It’s a bit tricky to review these cans because the good folks at Audio Technica came out with a slightly updated model of the M50’s. Enter Sandman, the M50x’s! There are a few marked differences between the two:
A choice of different colors. Subject to change.
contoured ear cups that seal tighter for improved isolation
A tad more bass
Other than that they are exactly the same, and one of the best pairs of high entry level headphones on the market. If you are new to the world of audiophiles, these will make you look at music in an entirely different way. That’s not to say that they are better than everything else out there. But as an entry level set, they will change your entire perspective on how music should sound. These have been one of the most commonly reviewed, talked about, and purchased sets over the last few years.
Deep, tight bass response.
Extreme and vivid clarity between each instrument.
Sturdy build quality, not to heavy, not too light.
They contort in a myriad of different ways for added flexibility.
Great carrying case.
Wire is protected by a chromed metal coil at the end. The adapter and plug are both very rugged.
They can really take quite a bit of abuse.
Great for mixing in studio.
They are pretty neutral, and although there is an emphasis on the low end, it doesn’t feel artificial or bloated.
The ear pads are prone to cracking after sometime.
While great for mixing in studio, the closed back design (sound trapped inside) can be fatiguing after awhile. You will need to take a break every so often.
Straight cable is a bit long, making them a little less portable. You will need a rubber band or twist tie if you’re looking to wear them out and about. There is also a coiled cable version of these as well.
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People looking for a long term solution. A headphone that will stand the test of time both in solid build quality as well as great sound.
People looking for convenience. At 32 Ohm, these will sound great with any device you may have.
EDM (electronic dance music) listeners.
In general, everyone! They are a great all around set. I’ve had them since January of 2013 and have used them everyday in just about any application you can think of. They are remarkable in that sense. They can handle most anything you throw at ’em. Just don’t actually throw things at them, they will be sad 🙁
A great set of mixing headphones that also work extremely well for casual listening. The bass is tight and punchy, and for the most part controlled. The ear-pads are prone to cracking after a couple of years, and they can get a bit fatiguing after really long listening sessions. They are the best example of an all around great headphone that does well in nearly every instance you can think of.
Color: ivory and maroon, or special edition black!
This is a luscious set of headphones to be quite honest. The ivory and maroon is unique and adds a nice overall touch to the look and feel of these babies. What you get from them first and foremost is neutrality. They are an honest set of cans, and will not color your sound source in any way. They also provide exceptional clarity, sound-stage, and are extremely durable and comfy. The velour ear pads are pretty much a staple in great headphones these days. They are raved about in nearly every review as being some of the most comfortable cans you can buy.
If you are looking for a predictable and even sound, and want longevity out of your purchase, you may want to consider the HD 598’s..
They are open backed, and do well in an isolated studio environment, absent of any extraneous noise and distraction. Please don’t buy these and expect them to be noise cancelling. They ARE NOT. 🙂 They do leak sound, so be aware of that.
Remarkable reproduction of sound at it’s most natural and transparent state.
Exceptional sound-stage and channel separation. You will frequently take them off to see if the sound came from outside of the headphones.
Tight and controlled bass response.
Sparkling highs, great mid-range (their bread and butter).
So comfy that you forget you’re wearing them.
Neutral sound signature.
Double as ear-muffs in the winter (Who knew?).
Longevity. They will last a long time. Reviewers have frequently come back to amazon to give a glowing update years later on these puppies.
Durable, and not prone to breaking down.
Cable is a bit long for some peoples taste. This can be remedied by buying a shorter one. If you don’t want to buy a shorter one, just use the twist tie that the original comes with.
No provided case.
The 1/4″ plug to 3.5mm adapter is a pain, but the black version of these headphones come with 2 cables. One is the standard 3.5mm to 1/4″, the other is the awkward 1/4″ to 3.5mm.
Who these headphones benefit?
Classical and jazz listeners, generally providing you with the illusion that the sound is actually surrounding you. One reviewer noted that they are especially creepy when watching scary movies late at night! Hehehe.
Video games, providing those subtle sounds that gamers crave.
At 50 Ohms, these don’t necessarily require an amp, but do benefit from one as mentioned above.
Reviewers rave about every aspect of these beasts. From their uncolored, natural sound, to the unbelievable comfort, to pure aesthetic. The sound-stage they provide is nothing short of sensational, and as an open backed model you will be able to immerse yourself in the music, literally. It feels like you are there.. Just be aware that pairing these with an amp will bring out their full potential.
Check out the sweet review!
Similarities & Differences
Both have a very nice build quality, and excel in the longevity department.
Both have similar impedance, and can be plugged into any mobile device and sound great!
Color & Aesthetic.
The HD 598’s have a unique blend of colors while the M50’s go for the traditional black and silver.
The M50’s stand apart from many headphones in that they contort and fold in a myriad of different ways.
The HD 598’s by contrast are a bit more limited in that regard.
Perhaps the most important difference between the two. The HD 598’s are a mixing/reference headphone that distributes the sound evenly across the spectrum. They are about as flat and neutral as it gets, but still remain a very enjoyable and eye opening listen.
The M50’s have a slightly exaggerated low end, but never feel overpowering, bloated, or cheap. It’s just more pronounced. So the M50’s are a bit more “colored” if you will than the 598’s.
The M50’s do better with rap/hip hop, EDM, and music that generally thumps. 😀
The 598’s do well with classical, jazz, and acoustic stuff. They also excel in gaming and movies because of the subtle nuances that are heard in their sound signature.
The 598’s sport that extremely comfortable velour padding that people rave about in reviews.
The M50’s have a sort of “faux leather” padding which, while comfortable, is prone to breaking down and cracking over time.
Both are good for mixing, but the 598’s are better suited for it because of their flat signature and open back design, which lets some sound escape.
The M50’s as stated above have more of a colored sound and sport a closed back design. The sound has more of a tendency to get trapped inside of your dome.
The M50’s have been accused of having a recessed mid-range, which basically means that because the low end and high end are more pronounced, the mid-range gets forgotten about and thus isn’t as recognized.
By contrast, the 598’s mid-range is exceptional, and to many is the highlight of the headphone overall.
The 598’s don a detachable cable, while the M50’s do not. Note however, the M50x’s do have a detachable cable.
The 598’s have a remarkable sound-stage, while the M50’s do not. With the 598’s you will feel immersed in the music, as if the band is playing live in front of you. You will be able to place different musicians on stage, and really get a sense of depth and space. This is common with open back models.
By contrast, the M50’s sound does get trapped inside of your head with little room to breathe. When you first put the M50’s on, you will feel as though the sound is huge. This feeling does last quite a while, and you will experience hints of sound-stage, but it fades with time. This leads into the next point.
Open back vs. closed back.
The M50’s are closed back, and do isolate sound from the outside. People won’t be able to hear what you are listening to, even at a pretty high volume. You also will not be able to hear what’s going on outside of the headphones.
By contrast, the 598’s are open back, meaning some sound does escape, leading to a more pleasant experience overall. If the sound doesn’t have room to breathe, fatigue can set in faster. You will have to give your ears and head a rest with the M50’s.
Go with the HD 598 if:
You are looking for a flat, even, neutral, and honest sound reproduction.
You want a more comfortable listening experience.
You want a headphone with a great mid-range and remarkable sound-stage.
You listen to more classical, jazz, and acoustic.
You want an immersive movie and gaming experience.
You need great set of headphones for mixing/reference.
If you’re looking for an open back headphone that won’t break the bank, the HD558 is the solution for you. The HD598 is a little better overall, but there’s a trick that you can employ to make the 558’s sound really open up. It’s the foam mod, and it’s very simple. So if you don’t want to pay the price for the 598, but want roughly the same sound, go with the 558. Interested in learning all about them + the foam mod?
Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you have gained some insight on the M50 vs. HD 598, and which applications each are best suited for. I also hope I’ve answered all of your questions, but if not please let me know down below or Contact me!
Which of these headphones would better suit your needs? What’s your favorite headphone out there?
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.