Closed Cans Shootout: M-50, ESW-9, T50P, HD25-1, Beats Studio, SRH-840, SRH-750DJ, K181DJ, and DJ1Pro.

Monster Beats Studio

I know that the Beats Studio headphone hasn’t been getting a good rep within the serious headphone enthusiasts community. Primarily, I think that we, unlike the average joe, has negative reservations against the Monster and Dr. Dre branding. When I reviewed the Beats Studio last year, my impression was quite positive. It wasn’t a bass monster as we sometimes accused it to be. It had a warm, smooth, and relaxed sound with plenty of bass and good detail. If those description was applied to a typical “enthusiast” headphone brand like “Audio Technica” or “Beyerdynamic”, then we probably would rush out to get this warm and smooth sounding headphone with good detail and bass body. The comfort factor is very high too, and actually much better than many of the serious “enthusiast” headphones.

Anyway, the fact that it had good potential intrigued me to throw it in this comparison. Let’s see how the Beats Studio actually does in a group of “audiophile” headphones.

The Beats Studio headphone has a permanent noise cancelling feature that requires you to turn on a knob on the headphone before any sound will come out of the drivers. This means that there is no way to listen to the headphone without turning on the active noise cancelling. For the general consumer walking to Best Buy or the Apple Store, that may sound like a big convenient feature. But for people like us, the first thing that comes to mind is signal degradation. Not to mention that the Beats Studio headphone requires battery power to listen to at all times. A nice feature for some, a big hassle for others.

The fit and the ergonomics of the Beats Studio headphone is excellent. I like how they were able to design a cup that is small enough to be used portably, yet the pads still remain big enough to totally cover my ears circumaurally. The build quality and finish is also first class, and even better than the Audio Technica ESW-9 with the wood housing and beating all the other DJ headphones in terms of build quality. It may not be as tough to abuse as the HD25-1, but so is the ESW-9 and the Beyer T50p. And there is no denying that the Beats Studio looks very cool when you wear it on the road.

The Beats Studio is the shiny black with the circular "b" emblem, second from the left.

When I compared the sound of the Beats Studio to the other headphones in this comparison, I actually don’t notice the supposed “degradation” caused by the active noise cancelling, even using a high end source and amp like the Grace m902. After all, these headphones are still quite far from “Reference Class”, and in this price bracket, sound signatures, tonal balance and other factors like price and comfort matters more than ultimate signal purity.

The sound signature of the Beats Studio is warm and relaxed, and it reminds me a lot of the Sennheiser house sound that’s present in Sennheiser’s audiophile headphones. It’s a sound signature that’s easy to like, and that blend well with the majority of RnB, Smooth Jazz, and Pop music.

Quite often, the problem with “technical” cans or “detailed” cans is that they lack low end body. Not so with the Beats Studio. There is plenty of bass presence here, but not really excessive or deserving the slogan “bass monster”. The bass is the least controlled among all the other headphones in this comparison (with the M-50 being second in line), so I won’t be recommending this for listeners of fast Electronica or Hard Rock, but for Instrumentals, Pop, I don’t think that the bass is a problem. They do make the sound quite pleasing, as long as you’re willing to ignore the slightly boomy-ness.

The treble area is actually quite good. In the midst of the warm presentation, I can hear plenty of treble detail going on. The mid and upper treble is has some artifacts, and it may be caused by the active noise cancelling circuitry, or the slight treble peak on that area, or both. It’s quite noticeable when you’re comparing it side by side with the very smooth ATH M-50, but with no point of comparison, most of us will probably live happily without ever feeling bothered by it. I can’t say much about the midrange, because I feel that it may be the slight boomy-ness in the bass that’s creating an illusion of a full midrange. When I compared it to the ATH M-50, I noticed that the midrange on the Beats is not as full as it is on the M-50.

Overall, the Beats is actually a good sounding headphone with very musical properties. Now, the $349 price tag may be a bit steep, and there is little defense for that. If you don’t mind the bigger size of the ATH M-50, I would recommend it over the Beats Studios for just about any music. And indeed the ATH M-50 represent one of the best deal in headphones today.


Closed Cans Shootout: M-50, ESW-9, T50P, HD25-1, Beats Studio, SRH-840, SRH-750DJ, K181DJ, and DJ1Pro.
4.33 (86.67%) 6 votes

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429 Comments

  • Reply August 4, 2010

    Winsome

    HD25 is my favorite of the bunch. Really want to try M50 but from what I gathered, dimension wise maybe not suitable for portable use?

    • Reply August 4, 2010

      Mike

      Yea, the M-50 is not too practical for portable use.

  • Reply August 4, 2010

    TheMiddleSky

    Nice review Mike 🙂

    For ATH M50 and ESW9, I've ever heard the woody one, but not the M50. I just curious, as what I know, rock song need an energetic feel to bring the music on, but at the same time, sibilant also easy to appear.

    So, from this 2 headphones, which one better to bring the energy while still has the smoothness to avoid sibilant?

    Thx.

    • Reply August 4, 2010

      Mike

      For rock, the M-50 can be sibilant sometimes. The ESW-9 definitely lacks the attack. The HD25-1 is the perfect solution for you, my friend. 🙂

  • Reply August 4, 2010

    MayaTlab

    Thank you for that great review. Out of memory, where would you put the ES10 in that comparison ?

    • Reply August 5, 2010

      Mike

      Hi. I know that the ES10, and likewise the ESW-10 is priced much higher than the headphones on this comparison. However, I don't think that they offer a significant upgrade over any of these headphones. I do remember that the ES10 has a strong and tight bass, but nothing else really comes to mind when it comes to the ES10's sound quality.

  • Reply August 4, 2010

    al3kc

    Why you didn't take Beyerdynamic DT 250? Anyway thanks for great review.

    • Reply August 5, 2010

      Mike

      I didn't have one around at the time of the review, sorry.

  • Reply August 5, 2010

    Marco

    Hello to everybody (first post)…

    I decided to buy the T50p, but I am changing my mind after this comparison. I need a pair of closed portable headphones for classical music, but:

    – T50p are described as not coherent,

    – ESW9 seem to be an extremely colored headphone,

    – HD25 better fit rock music.

    Any suggestions?

    • Reply August 5, 2010

      Mike

      For this price range, I think the HD600 is unbeatable for classical. But it's an open design, not portable, and need an amp to shine. Otherwise, you can get the M-50, I think it's quite a good all rounder and should do classical pretty well. The DJ1Pro also would do pretty well, if you can get used to the S-Logic presentation. Lastly, the AKG K181DJ and the Shure SRH-840 are also good for classicals. The K181DJ has more impact and has more treble presence than the SRH-840, but it's not as comfortable as the SRH-840 for long term listening.

      Of course closed headphones will naturally have some reverb from the housing, and for classical music with open mic-ed recording, a good open
      headphone can't be beat.

      Go with the M-50. It's hard to go wrong with that one. 🙂

      • Reply August 5, 2010

        Marco

        I already have the HD580 for home listening (by the way I am looking for an amp that nicely pairs with them in the price range 200-300$).

        I can't go with the M50, since it is not so portable as I wish.

        I am convincing myself that the ESW9 may be the best choice for a couple of reasons, despite its coloration:

        – after all I already have the HD580 for a detailed and balanced presentation and it would be nice to have a funnier headphone,

        – I had the ES7 (I have passed them to my girlfriend now) and I liked their sound signature; the ESW9 seems to be a smooth upgrade from this perspective.

        • Reply August 5, 2010

          Mike

          Sure Marco, the ESW-9 can do classicals pretty well.

          • Reply August 5, 2010

            Marco

            I know it's a bit off topic but, as I wrote in the previous post, I am looking for a transparent sounding amp for the HD580 in the price range 200-300$…

            • Reply August 6, 2010

              Mike

              If you don't mind tubes, the Hifiman EF5 is quite good for about $300 — I'm working on a review of the amp.

              There is also a Matrix M-Stage which sells for about that price. I just got the amp, but I haven't had the time to use it yet. Perhaps wait another 1-2 weeks for the review of both amps.

  • Reply August 5, 2010

    Rodrigo Pita

    Hi! This is Rodrigo from Brazil! Awesome Review, like always! I have a Sony MDR-SA1000 that I use with a Nuforce uDac, and it is an awesome Open Headphone, because the sound is so clean, real, and the Sony has a nice soundstage… But it feels anemic for Pop, Dance, Hip-Hop and watching action movies… The bass is nice, but not strong enough. So righ now I’m using my Westone 3 for this type of use! So, I want a close headphone that meets my needs! Which of these headphones would you recommend? I always planned to get one of these headphones: Denon AH-D2000, SRH-750DJ , HD25-1 or ESW-9
    Cheers

    • Reply August 5, 2010

      Mike

      Rodrigo, just based on the bass, the AKG K181DJ will give you the strongest bass, especially on the "large" setting. You can read the review again and see if it sounds like something you're looking for.

      • Reply August 13, 2010

        Rodrigo Pita

        Thank You Mike! The AKG will be a nice choice for me!

        • Reply August 13, 2010

          Mike

          You're welcome, Rodrigo. 🙂

    • Reply August 6, 2010

      glac1er

      The D2000 has a lot of bass and offer good technicalities for closed headphones (soundstaging, imaging, frequency extension). It's also full-size with a big sound but I think it will rate quite poorly in balance and refinement, two factors that Mike rated very highly in this review.

  • Reply August 5, 2010

    mythless

    Great review! What music files did you use? Especially for the T50p, which I currently have and are now cooking them.

    • Reply August 5, 2010

      Mike

      Hi, I've always used music from different genres. I don't exactly track which I used for these, but among them are Prodigy: Fat of the Land, Oasis: Time Flies, Cadillac Records Soundtrack, John Mayer Live at Los Angeles, Rage Against the Machine: Evil Empire, Norah Jones Come Away with Me, Belafonte At Carnegie Hall, Buena Vista Social Club.

  • Reply August 5, 2010

    JulioD

    Mike, your reviews + the pictures you post make me come back to your website time and again.

    Kudos!

    • Reply August 5, 2010

      Mike

      Thanks my friend, for the encouraging words. 🙂

  • Reply August 5, 2010

    Anaxilus

    Great review. I wanted to share my experience w/ the M50 as well. I've now tried about 7-8 different headphones in an attempt to best the M50 and everytime I put on the M50 during comparisons it just becomes so obvious why I still have them. Perhaps I need to give them more affection rather than constantly pitting them in pitched battle w/ a rival. Btw, have you tried modding the M50 w/ tape for a more balanced overall sound and tighter bass? It is impressive to my ears. Great review again. The AKG looks interesting, hmmm….

    • Reply August 5, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Anaxilus, the M50 is great isn't it?

      I haven't tried modding the M50 yet. Yes the Bass can use a little mod to make it tighter. Have you tried opening the housing? I am sure that adding some damping mods on the housing would tighten up the bass.

      The AKG K181DJ has really tight and really punchy bass. It's a bit brighter than the M50, but it has the tightest bass in this shootout.

  • Reply August 5, 2010

    Daniel

    Mike, thank you for the review. This website is just too good to be true.

    • Reply August 6, 2010

      Mike

      Thanks Daniel. People like you keep this website going. 🙂

  • Reply August 6, 2010

    Terence

    Hey erm just asking if I like strong bass Headphone and can spare around 200 what would you recommend I go for?

    • Reply August 6, 2010

      Terence

      And what's ur opinion on the a-jay earpieces?

      • Reply August 6, 2010

        Mike

        Haven't started working on that review yet, Terence. 🙂

        • Reply August 6, 2010

          Terence

          Haha okay looking forward to that review!! =D

    • Reply August 6, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Terence, get the AKG K181DJ and set it on "large club" setting

      • Reply August 6, 2010

        Terence

        Hmm sorry I'm kinda new to using headphones so like erm what's a large club setting?

        • Reply August 6, 2010

          Mike

          The large club setting is unique to the K181DJ. It comes with a switch that lets you select between "small club" or "large club". It's a DJ headphone.

      • Reply August 6, 2010

        Terence

        Hmm and if let's say I can spare around 100?

  • Reply August 6, 2010

    Terence

    Haha ok thanks! Just asking in your opinion which headphone in the market u think is the best?

    • Reply August 6, 2010

      Mike

      Asking what is the best headphone in the market is like asking for one woman that everyman can marry and be happy forever ever after. 🙂

      Besides, there is a lot of legendary headphones that I haven't had the chance of hearing, like the K1000 and the Orpheus.

      • Reply August 6, 2010

        Terence

        Hmm what's ur opinion on ath-es70?

        • Reply August 6, 2010

          Terence

          I meant ath-es7

          • Reply August 7, 2010

            Mike

            Sorry, not familiar enough with the ES7 to say anything about it. I know how it looks, but I can't remember if I've ever listened to it.

  • Reply August 6, 2010

    cyberg00se

    Weird, because I get very strong bass out of my t50p, and also the midbass needed in any portable headphone. My observation would be that the mids are a tad recessed. Not so much that it's sound-in-a-can, but it is what it is. Is it because my ears are small and it's dead easy to get a good positioning? Is it because they clamp on my head like a mofo? Is it that I'm just used to crazy stuff Beyer does?

    I don't think these are a marketing headphone, but I do think they could have made these to fit more people very easily. Especially for a headphone that has to sit high and slightly further back than what people may be used to.

    Welp, you didn't like em so it's time to sell! – j/k of course. Kudos on the huge review!

    • Reply August 6, 2010

      Mike

      The T50 has strong bass punch, but not as strong and not as tight as some of the other headphones like the K181DJ. Also the issue is with the lowbass, the T50 doesn’t have a good lowbass, even when I tried pressing the cups against the ears. I don’t think you’re just being used to Beyers, because the T50p sounds nothing like any previous Beyers. Yet the main issue with the T50p is how the treble sounds different from the rest of the frequencies — like two different headphones.

      Anyway, thanks for chiming in with your comments. 🙂

  • Reply August 6, 2010

    jendol

    mike the reason I bought my beats studio is because I do lots of long travel (on the plane), and needed good noise cancelling headphone. I wonder if the other closed hedphones you reviewed here perform well inside flying airplanes?

    • Reply August 6, 2010

      Mike

      I’ve worn the HD25-1 a few times on plane flights and the noise isolation is quite enough. The ATH M-50 and the AKG K181DJ should also have enough isolation for flying airplanes.

  • Reply August 7, 2010

    Matt

    Hey Mike,

    I love seeing posts like this where all of the information is in one place. However, I see the Denon D2000 missing? Any reason why? That is currently what I own and would have liked to see the pros and cons compared to the others.

    • Reply August 7, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Matt, no particular reason for not including the D2000, which is also highly popular. I just didn't have one around to do the review with. Sorry, our resources is kind of limited. There are a few other closed headphones that I'd like to include, but I couldn't get them. 🙁

      • Reply August 8, 2010

        Matt

        Sure no worries. It was a great read. Just didn't know if I was missing something. Thanks again!

        • Reply August 8, 2010

          Matt

          Oh and I figured I should mention that the d2000s are famous for their bass. I've seen a lot of people mentioning that they want bass. This headphone has it. I'm a self proclaimed basshead and I am more than pleased with their performance for all genres.

          • Reply August 9, 2010

            Mike

            Yep, the D2000s are famous for their bass. 🙂

  • Reply August 7, 2010

    David

    Great review Mike. I just bought the M50 a couple days before reading the review, which makes me very happy. Overall I agree with you on mostly everything, the midrange is very smooth and the bass is better than a lot of headphones I used before.

    • Reply August 8, 2010

      Mike

      Good to hear that, David.

      The M-50 is quite a shocker. I honestly didn't expect it to do so well in this comparison. Especially against the SRH-840, which was my favorite for a very long time.

  • Reply August 7, 2010

    KK

    Thinking of purchasing a Shure SRH-840, but your review on ATH M-50 opens a whole can of worms! Mike, how does the ATH M-50 compare to Shure SRH-840 unamped? Is the ATH M-50 as neutral as the Shure? How do you think the ATH M-50 will sound on classical and pop, which are the genres I listen to? According to this headfi thread (http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/505526/ath-m50-vs-shr840) they are fairly split in preference. Could it be a synergy thing (you mentioned the ATH M-50 did you impress you that much before…)?

    • Reply August 7, 2010

      KK

      Here’s another opinion between the two: http://www.proaudioreview.com/article/27920. It seems it depend on how you like your sound signature. 🙂

    • Reply August 8, 2010

      Mike

      Hi KK, you have many questions there. 🙂
      1. I didn't listen to them unamped.
      2. M-50 is one of the best headphones for Pop I've heard. As for classicals, I the technical requirements are quite high, and none of the headphones here can quite master classical. However, the M-50 should do pretty good as well for classical. The bass is a little boomy as I've mentioned, but it's not excessively so.
      3. People do listen differently, but aside from subjective preference, headphone performance can be measured objectively. Things such as frequency extension, bass punch, bass control, soundstage performance, detail, clarity, etc. So, I suggest you read the review and decide the kind of a sound that you want.

      Reading reviews does require you to be familiar with audio terms though. 🙂

    • Reply December 14, 2010

      hanski

      well KK…what i can say to comment is "Tell it to the Marines" of Music such as George Massenburg, Al Schmitt and Ed Cherney. They are well respected entities in music industry who have used ATH-M50. http://www.frontendaudio.com/Audio-Technica-ATH-M

    • Reply December 14, 2010

      hanski

      well KK…what i can say to comment is "Tell it to the Marines" of Music such as George Massenburg, Al Schmitt and Ed Cherney. They are well respected entities in music industry who have used ATH-M50. http://www.frontendaudio.com/Audio-Technica-ATH-M

      • Reply December 14, 2010

        Mike

        Thanks, hanski. 🙂

  • Reply August 8, 2010

    labilabi

    Nice review and comparison. Must be needed a hugh efforts and time to spend.

    Really a helping hand for us, who don't have opportunity to lively test those cans, and helps to get the right one.

    I like bass, maybe tend as a basshead, but my cans are bright (sr60i, ms1i, dt231), imagine that. I've changed my mind several of times in deciding which closed headphone to buy. The first candidate was Ath M50, which has great positive riviews, then came the Shure 75ODJ which i thought fulfill my need of bass. But a friend said it's just a headphone which subwoofer in it, bad for jazz and vocal. Is it true? I confused again.

    And this reviews take me back to the track of buying M50. Later.

    • Reply August 9, 2010

      Mike

      Hi I don't think that the SRH-750DJ is just a headphone with subwoofer in it. It has bass, but the bass is fairy tight and not boomy at all. It doesn't have as much treble presence as the others, and if your friend like treble, that's probably why he said such remarks. It's not the best for Jazz and Vocal though. For Jazz and Vocal, the M-50 again would be better than the SRH-750DJ.

  • Reply August 10, 2010

    Anouk

    Hello Mike and others,

    I did not know about your site but got pointed to it via head-fi when this shootout was posted. I amvery happy i read htis beceuse even though I have iems now I vastly prefer sealed cans for on the move. The sennheiser hd25-1 has always been my reference for portable music listening because it is sturdy compact and isolates like no other can I have ever found. Nextr to that comes the ultrasone pro900 which i saw in your reviewyou also had on loan. I was wondering hwy you did not include it in the review? I am strongly tempted to get the akg k181 dj, i always have a very large bag with me so the size isnt a problem. I did read that it isolates pretty well but its build quality and internal circuitry turn me off a bit. I listen to pop, rock, metal easy listening etc. I was first all set on getting the the t50p and am quite disappointed that it did so poorly in your review. How would you rate it in regards to sturdyness and isolation compared to the k181 and m50? Even though i might not buy it now I will still keep an eye on it because i find the tesla driver quite interesting.

    • Reply August 10, 2010

      Mike

      Hello Anouk,
      Welcome to the site, and enjoy your stay. 🙂

      Okay, Pro900 is obviously very good, and it's like a high end version of the DJ1Pro with better bass. Aside from the S-Logic presentation and sound signature (please read about it in the DJ1Pro section), the Pro900's technicalities belong to a higher class. It's like comparing a HD595 to a HD650.

      As for the K181DJ, yes the circuitry is a bit of a turn off, but these headphones are far from reference level, and the K181DJ still perform very good despite those switches. You'll also see on the review how I compared it to the HD25-1 (also my personal favorite) and find the K181DJ to do some things better than the HD25-1 (frequency extension among other stuff). My only problem with it is the clamping force is a little too strong for long term listening. It has very good noise isolation though, better than the HD25-1 to my ears.

      The T50p is not as sturdy as the K181 and M50, it also doesn't isolate as well. It has the least noise isolation in the group, as the clamping force is very weak, but also very comfortable. Please read the review carefully, as I don't think the T50p's problem is in the driver (the driver is great), but most probably the housing and damping.

      The DT250-250, from my memory, has roughly the technicalities level of the HD25-1 in terms of frequency extension and detail level. It didn't have the forwardness and the fun factor of the HD25-1 though, and this is what makes the HD25-1 so special even in the midst of other cans with superior technicalities.

      Cheers.

  • Reply August 10, 2010

    Anouk

    Hello again,

    One last question I forgot to mention before.

    I see you now also have a review of the beyerdynamic dt250 ( i owned the dt150 in the past and it was a quite smooth sounding can, built like a tank but not as portable or isolating as the hd25). I was wondering how you think the dt250 compares to the akg k181 and the m50?

    Thanks in advance, your review is greatly appreciated,

    Greetings, Anouk,

  • Reply August 10, 2010

    Anouk

    Hi Mike thanks for your extensive and very illuminating reply,

    I did understand the problemwith t50p was not in the driver but in the way they tuned it, but now that I know it does not isolate well and is not that sturdy the rest does not really matter because I need those things in a portable headphone.

    Another question I forgot to ask though is how you think about closed headphones and in-the-box feeling, meaning that, at least to my ears most sealed headphones seem to have a quite narrow soundstage and a bit boomy bass which gets fatiguing after a while (especially if there are harsh highs) the only two exceptions i have found so far are the pro900 and beyerdynamic dt150. To me, closed phones often feel unnatural because the sound really is between your ears instead of extending outwards to the left and right. I do expect (knowing akg) that the 181dj has the best soundstage (width and depth) but was wondering what your thoughts are about this?

    Thanks in advance,

    Greetings, Anouk,

    • Reply August 10, 2010

      Mike

      Yes, I know that in-the-box feeling. There is some sort of a reverb effect happening with a lot of closed headphones. This is unfortunate, because otherwise headphones like the M-50 can compete with many higher priced open cans, if not for that reverb. I don't think it's always correlated with boomy bass tough, as a lot of the headphones here have very tight bass. Some of the headphones like the HD25-1 and the AKG K181DJ is quite free from this reverb, however.

      I learn a lot from the local ortho guys with their dampings. At the moment I'm experimenting with an HD201 Sennheiser that has a terrible reverb due to the housing. Applying some tack-it material on the back of the driver has cut down the reverb tremendously, although not completely gone. So there are damping mods that you can do to reduce this reverb. Likewise I think the T50p can sound very good once you mod the damping.

      • Reply August 11, 2010

        HD 25-1-II Fan

        Hi Mike,

        Based on your previous review I've bought the HD 25-1-II and I'm loving it. Its full of fun and PRAT! But later on I'm thinking of upgrading to Ultrasone's Edition 8. I know it's in a total different league, but please, tell me how you'd compare the two.

        Thanks

        • Reply August 12, 2010

          Mike

          The Edition 8 has a slightly different sound signature of the HD25-1. Although it's quite able to maintain a good PRaT, but it doesn't have the forward midrange that makes the HD25-1 so much fun. Technicalities wise, the Edition 8 is ahead of the HD25-1. If you're into Rock and Pop, the HD25-1 is probably better than the Edition 8. For classical, electronica, instrumentals, the Edition 8 is good. If you're into portable set ups, then the HM-801 will be a better upgrade than the Edition 8. If you're into desktop set ups, then get a good solid state amplifier for the HD25-1, as it responds very well to good amplifiers.

          • Reply August 12, 2010

            HD 25-1-II Fan

            Thanks Mike,

            But still speaking of rock and pop, what is the best headphone that you've heard?

            • Reply August 12, 2010

              Mike

              For Rock, the LCD-2 is the new King. For Rock AND Pop, perhaps the Stax Omega2. 😀

  • Reply August 12, 2010

    Mtn

    I'm torn between SRH840 and M50.

    I listen mainly to rock(Oasis, Bettie Serveert, Arcade Fire, The National etc) and folk(Bob Dylan, Elliott Smith, Norah Jones etc).

    Based on the review i'm pretty sure that for my rock M50 will be better. But i'm not sure about the folk, which is based a lot on vocals and i read(in other reviews) that SRH840 have much better mids(and vocals).

    I don't want HD25. What do you think?

    Thanks.

    • Reply August 12, 2010

      Mike

      I actually think the HD25-1 will be better for what you listen to, but for some reason you don't want it. The M-50's bass is not tight enough for Rock, and the SRH-840 lacks a solid bass punch for Rock as well. The HD25-1 is just perfect for rock and folk.

      Anyway, between the SRH-840 and the M-50, the M-50 has the better mids for vocals, not the other way around. I think I made that specifically clear in the review. The SRH-840 is better for monitoring use when they want a more neutral headphone, but for music listening, it's a little too flat, and there isn't enough midrange body for vocals.

  • Reply August 12, 2010

    Anouk

    Hi Mike,
    An offtopic question but since you have so many closed cans |I wonder if you have ever heard the current premium edition of the beyerdynamic dt770? This is the third headphone on my shortlist after the m50 and k181. I love bass but I have owned the dt9990 in the past for a short while and that bass simply overwhelmed the rest of the frequency spectrum.
    Greetings, Anouk,

    • Reply August 12, 2010

      Mike

      Never heard the DT990, but among the DT770 (250 Ohms), DT880 (250 and 600 Ohms), and the T1, they share one similar signature: Good detail and clarity across the frequency range, but more suited for monitoring than for music listening. Mainly the problem is the lack of midrange body and upper bass punch. They have good low bass though. I’m talking the newer versions here, and 250 ohms and 600 ohms version. The older version of the DT880 has more midrange and upper bass body, but lacks the clarity of the newer model. So it’s a give and take. I’ve also heard the 80 ohms DT770 (M version), and it’s very bassy and unimpressive to my ears.

      Unless you’re listening purely to classical and instrumentals, I really won’t recommend the beyers.

  • Reply August 13, 2010

    HD 25-1-II Fan

    WOW!!! The omega2. That's gonna be a costly setup 🙂

    • Reply August 12, 2010

      Mike

      Well you asked me what the best was. 😀 The Audez’e LCD-2 can handle both Rock and Pop very well though. 🙂

  • Reply August 14, 2010

    HD 25-1-II Fan

    Mike. I'm really loving the HD 25-1-II. You know, noise isolation is a magic thing. And no sound leakage. That's why I've tought about the edition 8, since it's a closed design. But you've told me the ultrasones are no fun. And fun I intend to have 🙂

    both the audez and the omega2 are open designs. Is there any better closed headphone for rock and pop than the HD 25-1-II that you know?

    • Reply August 14, 2010

      Mike

      Hey, I never said that the ultrasones are no fun. 🙂 But as for your question, I don't think I've found any closed headphone with the HD25-1 sound, let alone portables. You may want to get a recable for that HD25-1 if you love it so much. I've had the Headphile cable for the HD25-1 once, and though the build quality is not so good (it has so many joints), the sound signature of the cable enhances the agressive sound of the HD25-1 and makes it a little more refined. http://www.headphile.com/page2.html

      Otherwise, just get a good source like the HM-801, and use the HD25-1 directly from the built in amp. It's quite an amazing combination.

  • Reply September 10, 2010

    Need a closed headphone

    […] – Shootout: 47 Portable Headphones Compared – Maxell DHP-II added 08/30 – Head-Fi.org Community Closed Cans Shootout: M-50, ESW-9, T50P, HD25-1, Beats Studio, SRH-840, SRH-750DJ, K181DJ, and DJ1Pr… Reply With Quote + Reply to […]

  • Reply October 6, 2010

    dv

    A nice shootout betwen $100 cans like Ath-M50,AD700,HD555 and Alessandro MS1 would be really nice 😀

    • Reply October 6, 2010

      Mike

      Indeed! Gimme some time to gather the cast. I just need to find the MS1 and the AD700.

  • Reply October 7, 2010

    glac1er

    The M50s are really good…, this is coming from a formerly long time owner of AD700, MS1, and MS1i. The Alessandros are a bit too aggressive for me in the long run, and the collapsed soundstage is a bit too much for me. AD700 is really nice, but sound wrong in the bass when I listen to my pop/rock/dance song. The M50s also doesn't have that boom boom tish type of sound of the D2000(which I owned and detested), which is very welcomed.

    The M50s have a very nice balanced soundsig for pop/rock/dance/techno or something along that line, might be the best sub $150 or even $200. My gripe with it is that it's closed (I think most open designs sound more natural) and that it can benefit from a little more-focused bass. It also lacks a bit of the delicate touch needed for some more serious music (classical, instrumental, acoustic, etc). But overall, it is one of the most balanced sounding in its price range despite being closed.

    Also, check out Mike's article on production variation between his two M50s. I like one of them a bit better than the other.

    • Reply October 7, 2010

      Mike

      Yesterday Peter stopped by to listen to the M-50s for the first time. He happens to owns all the expensive IEMs that I know of, and also a numerous of headphones including the HD800. He also commented that the sound is very well balanced, and very surprising considering the $100 price. He mentioned that he kinda looked down upon the M-50 because of the $100 price.

      To be honest I kinda looked down on the M-50 because of the price too. 🙂

  • Reply October 12, 2010

    Pat M

    Wow, great site! I was very excited to read this article since I have a few of these phones and I would like to chime in. I have both Shure's here and I really like the 840. I don't care much for the DJ750 as the only thing they do really well for me is bass and I am not a huge bass head. The 840's on the other hand really shine for me, particularly in overall clarity. I also own the M-50s (which I just got last week) and have to say I am very disappointed. They sound muffled and have not excelled in any particular area. I've burnt them in for about 16 hours thus far but cannot see them getting that much better. Am I doing it wrong? Ha! This brings me to my absolute favorite: ATH-ESW9. For some reason these are the phones that really hone in and massage that musical part of my brain. I love how drums sound in particular. I listen to everything with these, even metal, and it all sounds great.

    • Reply October 12, 2010

      Mike

      Hi Pat, thanks for the compliments. Now, about the 840 and M50, with the latter being muffled — that is shocking cause I got two M50s right here and they are roughly the same as the 840 in terms of bright/dark and overall clarity. The M50 does a few things better, as I've outlined in the review, but a muffled M50 is beyond me. I also don't think that burn-in will change these headphones tremendously. (You can read this article to see my experiments: http://www.headfonia.com/test-burn-in-and-product… So — I have no idea what to say to you here, Pat. 🙂

      Now the ESW-9, great phones, though not perfect, but it does sound good. Glad you're enjoying them. 🙂

      • Reply October 13, 2010

        Pat M

        Thank you for the response, Mike! I must say I have egg on my face. The muffled sound is due to error on my part. I've been listening/burning these through the Fiio E7 amp on my PC and I didn't check the EQ setting prior. I usually listen to my main line up phones on an iPod Classic/CMOY-BB amp combo. Let me just say to anyone with an E7, EQ setting 3 sucks! 🙂 No muffling with proper settings – sounding much better. I have yet to truly A/B these officially with the 840s but that will come this weekend when I am in the mood.

        The ESW9's are far from perfect for sure (those pads can make the ears red sometimes), but boy do they tickel the sweet spot when they're firing on all cylinders.

        • Reply October 13, 2010

          Mike

          Hey Pat, glad to hear that. I thought Audio Technica may have had a serious quality control issue with your M50, but turns out it's just an EQ setting! Heheheh we used to joke about the E7 EQ setting 3 right when it just came out..

  • Reply October 15, 2010

    Randius

    I am wondering if the ATH-M50 will play classical and jazz (mainly female vocals) well? May be moving from IEM (UM3X) to headphone for that out-of-head sound stage.

    • Reply October 15, 2010

      Mike

      From the UM3X to the M-50, I think you'll find certain things to be nice (soundstage, for instance), and certain things to be not so nice (more treble presence, which can be annoying and sibilant depending on recording).

      The M-50 is a great all rounder, but I really can't say if it will be "great" with classical and jazz female vocals. For classicals, I still think that the headphone needs to be an open design for a more accurate feel and timbre. For female vocals, there are so many different recording types of female vocals out there, and many of them I know will sound a little sibilant on the M-50.

  • Reply October 16, 2010

    saisunil

    I could not agree with you more about M-50 – they have seen more time on my head than any other phones I have had — yes I have better phones like PS1000 or HE-5 – but those are very specialized phone needing proper amp and care whereas M50 can take abuse and still work great … they sound great with ipod or with a good headphone. They sound good with all types of music that I listen to … I have found something better though – they are Ultrasone Pro 650 – but they are bigger and not black …

    Great work …

    Thanks

    • Reply October 16, 2010

      Mike

      Thanks for the tips. I have auditioned the Pro900, albeit recabled and with some damping mods, and it is a very good headphone.

  • Reply October 21, 2010

    Pat M

    I had to send my M-50s back. It was difficult because there was a lot I really liked about them, particularly the soundstage and bass. Honestly some of the best bass I've heard from a headphone. Perfect. Separation is phenomenal as well. But after spending some time with them, I found the mids and highs contradictory and completely un-engaging. The highs are too high and sibilant at times and the mids are kind of mushy and pushed back. I mainly listen to guitar driven music so this is not good. I did a head to head of these with my SRH 840s and it was no contest which phones took me where I needed to go. The 840s had clarity all around, perfectly forward highs, mids right where they belong and though not the best bass in the world, pretty darned engaging. If only there was a way to combine elements of these two phones we would have the perfect set of closed cans. The Dr. FrankenATechniShures!

    • Reply October 21, 2010

      Mike

      It looks like you really tried hard to like the M-50s, Pat.

      I was quite surprised to find you ending up with the SRH-840 though, as to me the mids are even less engaging than the M-50s, and the treble not as good as the M-50s, and the bass weaker than the M-50s. It also has a little bit of grain in the sound, where the M-50 is much more cleaner.

      Which makes me think if there are more variations in the M-50 line than what I have discovered here:
      http://www.headfonia.com/test-burn-in-and-product

      Basically I compared two M-50s and find the newer batch to have a more engaging midrange, although it looses a little on the technicality aspect. Yet the newer M-50 is far more fun to listen to and I'm loving the headphone very much now.

      Interestingly, this shootout was done with the old M-50, and even then I find the midrange of the M-50 to be more forward than the SRH-840.

      I really don't mean to question your findings, as production variations are always possible, and perhaps amplifiers also affect the final sound a great deal.. It's just interesting to see how we find seemingly different versions of the same headphone.

      Thanks for sharing!

      • Reply October 22, 2010

        Pat M

        That’s the beauty and the source of endless dabate about headphones: we all hear them a little bit differently. I recently ordered a pair of Beyer DT880 in the M-50’s place and should get them tomorrow. Different beast entirely, but these will be going up against my HD600s in a head to head, the loser going away. I do enjoy the HD600’s but there is something…not there…can’t quite place it. Could be the Senn sound I both love and loathe, depending on the phone. (Yay HD485 and PX100) Anyway, back to the closed phones. I’ve been using an unbeatable setting on my ipod (line out) and CMOYBB combo with the 840’s: Treble Boost EQ on iPod and the bass boost switched on CMOYBB. Lots of fun.

        • Reply October 22, 2010

          Mike

          I know Pat, tell me about it. DT880s are good, I've tried them in many different occasions, and I think just about every version they make. There is a problem with the midrange unless you get the 2003 version.

          Treble boost and bass boost. Sounds like a V-shape curve there. 🙂

  • Reply October 23, 2010

    Chris

    Mike – nice extensive review.

    Second, do you think that the ATH-M50s are that great. I am interested in getting a second pair of cans right now. I'm deciding between the M50 and the SRH-840. From what I've understood by browsing Head-Fi:

    SRH Benefits

    – The SRH 840 is said to have better highs

    – SRH 840 has the most soundstage

    M50 Benefits

    – The M50 is more comfortable

    – M50 has better bass

    – M50 is better for a wider range of music

    Which one do you think overall is better? I listen to a variety of music, from rock to female vocals. I'm also planning on using this as a gaming headphone.

    The alternative I suppose in my case is to buy the ATH-AD700. It's open so I guess it's a whole different beast here. Like you, it has been praised for its wide soundstage, good mids and highs. However, it has been criticized for its poor bass. Between the 3, which do you think is best for a beginning audiophile?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Reply October 23, 2010

      Mike

      Welcome to the club, Chris.

      M-50 and SRH-840. I've owned both long enough, and I think the M-50 is the better headphone regardless of music preference. The treble extension is much better on the M-50 as well, so I don't understand what people mean when they say the SRH-840 has better treble. The M-50 is also cleaner sounding, where the SRH-840 still has a little bit of grain.

      The AD700 will be a very impressive first timer headphone, but as you've said it, the owners of the AD700 will get tired of the lack of bass after the initial honeymoon period is over. So, that's something to consider.

      There problem with the M-50 is that some people find the midrange not engaging enough (though the SRH-840 is even less engaging), but the newer batch seem to have a more forward presentation which is more welcome. So it'll probably be better if you buy new, if you decide with the M-50.

      I've auditioned a ton of headphone from the entry level to the flagships, and I'm still amazed by the balance the M-50 has. It's not a perfect headphone, but its one of the most impressive headphone I've met in this industry. Very good balance, good technicalities, good value, easy to drive, very comfortable to wear. I wish Audio Technica would pay me a $1 for every M-50 recommendations I make, but they don't.

      My recommendations would start with the M-50, but it's hard to predict if it will strike a match with your music. You need to get out there and try it out yourself.

      Good luck. 🙂

      • Reply October 23, 2010

        Chris

        I did a bit more reading. Apparently, Audio Technica also has a bigger brother to the AD700; out of my budget, but interesting to know. It is the ATH-AD900. Apparently, the bass is supposedly to be much better, and overall it is said to be the bigger brother of the 700. Some people compare it to the Sennheiser HD 650. One advantage that they have is that they don't have the high impedance so they can be more easily driven. They sell for about $250.

        http://eu.audio-technica.com/en/products/product….

        They aren't displayed for whatever reason on the North American website.

        http://www.accessoryjack.com/-strse-309/Audio-dsh

        I think I'm probably going to get the M50. I tested the Sr80i Grado and they felt rather uncomfortable for hours of listening. I think that each of the brands has their own distinct sound after listening to a few sets of cans. The next step up is well, more of the same but better.

        • Reply October 23, 2010

          Pat M

          I have owned both the AD700 and AD900 and currently still own the AD700. The AD900 is certainly a step up from the AD700 but it's at least a $150 step up. I read it was a custom phone for MusiciansFriend.com and that's where I got it (and returned it). Can't say for sure. It doesn't quite have the soundstage of the AD700 but it does do everything else better. The only reason I kept the AD700 is the price difference and I really do enjoy the AD700 for what it is: Big honkin' 70's speakers that go on your head! Oh and both are comfortable as all get out. Mike, you are correct about the 'honeymoon period' though. But they keep me hangin' on….

          • Reply October 23, 2010

            Mike

            Glad to hear you're enjoying it. So you think the AD900 is a $150 step up than the AD700? Why did you return it? Frankly after hearing the AD700 I'm not too interested in the 900 and 1000 line. I do want to hear what the AD2000 sounds like. 😀

        • Reply October 23, 2010

          Mike

          Hi Chris, if you talk to people who's listened all the way to the AD2000, bass has always been a problem on the full-size open design AD line. So I wouldn't really put too much expectations on that. Comparisons are just comparisons, and there has been quite a number of mis-matched comparisons on the internet. The HD650 should be compared to the AD2000.

          The M-50 is a good first choice.

          • Reply October 24, 2010

            Pat M

            The AD900 didn't do $150 worth of improvement over the AD700 for me and even though it does improve on much of what the AD700 does, it lacks a certain charm of the AD700s. With this being said, it is a fantastic open phone and completely engaging. For that $150 though I can have the AD700s AND another set of headphones to suit the mood I'm in. And being that this is a closed headphone thread, Mike is right, the M50s are a great first choice. They lacked something for my personal tastes, but I am in the minority there 🙂 but they do many things very well. Audio Technica puts out great sounding, efficient headphones. Might I also recommend the ATH ESW9, my personal all around favorite headphone. It is a 'niche' phone and perhaps not to all tastes, but damn, does it get me going after a few beers!

            • Reply October 25, 2010

              Mike

              Thanks, for sharing, Pat. I'm really intrigued when you say that the AD700 is better than the AD900 in some ways. Care to share more?

      • Reply November 18, 2010

        soulgalactic

        hey mike , would you recommend the m-50 to hip hop lovers like me?

  • Reply October 24, 2010

    Nick

    Hey! Great line-up you have here, but I have a few questions…

    I've been researching headphones online now for the past week solid, and have to say, I'm starting to get discouraged. I'm not an audiophile, per say, because I won't go out and buy an amplifier for a pair of headphones, but I do have a finely tuned ear, being a singer for 6 years now. I actually went out and tested some of these phones based on your recommendations at my local Guitar Center, and first off, many sounded muffled, and NONE could push high volumes…

    I'm in the market for a pair of headphones that will make me feel like I'm sitting in a live orchestral performance to Swan Lake when I want to relax, yet also be able to blow my eardrums out when I decide to get pumped up on some ridiculous dubstep. Is there any such headphone? I don't care about durability, because I take really good care of my stuff, but I absolutely prefer circumaural and closed-back, since I don't want to subject bystanders to my musical whims.

    Any advice would be more than appreciated! =]

    • Reply October 24, 2010

      Pat M

      Tough to find a closed back with that criteria. The cream of the crop reasonably priced closed phones are pretty much represented in the article. Closed phone generally does not equal big "Swan Lake" sound, and if you want a bigger soundstage, you'll want to push the phones with an amp. Even one of those little Altoids amps would be recommended. Anyone have experience with the Denon 2000s, perhaps? Wish I could be of more assistance.

      • Reply October 25, 2010

        Nick

        I guess I understand the necessity of amplifiers for great sound (I upgraded my car's factory system myself), but I actually didn't know they made amps that small! Now on to another 6+ hours of research to find an amp that meets my needs! XD

        I think I'll go with the M50's, since Mike seems to suggest they really are a wonderful all-arounder… I haven't had the luxury of trying them out first, but since he says they're just a better choice over the Beats (which I love, by the way, but not enough to justify their price tag…yikes), I'll trust his advice.

        Thanks! =D

      • Reply October 25, 2010

        Mike

        Nick, Pat is quite spot on. Try to stick with an open-backed headphone if you listen mainly to live performances. Entry level recommendations for me include the Audio-Technica AD700 and the Sennheiser HD558.

    • Reply October 25, 2010

      Mike

      Nick, being a singer, your expectations must be really high. Now a headphone that can really make you feel like you're sitting in a live Swan Lake performance, that's not easy. Even with the $1,400 HD800, or the $2,000 Omega2, they can never really displace a true live performance. So I'm going to be honest with you about that. The thing about headphones is that they allow me to listen to a Horowitz concert from 30 years ago, or a recent concert in the San Francisco Orchestra without having to fly all the way to San Francisco. Fidelity wise, even the top end headphones are still lacking quite a lot.

      Now, back to the real world. I think you can start with something like the M-50, it's a pretty capable closed-back headphone for $100. The ATH AD700 is also a $100 headphone, though open back. It will give you a bigger soundstage, and closer to a concert hall feel, but bass is pretty weak and also impact and slam factor. Both of them should be able to get really loud to the point of destroying your eardrums without distorting, as long as the amplifier is potent enough.

      Welcome to the world of headphones. Buying headphones are like buying a car. It's best if you can take them for a spin to see if they fit well with your priorities.

      Cheers.

    • Reply November 4, 2010

      Mike Mercer

      try the Sennheiser HD-25II – perhaps that may suffice, IMO

      • Reply November 18, 2010

        Mike

        Second that.

  • […] listened to. All of us can start from different headphone preferences, and ultimately […more]Closed Cans Shootout: M-50, ESW-9, T50P, HD25-1, Beats Studio, SRH-840, SRH-750DJ, K181DJ, and DJ1Pr…08/04/2010  |  105 CommentsHere it is, the long awaited closed headphones shootout. Big […]

  • Reply November 22, 2010

    Mike

    Thanks Vladimir,
    I've written everything I had to say about the M-50, SRH-840, and SRH-750DJ on the article.

  • Reply November 23, 2010

    Beats Owner

    Finally nice to see a *qualified* audiophile giving the studio's a fair chance. People are too quick to judge because of the branding, when in reality they are a nice pair of headphones.

    However on the build quality front I too was under the impression that it was top notch untill the plastic headband cracked right above where the silver polished Monster insignia is. After the cable started to fray quite badly.

    I've contacted monster and they are currently in RMA hoping to get my phones back quickly 🙂

    • Reply November 23, 2010

      Mike

      Yes, it's surprising to see how much prejudice there is against the Monster brand. Surpringly, people have a better perception of the Monster Turbines (especially Copper), which I don't think very highly of. 🙂

      Looking at the build quality of the Beats, it surely is pretty good and looks nice as well. However, it's quite obvious that one needs to take care of the headphone fairly carefully, and it's not as abuse-proof as the HD25-1.

  • Reply November 24, 2010

    Chris Kerr

    I just bought some ATH-M50s and a NuForce uDAC-2 for my laptop setup at work. Awesome setup for this usage, am listening to a huge range of music genres and quality from 128k to 320k in a busy work environment. The M50s are extremely comfortable out of the box, though a little tight on the top of my bald head in one spot, but sure this will ease up over time

    Thanks for the great review on these Mike, really helped me decide on the 'phones I wanted

    • Reply November 24, 2010

      Mike

      Different music genres, various quality files, I think the M-50 is very good for that kind of an application. And yet it plays well with high quality files too! 😀

  • […] LOL dood. How do you know I haven't? Of course I have and they are utter crap. http://www.headfonia.com/closed-cans…-and-dj1pro/9/ Man people who come in these threads " herp derp beats by dre overbassy sound crap derpity […]

  • Reply December 15, 2010

    dp_1

    Thanks for great job!!! I have a question. I am not going to use any amp to use headphones mentioned above. any suggestions for portable use only???

    • Reply December 15, 2010

      dp_1

      also it is used for listening classic music

    • Reply December 15, 2010

      Mike

      I think almost all of the headphones above runs fine without an amp.

  • Reply December 19, 2010

    Ivo

    Thanks for such a great guide. Think I'll settle for the HD-25-1, it seems to suit all my needs while the M50 appears just a bit large for portable use.

    • Reply December 20, 2010

      Mike

      Great. Glad you find the article helpful. 🙂

  • Reply December 21, 2010

    Jan G.

    Hey Mike,

    very professional review. This was the first negative one about the Beyerdynamic. So did you run in all the headphones before you tested them? This can make a huge difference. Or perhaps you got a faulty pair? I'm just asking because I'm considering buying some…

    • Reply December 21, 2010

      Mike

      Thanks, Jan. Yes I did a burn in on all of them. It is way too easy to get all-positive when doing a product review. If you read my first impression article, I did have a good hope on the Beyer, but after burn in, turns out that the tonal balance still has issues. My friends who's heard it pretty much think the same way too.

      Here is a link to the first impression article: http://www.headfonia.com/beyerdynamic-t50p/

    • Reply December 21, 2010

      Mike

      I really think that the T50p Beyer has the best driver technology out of all the headphones above. When I compared it to the T1 model, I can feel how the same resolution level was present on the T50p. But frequency balance tuning is often separate from the driver quality, and can be heavily affected by housing design, materials, pads, and other things. I was really frustrated to find the T50p having a problematic frequency balance. Though it has more midrange body than the T1, it lacked the clarity of the T1, and somehow the loose headband design, while very comfortable to wear, seem to prevent the T50p to have a good bass performance. At the end of the day, it's hard for me to recommend it.
      😐

      • Reply January 4, 2011

        Jan Gerhard

        This is a very honest answer. I'm looking for the same sound like the Koss Porta Pro with really better highs. I like the deep lowend and the +8db boost at 100hz that the porta pro has. Perhaps a few dB less boost is also cool, but the porta pro really lacks high resoltion highs. Any suggestions? I really liked the DT770 pro (80ohm), but it was a bit .. .erm… unpractical for "on the road"..

        • Reply January 4, 2011

          Mike

          Hmm…. a lot of the headphones here have much better highs than the Portapro, so that's the easy part. But as for the +8db boost and the deep low end of the Portapro, I honestly don't remember the Portapro being anywhere like that.

          Anyway, the HD25-1 has a superb mid bass punch, so that would probably take care of the 100hz part. The AKG 181DJ also has a very tight and very punchy midbass. You may want to give those two a try.

  • Reply December 26, 2010

    hanski

    I am satisfied for investing on these cans. I appreciate the most the natural response and sound reproduction unlike with other cans, of this type, who seems to be to hypey with their base. These are able to capture other flaws of a mp3 file like (sibilants, plosives, crackles and hisses) which might have slipped through the recording process. One of the things i appreciate on these cans, you could hear all the sounds even the smallest ones like egg-shakers and other small instruments. Also, i seem to get the feeling that i am just inside a studio watching and listening to singing artist. further, it has good clamping force which it wouldn't fell or slip off from your head when you bend over or do a little bit of head banging. good job Audio Technica.

    • Reply December 27, 2010

      Mike

      hi Hanski, which Audio Technica are you talking about?

  • Reply January 12, 2011

    Jeff

    Hey Mike,
    I am looking for your suggestion as to what my options are given my preferred sound signature and form factor. First off, I am currently listening to the senn hd650s recabled to the gamma2 hoping to eventually build the balanced beta-22 for my desktop setup. However, since I live in the city, the 650s aren’t the best bet. I listen to a wide range of music with a focus on experimental electronic(dubstep,downtempo,etc) so I’m looking for cans that are portable and also have good sub bass extension as well as a pleasing experience-resolution,soundstage,etc. If anything, as I plan to be in this headphone business for awhile, I am open to trying a new sonic signature from the 650.   Also, I am not averse to going the iem route but I plan to do a custom iem when my budget permits. I have been looking at the following: hd25-1 ii, Grado sr60i/80i/rs2i, ath M-50, koss portapro, t50p, esw9/10. I am entirely open to any suggestions and plan to run some type of portable amplification and dac (d6/d12/pb4). 

    All best,
    Jeff

    • Reply January 12, 2011

      Mike

      Hi Jeff, for electronics, I would suggest the HD25-1 and AIAIAI TMA-1 (not featured here, but you can find it here: http://www.headfonia.com/aiaiai-tma-1/

      I am not sure about the particular electronic music you listen to, but I've been enjoying the TMA-1 with Armin Van Buuren to Prodigy to Massive Attack. The presentation is just right for those music, and the bass articulation is among the best in its class.

  • Reply January 20, 2011

    Mike

    I have received an ALO recabled T50p and surprisingly, the issues on the mids and bass frequencies are mostly resolved. But I also suspect that this T50p has a stiffer pads than the one I had. I will compare it to the one I used for the review and post back.

  • Reply January 24, 2011

    Poe

    So thanks to this website and reviews I just picked myself up a pair of the m50's. One issue I have is the length of the cord. I generally only use headphones while out with my ipod. What is the best way to coil up/ contain the extra length of cord without damaging it?

    • Reply January 24, 2011

      Mike

      A traditional rubber band? I normally use a backpack and I'd just throw the extra cable length in a the bag.

    • Reply January 27, 2011

      JamesMcP

      or get the coiled cable version?

  • Reply January 25, 2011

    Poe

    Thanks Mike…. mainly I just wanted to make sure the cord could take being coiled up all the time. I know with headphones I’ve owned in the past the stupid cord would short out from that treatment. Nice to have a pair with a decent cord!

    • Reply January 25, 2011

      Mike

      I think the cords looks pretty well built. I personally wouldn't worry too much about breaking it, it'll probably take a while before it happens.

  • Reply January 27, 2011

    JamesMcP

    How would i love to see how my Denon HP700 compare to all those cans.
    the sound sign is a delicious upper mid range driven with clear highs and great instrument separation. great can, as long as you are not asking for bass impact or BOOM, ehich it doesnt have. Great comparison Mike! Im jealous about your work, lol.

    • Reply January 27, 2011

      JamesMcP

      I forgot to say, I own the ATH M50 and Senn HD25, and this review got me interested in the SHR750dj. I think Im gonna get it, eventually.

      • Reply January 28, 2011

        Anonymous

        Yea, go for it!

    • Reply January 28, 2011

      Anonymous

      James, that actually sounds like a different than the usual bassy Denons!

      I know, a lot of people are jealous of my work, lol.

  • Reply January 31, 2011

    Nick

    Great review Mike.

    In terms of comfort, isolation and build quality: M50 or SRH840?

    I just found the site and is awesome.

    • Reply January 31, 2011

      Anonymous

      Nick, the M50 and SRH840 is just about the same in those categories.

      Cheers.

  • Reply February 14, 2011

    Michael

    hey mike have you listened to the AKG K271s? what do you think about them? i heard they lack bass but that should be fixable via EQ right?

    Cheers.

    • Reply February 14, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Michael, yes I have listened to the K271 (you are talking about the closed monitoring line headphone, right?). Don’t think it lacked bass, though it is not a monster either. And yes you can add the bass with an EQ if you feel it’s not sufficient. Cheers.

  • Reply February 24, 2011

    Solaris_61

    Hi,

    First, sorry for my english.

    I am deciding between ATH-M50 or HD-25, or both. I own (among others) the Ultrasone HFI-780 with stock cable and I find them very good and enjoyable with genres like rock, hard-rock or metal and for movies. Forward presentation, good and not recessed mediums, very detailed, with crystal clear trebles, very fast (attack and decay) and with punchy bass. The lows are a slight small sound-stage despite the S-logic, not much bass extension and some piercing highs at times (a bit overemphasizes) that make them not very good as all-rounder headphones. Don’t misunderstand me, I love these cans but I think they have their flaws (like others).

    I’m looking for another pair of closed and portable headphones for office (and home) that complement well with HFI, with a more all-rounder behavior (like ATH-M50, I think) and/or more suitable for rock (maybe HD-25?), if it is possible.

    Can you tell me how these cans compare to the HFI-780? (I think you have tried them with several cables) Can they be a good alternative that complement well with HFI? Or are they a step backwards? Witch one is better overall, if it can be said?

    A final question. Do you prefer HD-25 over Grados for rock? Why? I haven’t heard any Grado, but I would like to do it.

    Note: I have the Denon D2000 and love them too, but their bass is boomy (not punchy), smooth, mild and slower so I enjoy more the HFI for rock and similar genres. The D2000 are better overall (as all-rounder) and better than ATH-M50, I think, but they will stay ever at home ;-).

    Thanks!

    • Reply February 24, 2011

      talip bin osman

      im afraid i cant tell you how these two superb cans compare to the ultrasone…

      but as an owner of both the M-50 and the HD 25-1, i must say that this pair can be a very very good cure for someone’s itch to upgrade… (at least for me) hooked to a very good DAC and amp, these 2 gives you a very wide coverage in terms of handling musical genres… if youre a sucker for world music specially the cuban variety, jazz, chillout, classical, or any broadway stuff the M-50 has you covered…

      on the other hand if what u dig is heavy metal or hard rock, electronica, triphop, lounge or downtempo.., the senn will deliver with aplomb…

      im not really a sucker for high-end but i think you really would have to spend so much more to out-do these two… (what with the Z1000, D7000 and the LCD 2 right up next in the food chain…)

      • Reply February 25, 2011

        Anonymous

        Thanks for adding the comments! I didn’t see your comment when I typed mine, but I think you really hit it!

        Even with the Z1000, the HD25-1 would still do better in terms of pace, punch, and PRaT. The only other headphone that can match it would be the LCD-2.

        • Reply February 25, 2011

          talip bin osman

          oh tnx man…

          im eyeing the Z1000 sometime this year…

          i heard it when i visited hong kong last month… driven straight from my iphone, the sucker was already good!

          so you can just imagine how excited i am if i hook it up with my home rig…:)

          • Reply February 25, 2011

            Anonymous

            Indeed the Z1000 is really nice. 🙂

      • Reply February 26, 2011

        Solaris_61

        Thanks for your comment, it’s helpfull. The M50 and HD25 seem to be a pair of headphones that complement very well. The problem is that I have to decide wich one I prefer :(.

      • Reply February 26, 2011

        Anonymous

        Thanks for adding the comments! I didn’t see your comment when I typed
        mine, but I think you really hit it!

        Even with the Z1000, the HD25-1 would still do better in terms of pace,
        punch, and PRaT. The only other headphone that can match it would be the
        LCD-2.

    • Reply February 25, 2011

      Donunus

      I am not an ultrasone fan in fact I hated the proline 750s but the hfi-780 IMO is better than both the hd25 and m50 🙂

      • Reply February 25, 2011

        Anonymous

        IMO, you’re WRONG, Donunus.

        lol.

        • Reply February 25, 2011

          Donunus

          hehehehe this is why I typed IMO 🙂 I only heard the hfi-780 for a short period of time and liked it not knowing the bad sides yet but I’ve owned the hd25 and the m50s for around a week before happily selling them. I am not saying that the 780 is technically better than both but I thought they were just groovier and more fun in my short listening session with them. The hd25s were too harsh/aggressive for me in the lower highs and the m50 was too bright somewhere in the treble(9khz-12khz) and lacked some organic mids. I’m sure the hfi-780 has its flaws too. I just didn’t look for them during the time I was enjoying the music with them 🙂 Then again I haven’t had enough time with the 780s to form a valid opinion on them. I can only conclude that I didn’t like the other two at all and would take a dt150 using dt100 velour pads over them anytime for example 🙂

          • Reply February 25, 2011

            Anonymous

            Ah, I really want a DT150 now. I’ve been wanting to own a DT150 for a while now. 🙁

            I think you probably had a case of good synergy when you listened to the HFI780. When you had some time with it, you’ll find that it also has some issues of its own. Overall I still think that the HD25-1 and the M-50 is easier to recommend to most people.

            • Reply February 25, 2011

              Donunus

              If you get the dt150s, the dt100 velour pads are a must IMO. Without them I feel the dt150s to be ordinary and hollow sounding. I felt the cans had potential though which is why I got those pads. I got exactly the sound I expected. I dont use the inner foam on the velour pads by the way in case you get to try them yourself 🙂

              • Reply February 25, 2011

                Anonymous

                I kinda liked the stock DT150 sound though.. yes, they’re hollow in the mids, but they don’t sound like the 770/880 series.

                • Reply February 25, 2011

                  Donunus

                  Yah I like them more than the home series too but they become something like a closed HD650 when used with the velour pads 🙂 An LCD2 user here in the Philippines actually also thinks they are one of the best closed headphones he has tried with the velour pads on them.

                  • Reply February 25, 2011

                    Anonymous

                    Lol… are you sure he wasn’t just trying to make you happy?

                    • February 25, 2011

                      Donunus

                      hehehe I’m not the type of person that gets affected by negative comments about headphones that I like. Besides, it wasn’t mine anymore. He heard from the guy I sold them to. He actually texted at one time that the dt150 sound is the signature he was looking for. This was the one with the velours on them 🙂

                    • February 25, 2011

                      Anonymous

                      Cool. 🙂

        • Reply February 26, 2011

          Solaris_61

          I have heard that statement before (HFI > HD 25).

          I don’t know if Dominus is right, but in a review of the HFI 780 i have read that the HFI-780 are better sounding than others cans around that price range, like the Beyerdynamic DT 770, Sennheiser HD 25-1, … or the cheaper K81DJ.

          It seems that Dominus is not alone 😉

          I have the DT 770 and K81DJ too (little brother of K181) and I can say YES, the HFI is clearly better… IMO, of course ;). I agree with the author of the review in that sense. I can’t say anything about HD 25, but Dominus is saying the same and that gives me something to think ;-).

          The most important to me is that neither is a step backwards.

          Thanks!

          • Reply February 26, 2011

            Solaris_61

            Oh, mine god!. I am Sorry! … DONUNUS

      • Reply February 26, 2011

        Anonymous

        Thanks for the perspective!

    • Reply February 25, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Solaris,
      No problems with the English! I think you wrote very well!

      I think you really know your headphone very well there, reading from your description of the HFI780. Pretty much that’s how I would write about the HFI-780. One thing about them is that the soundstage is actually good for a closed headphone for that size. The ESW-9 and the HD25-1 would have a smaller soundstage compared to your HFI 780.

      If you’re looking for something to complement your HFI-780, I think either the M-50 or the ESW-9 can be a good headphone to complement it, as the character is quite different to the Ultrasone. But if you’re looking for a headphone for Rock, then nothing can beat the HD25-1 for it. The PRaT will be better than your HFI, the bass punch tighter and snappier. The treble less sharp. The focus, the forwardness, everything is better on the HD25-1 than the HFI. So that sounds like what you need for Rock.

      The M-50 is generally slower and a bit darker than both the HD25-1 and HFI. So in another sense it will be a better headphone as it will give you a wider variety over the HFI. But it’s also less ideal for Rock than the HD25-1.

      Okay, Grados and why I would prefer the HD25-1 for Rock. Less piercing highs, tighter bass, more focused presentation. Grados are good for moderately fast Rock, but the HD25-1 can keep up with the faster Rock music. Of course Grados are better in other areas, like being an open design gives it a more open sound which the HD25-1 doesn’t have. So, plus and minuses there, and ultimately it depends on your needs. If you’re going for a portable, then the HD25-1 can give a good bass punch even out of an Ipod, where I think Grados would need a portable amp for the punch to be sufficient.

      If you already have the D2000, then you may not need the M-50, as both are quite alike in that their bass is a bit boomy but not punchy, smoother, slower paced, etc.

      I think the HD25-1 will make you happy.

      Cheers.

      • Reply February 26, 2011

        Solaris_61

        Thank you very much! It’s a very helpfull answer.

        I’m glad you agree about the HFI because it makes me trust in your opinion even more.

        Yes, I have the D2000 and I agree that perhaps I don’t need the M50. In the office I listen a variety of music genres but primarily rock, hard rock, metal, progressive and OST’s so I think the HD-25 will be better option than the M50. Also, at home I have more (and better) headphones for a wider variety of genres and uses: K701, D2000, HFI 780, DT 770 pro (80), HD 555 and K81, although I’m going to sell the last three.

        With your comment about Grado vs HFI you’ve convinced me. I specially like that the HD25-1 can keep up with the faster Rock music, with tighter and punchier bass.

        In comparision with the HFI, what about the quickness and clear highs? I like that, specially with the strings of acoustic and electric guitar, where I think the HFI is very good.

        Thanks!

        PD: I hope my english remains at the same level. It takes me a long time to write a post ;-).

        • Reply February 26, 2011

          Anonymous

          The HFI will have clearer highs than the HD25-1. But for some people, it gets a bit tiring if the music is fast and busy (which is what hard rock, metal, prog. rock are mostly like). In that sense the HD25-1 won’t give you the same clear highs, but rather a bit rolled off in the extension and a little attenuation on the upper trebles.

          I think the biggest difference that you find is that the HD25-1 has a more forward mids, more focused presentation, though it’s actually inferior to the HFI’s technicalities and frequency extension (top and bottom).

          But as they say, technicalities is only half of the equation. So far, I’ve made far more HD25-1 converts than I do with the 780. Perhaps on a ratio of 10 to 1.

          • Reply March 1, 2011

            Solaris_61

            True, after a while I get tired whith the HFI. It’s clear and funny but a bit tiring for long sesions.

            I think you have made another HD25-1 convert. I’m going to buy one. 😉

            Thank you very much.

            • Reply March 2, 2011

              Anonymous

              Yes, hopefully the HD25-1 would be a good match.

    • Reply February 26, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Solaris,
      No problems with the English! I think you wrote very well!

      I think you really know your headphone very well there, reading from
      your description of the HFI780. Pretty much that’s how I would write
      about the HFI-780. One thing about them is that the soundstage is
      actually good for a closed headphone for that size. The ESW-9 and the
      HD25-1 would have a smaller soundstage compared to your HFI 780.

      If you’re looking for something to complement your HFI-780, I think
      either the M-50 or the ESW-9 can be a good headphone to complement it,
      as the character is quite different to the Ultrasone. But if you’re
      looking for a headphone for Rock, then nothing can beat the HD25-1 for
      it. The PRaT will be better than your HFI, the bass punch tighter and
      snappier. The treble less sharp. The focus, the forwardness, everything
      is better on the HD25-1 than the HFI. So that sounds like what you need
      for Rock.

      The M-50 is generally slower and a bit darker than both the HD25-1 and
      HFI. So in another sense it will be a better headphone as it will give
      you a wider variety over the HFI. But it’s also less ideal for Rock than
      the HD25-1.

      Okay, Grados and why I would prefer the HD25-1 for Rock. Less piercing
      highs, tighter bass, more focused presentation. Grados are good for
      moderately fast Rock, but the HD25-1 can keep up with the faster Rock
      music. Of course Grados are better in other areas, like being an open
      design gives it a more open sound which the HD25-1 doesn’t have. So,
      plus and minuses there, and ultimately it depends on your needs. If
      you’re going for a portable, then the HD25-1 can give a good bass punch
      even out of an Ipod, where I think Grados would need a portable amp for
      the punch to be sufficient.

      If you already have the D2000, then you may not need the M-50, as both
      are quite alike in that their bass is a bit boomy but not punchy,
      smoother, slower paced, etc.

      I think the HD25-1 will make you happy.

      Cheers.

  • Reply February 27, 2011

    HBTN

    Hi Mike! I currently run a pair of Shure SRH-840 through an Asus Xonar DX soundcard. They are my first pair of full-sized headphones and also the most expensive audio equipment I’ve bought so far. I’ve had them for about two months, but they still haven’t convinced me fully.

    I mainly listen to rock and metal, and I read in your article that there are some headphones more suited for those genres. Do you think that buying a DAC or an headphone amp could improve them noticeably or maybe it’s better to consider other headphones?

    The main issues I find with them it’s that they are sometimes muddy and lack clearness, a bit “lazy” sounding, and that top- and bottom-end are too rolled-off

    Thanks!

    • Reply February 28, 2011

      Anonymous

      I think what you need is a new headphone, not an amp or a DAC.

      If you want something clearer sounding with more top and bottom, you can get the AKG K181DJ. It would give you the extra top and bottom extension, more speed/pace, and also punchier bass than the SRH-840.

      I normally recommend the HD25-1 for rock and metal, but since you want more clarity, then the K181DJ would be better. I do think that personally, the K181DJ may be more tiring for longer use though, since it will give you more treble than the HD25-1 (and rock and metal usually have pretty hot trebles on the recordings).

      • Reply February 28, 2011

        HBTN

        Thank you very much for your reply! I actually find the Shure to have a pretty relaxed treble, what do you think about the Shure treble quantity?

        I don’t think it’s the right place to ask :P, but since I don’t really need isolation, do you think there are better alternatives at the same price of the Shure in the open headphones?

        • Reply February 28, 2011

          Anonymous

          Yes, the Shure’s treble is quite relaxed. The HD25-1 will be more agressive, and the K181DJ even more.

          Open headphones at this price range is trickier. What kind of sound are you looking for?

          • Reply February 28, 2011

            HBTN

            Well, referring to the Shure, I think I’d like a sound which is less mid-centric with more noticeable bass and treble. Instrument separation and clarity are very important for me, and I like it when there’s “breath” between the different instruments. I think I can accept a thinner sound but more engaging and with more clarity than the Shure’s one

            • Reply March 1, 2011

              Anonymous

              I think you would be happier with the Ultrasones then. Most of the Ultrasone full size headphones have the character you want. Less mid centric, more bass, more treble, good instrument separation and clarity, thinner sound.

              Cheers.

  • Reply March 1, 2011

    Guest

    Hi. I want to buy a good long lasting cans. Most importantly i want to buy comftarble one. I would not give more than 100 dollars. I listen to hip hop, good basSy bossa Nova Music.
    Pop and etc. No clasic. What headphone would be a good choice for mé?
    Skull candy? I dunno. My friend recommended ir to me..But these headphone you reviewed is too expensive for mé.. I had a hd558. Sold it to a friend of mine to 70 d.
    Now i want to buy new ones..

    • Reply March 1, 2011

      Anonymous

      All that for a $100? The M-50 Audio Technica is a good all rounder, though it’s slightly more than what your budget allows. I think it’s about $120 on Amazon.com.

      http://amzn.to/geiLbF

      It’s fairly comfortable, would cover hip hop and bossa nova pretty well.

      • Reply March 2, 2011

        MyNameIS

        the problem is, in our country it’s around 170 dollars 🙁 plus moms, moms is 25 procent of the produkt price that you have have to give to the government. PLUS shipment.. damn.. but i should buy closed cans, that is ideal for my choice of music.

        would an senheiser 203 do it? or 202?

        • Reply March 4, 2011

          davey

          wow, I’ve read throug 5 pages of replys & still can’t find an answer to what i would of thought would be a common question. Please could you tell me what over ear headphone would be best for r&b and dance on the move if the m-50 is on the large size & you don’t want to look like a cyborg? The beats are overpriced but the k181dj look like a possible (and cheap) option. Would you reccommend anything else? Thankyou!

          • Reply March 4, 2011

            Anonymous

            I think the HD25-1 is a good choice. The K181DJ’s size is quite close to
            the M-50, which you may still find a bit large.

            • Reply March 4, 2011

              davey

              Thanks, was reading a few reviews and the hd-25 ii look to be a good alternative thanks. I can’t find anything else so I’m going with the Senns. Cheers!

              • Reply March 4, 2011

                Anonymous

                A lot of people have been very happy with the HD25-1, and I think you
                would too.

                Cheers.

            • Reply March 4, 2011

              MyNameIS

              what about BEYERDYNAMIC DT-770 PRO? hd 25 price tag hurts my eyes. in germany the BEYERDYNAMIC DT-770 PRO is 30 dollars cheaper.. would that cover my music? frequency response 5-30.000 Hz

              • Reply March 4, 2011

                Anonymous

                There are several version of the DT770 PRO. The higher impedance ones, 250 and 600 ohms are monitor headphones and not too suitable for your music. The low impedance one is reportedly a bassy phone, but I’m nit so sure either. I heard it was meant to be a headphone for guitarists.

                • Reply March 13, 2011

                  MyNameIS

                  oh.. guitarists? lol ok

                  what about the the HDJ-500 DJ. these are cheap enough.. and american i think ..

                  • Reply March 14, 2011

                    Anonymous

                    Haven’t heard how the HDJ-500 sound. Do you have the Goldring DR100 in your area? I plan to write a review on it. I think the sound is quite good for the price.

                    • March 14, 2011

                      MyNameIS

                      really? i buy my products at thomann.de

                      very good homesite, its the best. the costumer service, couldn’t be any better. but i don’t think they have it. so no. i cant put my hands on them 🙁
                      it’s so depressing. i bought the 558 HD. no good, bose, sound isolation good, but to much treble, and bass, to weak. im sick of this, i sent to products back. costed me, 40 dollars. i think iam being to naive.. i wont spent another hundred for an amp.
                      one of my friends recommended me the akg k181 dj headphone, and the pioneer hdj-500 ..

                      but they have been so kind with me thomann.de
                      i have sent to products back to them, refunded the money in time. and still they are asking me iam welcome to comeback for more. you should buy products from them. i dunno where u got your products from. but def. buy from them.

                • Reply March 13, 2011

                  MyNameIS

                  i won’t have the sennheiser 25..

                  AKG K 181 DJ vs. pioneer hdj-500 dj

  • Reply March 15, 2011

    Alex

    awesome site mike,
    im having a hard time deciding between k181dj, and Hd25-1 II…and maybe ath-m50s…
    i got to listen to the m50s and liked them but your reviews make the other two sound very appealing.

    i mainly listen to funk, jazz, soul, blues/R&B, hip hop, breakbeats, drum and bass, trance, house, and dubstep

    the large and small club setting on the k181djs sounds interesting but im maybe a bit worried about long term listening sessions….? what do you think?

    • Reply March 15, 2011

      Anonymous

      K181DJ is not that comfortable for long term listening, but the bass setting is quite awesome and will give you the bass you need for those music.

      The HD25-1 is more comfortable to wear while also giving good tight bass, so it’s probably the better choice.

  • Reply April 8, 2011

    Narly

    Hi Mike, this review is very well presented.

    I just have one question, how would AKG K 271 MKII compare to these headphones?

    Thanks!

    • Reply April 8, 2011

      Anonymous

      Narly,
      I didn’t have the K271 when I did this comparison, and I haven’t heard
      the K271 for a long time, so it’s probably best if I keep quiet now. 🙂

  • Reply April 8, 2011

    stuart simpson

    This review would have been more helpfull if you also added coments about each cans unamped and coming straight from an mp3 player or phone. I am now back to square one. I have only heard the Monster beats before and was very impressed with the bass (I am a big hip-hop, rap and R&B fan) so I need the full on Bass that the Monster Beats give but for less cost. Will the K181DJ (as recomended to Rodrigo Pita) fullfill my needs unamped and from an iphone. If aportable amp makes a difference in this respect please advise.

    Very thorough review though.

    Stuart.

    • Reply April 8, 2011

      Anonymous

      Stuart,
      If you are looking for a bassy headphone, currently I’m making this
      recommendation:
      http://www.headfonia.com/bass-to-the-power-of-two-pro700-mk2/

      Make sure you read the article thoroughly so that you have a clear idea
      of what the sound is like. It is extremely bassy.

      • Reply April 8, 2011

        stuart simpson

        Yeh these cans are right up my street. Would they sound as bassy as the Monsters?
        Remember that I have only heard the Monsers with out an amp and only through my iphone 4.
        If buying a cheap mini amp like the FiiO E5 Portable Headphone Amplifier makes a difference to the Audio Technica’s i need to know although i am not willing to spend big bucks on an amp.

        • Reply April 8, 2011

          Anonymous

          From the article:

          “The Pro700 Mk2 on the other hand, is a pure basshead approach to music.
          This headphone would make the Beats Studio headphones sound like a
          polite audiophile headphone as it delivers one of the most thundering
          bass I’ve ever heard from a pair of headphones. ”

          Don’t worry about the Fiio E5.

          • Reply April 8, 2011

            stuart simpson

            So unamped linked to an iPhone 4 they would still be alot more bassy that the Monster Beats.

            Sorry for all the q’s but I intend to buy right 1st time. And my knowledge is not to great.

            Lol.

            Stuart.

            • Reply April 8, 2011

              Anonymous

              Yes, amped or unamped, it will be more bassy than the Beats.

              • Reply April 21, 2011

                stuart simpson

                I have just been looking at the Sony MDR-XB1000 Extra Bass these have a 70mm driver and a better frequency range so will they go deeper and stronger than The Pro700 Mk2 plus the Sony are only 24 ohm’s so will the sound stage be better as well as the bass volume and impact? or am i talking rubbish? Have you heard the Sony’s?

                • Reply April 21, 2011

                  Anonymous

                  Stuart, I’m eager to hear the Sony XB1000s as well. The biggest basshead
                  headphone, made by Sony. I think it’s going to be awesome.

                  I’m waiting for Munkong Gadget to have them back in stock.

                  • Reply April 21, 2011

                    stuart simpson

                    I do not know if this is a stupid comment but as the Audio Technica’s are more undergraound than Sony “as a make” can the Sony’s compete with Audio Technica’s?

                    I was looking for a set of cans that are unique and Sony seems too mainstream?

                    Am I stupid for thinking this?

                    • April 21, 2011

                      Anonymous

                      When I listened to the XB700 and XB500, it was quite a mainstream
                      tuning. The Pro700 Mk2 are more “hardcore” basshead than both Sonys. We
                      can probably predict that the XB1000 will be an extension of the XB500
                      and XB700, but again, I can’t be sure until I’ve listened to it.

                    • April 21, 2011

                      stuart simpson

                      Cool ta.

                      Have you heard of accessoryjack.com are they reliable? or will they be fake?

                    • April 21, 2011

                      Anonymous

                      Nope, I haven’t heard of accessoryjack.com. Why not go with the usual
                      vendors?

                    • April 21, 2011

                      stuart simpson

                      I live in the uk and they are very expensive.

                      Looking for the cheapest option!!!!

                    • April 21, 2011

                      Anonymous

                      Ah. I get it, well try to ask around the locals and they can point you
                      to a good local vendor.

    • Reply April 8, 2011

      Anonymous

      Sorry about the lack of amped/unamped comments.

  • Reply April 9, 2011

    Ken

    Hi Mike,

    excellent reviews on those headphones.

    I was interested in getting some full sized headphones and the 2 Audio Technica’s were the top of my list. I was wondering which was better for long listening times. You said that the ESW9’s were not good at faster paced music but great for female vocals, which of the two would you recommend for both fast paced and female vocals?

    Sorry about my lack of knowledge of full sized headphones, but I only have my Westone UM3x’s as a reference. Will I expect a much more difference in experience with the headphones I’m looking at and do you think its worth investing in?

    • Reply April 11, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Ken,
      The ESW-9 is very relaxed and normally that is what people like for long
      term listening. However it is quite slow in pace and not too good for
      fast music. The M-50 would be a better choice, not too aggressive and
      still good for long term listening, but should be –okay– for fast
      music. The HD25-1 has been the crowd favorite for fast music, anything
      from alternative, progressive rock, to electronic stuff, but the pads
      presses on the ears and gets hot on long listening times.

      Now compared to the UM3X, and other IEMs in general, I think headphones
      still offer a different kind of experience. And so, yes you would find
      something new when moving to headphones from IEMs. Not saying one is
      better than the other, but simply different.

      The M-50 should be available for roughly $115 in the US and is very high
      on the bang-for-the-buck list. I don’t think it would hurt to invest in it.

  • Reply April 12, 2011

    mathu

    Mike, would you still recommend the M50 over the SRH840 even if these two costed the same? M50s are much more expensive in Europe (street price is over $200) while Shure keep their prices at a reasonable level. I have just sold my 750DJ. Loved the details and nice soundstage but the mids were very recessed and rock music sounded very dry and too analytical. I would prefer something more flat and natural but good soundstage is a must so HD25 won’t fit. Which phones from the above (840 vs. M50) would be better at the $250 price range? I’m leaning toward the Shures…

    • Reply April 13, 2011

      Anonymous

      Mathu,
      I am quite sure that the SRH840’s mids is even more recessed than on the
      750DJ. The ATH M-50 is a little more forward in the mids, but when
      compared to the 750DJ, I think the 750 *may* still be a little more
      forward.

      Rock music doesn’t need soundstage, in my humble opinion, and since you
      don’t want recessed mids, then I do think that the HD25-1 is a safer bet.

      • Reply April 13, 2011

        mathu

        I listen mostly to jazz and I need a good soundstage. When I talk about rock I mean progressive bands like Tool, Porcupine Tree or Pink Floyd with top SQ in this genre and again they need a good soundstage to really shine. My HD650 does a very good job in both genres, although it lacks a bit of details and clarity in classical (and I’m thinking about adding a pair of k701 to the set). But still I need a semi-portable setup for my office.

        If the M50 is even more recessed in the mids I think I’ll give a try to Fischer Audio 004. Whether it is really as good as claimed on the head-fi is worth discussing, but the sound should be more natural than M50 and the soundstage is better. And it’s only $80 so there is no risk. I hope that it carries more details than my V-Jays because the lack of details is the only drawback of these little phones when used in my office.

        • Reply April 13, 2011

          Anonymous

          Good. Would love to know how the Fischer 004 sounds.

          • Reply April 15, 2011

            mathu

            OK, got the Fischer 004 yesterday.

            These are a truly remarkable phones. Warm but still very natural, very forward, and the soundstage is just perfect, it’s so wide as if they were an open headphones. Light and comfortable, with circumaural pads that isolate very well. The only drawback so far is the lack of a deep bass (again, they sound like an open design). It’s hard to believe that these phones cost $80 (same as the PX200-II which are no competitors at all). I’m thinking of getting another two pairs for my family. The M50 might still be a better choice, but only if you can get them for $100 – which is impossible in Europe.

            As for the source requirements, they work very well from my DAP-s, although neutral or cold source is preferred due to overall warmth.

            • Reply April 16, 2011

              Anonymous

              Wow, thanks for the impressions, Mathu. That sounds like a very good headphone!

              • Reply April 16, 2011

                gumbo

                Speaking of Fischer, I’m thinking you need to somehow get a Fischer Audio FA-003 to add to this closed cans shootout. With all the praise for the FA-003, favourable comparisons to the hd600, claims for best under $200 and all, it would be interesting to see how it stacks up. 🙂

                • Reply April 16, 2011

                  Anonymous

                  Yea, I’ve been hearing it too. They are out of stock in many places tho, and I still can’t get a demo unit.

  • Reply April 20, 2011

    Canni

    Hi Mike, loved the review. I’ve twice tested the M50 at a store and loved it, but due to my small head I decided to go with the ES7. I’ve read about the comfort issues but I never realized it was so bad, even after the bending “mod” n stretching. My ears wouldn’t allow them on past an hour.

    Hence, even tho the hd-25 checks all my boxes in terms of sound genres, size n isolation, I’m more sensitive bt comfort issues now. I’ll prolly switch to the velors if I do buy them, but do they loosen up over time hopefully?

    I’m also considering the beyer dt1350. Have you heard them yet?

    • Reply April 20, 2011

      Anonymous

      I think they do loosen up over time, or my ears have gotten used to them, or both. I don’t feel the HD25-1 to be too pressing anymore, and I still switch around between different headphones.

      The DT1350 is interesting. But honestly I thought one of the main problem of the T50p was the low-bass section. And keeping the headband and the housing size the same as the T50p, I am not sure if Beyer can correct the low bass issue on the DT1350. I could be wrong though, cause the driver really has a strong potential.

      • Reply April 20, 2011

        Canni

        Hm, the t50p specs claimed a headband pressure of 2.5N, while the dt1350 has 5.5N. Wonder if this might help cos I read some guys on head-fi saying when they squeezed the t50p cups onto their ears the bass improved. But guess it’s hard to say if its necessarily quality or quantity.

        I’ll wait around for more reviews of the dt1350 before I decide between the hd25. The beyers really do look pretty tho. 🙂

        • Reply April 20, 2011

          Anonymous

          Yes, the Beyers do look pretty. And if you press in the cups with your hands, the bass always improves, so there is hope for the DT1350.

  • Reply May 24, 2011

    Tomne

    Today, i had a urge to buy a headphone in that price range. I went to my local store, took some hours to test some of the headphones. And i must agree with the conclusion, i was really impressed with the M50 all around performance. For a first dive in the hi-fi world, it’s a solid bet.

    • Reply May 25, 2011

      Anonymous

      True,
      Time and time again the performance of the M-50 constantly amazes me.

  • Reply June 11, 2011

    Free porn videos

    Very efficiently written article. It will be useful to anybody who employess it, including me. Keep up the good work – i will definitely read more posts.

  • Reply June 23, 2011

    Arjun Jamil

    Hi,
    I am torn between the Sennheiser HD558’s and the M50s, can you suggest which one offers better overall performance. I am looking for durability and comfort, i mainly watch movies and play games. when i do listen to music, i mostly listen to classical (mozart, beethoven, etc) and some new pop/rock genres.
    Which pair will suit me better? They stand at nearly the same price point.

    PS- I like bass, but i’ve heard the HD558’s, they sound good enough, is the M50 a huge improvement?
    EDIT-
    I will be shifting to a shared residence, would the 558’s be a problem for the other person? Also, the folding design of the M50’s is appreciated as i have the option of taking them wherever i want, eg- library.
    One more thing, durability- i’m a sorta harsh user, i broke my shp2500’s at bout 6 places, but those are shitty anyway. Which one of the aforementioned has better build quality?

    This is a repost, from the HD558/598 article, since the subject matter is similar to both threads. Delete if necessary.

    • Reply June 24, 2011

      Anonymous

      Arjun,
      Both are roughly just as good within their own signature differences.
      The 558 can cover classical, pop, and rock and likewise the M-50. Both
      may be a bit weak for the faster paced rock, hard rock, progressive and
      such, but in general they are fine. Hard to tell you which one to get.
      The build quality likewise is also about equal.

      • Reply June 25, 2011

        Arjun Jamil

        i just have this question. If you were sitting in a room with a person listening to the 558’s on full volume, would it be absolutely unbearable?
        How much does the sound leak out?

        What about outside interferences? would the 558’s be able to power thorough the outside disturbances?

        • Reply June 25, 2011

          Anonymous

          Arjun,
          I think if you’re asking these questions, you’d definitely be better off
          with the M-50. The HD558 definitely will leak out. Likewise it won’t
          block outside noise.

  • Reply July 3, 2011

    Guang

    Hi!
    I´ve been looking for a new headphone for awhile now and have narrowed my choices to HD 25-1 II and SRH840.
    I listen to almost every genre (but primarily electronic, jazz, indie). The best headphones I ever had were the senn’s px-100 II of which the low range was overwhelming. (So yes I do like neutral sound but also looking for ´fun´souning cans). I will be using them at home and outside (I find the 840’s portable enough). 
    What would you suggest?

    • Reply July 4, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Guang,
      The SRH-840 is good but I fear you’ll have sibilance problems with many
      jazz, indie, and electronic recordings — all three genres quite famous
      for boosting the high treble frequencies on their recordings. The
      SRH-840 is also less punchy in the bass than the HD25-1. I think you’ll
      be better off with the HD25-1.

      (I’ve been recommending so many HD25-1s it is not even funny).

      • Reply July 14, 2011

        Guang Sohi

        I received my HD 25’s 2 days ago. I tried both of them at the store (out of the box). 
        At first the HD 25’s weren’t very flat compared to the 840’s but I simply fell in love with the superb controlled, punchy bass (which the 840’s lacked). They have improved after (much flatter!) 10 hours of use.  The lows are not as loud as they were out of the box. Will they improve even more ?

  • Reply July 9, 2011

    Andy

    Hey hey hey,
    I’ve got a pair of ATH-M50s right now, and I’m in the market for a new portable set. There are two reasons I’m replacing the M50s, the first is that I think they’re too big for portable use (it’s like wearing a hi-fi neckbrace everywhere), and the second is that sometimes I find them to be too fatiguing for long listening sessions (mostly in the treble region). The four pairs I’ve been considering are the TMA-1, the HD25-1 II, the ESW-9, or the new DT1350. My music library mostly consists of electronica and hip-hop. I’ll be running them straight out of my iPod Classic (latest version). What do you think?

    • Reply July 11, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Andy, 

      The fact that you say the treble is too fatiguing with the M-50 makes me think of the ESW-9  for you. I know that the DT1350 is still going to be bright (perhaps even more than the M-50). I am thinking either the TMA-1 or the HD25-1, and I’m leaning more toward the HD25-1. 

      • Reply July 11, 2011

        Andy

        Hey Mike (it’s Mike, right?),

        Thanks for the response. I was under the impression that the HD25-1 had more treble focus and is somewhat brighter than the M50. Wouldn’t that make it more fatiguing than the M50? Right now, I’m personally leaning towards the TMA-1, because of the way you say they shine with electronica, which makes up the vast majority of my library, maybe 85% of it. Have you ever had a chance to listen to the HD25-C (HD25-1 with copper cable instead of steel)?

        Also, would you recommend that I get a portable amplifier as well? It would be something in the ~$60 range, I was thinking about the FiiO E11. I could go with a CMoy as well, but I like that the E11 is a bit thinner and easier to pocket. Have you listened to any CMoys other than the JDSLabs that you would recommend?

        Thanks, and sorry for bombarding you with so many questions.

        • Reply July 11, 2011

          Anonymous

          Yes, that’s why I was not so sure.

          The SRH-840 has more upper treble where the HD25-1 has more lower
          treble, and I’m not sure which part of the treble bothered you with the
          840. In my experience Electronica tends to boost on the upper treble,
          hence I thought hte HD25-1 may be fine.

          As for the TMA-1 and HD25-1, the TMA-1 would be better for stuff like
          Armin Van Buren, Tiesto, and such. The HD25-1 will be better for
          Prodigy, Chemical Romance. House and Dance recordings tend to be boosted
          heavily in the upper treble and the TMA-1 handles that very well. But if
          you listen to Prodigy, the HD25-1 just does things better. The attack,
          the focus, the bass punch all are happening more with the HD25-1.

          I guess this is one of the few cases where the discussion has gotten
          very specific and it can be quite hard to nail down the correct answer
          through text based discussions. But what I’m saying is if you listen
          more to Prodigy type of Electronica then go with the HD25-1. If you
          listen more to dance/house/club music then go with the TMA-1.

          • Reply July 11, 2011

            Andy

            I’m not really familiar with any of the artists you mentioned. Which category would you put music like this into?
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZiu1L6PcnE

          • Reply July 12, 2011

            Anonymous

            Hi Andy,
            I think that music will be great with the TMA-1.

          • Reply July 12, 2011

            Andy

            Thanks a lot Mike. I’m going on a bit of a roadtrip soon and might be able to go somewhere that I could demo out one or both pairs of headphones. If not, I’ll go with the TMA-1.

          • Reply July 16, 2011

            Andy

            Hey Mike,
            I got to try out a pair of HD25-1 II at a music store, and they sounded great, so I decided I’d go with them instead. I like the treble better than the M50’s, it sounds more sparkly (is that the right word? I can’t really decipher audio lingo) and less fatiguing. The bass doesn’t extend as far down, though.

          • Reply July 16, 2011

            Anonymous

            Hi Andy,
            I think your description is quite spot on. Sparkly treble though a little grainy, punchy bass but not so extended. I mentioned the issue about the lack of extension on the review, but at the end it’s still a lot of fun. And for most music the frequency extends enough.
             

  • Reply August 3, 2011

    Eskimoo

    hello. 

    as i tried K518dj (+)  nice build quality, clean sounding, very punchy bass (AKG signature), a bit dry sounding, can be driven so loud without distortion (-)  rolled off trebles, not so open feeling (cans damping quite thick), very small soundstage i used EQ to overcome this but the thick damping on inner pad made sound less open

    how well K181DJ compared to its smaller brother K518DJ. some sources said that the sound signature similar, is it true?is K181DJ sound impression more ‘open’ with better soundstage (especially on SMALL CLUB switch)? 
    how much percentage % the upgrade from K518 to K181?

    for HD25-1 i still didnt have WOW-impression of the legendary brand and name (also price actually).
    dry sennheiser sound a bit awkward in my ears, less fun sounding and also lot less punchy & fun than AKG. perhaps of its monitoring characteristics?

    • Reply August 4, 2011

      Anonymous

      Eskimoo,
      The K181DJ is more linear than the K518DJ. You’re not going to get the rolled off treble (in fact treble is a bit sharper than the HD25-1), bigger soundstage, and more spacious — though ultimately it’s still a closed headphone. Please don’t ask me about the % though cause I am not quite sure on how to put it into numbers.

      The HD25-1’s is tighter and less punchy than the K518DJ, but overall it’s a more mature headphone.

      • Reply August 9, 2011

        Eskimoo

        yep, HD25-1 is more hi-fi and analytical than 518DJ. 

        but small soundstage bad, ear-claustrophobic. cramped. not enough soundstage and some separations between bass, mid and treble.

  • Reply August 15, 2011

    Abhinav

    Hey,

    I’m looking for a pair of cans that would be great for trance, techno, house and that sort of music. I’m not saying that they need to be very boomy and have lots of bass. They should be punchy and just right and at the same be portable. I’ve been looking into ATH M50 and SRH 840 and having trouble choosing between the two. I know that these are mainly for studio purposes but I’ve read that it shouldn’t be a problem using them for portable purposes either as apparently they both look great. Can you help me make my decision? 

  • Reply August 15, 2011

    Pulleyking

    Hey,

    I’ve read a lot of other review saying that the M50 can be somewhat bright and have annoying treble.
    Did you have any of this?
    Thanks

    • Reply August 16, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi,
      Generally the sound is fairly dark, but as it has a good treble extension, when you feed it bright recordings no doubt it’ll be bright.

  • Reply October 13, 2011

    DJ/G

    What’s the best DJ-headphone?

    • Reply October 13, 2011

      Anonymous

      The best? Sorry, I don’t know. There are just too many different DJ headphones out there, but one or two DJ friends I know use either the AIAIAI TMA-1 or the Pro700 Mk2.
      http://www.headfonia.com/aiaiai-tma-1/ http://www.headfonia.com/bass-to-the-power-of-two-pro700-mk2/

      • Reply October 13, 2011

        DJ/G

        But like Quality Sound+ Durability/Build-quality

        Which is the strongest?

        Thanks a lot

        • Reply October 13, 2011

          Anonymous

          HD25-1 should have the toughest build.

      • Reply October 13, 2011

        DJ/G

        I read them both but you say the Pro700mk2 is almost PURE BASS

        Is that good for a DJ? who plays Dubstep and in clubs?

        • Reply October 13, 2011

          Anonymous

          Yes the Pro700 Mk2 is almost pure bass.

          Apparently my friend uses it, but I don’t know, I’m not a DJ. I suppose it’s good for house and techno.

  • Reply October 13, 2011

    DJ/G

    Could you listen to these 2/3 (very good music) videos?
    And help me out please? (your actually one of the few bloggers, that instantly reply :p)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD40VXFkusw 

    and

    http://soundcloud.com/laurentdavidsson/nebula-original

    http://soundcloud.com/laurentdavidsson/lumosldremix

    Thanks man I appreciate that you are helping me out 🙂

    • Reply October 13, 2011

      Anonymous

      All these questions, what are you trying to do really? Torture me?

      • Reply October 13, 2011

        DJ/G

        I’m trying to find the perfect HP’s .l

        I’m sorry if i’m pushing too much.. 😮

        • Reply October 13, 2011

          Anonymous

          I was just kidding. 

          Okay the HD25-1 is good but the TMA-1 is better for all those tracks. 
          With the one on youtube, I can probably enjoy a more powerful bass than what the TMA-1 gives me, but on the two soundcloud stuff, the TMA-1 is perfect. 

          And while the Pro700 Mk2 would give a stronger bass, over a few hours DJing period I would imagine it may be tiring to the ears. 

          I vote for the TMA-1.

          • Reply October 13, 2011

            DJ/G

            Thank you very much!

  • Reply October 14, 2011

    piak

    mike, i’m interested in M-50 after goin through your review here, but if you could just include D2000 and DT150, it would be good..few years back i remembered comparing 880/250 ohm and DT150,somehow DT150 sounded sweeter and full bodied than the 880.. but i ended up buying 880, i couldnt stand the clamping force of DT150..

    for the new purchase, i’d love to use the phone majority for movie purpose..
    M-50 is a good all rounder compare to all the phone you review here….what do you think mike?
    and great thanks, highly appreciated the efforts you have been given in this site..
    superb job mike…

    • Reply October 14, 2011

      DJ/G

      The ATH-PRO700mk2 are the new M-50 no?

      So Me I’d suggest PRO700mk2 (keymusic.com-belgium suggests it too to me :p )

      but Mike suggested the Aiaiai TMA-1 for DJ etc 😉

    • Reply October 17, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yes we definitely missed having the D2000 and the DT150 on this list, but I think your impressions on the DT150 and the DT880 are correct. The M-50 should make a good headphone for movies.

  • Reply October 18, 2011

    Erik Wijnands

    Great and entertaining write-up. Especially from someone like you, who normally focuses on the tiniest differences between, for example, DACs. 🙂 It’s time people forgot about the gear and actually remembered the music. 

    Oh and kudos for answering everyone’s question. Even the really obvious and “OMG WHICH HP FOR DUBSTEPBASS!?” ones. 😀 Great website, I check it daily. Would love to read more updates! 

  • Reply October 20, 2011

    Evan

    Hey mike, sorry to bother you on such an old thread but I recently acquired a pair of ESW9s from a friend and do quite like them. Was interested if you had any pairing suggestions with a portable amp.

    They sound pretty good coming straight out of my Clip+, but when hooking them up to any of my amps I do notice better instrument separation, better clarity, more open sound, etc (typical things good amplication does for HPs haha). I’ve owned both M-50s (hardly portable) and still have my old HD-25-1 iis, but find that the ESW9s work best with a lot of my music.

    • Reply October 20, 2011

      Anonymous

      No problem, Evan. Please try the JDSLabs it improves clarity and separation.

      Sent from my mobile device, apologize for any spelling mistakes.

      • Reply October 20, 2011

        Evan

        wow thanks for such a quick reply! I’ll definitely look into it that.

        • Reply October 20, 2011

          Anonymous

          You’re welcome, Evan.

  • Reply October 26, 2011

    ken

    Hi Mike,

    I was wondering if you had any experience with the Denon AH-D2000s? I was considering either them or the ESW-9. Which would you consider to be better choice and for which music styles? I was also considering getting the Fiio E10 as well, would it be a good addition with those headphones?

    Thanks

    • Reply October 26, 2011

      Anonymous

      Ken,
      That’s quite an open question. But when talking about those two headphones, usually the thing that stands out is the midrange on the ESW-9 and the bass on the Denon D2000.

      • Reply October 27, 2011

        Ken

        Im looking for a good pair of headphones for pop, electro pop more specifically, jpop and Kpop. I was thinking either the d2000 or esw9, would these two be fit for my kind of music or should I look somewhere else? I read somewhere that the d2000 beats the esw9 in every aspect?

        • Reply October 27, 2011

          Anonymous

          Ken,
          I think both the D2000 and the ESW-9 would be good for Jpop and Kpop. The ESW-9 is the nicer one of the two in my opinion.

          • Reply October 27, 2011

            Ken

            thanks for your help! would the e10 be a good match for them or another budget UAC/Amp?

            • Reply October 27, 2011

              Anonymous

              Sure, I think it’ll pair just fine.

      • Reply October 28, 2011

        Seung Tae

        Hey I was wondering what would be good for Kpop listener … I mean I listen American music too, but most of time it’s Kpop … I was thinking of Beats, Hd 25- II, or At M-50 …
        I kinda care about styles too so yah … Please answer fast, and thanks

  • Reply November 5, 2011

    Youyang

    Hi, Mike, 

    I’m looking for  a pair of headphone for listening classical and jazz music. Also some R&B and latino. Which one do you recommend? Thank you

    Youyang

    • Reply November 5, 2011

      Anonymous

      The ESW-9 would be nice for R&B and Latino.

      For Jazz and Classical, get the Sennheiser HD650.

      I don’t think you can cover those genres with just one headphone. But on second thought maybe you can, the HD650 would work for R&B and latino as well.

  • Reply November 24, 2011

    Scott

    Hi Mike,
     
    Enjoyed your review and wonder if you could provide a recommendation.  
     
    I think I’ve narrowed it down to the M50s or the HD-25s.  The main use will be on my laptop while gaming or ipod while travelling.  I’m thinking the HD25’s are a bit more portable, built better and may work better directly to an ipod without an amp, is this a fair judgement?

    Also, the onboard sound on the laptop is complete garbage so I may end up getting a USB dac/amp like a fiio e7.

    Thanks,

    Scott

  • Reply November 26, 2011

    Bryan

    Hey, ive been looking around for headphones and stumbled upon your blog and found it really helpful. I am looking for a pair of headphones primarily for hip hop/house/electric and some rock/metal (pretty wide range of music I listen to). Im looking to spend about 150$ (less it always better ofc). Was looking into sennheisers, sonys, and a few other brands. Was curious if you can give me any specifics to look into that you would recommend.

    -Bryan

  • Reply December 3, 2011

    Brycon Slaughter Casey

    I hugely disagree on this review. I own the sennheiser hd 25 1 ii, shure srh840, and audio technica ath m50. I also used to own the shure srh750dj. I don’t know where you get the idea the imaging and soundstage on the m50 is good it’s trash. The m50 has boomy bass and it is harsh in the highs. The sennheiser hd 25 1 ii is the funner of the 4 being bassy and good non grating treble response (excellent fore rock/metal) The srh840 is definitely the better of all 4 headphones. Being the clearest, smoothest, and most versatile of the headphones. It’s also got the largest sound stage and best instrument separation. The srh750 dj is trash. Uncomfortable terrible build quality and very harsh. Sure it’s good good powerful bass but it still sounds lifeless and boring. I honestly don’t know where you came to these conclusions. I don’t agree with barely any of it. You were probably paid a large sum from audio technica weren’t you?

    • Reply December 3, 2011

      Mike

      Chill.

    • Reply December 3, 2011

      harsyafadilla

      I sense a LOT of subjectivities in your comment…, and it’s not like mike is forcing you to agree with his review, and that harsh and false accusation in the end of your comment is really disrespectful. Please leave smart and proper comment.

  • Reply December 5, 2011

    Ricktans

    I know this post is really old, but what do you recommend for techno, M-50 or SRH-750DJ? I know usually it would be the M-50 but I don’t like harsh treble and you said the 750DJ’s treble was more toned down. The K181s aren’t appealing because of what you said about the clamping force. Thanks.
    -Rick

    • Reply December 5, 2011

      Mike

      SRH-750DJ for techno, definitely.

  • Reply December 7, 2011

    Anonymous

    Because of glowing reviews of the M50s EVERYWHERE, I made a choice and bought them. I would say that I’ve listened to them for over 24 hours (burn-in time) but have realized that I am not impressed: I want something more. To me they feel weak and strained when I turn the volume up — what I mean is that I feel the bass is not clean and not powerful enough and the highs are not as sparkly as I think I want them to be. I listen to mainly hip-hop and electronica.

    I’m playing music on an iPod Classic 30 GB and FLAC files.

    In light of these issues:

    1) What HP would you recommend that would have the desired traits? Could you give a few suggestions? Perhaps a few from several price ranges.

    2) Would an AMP help? If so, what brand/model?

    • Reply December 7, 2011

      Lieven V

      Hi Jopale, it took me a lot more then 24hours burn-in time for the M50 to sound the way it sounds now. So my first advise is to at least give it 100 hours.

      What’s your budget for a headphone/amp should you decide to get another one?

      • Reply December 8, 2011

        Anonymous

        I’ll give the M50s more time, then!

        As for budgets, this is starting to become an All-OR-NOTHING ordeal for me (my own personal finance scale, that is — I’m not about to drop $1,500 for the HD800 or anything)!

        I realize that I’d rather pay upfront now and get the sound I want than go with something less (as in what I was doing with the M50s), but I don’t have money to just throw away. I guess I want to be REASONABLE.

        If I were pressed, I would say the ceiling is $350 for both HP and amp.

        • Reply December 8, 2011

          Mike

          Hi Jopale,
          While most people including me would like to get things right the first time (or second), what usually happens is that it takes quite some time to really nail things right. 😉

    • Reply December 8, 2011

      Mike

      Hi Jopale, 
      Bass indeed can be a little loose on the M-50 as I indicated on the review above. I think you can try some other headphone like the HD25-1 that would give you a punchier bass than the M-50’s. 

      • Reply December 8, 2011

        Anonymous

        Mike,

        Thanks!, for your reply. I actually ran across your review of the Audio Technica ATH-PRO700 MK2 and I was thinking that perhaps I should pick a HP, such as the MK2, that is EXCELLENT at SOMETHING and not a jack of all trades, like he M50s.

        At least then I could be satisfied with that music type until I choose another set of phones for another particular type of genre.

        EDIT: This is a fantastic website BTW. Good work!

        • Reply December 8, 2011

          Mike

           Jopale,
          While the Pro700 Mk2 is very good at what it does, it is also a very specialized headphone. I suggest you get something that has a wider genre bandwith like the Senn HD25-1.

    • Reply December 29, 2011

      Anonymous

      I started to come across with views that M-50s don’t stand to competition as well as they used to. Some find them muddy and lacking in detail losing to such cans like Ultrasone HFi 580 and Shure 840. 

      HFi 580’s offer a good amount of bass ( less boomy though) but better mids and highs.

  • Reply December 10, 2011

    Dylan Yamakazi

    Hi Mike! First of all, thanks for writing such a wonderful review.

    Have you tried both the ESW9a and the DT1350? I feel like the bass on my ESW9a is lacking for hip-hop. Also, it seems to have a very airy, wheezy sound to me. Would the DT1350 be a good choice for more bass impact and a more smooth presentation?

    • Reply December 10, 2011

      Mike

      Hi Dylan,
      For more bass impact the DT1350 would be good although it’s not exactly a bass monster. You can also check the HD25-1. Both have nice punchy bass. Here is a comparison:

      http://www.headfonia.com/beyerdynamic-dt1350-death-to-the-hd25-1/

      As for a smoother presentation, I think the ESW-9 is one of the smoothest sounding cans there is.

  • Reply December 12, 2011

    PaulK

    Such a great review!
    The only problem is I’m starting to do my head in with all this research..  I understand a lot of it is personal preference, but there seems to be varied opinions on just about every headphone I have seen.  Including the ones listed in this review.

    I am looking for closed on-ear headphones for listening to pop, classical and alternative rock.  Noticable bass and lows is a must, but a focus on mid-high range.  Something portable in size (similiar to Sennheiser HD239).

    Anyone have any suggestions?  Greatly appreciated!

    • Reply December 20, 2011

      Mike

      Hi Paul,
      Sorry for the slow reply. Didn’t see your post the first time. The HD25-1 has a focus on mid-high, good bass though not too good low bass. The soundstage would be a little limited for classical, but I think it would be difficult to find a closed, portable headphone that does low bass and with an excellent soundstage.

      • Reply February 24, 2012

        burinkan

        Dear Mike,
        I’m looking for the much same thing as PaulK , seeking closed, on-ear hp, with good bass and lows, portable — but my budget’s only $100. I go mainly for pop, classical, and jazz.  My hat size is big — about an 8. I’d greatly appreciate any suggestions.Many thanks!

        • Reply February 24, 2012

          Mike

          Hi, 
          I am not too familiar with hat-sizes, but I think the HD25SP should be able to fit your head (I have a large head myself. XL helmet size).

          http://www.headfonia.com/sennheiser-hd25sp/

          • Reply February 24, 2012

            burinkan

            Dear Mike,
            Many thanks for your very quick reply! I’ll look into the HD25SP. How did you find its comfort to be, given your XL helmet size? Comfortable enough to wear for hours?

            In terms of sound, would you prefer the HD25SP over the V-Jays, though they’re different types of hp?

            • Reply February 24, 2012

              Mike

              I think the comfort is very good. Of course it’s not going to be as comfy as a big circumaural headphone. 

              The V-Jays are more fun in my opinion. But it’s a different sound. 

  • Reply December 19, 2011

    Stefan

    So far I have only heard T50p in-store demo with some high-energy jazz (Mingus).  I agree the treble was excellent, but I found the bass sounded a bit tubby (not boomy) as if Mingus’s bass were made of plastic, instead of real wood, compared to the in-ear DTX-100.  Was this just limitation of the small-ish enclosure or poor fit/placement on my ears, I don’t know.

    What would you recommend for jazz music?

    • Reply December 19, 2011

      Mike

      Hi Stefan,
      The Alessandro MS-1 makes for a better Jazz headphone than the T50p but it is an open design. Do you absolutely need a closed headphone for your Jazz stuff? 

      • Reply December 19, 2011

        Stefan

        Hi Mike, thanks for the reply.

        Yes I absolutely do need a closed design.  I should have mentioned I am replacing a pair of SR60 because they leak too much sound at work (have K340 at home).

        I just bought in ear DTX-100 for travel, so something medium size would be acceptable for the office, but nothing full-size please.  They should also be quick and easy to position (unlike the T50p) since I am frequently taking them off for conversations.

        I also prefer that they be from an easily-available major brand so I can find them locally.  Here in Canada, even in a major city, AKG are hard to find now 🙁

        PS – I can see how the T50p would have been an excellent choice for electronic music that is without the detailed bass textures of acoustic music.  I was shocked when I found the tiny DTX-100 sounding better!

        • Reply December 20, 2011

          Mike

          You can try either the ESW-9 or the HD25-1 if you need a closed headphone. They should be good with Jazz, and should be easy to position. The HD25-1 is available from Amazon.com.

          • Reply December 20, 2011

            Stefan

            OK. 
            Is the AKG K450 a worthy contender?  I like design and they seem comfortable… if I can find them (Amazon.com would not ship them to Canada).

            Thanks again,
            Stefan

          • Reply December 21, 2011

            Mike

            Hi Stefan, 
            Sorry but I have no experience with the K450. 

        • Reply December 29, 2011

          Anonymous

          You can order from B&H 
          http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Headphones/ci/12572/N/4220238605
          they ship worldwide. There are other US stores which can ship to Canada I guess.

    • Reply December 29, 2011

      Anonymous

      If you check this video 
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eYtnXOFAkQ the guy says that Beyerdinamic DT 1350 sounds much better that T50p.

      You may check the V-Moda M-80s which are told to give better soundstage than  average in comparison to on-ear cans.

      • Reply January 10, 2012

        Stefan

        Thanks for posting that.  After watching a few of his reviews, I bought the B&W P5!

        • Reply January 11, 2012

          Ghia-man

          Stefan,
          Considering P5’s and what is your experience so far. Are you using a headphone Amp?
          Thanks,
          Ed

          • Reply January 11, 2012

            Mike

            The P5 is very easy to drive, I don’t think you would require an amplifier for it. It’s also an excellent heapdhone and I’d recommend it.

          • Reply January 11, 2012

            Stefan

            Ed,
            I replied to myself by mistake.  See my reply above.  Hope this helps,
            Stefan

        • Reply January 11, 2012

          Stefan

          I am very impressed with the sound, comfort, build quality, everything!  Overall the design is perfect for me at work and on the road.  At home I have AGK K340 which I rarely use because they are so cumbersome.  I will use these every day at the office without tiring I think.  They look very classy without being too flashy or bulky – in fact I would call them sleek, but the sound is awesome!

          I wanted something that just sounded good without grating treble or emphasized vocals since I listen to jazz, instrumental and poorly recorded prog rock.  When I am working I concentrate mostly on my work not the sound effects.  I know this is an overused line but these cans allow you to listen to the music and forget about hi-fi.  You also feel comfortable and stylish wearing them.

          As for the amp, I’ve yet to need one.  So far I have only used my desktop PC, Nokia phone and Apple iPod – all have plenty of drive.  It even comes with a detachable cable that is compatible with Apple iPod/Phone volume control, plus a regular cable.

          I was lucky because my local B&W dealer had them in stock and on demo.  It took me about 3 minutes of listening to make my decision, which is rare for me being an audiophile.  Even luckier they have factory refurbished ones (essentially brand new) for $200.  Retail here in Canada is $300.

          • Reply January 11, 2012

            Mike

            Thanks for posting that Stefan. I have to agree with you the P5 is excellent, we really owe it a good review.

  • Reply January 9, 2012

    Ignatius Kristian

    Mike, what would be the ideal sub-US$100 amp/DAC for ESW9?

  • Reply January 15, 2012

    Ylias

    I’m a first-timer as far as more audiophile headphones are concerned. This was a big help.  And fun to read. Thx Mike.

    • Reply January 16, 2012

      Mike

      You’re welcome, and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      I’d like to do another one of these big shootoouts but not sure when another opportunity will come up.

  • Reply January 18, 2012

    Anonymous

    Would you recommend this over Ultrasone HFI 580?

    • Reply January 19, 2012

      Mike

      Recommend which headphone over the HFI580?

      • Reply January 19, 2012

        Anonymous

        DJ1 Pro against HFI 580.

  • Reply January 19, 2012

    Anonymous

    DJ1 Pro vs HFI 580 because they kind of look the same and maybe they have the same performance.

    • Reply January 19, 2012

      Mike

      I actually can’t comment since I’ve never compared the two directly.

  • Reply January 19, 2012

    Anonymous

    Final question: How does Ultrasone DJ1Pro go against Audio Technica Pro700Mk2? I have no idea Ultrasone exist up until last week let alone one of top performing headphones that I erroneously skip reading about it.

    • Reply January 19, 2012

      Mike

      The Pro700Mk2 is much more bassier and darker. 

      • Reply January 19, 2012

        Anonymous

        Thanks.

        ________________________________
        From: Disqus
        To: pathogenation@yahoo.com
        Sent: Thursday, 19 January 2012, 23:03
        Subject: [hfn] Re: Closed Cans Shootout: M-50, ESW-9, T50P, HD25-1, Beats Studio, SRH-840, SRH-750DJ, K181DJ, and DJ1Pro.

        Disqus generic email template

        Mike wrote, in response to chunkyoverlord:
        The Pro700Mk2 is much more bassier and darker.
        Link to comment

  • Reply January 25, 2012

    bookaboo

    hi mike,

    i am looking for a portable and favor a warmer, non fatiguing HD650 like sound signature. would the esw9 be the best choice for me? i have heard the es7 and liked it but found its pads a little uncomfortable. have you had any experience with the vmoda m80 as i gave this a test the other day and liked its comfort and looks but am a little worried about its mid bass hump that doesnt really suit my music preference for folk and classic rock

    • Reply January 26, 2012

      Mike

      The ESW9 is warm an un fatiguing, but you should look into the B&W P5 as it’s even smoother, warmer and fuller — closer to the HD650 in my opinion.

  • Reply February 9, 2012

    JohanO

    WERE THESE REVIEWED NEW OR WERE THEY BURNED IN? IF THEY WERE NEW CAN YOU RE REVIEW THEM BURNED IN FOR 80 HOURS WHICH I HAVE READ IS THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF TIME FOR THEM TO SOUND THEIR BEST BECAUSE I HAVE READ THAT THE SRH840S SOUND WAY DIFFERENT AND MUCH BETTER ONCE BURNED IN.

    • Reply February 10, 2012

      Robert Tan

       you broke your caps lock button bro?

  • Reply February 17, 2012

    Anonymous

    Hi Mike,
    Do you think the M-50’s signature, excitement and technicalities is on the same level to the Alessandro MS-Pro or Grado RS-1i?
    Because the M-50 looks like more comfortable and circumaural. 
    Thanks.

    • Reply February 17, 2012

      Mike

      Obviously no. Totally different design, totally different driver.

  • Reply February 22, 2012

    Tom Menchini

    Hey Mike!

    I’m looking for new headphones. I had a pair of Denon AH- d1100 and was quite pleased with the sound. I want to use them on the go with my iphone but size doesn’t really matter much. All of my hps have broken by me getting stuck on things so the cable eventually breaks at the bottom, so I’d like the cable to be removable. I listen mainly to different kinds of metal and electronic music. my budget is max $300. After i read the review i noticed there’s a lot cheaper headphones that still get great reviews.  The ath m-50 is looking really interesting.

    Thank you in advance!

    • Reply February 22, 2012

      Mike

      Hi Tom,
      So you listen to both metal and electronic? I’m listening to the new Philips Fidelio L1 headphone with some Armin Van Buuren and Massive Attack and it’s very nice. It’s very new and not out in most retailers, but the price should be around $300, has it removable cables. http://tech.mikeshouts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Philips-Fidelio-L1-Headphones-1-900x720px.jpg

      • Reply February 22, 2012

        Tom Menchini

        Thank you so much for answering my question! Would you say that it has a good value for it’s price? If you compare it to the ATH- M50 that is about half the cost. And also, would it make a big difference in sound if I used for example an FiiO E6 with those headphones and my phone?

        • Reply February 23, 2012

          Mike

          Oh yes.. I think this is better than the ATH M-50, especially the build quality is so much better.

  • Reply February 28, 2012

    burinkan

    Mike, a few days ago, you recommended the HD25-1 over everything else for classical and pop, for a $200 budget; why do you prefer it over the M-50? How do the two hp’s compare — particularly in terms of sound (especially bass), comfort for many hours of listening (I’m  the guy w/ a size 8 hat size, if you recall), and, lastly, portability (tossing in a backpack).
    Many thanks; it’s really great to be able to get advice from somebody who knows his stuff and who’s tested so many hp’s in depth.

    • Reply February 29, 2012

      Mike

      In terms of bass, the M-50 has more bass quantity, but a bit loose and lacking punch. The HD25-1 is a lot more punchy and overall has a faster bass, which is important if you listen to Rock and Metal. 
      The comfort factor, I think it’s a give and take between the two. The M-50 is softer but gets warmer faster. The HD25-1 clamps harder but gets less hot than the M-50. 
      If you’re going to toss the headphone in a backpack, the HD25-1 will withstand far greater abuse than the M-50. 

      You’re welcome, burinkan. 🙂 

  • Reply February 28, 2012

    burinkan

    Mike, sorry, forgot to ask just now whether you’d recommend using a hp amp with either the HD25-1 or ATH-M50 when used w/ an iPhone.

    Thanks.

    • Reply February 28, 2012

      Chris Allen

      I’d recommend trying it out yourself.  If you feel it does the job, then you’re ready to go.  If you think improvements are needed to suit your taste, seek out an external amp.

      • Reply February 29, 2012

        Mike

        Thanks, Chris.

    • Reply February 29, 2012

      Mike

      You can get enough volume without an amp, but with medium to big headphones, it’ll be good to have an amp to improve the bass impact since the Iphone’s amp often is too weak to produce a good bass impact. Between the two the M-50 needs a good amp more to control the bass, the HD25-1 does better without an amp.

  • Reply March 3, 2012

    Jerry Szprot

    This is a great article that I really enjoyed reading and found very informative.
    It would be great to have another shootout like this. A lot of people like closed cans.

    Some closed cans that I think should be compared to each other:
    KRK KNS 8400
    M-Audio Q40
    Beyerdynamic DT250
    Allen & Heath Xone XD-53
    Koss Tony Bennet Signature
    Sennheiser HD449
    Sony MDR-ZX700
    Pioneer HDJ-1000
    Technics RP-DJ 1210

    • Reply March 3, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks. There’s a LOT of closed cans out there if we want to do a comparison. 😉 

  • Reply March 6, 2012

    Victor Yu

    Mike, do you think it is worth upgrading from the ESW9 to ESW10JPN? I like the warm sound from the ESW9. Any similar sound signature portable with a better noise isolation? This is one of the biggest weaknesses for me on ESW9, can’t hear the music properly in public transports

    • Reply March 7, 2012

      Mike

      Victor,
      When I tried the ESW10JPN, although it was more spacious, it did lose the warmth that the ESW9 has. So, I wouldn’t really see it as a straight upgrade.
      If you want noise isolation, you probably should try an IEM. Something like the Ortofon EQ7 (http://www.headfonia.com/ortofon-e-q7/) has a warm and mellow voicing, though not quite like the ESW9.

      • Reply March 24, 2012

        Victor Yu

        Hi Mike, when I use the SR71A with the ESW9, I found both medium and hi gain works but the hi gain produce louder sound, which gain level will you recommend, will there be a difference in sound quality?

        • Reply March 24, 2012

          Mike

          In general, and I’ve witnessed this on maybe almost all amps with gain settings, lower gain will give you a cleaner sound, blacker background, better instrument separation. Higher gain would give you a more forward, punchier sound at the expense of the technical aspects.

        • Reply March 24, 2012

          Mike

          In general, and I’ve witnessed this on maybe almost all amps with gain settings, lower gain will give you a cleaner sound, blacker background, better instrument separation. Higher gain would give you a more forward, punchier sound at the expense of the technical aspects.

  • Reply March 23, 2012

    Dima Indra

    What would happen if you put ATHPRO700 MK2 in the Shootout? Which one is best?

  • Reply April 2, 2012

    Ezra Elliott

    I really have to disagree with your assessment of the SRH840 cans. I own both the m50s and the Shures, and with I vastly prefer the Shures over the ATs. The difference for  me is night and day, the M50s compared to the SRH840s is like comparing an MP3 file to a lossless file; the Shures feels more open, airy, and life-like whereas the m50s feels compressed or condensed due to the emphasized mid range. The bass extends into the abyss of the sub frequencies with SRH840s but with the M50s all the emphasis is on the upper bass and lower mids. The Shures are the closest I’ve ever heard closed back headphones come to the expansiveness and soundstage of open phones. Also the Shures are incomparably more comfortable and there is no mention in the article about the bayonet style detachable cable and the inclusion of an extra pair of ear pads. That being said, the M50s are built like a tank, stay on the head very sturdily, sound amazing for hip-hop, electronica, and dance punk stylistically far more appealing and sound much better with lower quality amplification and source audio (and for these reasons these are my “out and about” and work-out headphones). Keep in mind that the Shures require a ludicrous amount of burn in to open up their full potential. On a side note, do you have a review of the AKG Q701? I want to pick up a pair and I didn’t see anything about them on the site.

  • Reply April 7, 2012

    Trent_D

    Where would the superlux HD660 place in the closed cans shootout?

    • Reply April 7, 2012

      Mike

      Tough..

      Maybe roughly SRH-840 level technicalities with a more forward sound than the Shure.

      • Reply April 8, 2012

        Trent_D

         So it could compete with the M50?

  • Reply April 9, 2012

    C.I

    Hi Mike,
    Need your expert opinion.  Narrowed my choices to the ff. which one do you think would be the best choice for pop, male vocals, nothing bass-heavy or metal music.  I also listen to a little alternative and light rock. I’d prefer not too have the vocals very forward sounding or harsh in high volume.  Using the an ipod 160GB and a Fiio e17:

    ATH M50
    ATH AD 700
    Senn HD 598

    Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated, Mike!  Thank you so much

  • Reply May 6, 2012

    Pedro Malheiro

    Hi Mike. 

    I have to buy a new headphone 
    I’m in doubt about Shure SRH -840 ,Shure SHR- 940, Audio Technica M-50 and AKG K550, I dont know what would be the best for me. 

    I listen all types of music:

    Linkin Park
    Sound track  from gladiator, 300 
    Daft Punk
    Adele
    Cold Play
    Swedish house mafia 

    Best Regards
    Pedro Malheiro

    • Reply May 6, 2012

      dalethorn

      I would say just one thing, Pedro. Watch out for brightness. A lot of people focus on bass response, but the high end brightness is more likely to be where a fatigue factor will be lurking. For example, while the Shure 940 gives extraordinary high freq. detail, to many people it’s just too bright. If I were buying it again, I would do the earcup mod like I did with the 1440. And BTW, those simple and non-destructive mods are also applicable to other headphones as well.

      • Reply May 8, 2012

        Mike

        Yes out of the four headphones you listed, they’re all great (I’m especially enjoying the K550 at the moment). Problem is most of them don’t have the PRaT for your music, except for the Shure 940, which as dalethorn said, a lot of people find them bright.

    • Reply May 8, 2012

      Mike

      Pedro,
      You seem to like fast aggressive music. Try the Senn HD25-1?

      • Reply May 8, 2012

        Pedro Malheiro

        unfortunately I dont find any of this headphones to try 🙁

        For what I see until now, I think the HD25-1 is the best choice overall , I just dont know if the on hear headphones would be a good choice because I will use them almost all day.

        And I’m waiting for the K550 review

        Thank you very much
        Best Regards

        • Reply May 9, 2012

          Mike

          The K550 is a really nice headphone and I’m loving it, but I don’t think it has a good attack for Rock. Full size with a good attack for Rock, I think either the Shure 940 or Beyer’s DT770 80 ohms.

  • Reply May 7, 2012

    Freddy Paulenich

    How would a sony xb 700 and a beats solo hd fare against the Audio Technica M-50?  I’ve been looking for a good pair of headphones and those seem to be my three choices so far..thanks for your expert advice!

    • Reply May 8, 2012

      Mike

      Fred,
      I would say that the M-50 has the most linear response and the best technicalities of all the three headphones you listed, but it happens to have some good bass in there as well. The XB700 is quite smooth but it’s tuned more to be a fun sounding bassy headphone. The Solo, well I don’t think it’s as good as the other two.

  • Reply June 10, 2012

    dalethorn

    I got one of the new white M50’s recently, and it looks like AT must have made a large batch of these to get the street price down to $160 USD or so. I’ve had very few headphones in this price range – v-moda M80, Phiaton MS400, GMP 8.35D – but the M50 seems more like a real hi-fi headphone than most of the others excepting maybe the GMP. I found a small treble brightness or sibilance, a slight midrange coloration, and really good bass if it’s not overwhelming and getting boomy or muddy. I haven’t had bass problems on more than one or two tracks out of a hundred, so overall the new M50 (or new production anyway) seems like a heckuva deal at the price.

    • Reply June 10, 2012

      Don Vittorio Sierra

      Aren’t they just the same as the old black one?

      • Reply June 10, 2012

        dalethorn

        I would hope they sound the same, but I never heard one before, so I thought if I post my impressions, someone might say “Yeah, that sounds about right”, or “Whoa, that sounds different from what I remember”.

        • Reply June 11, 2012

          Don Vittorio Sierra

          ahh ok. I myself feel they lack mids, have too much sibilance and have too much around 30 to 40 hz vs the midbass making the sound less tight than I would want. They are quite clean sounding though.

          • Reply June 11, 2012

            dalethorn

            Good to hear – they kept the sound pretty much the same. Now if only Sennheiser would make a really large batch of 700’s and sell them for $500 each – I’m lining up for that one.

    • Reply June 11, 2012

      Mike

      It was down to ~$110 at amazon at one point. The black version that is.

  • […] carrying case, and of course the receipt for warranty. Here is a review for the headphones: SRH750DJ Review More Pictures Here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?…3&l=506b0680b1 var ACE_AR = […]

  • Reply June 27, 2012

    Ege Temizkan

    Hi Mike,
    I am thinking of buying m50 but I will be listening rock music a lot. So if I use an amp to improve the bass speed and punchyness of m50 will it be as good as hd25-1 for rock music?
    And what about sound leakage and isolation of hd25-1?

    • Reply June 27, 2012

      Mike

      Ege,
      I’ve tried using many different amps with the M-50 and I still find the bass not fast enough. I’d go directly for the HD25-1.

      Sound leakage and isolation is excellent with the HD25-1, among the best in portable headphones.

      • Reply June 27, 2012

        Ege Temizkan

        Thanks for the fast reply.
        Lastly; you said that hd25-1 is kind of an old headphone and its driver is older than others. Will it be a problem for me.

        • Reply June 27, 2012

          Mike

          Yes it is an old driver, still it’s a good headphone.

  • Reply August 18, 2012

    Erik Zatloukal

    Hi I am wondering which od these three to buy : HD 25-1 or AKG 181 DJ or Audio T. M 50 . I really like clear but
    entertaining sound. I like when the basse is clear and bit stronger .But not as strong
    as Shure 750 DJ have. Can someone help me pls ? 🙂

    • Reply August 18, 2012

      Mike

      Erik,
      I would suggest either the HD25-1 or the AKG K181DJ.

      • Reply August 18, 2012

        Erik Zatloukal

        Thanks for fast reply . I think I ll go for AKG K181DJ they are cheaper than HD25-1 in Czech Republic .

        • Reply August 20, 2012

          Mike

          Yes they are cheaper than the HD25-1 here in Indonesia too.

  • Reply August 23, 2012

    George Lai

    Hi Mike, how about another big shoot out but this time for open backs?

  • Reply August 23, 2012

    Piyaphat Pat Tulakoop

    Good Reviews!
    After reading all of this. I still got 2 choices left.Audio-Technica M-50 and AKG K181DJ. I’m listening to almost genres of music, even Gabba. Which headphone that I could choose. I don’t mind about clamping force on my head and design. Thank you! 😀

  • Reply August 30, 2012

    Někdo

    I want to ask you …. From other reviews I read that the AKG 181 Dj are the best DJ headphones . Which of these is better then AKG 181 DJ ? I mean better in sound , lows , mids ,hights and so on … I don t care about comfort orbuild quality .Can someone help me pls ?

    • Reply August 30, 2012

      Mike

      Někdo,
      It’s really hard to say which one is the best DJ headphones. I’ve talked to several DJs and they all seem to have their own favorite headphone.

  • Reply September 11, 2012

    James Leeder

    Hi Mike,

    I keep trying to comment and it doesn’t seem to come up. Anyway, I’m looking at getting the HD 25-1 because I want a good portable set of headphones, but I have a diverse range of genres I like (Electronic, Ambient, Jazz and occasionally classical). Firstly, do you think the HD 25-1 will suit my needs? Secondly, do I need an amp for it?

    Thanks for all your helpful advice!

    • Reply September 11, 2012

      Nick Tam

      I think the HD25 would suit electronic but not the latter genres, and rule of thumb is that an amplifier would improve the sonics ever so much. Portable headphones are relatively easy to drive, it’s just up to you and your wallet and your current source to decide about the amplifier. For the latter genres I would recommend Beyerdynamic perhaps, probably the DT1350 might just be what you’re looking for.

      • Reply September 11, 2012

        James Leeder

        I read Mike’s review of the DT1350 where he suggests the mid-range and timbre of the headphones make unideal for those genres. If you have any other suggestions they would be much appreciated!

    • Reply September 11, 2012

      Mike

      James,
      For your music, mostly Ambient Jazz and Classical, the Sony Z1000 would be better than the HD25-1. For electronic, the Sony is also pretty good and probably a tie with the HD25-depending on the sort of electronic you listen to.

      • Reply September 12, 2012

        James Leeder

        Thanks Mike,

        How does the Z1000 fare against the HD25-1 for instrumental music?

        Again, your advice is invaluable and much appreciated!

        • Reply September 12, 2012

          Mike

          James,
          Big difference. Z1000 has a bigger soundstage, clearer separation, much more smoother, better detail and frequency extension.

  • […] Sudah Tau kan Headphone Legendaris dari Audio Technica? Untuk Reviewnya bisa dicek di berbagai website Headphonia […]

  • Reply October 31, 2012

    internetshortage internetshort

    Hi mike, why is the AKG k181 DJ cheaper than sennheiser hd 25-1 when it out performs sennheiser in wider bass response, and soundstage?

    • Reply November 1, 2012

      Mike

      Different pricing policies from the two companies.

      Also the HD25-1 has a legendary reputation among TV stations and production crews, while the K181DJ is less known.

  • Reply December 25, 2012

    Saree Ab

    Guys i am confused between ATH M50 and Shure 750DJ, i listed to everything, from normal music (yanni…) to house music …. I have listened once to ATH M50 and it is great ! really … I am confused because some says shure is brighter and warmer and according to this review the M50 still didn’t beat up the 750dj … I am afraid buying the 750 and regretting over not getting the M50, what do you say ?
    I guess listening to both of them is my only option to decide

    • Reply December 25, 2012

      Saree Ab

      and according to people the 750dj build quality is really bad… is it ?

      • Reply December 26, 2012

        Mike

        The build is not as good as the M50.

        • Reply December 26, 2012

          Saree Ab

          Thanks a lot for the advice ! 🙂

    • Reply December 26, 2012

      Mike

      The M-50 is the better all rounder. I suggest you go with that one. It’s an extremely popular headphone and a lot of people love the M-50. Surely something is right with that headphone.

  • Reply December 30, 2012

    Saree Ab

    Have you ever compared the M50 to AKG K167 ?

    • Reply December 31, 2012

      Saree Ab

      Or to V Moda M80 ?, Some says K167 is from another league (it is better than the M50).

  • Reply January 9, 2013

    22diabolo

    Hi, Mike

    i hope you can help me choose the right headphones for me 🙂

    i mostly i am listen to R&B, Hip-hop and rap… i have the HD-25 and i just in love with them! i can listen to music 3 hours a day and its just perfect!
    i also have the 558 with the hud-mx1 but i don’t know why but after like 30 min listen to music its makes me headache its just not like HD-25 🙁

    i am thinking about the M-50 do you think it will be good for me?

    Thanks!!!!!!!

    • Reply January 9, 2013

      22diabolo

      I meant the sound make me headache not the design 🙂

      • Reply January 9, 2013

        Mike

        I think the best solution for would be to stick to the hd25-1 then

  • Reply April 13, 2013

    Dean Lu

    I think this review is slightly biased. The audio technica ath m50s, from what i have read in many different places, has a weak midrange with a heavy bass and bright highs. the fact that the author wrote that the m50s are better than both is an overstatement. The m50s are not bad headphones, just not as good as the author says it is.

    • Reply April 13, 2013

      dalethorn

      I had the M50, Beyer DT1350, Senn HD25/Amperior, still have the ESW9 and ESW11 and a few others. The M50 does have colorations, but in extended listening to a variety of genres, I don’t consider the mids weak. Not ideal certainly, but not especially weak. The bass isn’t heavy like the Philips L1 or v-moda M100 – the M50 has a very unusual bass that gets stronger down deep, which I find much better than the two I just mentioned that have big emphasis in the upper bass. The M50 highs aren’t bright – try the Senn HD800 or IE800, or Shure 940 and 1440 for bright. The M50 treble may be a little peaky, like the Beyer DT770LE, but overall it’s not particularly bright.

    • Reply April 13, 2013

      L.

      Dead you read it or listen to it? 🙂

    • Reply May 14, 2013

      Bocheng Gu

      Dean is absolutely right! From my extensive auditioning sessions with both SRH840s and ATH-M50s, I had a very different experience about the two cans from that of the author. To me SRH840s are just overall better headphones than M50s in almost every aspect. For instance, the bass on M50s is too heavy and overshadows the mid-range, which makes the mid-range sound recessed (aka a weak mid-range). And contrast to the author, I found SRH840s to be much more refined than the M50s. The reproduction and separation of the instruments are just better on SRH840s to my ears. The highs on SRH840 also sound more natural, smoother and less sibilant than on the M50s. And in terms of the comfort, SRH840s are also the better choice between the two. SRH840s’ pads are more comfortable on the ears and they won’t make you sweat like crazy like those of M50s do. You can’t wear M50s even for a short period of time without your ears sweating like a pig! The only positive thing I can say about the M50s is that they do have a better design and built than the SRH840s, but that doesn’t mean much if you (like most audiophiles) value sound quality over appearance of the headphones.

      • Reply May 14, 2013

        dalethorn

        It is interesting, isn’t it? Compare headphone x to y and x may sound bass heavy, then compare x to z and x’s bass may sound weak. But the Shure has a good reputation, and the M50 is widely regarded in its price range. If you check the Stereophile headphone forum (Stereophile, not innerfidelity) you will see that of all the many reviews I posted, the M50 with 33674 reads totally dwarfs all of the rest.

        • Reply May 16, 2013

          Bocheng Gu

          Well, you can’t deny the internet popularity of the M50s, that’s for sure. And I’ll admit that there used to be a time when they were my top choice too just because of how well they were received and recommended by the people on the internet. And after having listened to cheap headphones my whole life, my first experience with the M50s were mostly positive too. They were ‘almost’ perfect for my needs and my budget, but unfortunately the overpowering bass, sibilant treble, and the sweat-inducing pads really just turned me off so I had to give up on them in the end.

          Having said that, I still feel that the M50s are good headphones for their price, but personally I think there are definitely better choices in this price range.

          • Reply May 16, 2013

            dalethorn

            I wonder which headphones you would consider better (more hi-fi sounding) in the M50 price range, which in the U.S. is about $125?

            • Reply May 16, 2013

              icecoffemix

              IMHO, even CAL which is about $50 cheaper has better tonality than M50.

              • Reply May 16, 2013

                dalethorn

                CAL gets favorable reviews. Apparently the build quality isn’t great, but for the savings you get you could buy a backup.

  • Reply October 21, 2014

    Thach M Truong

    hi Mike! Thank you for the review. I have a question. I’m looking for a new headphones after the HD 668b. I listen to mostly Daft Punk House, Pop, R&B and Instrumental. I’m considering between the M50, M50x and K181DJ. Which one do you think is better for me? Thank you very much in advance

  • Reply August 5, 2016

    Matthew

    Have you happened to hear the T51p/i since doing this comparison? I have the T51i and your comments on the T50p’s incoherence reminds me of what I’m hearing with these, but wasn’t sure if it was still improved in comparison to the older model.

    I have trouble deciding between this and the DT 1350, which i bought cheap for comparison purposes. Sometimes I think it’s obvious the 1350 sounds better (especially in the bass extension), but then I notice the highs are much more delicate and pretty on the T51i, which is nice… I guess it could be the overall difference between a monitoring sound and a musical/fun/consumer sound, which makes comparisons difficult. I have trouble understanding this latter part.

    • Reply August 5, 2016

      dale thorn

      Get the T51 earpads for the DT1350. Great upgrade.

      • Reply August 6, 2016

        Matthew

        I can try swapping them, but didn’t want to tear them or lose any adhesive that may be there before selling them.

        • Reply August 6, 2016

          dale thorn

          Don’t do that or you will lose the seal. You’ll need new T51 pads, and you need to make sure the DT1350 flanges are clean of any dirt or adhesive before adding the new pads. I upgraded the original DT1350 plus a ‘Facelift’ version, and both were the same afterward.

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