Audio Technica ATH-50 2015 update

I can’t believe it is six years since I first reviewed these AT headphones, time flies when music fills your head!  How have they stood the test of time. Well with one small exception – brilliantly. I have used these sat at my computer for countless hours of listening, taken them on the road for location sound recording and generally treated them as working tools. The sound quality I still consider exceptional for the price and I unhesitatingly recommend them to anyone wanting top quality closed cans that won’t break the bank. The one downside is I have worn the plastic covering off the headband, which leaves me with a gentle dusting of black bits after prolonged use. I’m not sure if AT stock a replacement band, but if they did I would surely buy it. The ATH-50 is a modern classic. See below for my original review.

Some equipment is born great and some has greatness thrust upon it. What’s it to be for the audio-technica ATH-M50 headphones? From the outside, they don’t promise greatness looking just like a million run of the mill DJ cans and on the street you can pick a pair for under a hundred quid. To be honest I’ve struggled with headphones because of what might have been. I should have bought a pair of Stax Lambda electrostatics back in the day, when I could have got them at trade, but I couldn’t afford it at the time and the opportunity passed me by.



So today I have a pair of expensive Beyerdynamics that have never been the same since my son jumped on the headband and  a pair of expensive Ultrasones and a pair expensive Shures for IEM. These are all headphones that cost over £150 a time and they all have their merits in different applications.  I was interested to see where the audio-technica headphones would fit into this equation. The first thing that strikes you is a top end that has all the detail and no tiring “zing”. Is there a touch of boldness in the sibilants? Maybe a hint. The mid range seems free from colouration and at the same time lets you hear right the way into a mix, the structure is revealed without being obtrusive or tiring. And the bottom end is a big fat bonus. Bass starts and stops cleanly and with a definition that takes you by surprise time after time – break out the Bubba Sparxxx and shake the room inside your head. OK, I wonder if they’re cheating the bass but the bottom end doesn’t sound overblown or artificially warm, it’s just a brooding presence, and I like it. No headphones can image as well as loudspeakers, no not even two and a half thousand pounds Staxs, the ATH-M50 do the image inside your head thing OK but some cans offer more “air”. I’ve never really been hung up on imaging so it’s not something I worry about. I rarely wear headphones for over two or three hours and up to that point I have found no issues with comfort, the ATs stick to your head pretty well which probably contributes to the bottom end. I know some people prefer a lighter headphone experience but for monitor cans these are tops in the comfort stakes. They come provided with a soft bag, I would have preferred the harder case that AT supply with some of their noise canceling cans. The lead is half straight, half coily – the best or the worst of both worlds depending on your point of view.  One thing I would like is a detachable cord as featured by the Ultrasones.  However these are minor quibbles. To sum up the ATH-50 is an excellent monitor headphone at a very attractive price. Whenever I need monitor cans these are the ones I reach for. That’ll be all round greatness then.[rev_slider 1st]

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