The ‘rotator cuffs’ on these new Audio-Technica headphones are certainly in better shape than my right shoulder; I always curse the fact that I never learnt to throw a grid iron football – I can’t even throw a banana peel in the compost bin from 10 feet away these days!
The M50s sport the same 180º rotating earpiece mechanisms as many others in Audio-Technica’s extensive headphone range, making them easy to put on and comfortable to wear. This is no trifling advantage either – poor fitting or difficult-to-place headphones can sometimes drive you mad in a long session, particularly if you’re constantly getting up and down out of your chair and needing to remove and replace them quickly and seamlessly. The M50s also have a high quality 1/8-inch socket with 1/4-inch screw on adaptor, and a coiled cable to keep the lead out from under the wheels of your chair during a session, which again, can be very distracting. Conversely, coiled cables can sometimes drive musicians (particularly drummers) crazy, as the added weight hanging off them can sometimes pull them off centre. But this doesn’t seem to be a problem the M50s suffer from.
The M50s offer a nice balance of weight, pressure and padding, ideal for long periods ‘trapped in the cans’. The circumaural ear cups (which fit around your ears, not on them) sit gently on your head, supported by soft cushions on the earcups and across the headband. Overall these cans feel light and comfortable.
The Audio-Technica M50s are ‘closed back’ headphones, which prevents sound from liberally escaping from the back of the transducers. They’re mainly designed for recording purposes, although their fidelity makes them more than capable of acting as headphone ‘monitors’ for mixing etc. They may not offer the same dynamics and clarity as some ‘open backed’ headphones – which are useless in front of a mic – but they’re clear and tonally quite balanced, offering nicely extended lows and highs. They couldn’t be described as truly ‘flat’, however – I’m still searching for a pair of those. The M50s are slightly on the ‘tizzy’ side, but that’s good for exposing sibilance and overly dynamic top-end in general. They’re well made, sound good and well worth having a close listen to. – Andy Stewart
Technical Audio Group: (02) 9519 0900 or firstname.lastname@example.org