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.
They are not a neutral set by any means, but do excel in studio for mixing/monitoring. Their bass extension runs pretty deep, so deep, so deep put her a** to sleep. Sorry had an Ice cube moment there. 😛
The bass never feels cheap, artificial or bloated. It’s a tight, authoritative response that will really make you feel some type of way (in the best way possible).
So in short, they do extremely well as monitoring headphones and in a pure listening capacity.
Deep, tight bass response.
Extreme and vivid clarity between each instrument.
Great channel separation.
Crisp highs, booming lows.
Great sound-stage for a closed back model.
Great for hip-hop/rap (a bass-heads dream).
Very comfortable over a long period.
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.
My Video Review!
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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.
Right off the bat, know that the bass on these puppies will not be as good, or as hard hitting as the M50’s. It’s one of the biggest differences between the two.
The SRH840’s have that Shure signature sound: exceptional mid-range, neutral but tight and clean bass, and sparkling highs. They are very similar to a set of Grado’s in that regard.
Be aware however, that some have called the highs too bright and harsh, because of that lack of low end. They will sound fatiguing to people that are more sensitive to treble. What does Sibilant mean?
They are remarkable as a set of studio monitors, and come in very neutral. If the 840’s were talking to you, this is what they would have to say: ”
“Meh, you go ahead with those other headphones, I’m just doing my job”.
Think of Frances McDormand in the 1996 Coen brothers classic, Fargo.
“You have no call to get snippy with me, I’m just doing my job here sir.” Lol.
And what a job they do.
They are very impartial, and have great sound isolation. Many were raving about this in reviews. You will also start to hear things in familiar recordings that you previously had not. They won’t extract the most minute of details, and don’t deliberately highlight anything in the presentation, but the clarity is exceptional overall.
They are simply a solid set of headphones that are built to last.
Folds easily and neatly into a compact bundle.
Durable materials, a set that is built to last.
Comes with extra set of ear-pads, a carrying bag, a 1/4″ adapter, and a removable coiled cable.
Flexible headband design, able to bend in anyway and it sort of springs back.
Amazing sound isolation, good for office environments as well.
Well balanced mid-range (their bread and butter).
Honest, neutral and revealing, but not so flat that they aren’t enjoyable. great for monitoring, and very accurate.
Bass is presented with warmth and musicality.
Molds to your melon very well.
Subtle nuances in familiar recordings will start to be heard.
Pretty impressive Soundstage for a closed back model. Don’t buy them expecting to be blown away by it, but do know that it’s imaging ability is solid.
Very large ear-cups, will fit around most ears with the exception of Ross Perot of course 😀
Coiled cable can be a pain, and tug at the ear cups.
A little on the heavy side, not really a portable set as far as running/jogging or lifting weights. They are a bit bulky. Really only meant for the studio.
Clamping force is a bit tight for people who wear glasses, or in general. They do better with smaller cantaloupe heads, but suffer in this regard because the headband does tend to slip and slide a bit.
Exposed wires. May not be an issue for some, but they have the potential to get pinched by the head-band adjustment.
They don’t do as well with faster genres of rock music or otherwise.
Rock: (Deftones & Pearl Jam). Be aware that they may sound a bit slower with a faster paced song.
Vocals and guitar really stand out.
They don’t do as well with rap/hip hop, so be weary
The warm mid-range makes these fantastic for listening to vocals. It is not the most fun sounding headphone since it is designed for monitoring, so if you like your music with a decent bit of coloration, then you should think about purchasing the M50’s.
These provide enough detail and balance to please most audiophiles and general enthusiasts alike. The bass is accurate and tight, but a bit on the light side. They can be a little shrill and harsh in the high end, so be aware of that.
Check out the video review!
Similarities & Differences
They each have a similar headband structure and padding. Somewhat minimal, but it gets the job done.
Both are extremely durable, have a similar build, and are meant to hold up over the long haul. I have had the M50’s since January 2013, and I can attest to this.
Both do well in a variety of genres.
The Soundstage and instrument separation with both is impressive, especially since neither are open back. The imaging you get will be solid, but not mind blowing as with other open back models. What is Soundstage?
Neither are really meant for on the go listening, but the M50’s will be more agile in this department. I do on occasion wear mine out because I have the straight cable.
Both cans are very flexible, but the M50’s fold and contort in more ways, and are easier to fold up. To fold up the 840’s, you have to completely close the headband adjustment to it’s smallest size. Not so with the 50’s.
M50’s do not have a detachable cable. The SRH840’s do. Keep in mind the 50x’s have a removable cable.
M50 has a hard hitting bass, while the 840 is more on the thin side, but still tight. Some say a bit too cold and analytical. The bass doesn’t have any weight or punch when compared to the 50.
The SRH840’s come with a set of replacement ear cups, the M50’s do not.
The 840’s are more neutral, and have a better mid-range than the M50’s. They are better for mixing overall.
The M50’s are by most accounts, a bass-heads can. The 840’s in this regard don’t do quite as well. Between the two, if you are looking for hard hitting bass, the 50’s will be your best option.
The 840’s do not come with a straight cable, but one can be separately purchased. In the 50’s, you have a choice of buying a straight cable or coiled cable version of each headphone.
The M50’s do worlds better with rap/hip hop. The 840’s are weaker in this area.
If you are looking for a somewhat colored, more “fun” sounding headphone, with a bit of extra bass, go with the M50. Overall it’s more exciting, and the bass frequency is definitely more pronounced. The M50 does well as a mixing/monitoring can, but overall is more geared towards a casual listener of many genres.
If you are looking for a more neutral can, with attention to the finer details, go with the 840’s. The mid-range on these babies are undoubtedly their finest strength. Vocals will sound amazing. Overall, the 840’s lack color, but are better suited for mixing than the 50’s.
Well that’s about it for today my friend!! I hope you’ve enjoyed my comparison review of the ATH M50 vs. Shure SRH840! Also hope you came away with a better idea of the strengths and weaknesses of each of these cans.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Let me know down below or Contact me!!
Which of these suits YOUR needs better? I would love to hear from you. Until next time..
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.