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

Here it is, the long awaited closed headphones shootout. Big thanks to Sem, Peter, and Bram for the loaners that make this comparison possible. There are nine headphones in total as seen in the picture below:

In the group picture, the headphones are arranged from left to right in the order of the biggest cup size to the smallest, in case you need a rough reference of how big one headphone is compared to the next. I’ve also included a link to the particular page that contains the review, so you don’t have to go through all 10 pages of the review.

  1. Ultrasone DJ1Pro (page 8)
  2. Shure SRH-840 (page 2)
  3. Audio Technica M-50 (page 3)
  4. Shure SRJ750DJ (page 2)
  5. AKG K181DJ (page 6)
  6. Monster Beats Studio (page 9)
  7. Audio Technica ESW-9 (page 4)
  8. Sennheiser HD25-1 II (page 5)
  9. Beyerdynamic T50p (page 7)

The set up for the review is quite simple, consisting of an Onkyo ND-S1 Ipod transport with the Ipod Classic 120GB, and the Grace m902 which I’ve modded with Burson HD Opamps acting as the DAC and Amplifier.

Let’s move on to the review now.

Closed Cans Shootout: M-50, ESW-9, T50P, HD25-1, Beats Studio, SRH-840, SRH-750DJ, K181DJ, and DJ1Pro.
4.2 (84%) 5 votes

  • 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.

  • Arjun Jamil

    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?
    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.

    • Anonymous

      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.

      • 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?

        • Anonymous

          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.

  • Guang

    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?

    • 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).

      • 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 ?

  • 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?

    • 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. 

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • Andy

            I’m not really familiar with any of the artists you mentioned. Which category would you put music like this into?

          • Anonymous

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

          • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

  • 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?

    • Anonymous

      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.

      • 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.

  • Abhinav


    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? 

  • Pulleyking


    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?

    • Anonymous

      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.

  • DJ/G

    What’s the best DJ-headphone?

    • 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.

      • DJ/G

        But like Quality Sound+ Durability/Build-quality

        Which is the strongest?

        Thanks a lot

        • Anonymous

          HD25-1 should have the toughest build.

      • 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?

        • 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.

  • 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) 


    Thanks man I appreciate that you are helping me out 🙂

    • Anonymous

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

      • DJ/G

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

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

        • 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.

          • DJ/G

            Thank you very much!

  • 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…

    • DJ/G

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

      So Me I’d suggest PRO700mk2 ( suggests it too to me :p )

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

    • 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.

  • 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! 

  • 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.

    • Anonymous

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

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

      • Evan

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

        • Anonymous

          You’re welcome, Evan.

  • 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?


    • Anonymous

      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.

      • 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?

        • Anonymous

          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.

          • Ken

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

            • Anonymous

              Sure, I think it’ll pair just fine.

      • 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

  • 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


    • 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.

  • 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.



  • 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.


  • 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?

    • Chill.

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • SRH-750DJ for techno, definitely.

  • 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?

    • 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?

      • 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.

        • 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. 😉

    • 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. 

      • Anonymous


        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!

        •  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.

    • 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.

  • 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?

    • 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:

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

  • 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!

    • 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.

      • 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!

        • 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).

          • 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?

            • 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. 

  • 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?

    • 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? 

      • 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!

        • 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

          • Stefan

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

            Thanks again,

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

        • Anonymous

          You can order from B&H 

          they ship worldwide. There are other US stores which can ship to Canada I guess.

    • Anonymous

      If you check this video 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.

      • Stefan

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

        • Ghia-man

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

          • 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.

          • Stefan

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

        • 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.

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

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

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • Anonymous

    Would you recommend this over Ultrasone HFI 580?

    • Recommend which headphone over the HFI580?

      • Anonymous

        DJ1 Pro against HFI 580.

  • Anonymous

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

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

  • 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.

    • The Pro700Mk2 is much more bassier and darker. 

      • Anonymous


        From: Disqus
        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

  • 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

    • 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.


    • Robert Tan

       you broke your caps lock button bro?

  • 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. 

    • Obviously no. Totally different design, totally different driver.