price would ever fall that low again. I should probably stop procrastinating and get back to my homework now.
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on February 19, 2010
I own a pair of Grado SR80 for years using a Grado headphone amplifier in my office. The Grado serves me well except it is not the most comfortable pair of headphones. The other problem is the open design which leaks out sound which may disturb my officemates.

I have been searching for a replacement on and off for a while. Finally, I read enough reviews and jumped on eBay and scored a pair of Audio Technica ATH-M50 for under $100 shipped.

Without burn-in, I would say these compare really well (at par) with Grado SR80. Although I think the sound stage presented by SR80 is wider may be due to the open design. M50 with the closed back design seems a tad closed in. But, nevertheless, the sound right out of the box is really good.

I can say a good pair of headphones can certainly beat loudspeakers that cost 10x even 20x. My Dunlavy SCII with Velodyne DD15 will shy away in comparison with M50. Very neutral and detailed sound stage. The fitting is a bit tight. I plan to stretch it out using my desktop PC while doing some burn-in.

Initial comparison with Grado back to back, I noticed the following:
1. At same volume level, M50 plays louder than SR80
2. Sound isolation of M50 is pretty good, plan to use it on airplane
3. The sound stage of SR80 is wider
4. M50 has better bass than SR80
5. Highs and mids are very close with slight preference for M50
6. Fit and comfort of M50 is better but I hope it will loosen up a bit after use
7. Build quality is much better for M50 - obviously SR80 foam cushion is deteriorating after a few years of use

I'll update this review when the burn-in is complete.

Update after 100-hour burn-in

Sound updates:
I compared to my office-mate who owns a pair of Sennheiser HD 280 Pro. Right off the bet, we both noticed how much more open the ATH-M50 sounded. This is before the burn-in.
I am even more impressed after the burn-in. The close-in that I commented before comparing to my Grado SR80 is now gone. The bass also improves quite a bit.
Off course, my home system with Velodyne DD15 packed a better punch but this is not a fair comparison.

Stretching for 100 hours also loosened up the fit so it is very comfortable. My only gripe is the top of the headband still has a pressure point. I might just bend to provide a better fit.

All in all, if you are shopping for a sub $100 headphone, you cannot go wrong with this one. Highly recommended!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon October 23, 2011
I've had these headphones for about a week and a half now, and I love 'em. They are not ideal for all listening situations, however. I typically use the M50s with a FiiO E11 Portable Headphone Amplifier connected to my iPad via a FiiO L3 Line Out Dock (LOD) Cable, or connected to my laptop via the cable the E11 comes with (which plugs into the headphones/audio out jacks on computers, MP3 players, iPads and iPhones, etc). This gives me great sound when I listen to various alternative and rock stations through the TuneIn Radio app for iPad or to lossless music on my laptop. But when I watch a movie on my iPad or laptop, I prefer to listen through my Sennheiser HD555 Professional Headphones, because they have a better soundscape than the M50s. Open back headphones, such as the 555s, typically have more spacious soundscapes than closed back headphones such as the M50s. ("Soundscape" refers to perception of distance from the source. If an automobile is approaching from the rear left in a movie scene, with the 555s I can easily discern its location and can hear/"feel" its approach, whereas I do not get such a sense of depth or soundscape with the M50s. But when listening to rock with the 555s, I do not get the sense of immediacy and presence - nor anywhere near as much bass - as I do with the M50s, which is why I'm glad I own both headphones.)

I wanted the straight cable version of the M50s because of previous experience with coiled headphones cables becoming stretched out and unsightly over time. The straight cable is 11 feet long, which means that it needs to be folded up and rubber-banded or twist-tied when the M50s are used with a portable music player by someone who is out and about or moving around a lot.

I like that the M50 ear pads can be replaced for around $20 a pair (at present, and apparently not through Amazon). I own a pair of Sennheiser HD580s that are now over a decade old, and the ear pads are pretty much worn out, making wearing the 580s very uncomfortable as well as no doubt negatively affecting their audio quality. Replacement ear pads for the 580s cost around $50! (Replacement ear pads for AKG's Quincey Jones Q701 headphones retail for about $35 EACH or $70 a pair!) The M50 headphones are circumaural, meaning that their ear pads cover the ears (as opposed to sitting on the ears like supra-aural headphones), and cover my ears just fine (I'd say that my ears are somewhere between medium and large in size).

And I like that the M50s can be folded up and stored and carried in the soft pleather protective pouch they come with. When folded up the M50s and folded up cable could fit, tightly, in a box that is approximately 5" x 7" x 4".

My hat size is about 7 5/8 (about 23 7/8 inches), and while the M50s fit me fine and are reasonably comfortable, after an hour or so they begin to feel a tad uncomfortable, meaning that I start to get that "clamping" sensation that headphone wearers talk about. At this point I begin adjusting the headphones a bit. Some folks deal with this kind of problem by putting their headphones over, say, a head-sized speaker cabinet to stretch them out, but I'm reluctant to do that because I take it for granted that my head will cause the M50s to stretch over time, and I wouldn't want to risk pushing them in the direction of becoming not tight enough. And as many reviewers of the M50s note, they get hot after a while (very quickly when I wear them while working out on an exercycle or elliptical, otherwise after about an hour). When wearing them during exercise I need to have a towel, rag, or cloth handy in case I need to wipe sweat off the pads. I'm bald but find the headband reasonably comfortable.

I like the M50s for listening to some classical music, whereas there is some classical music that I prefer to listen with the aforementioned Sennheiser HD555s (e.g., opera, which I find benefits from headphones with more spacious soundscapes).

If you are in the market for headphones and are considering the M50s, I recommend that you check out Tyll Herstens' positive (he recommends them) YouTube review of the M50s (which is available both on YouTube and at Mr. Herstens' excellent site, Inner Fidelity; there is also a written review at Inner Fidelity). Mr. Herstens has done some serious technical research on the question of headphone burn-in, and you can find his articles on that at Inner Fidelity (once at the site, search for "burn-in" or "break-in"). If you are interested in reviewing technical data and graphs for headphones, including the M50s, check out the "Build A Headphone Graph" section in the "Learning Center" of the HeadRoom site. There you can create and compare graphs for up to four different headphones at a time.

Finally, the M50s are marketed as offering "maximum isolation," so how good are they at noise isolation? I wouldn't wear them for noise-cancelling purposes (we don't want to confuse noise-isolating headphones with noise-cancelling headphones; see the Wikipedia entry for noise-cancelling headphones for more information), such as when I ride my lawn tractor. They are too nice for such use, but if I didn't care about that I would still prefer my AblePlanet active noise-cancelling headphones for such use, because they work really well at blocking out loud noise like the sound of a lawn tractor. The M50s are more than adequate for noise-isolation when I use an exercycle or elliptical, and probably do offer the maximum amount of noise-isolation that closed-back headphones which are not active noise-cancelling headphones can offer.
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on June 2, 2008
My low-end studio equipment reflects my limited recording budget, but I spend plenty of time researching and auditioning every purchase I make. I want good sound. Maybe half of my gear orders go back, but not these headphones. The ATH-M50s are easily the best closed cans I've ever used.

My trusty Senn 280s have served me well for several years, and I prefer them to the Sony 7506s and ATH-M40s that I've also auditioned in my studio. After reading a series of rave reviews (in Tape Op, Recording, etc.), I initially ordered the M50s just for comparison's sake.

I was fairly sure I'd send them back after a listen. I never did. Simply put, the M50s are the first closed cans that I feel I can trust for rough (only rough) mixing, and surprisingly, the first closed cans that make me want to listen just for enjoyment. They clearly live up the street from my old Senns, which I now use solely for tracking.

* detailed yet coherent sound that mirrors higher-end monitor speakers
* particularly impressive bass response (deep, tight) and soundstage (great imaging)
* very comfy fit, with special fake leather that seems durable and somewhat breathable

* rather short coiled cord, requiring an extension for some applications
* slightly looser fit than the Senn 280s (good or bad, depending on head size)

Speakers of any type are hard to recommend since tastes, physiology, and other equipment vary so much, but you may want to audition these if you need a pair for higher-end listening tasks. They work beautifully for me, and the price seems very reasonable for this level of quality. Couldn't be more satisfied.
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on November 6, 2008
I must admit that I am am one of those audiophiles who has been passionately reviewing headphones, cables, amps etc. to get me as close as possible to the music event recorded on the CD. I have three other headphones with exotic headphone cables - the cables alone cost more than the MSRP of ATH-M50 (just wanted to give a point of reference regarding their good value).

I definitely prefer Open vs closed headphone for the illusion that they are able to create.

But there are times when I want to isloate the external sounds or do not want to disturb others - that is where this closed headphone shines.

So what is so special about these phones and how do they compare with the more expensive audiophile phones.

- ATH-M50s are extremely balanced: the top, mids and the bottom is produced in an extremely balanced way.
- They are easy to listen to for a long period of time.
- They are comfortable.
- They are accurate and
- they are easy on the pocket.

Compared to other audiophile headphones (Senn 600/650 and AKG701)
- They are not as open sounding (these are closed headphones afterall)
- They are not as transparent, they are slightly grainy
- They are better than some more expensive audiophile phones

Also they come with 1/8" and 1/4" inch headphone jack/adaptor - so you can enjoy them straight out of the ipod or connect them to your audiophile headphone amp or your professional gear.

They are perfect for what it does!
Highly recommended - even to hard core audiophiles.
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on March 11, 2011
My review is aimed for those that have no prior experience with headphones, are inexperienced in the world of audio electronics or those without trained ears who would like to use these phones for music listening. Just the average consumer.

I want to start off by telling you who I am: I am a 20 year old college student who knows jack-squat about audio. I was looking for the best bang for the buck.
Mids? Highs? Lows? Uh... what? :P I am inexperienced, but I love to listen to music every day. In fact, I can't go a day without my iPod or music from my laptop. I am using these headphones only for music and media from my iPod or laptop.
I have previously owned only earphones (all under $20) and 1 set of actual headphones. I have never been able to get my hands on higher end models from Sony, Audio-technica, Grado, Sennheiser, etc. Therefore, I can only speak from what I have experienced hands on.

That being said, let's get started!

The story:
My headphone hunt started when my first pair of headphones - my Philips SHN9500 - stopped working in one ear cup after 2 years of use. At the time, they were a great bargain ($50 from an auction site, but now for some strange reason, they're $200 on Amazon), so I wasn't too upset about them and decided to move on to something a little more expensive.

Being a college student with no knowledge in audio electronics, I succumbed, or rather, was "brain washed", into seeing only what was commercially presented: Bose and Beats by Dr. Dre (on a lesser level, Skullcandy).

My past experience with Skullcandy earphones was not pleasant. My $17 earphones broke after 3 months of daily usage. From then on, I purchased only $10 earphones and Apple earphones and lived with them. This being the case, when I tried on the Bose AE headphones, I thought they were the best things to happen to my ears. I was previously debating between the Bose AE2 ($150), the Solos by Dr. Dre ($180), and the Studios by Dr. Dre ($300). I tried all three at a store and thought they were amazing. The Beats had the bass the Bose lacked but were too expensive, so I settled for the AE2's.

After purchasing the AE2's and feeling completely jipped on the poor bass, I decided to do more headphone research. That lead me here. I decided to give these a try since they were $30 cheaper than the Bose. I ordered them (the M50S - straight cabled, but was sent the coiled cable, which I realize is more convenient), burned them in for about 40hrs, then compared them to the Bose AE2.

The headphones:
The Bose was returned to the store a week later.

These things are GREAT. The bass that I was missing from the Bose was prominent in these. You can hear it, and sometimes your ears can feel it, but these will most likely not satisfy the extreme bass heads. But the bass is there, it is present. Others were correct in characterizing the bass as "punchy". I can tell if the bass is muddy (bass in Beats, to me, are considered overpowering and muddy), and these headphones do not have that muddiness.
This whole thing with mid's and high's... I can't really distinguish the two, but I did read from an audiophile that these are lacking in the mid's, whatever that means. All I can say is that if there are lyrics to the music, you will notice they are clear. The instruments in the background are also clear and it's easier to pick them up (one thing I'd like to add to this is that these headphones present very clear cut sounds. I never realized how detailed the background was to my music. With these, I can actually pick out and follow a set of instruments (like the piano or strings) with ease. With my Apple earphones, sure, I can hear the background if I focus and try to find it, but trying to find a specific sound is a lot more difficult). If you are like me, you will definitely find no problem with the clarity of the speaking/singing. If your ears are used to the typical earbuds (from Apple or otherwise), these things will blow those out of the water.

These things aren't considered to be "noise canceling", but if you turn the volume up just enough, you won't hear a thing outside of them. My roommate had to tap my shoulder to get my attention and she was only 4 ft away from me. (Of course, if you're on a plane or riding in a car, it would be impossible to get rid of the background noises without active noise cancellation).

There are three cons to these phones, however. 1: comfort. Others have complained that the top headband causes pressure after a few hours of wear. I can see where they're coming from... and straight out of the box, I regretted getting these because they were so darn uncomfortable. But I used the tissue box method during the burn in period to loosen them up. Now, after 1.5 weeks of owning them, the headphones have loosened up and are more comfortable. The pleather is OK... and the padding isn't as nice as the Bose AE2 (the only thing I miss about the Bose AE2: they were amazingly comfortable) but I can wear them for several hours with no problem (other than sweaty ears).
2: Portability. These things are HUGE. I wasn't expecting them to be this large. The case Audio-technica provides is a soft pleather bag case. Being a student, I'm going to be stuffing these in my backpack often so I wanted a hard case. I have my hard case from my Philips and was able to fit the Bose AE2's in them but was unable to fit these behemoths. The M50's ear cups do fold inward towards the headband, so it's a bit compact, but is by no means considered "portable". (I recommend getting the coiled cable. As others have said, the straight cable is VERY long, decreasing the portability). They are also considerably heavier than the Bose.
3: Sound leakage. This can be a problem for me if I want to study in a library. The sound leakage isn't that bad... but if you turn the volume past the 40%-50% mark, others will hear it. However, the Bose and Beats also have major sound leakage that was worse than the M50's.

But the price for the value? Apparently these can be compared to $300 headphones in sound quality. I can't comment on that, but I will say that these are a ton better than the Bose AE2. The sound quality is a lot more crisp and clear. Bass is better, no question. You don't realize how crappy the Bose sound until you get your hands on these. Depending on where you purchase your headphones, you can save $30.
As for the Beats by Dr. Dre, you don't realize just how crappy *those* sound until you get your hands on these. Before trying these, I thought the Beats were awesome. After trying these, I tried the Beats at their demo stand and realized how muddy the spoken/sung words were. The bass was overpowering and the overall sound quality from both the solo's and studio's just didn't compare. You can save a potential $60 (solo's) or a whopping $180 (studio's).

You can't go wrong with investing ~$120 for these headphones. They are definitely worth the money, especially in comparison to the Bose and Beats line. Don't fall into the trap of their advertisements or endorsements. You'll only be wasting your money for a name, not for quality. (It's no wonder Beats and Bose are considered to be jokes in the audiophile community: they're way overpriced).
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on September 21, 2011
These are the best sounding headphones I've had, even right out of the box, and the bass showed noticeable improvement after only a few hours of use.

They're light, comfortable, and have amazing clarity even with their bass response. No muddy bass at all, it sounds crisp and heavy even at lower volume. They're a noticeable improvement over the other sets I have, a Grado SR80i and Sennheiser HD280 Pro's; the construction seems better than the 280's, too, with solid mountings and rotation on the cups and a reinforced cable at the jack. The cable is long enough to reach across my living room to my receiver with extra slack to spare, and with this straight cable version I don't get the tangles I have with my 280's.

All around great headphones, and I'm really happy with them. Awesome music headphones, but the clarity makes them great with dialog in movies and the bass in games is powerful without being overbearing.
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on February 9, 2011
I'll first start by saying I've owned these headphones for a year and a half now, so I can give a fair assessment of long term quality as well as the broken-in sound of these headphones. These headphones do well with all sorts of compression rates of music (128 kbps MP3 all the way up to FLAC lossless). I've heard some other "monitor" headphones can make highly compressed music sound terrible due to excessive revealing, but these headphones are the "little black dress" and soft-toned lighting to make everything sound great.
Audio Quality:

As far as I care, these headphones are as close to perfection as possible. Originally I was planning on buying these and eventually buying $300 headphones, but I honestly seen no point except to maybe get a bit better earcups. On the whole the soundstage and clarity and accuracy of musical reproduction from these headphones couldn't be better. I've been able to close my eyes and "follow" the music through it's progression in a three dimensional way that I've never experienced before. You'll hear drums off to the side with vocals 45 degrees in front of that. Instrumentals are layered so beautifully that you'll get shivers being able to pick them all out. Amazing.

*Note - These headphones do require a period of burn-in before they will sound great. When I tried these headphones for the first time the bass was very weak and everything sounded off. I was expecting this, so I left them to play various "burn-in" material such as pink noise, white noise, blue noise, drums, and music for a few hours until everything got settled in.

-Bass is extremely well represented and tight to the point it sounds like miniature sub-woofers have been fitted in these 'phones. On the same subject, these headphones don't fake the bass like Sony headphones do to make everything sound arbitrarily boomy. These headphones have such excellent reverberation that the bass needs no extra enhancements. However, this means the headphones have to make a good seal around your ears or the bass dies quickly.

-Mids are ever so slightly recessed from the Lows and Highs. Since I largely listen to electronic music where vocals are secondary, this isn't a problem. However if you're a Grado type person who prefers the voices to be front, center, and in your face, you won't get that here. However, these headphones still will make it sound like Celine Dion is giving you a private concert regardless of the recess.

-Highs are tricky to identify quality. To me, I hear highs as representative of clarity. For hi-hats and the like, I expect them to sound crisp, sharp, but also subtle and accurate. These headphones deliver.

-I've also used these headphones extensively for gaming, and their soundstage and clarity make a significant difference. I've been able to score kills that have made my victim think I was cheating, just because I could so accurately hear footsteps and other minute noises.

-These headphones can get to ear-splitting volume levels. No amp required for ipods or laptops.
Earcups / Isolation:

-The earcups for these headphones do generate a very good seal around my average sized ears. I've worn these so much that the earcups actually have indentations for the top of my ear, side of head, and earlobe. These indentations make me love these headphones even more since they're "custom fit".

-In terms of noise reduction, these cut out about 10dB worth of noise at mid-high frequencies (technical data, and I agree from experience). You can have a conversation with someone while wearing these, but once you start playing music through them you will find yourself shouting and unable to understand a conversation.

-After a year and a half, the earcups are fairly dried out and only starting to get the most minor of cracks. The earcups cost about $20 to replace, so I'm not too worried with the durability since I'll probably get another year out of them.

-The earcups can get a bit warm on a hot-humid summer day, but it's never to the point of being uncomfortable.
Other build quality:

-No problems with any of the joints, no squeaks, no cracks, no nothing. Everything slides and collapses like new, although I don't regularly fold them up.

-The cord is invincible. I've rolled over it with my chair dozens of times thinking "one day it's going to fail", but it hasn't missed a beat (no pun). Watch out though for the spring wrapped around the cord at the plug end: one time I pulled on the spring instead of the cord to remove it from an audio source and the spring completely popped out of the plug. I had to send the headphones in to Audio-Technica to have the entire cord replaced (which they did under warranty for free and dealing with them was great!).
Minor Quibbles:

-The cord is a bit long and not detachable. Makes portability a pain with 9 feet of cord coiled in your pocket. Also has a tendency to twist-tangle itself which requires unplugging and straightening every week or so.
-Wearing these around my neck isn't as comfortable as it could be. The joints seem a bit wide and at a slightly odd angle, so something just feels a bit wrong.
-Might slip off your head if you try using one earcup instead of 2. Because the earcups are so large (to go over your entire ear), if you try to rest one of the earcups behind your ear, it might not work so well.

Don't waste your money on $50 "good enough" or $300 "overpriced" headphones. These are all you need and you will not regret purchasing them. For all the purchases I've made, these headphones are in the top 5 for least regrets. However, shop around because authorized dealers can vary widely on the price. You should have no problem finding these in the 95-100 range, and if you beg like I did, you can get them for a little bit lower.
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