I got the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s/LE 50th Anniversary Edition about a year ago. I retired my old Sennheiser cans which I reviewed here. The Audio-Technica M50’s have been around for a long time and people swear by them. This is a straight cable 50th Anniversary Edition which is in a metallic silver-blue finish instead of the regular black-grey. In all other ways, it is exactly like the regular ATH-M50’s and has the same specifications.
It was a big leap from the budget friendly Sennheiser’s that served me for many years. I have used various headphones on the road including Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro, Shure SRH840 and more in the past few years, however I never tried an Audio-Technica ATH M50 which had numerous good reviews. Based on this, I had short listed the DT770 Pro and the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 as final options.
- Special 50th anniversary edition in silver-colored metallic finish
- Exceptional audio quality for professional monitoring and mixing
- Collapsible design ideal for easy portability and convenient storage
- Proprietary 45 mm large-aperture drivers with neodymium magnet systems
- Closed-back cushioned earcup design for maximum isolation
- Adjustable padded headband for comfort during long mixing/recording sessions
- Single-sided straight cable terminates to gold-plated mini-plug with screw-on ¼” adapter
This comes with the regular stuff, a 3.5mm to 1/4″ TRS converter and a nice faux leather pouch with draw string.
I must mention that the converter is a screw-in type, which is great. Some of the consoles built for live sound have the headphone connectors in odd places and I used to have trouble taking the converters out while disconnecting the headphones. With the screw-on type, that problem is solved, plus I don’t lose my converter any more.
The first time I set hands on an M50, what got my attention was its build quality and how compact it becomes when folded. It had well padded ear-pieces and headband, and a straight cable. I hate coiled cables on the road, the time and effort wasted on untangling them before each gig. The M50 has a long sturdy straight cable that feels good in the hand and is easy to roll up while packing.
It can be comfortably worn for long durations. I wouldn’t say it is more comfortable than the DT770Pro’s but not very far from it. Considering that it can be nicely folded and packed, I don’t mind the small compromise in comfort. Unlike the DT770Pro’s, the M50 can be easily manipulated to suit users’ comfort. It was a pain trying to wear the DT770 Pro over one ear while working, with the M50, it’s just so easy.
The M50’s sound great, I’m not going to elaborate on this too much. There are tons of reviews that already tell you how good this sounds. It’s perfect for a Live Sound scenario, I could hear the kick and bass nice and clean on the headphones even when the PA is on. That doesn’t happen with a lot of headphones, the lows are usually lost. It is a little heavy in the Low-Mids, but not enough to bother you. Once you get used to the full-bodied lows on the M50’s, you will have trouble using other headphones.
Like I mentioned earlier, these headphones are built for the road. Being a live sound engineer, I travel all the time and work in all kinds on environments, mostly outdoors. I don’t baby sit my M50’s like other headphones I’ve used earlier. They are strong enough to take care of themselves. I have been using them for over a year now, there is no sign of wear and tear on the pads of the ear-pieces or headband. The cable is still holding up very good, no signs of any blemish, in spite of them getting under my work boots at the console very often. A gentle wipe with a damp cloth and it looks as good as new.
The pouch that comes with the Audio Technica ATH-M50 helps keep the headphone and cable clean and safe when packed.
What I like about the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s/LE
- Doesn’t cost a fortune
- Looks great
- Folds up, easy to carry
- Great build quality
- Well padded with good material that doesn’t corrode or wear out
- Provides good isolation
- Sound – full bodied low end and nice clean mids and highs
- Screw-on type 1/8″ to 1/4″ converter
- Straight long cable (3.5m)
- Lasting and convenient carry pouch
- Low impedance (38 Ohm), making it easy to drive them without a headphone amplifier
What I don’t like about the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s/LE
Nothing really, but if I have to add something here, they may be a little on the heavier side. Wearing them for extremely long durations can tire you.
Update: Nov 17, 2014 Coupe of weeks back at NH7 Weekender, Kolkata, it happened. The nice long straight cable got trampled under my boots and on the second day of the festival and stopped working. I didn’t route the cable away from my boots like I always do. Heart-broken I called the Audio-Technica service center in Banglaore, they asked me to bring the headphones in.
The service center was super responsive and was greeted by a very friendly service engineer. He immediately suggested that incase it’s just the cable we should replace it with a spiral cable so it doesn’t come under the boots again, I agreed. A couple of hours after I dropped it off, I receive a call saying it’s ready and I can pick it up any time! And here I was worried I won’t be able to use them the following weekend at the NH7 Weekender, Bangalore.
I went in the following morning, received perfectly working pair of Audio-Technica M50’s with a brand new spiral cable. I would advice anyone using these outside the studio or home to get the spiral cable version and not straight. They have been out of my way without any speacial cable routing ‘techniques’ at the console. The sprial cable is just the right length, it doesn’t reach the ground to get trampled while alowing me to move about freely to reach any DSP/FX rack in within the FOH area when extended.