Home Headphone Comparisons Audio Technica ATH M50 vs Shure SRH840 | THE DIFFERENCES REVEALED!

Audio Technica ATH M50 vs Shure SRH840 | THE DIFFERENCES REVEALED!

by Stuart Charles Black

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Updates:

  • 1/29/21. Article/link cleanup.

Hi friend and Welcome!

Today I’ll be hitting you with my Audio Technica ATH M50 vs. Shure SRH840 comparison review!

Two headphones that are pretty similar in a lot of ways, but do have some clear differences that you will want to know about…

So sit back, relax, and grab a bowl of popcorn, because this will be quite a comprehensive review. If you crave in-depth information…

You’ve come to the right place!!!

What I will bring you in this review

of each headphone

  1. Specifications
  2. Summary
  3. Pros
  4. Cons
  5. Amp/DAC requirements
  6. Who these headphones benefit?
  7. Consensus/Conclusion
  8. Final Word

So without further ado, let’s get into it!

Audio Technica ATH M50

and 50x for all intents and purposes

Specifications

  1. price: check amazon! | check sweetwater! | check b&h! | check eBay!
  2. type: closed-back
  3. fit: circumaural (over-ear)
  4. impedance: 38 ohms. What is Headphone Impedance?
  5. frequency response: 15 – 28,000 Hz
  6. material: Plastic & Metal
  7. color: Black & Silver

Summary

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:

  • Removable cable
  • 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 the 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.

Pros

  • 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 too heavy, not too light.
  • They contort in a myriad of different ways for added flexibility.
  • Great carrying case.
  • The 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 the studio.
  • They are pretty neutral, and although there is an emphasis on the low end, it doesn’t feel artificial or bloated.

Cons

  • The earpads are prone to cracking after some time.
  • While great for mixing in the studio, the closed-back design (sound trapped inside) can be fatiguing after a while. 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!

Please don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe to my growing channel. I would really appreciate your support! 🙂

Amp/DAC requirements

At 38 Ohms, none. They will do just fine with any mobile device, tablet, phone, iPad, iPod, etc. How to choose a headphone amp!

Who these headphones benefit?

  • Bass-heads.
  • Producers & beatmakers.
  • 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 every day in just about any application you can think of. They are remarkable in that sense. They can handle almost anything you throw at ’em. Just don’t actually throw things at them, they will be sad 🙁

Consensus/Conclusion

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 earpads 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.

Onto…

Shure SRH840

Specifications

  1. Price: check amazon! | check sweetwater! | check b&h! | check eBay!
  2. Type: closed-back
  3. Fit: circumaural (over-ear)
  4. Impedance: 44 ohms
  5. Frequency Response: 15 – 25,000 Hz
  6. Material: Solid Plastic & Metal
  7. Color: Black & Silver, with some Red and Blue

Summary

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 840s 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.

Pros

  • Folds easily and neatly into a compact bundle.
  • Durable materials, a set that is built to last.
  • Comes with an extra set of earpads, a carrying bag, a 1/4″ adapter, and a removable coiled cable.
  • Flexible headband design, able to bend in any way 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 its imaging ability is solid.
  • Very large ear-cups will fit around most ears with the exception of Ross Perot of course 😀

Cons

  • A 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. It may not be an issue for some, but they have the potential to get pinched by the headband adjustment.
  • They don’t do as well with faster genres of rock music or otherwise.

Amp/DAC requirements

At 44 Ohm, none! Easy to drive with any mobile device you may have. How to choose a headphone amp!

Who these headphones benefit?

They do well in a variety of genres:

  • Jazz  (Coltrane & Miles Davis).
  • Rock: (Deftones & Pearl Jam). Be aware that they may sound a bit slower with a faster-paced song.
  • Vocals and guitar really stand out.
  • Pop.
  • Folk.
  • Progressive Rock.

They don’t do as well with rap/hip hop, so you should be wary.

Consensus/Conclusion

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

Similarities

  • 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 is 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.

Differences

  • 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 its smallest size. Not so with the ’50s.
  • 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 840s 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 ’50s will be your best option.
  • The 840s do not come with a straight cable, but one can be separately purchased. In the ’50s, 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 840s are weaker in this area.

Final Word

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.

SEE THE M50’s FOR YOURSELF ON AMAZON!!

 

If you are looking for a more neutral can, with attention to the finer details, go with the 840s. The mid-range on these babies is undoubtedly their finest strength. Vocals will sound amazing. Overall, the 840’s lack color, but are better suited for mixing than the ’50s.

CLICK HERE TO READ SRH840 REVIEWS ON AMAZON!!

 


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…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

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10 comments

Mianka December 18, 2015 - 8:23 am

Thanks for the review Stu.
I have experience with bad headphones, and when you want to listen to something- the sound can be quite irritating.
I like the Audio Technica ATH M50’s pros and cons but the Shure SRH840 design is a bit prettier for me.
I like it when people do versus reviews, it helps me decide which is best, cause if you look only at a singular review they’ll tell you both is good but you won’t know which one is better.
What do you think is the average price range to get good quality headphones that last long?
Cause I see that the really cheap ones don’t have the quality what I want or need.

Reply
Stu December 18, 2015 - 9:15 pm

Hey there Mianka!

Thanks for giving your thoughts on which you prefer.. As for the average price range to get good quality that lasts long? That’s a great question! I would say for a ballpark range at minimum it’s about $100-$150. I used to have the Sony MDR 7506’s, and they will last you quite a long time. Same with the Audio Technica ATH M50’s as reviewed here. I’ve had a pair for just about 3 years now (Jan. 2013), and they have held up admirably. The only thing you will find is a little bit of peeling on the ear cups, but to me that is to be expected after such wear.

Check out the comparison review of the Sony MDR 7506 vs. Audio Technica ATH M50!

Thanks for stopping by! Are you in the market for a pair? Let me know..

-Stu

Reply
Edmond Chan October 26, 2016 - 9:05 am

Great article! Cheers Stu! think I’ll get the M50s based on this!

Reply
Stu October 28, 2016 - 2:16 am

Thanks Edmond! I think you will like the M50’s. I’ve had them for about 4 years. There’s a slight mid-bass hump, and the mid-range is recessed at times, but they are still a great set of headphones. Extremely well made and durable. What kind of music do you listen to primarily?

Reply
cherockee June 10, 2017 - 4:22 pm

Ended up buying the Shure, after thorough testing of around 30-40 headphones, including the M50(X). Which was a great headphone, but was for me not as “right” for metal music. And was smaller, I have a big head, much hair and apparently, big ears :). But I think its a choice between two great headphones, with the difference in comfort (Shure SRH-840 for bigger heads), and genre (mid range metal guitars were more strong for me, and as said in many reviews, the M50 has more bass, which in speedy musics, for like kickdrums for me was too much).

Reply
Stu June 10, 2017 - 7:55 pm

Totally agree about the M50x. Its mid-range is lacking a bit, as it’s more of a V-shaped signature. Are you happy with the 840’s?

Reply
ben October 13, 2017 - 12:56 pm

Hey Stu
busy considering the Shure 840s, audio technica m50xs,and the akg 550s at the moment. In my country they’re all about the same price. I listen to a wide range of music, mostly electronic like house, techno, lofi, drone etc etc but also classical, jazz and hiphop. the common denominator generally being a lack of vocals, unless sampled. bass presence is important but its got to be detailed/not excessive and overpowering. which of these 3 cans do you think would be better for long periods of listening? also, i have a pretty small head ^^

Reply
Stuart Charles Black October 13, 2017 - 11:10 pm

Hmm. Well if you’re needing bass, the K550 is out. It’s got a really crisp and detailed sound but not a whole lot of low end. Also because of your smaller head you’re going to have trouble getting a good fit. The 550 is already a weird headphone as far as comfort goes, so your situation will only exacerbate the issue. It’s infamous for having a clamping issue and getting a good seal.

The M50x? What can I say. I’ve had it since Jan. 2013 (back when it was just the M50) and I really can’t say anything bad about it. The new trend nowadays is for people to completely disregard it or even hate it. For what? It’s a bassheads headphone that’s marketed as an audiophile/reference can. It’s really that simple. For what it is, it gets the job done. Lots of bass, but not overblown in my opinion. Recessed mid-range for sure, sparkly treble. It’s your standard V-shaped headphone. Doesn’t really work for classical or jazz though, so it might not be your best fit.

As for the SRH840, It has less bass than the M50x, and is more suited for critical listening type stuff. That said, it also does well with a lot of different genres, so out of the 3 this is probably your best bet.

Comfort on the 50x and 840 is about the same. It’s good, but you’ll need to take a break every so often. Again, out of the three I would go with the SRH840.

Let me know what you think!!

Blessings,
-Stu

Reply
Paola November 8, 2017 - 2:41 pm

Hola estoy en un dilema, ambos audifonos en mi pais están en un valor de US 256 aproximados, encontre los shure srh 840 con un descuento y están a US 127. Estoy buscando un regalo para mi novio que esta estudiendo sonido, tiene su banda de musica (rock alternativo) y ademas graba sus propios temas (rock, stoner, fuzz), los usaria mas para monitoreo.
Me podrias ayudar con este problema, vale la pena comprar los shure por precio de oferta y calidad????!!!
Saludos y Gracias !!! 🙂

Reply
Stuart Charles Black November 8, 2017 - 9:04 pm

Si necesita un audífono de monitoreo, el SRH840 es una opción fantástica, y al precio que menciona es muy bueno. Yo diría que síganlo. 🙂

Reply

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