material: metal grilles, carbon fiber, velour ear pads
color: speckled blue finish, black
What more can be said about these? Well I’ll tell you! For starters, they may be the best reference headphone that you can buy. This is across the board pretty much a consensus among-st audiophiles. I will never forget the first time I read this review on amazon. The reviewer claimed that buying the HD 600 would revolutionize not only the music you may listen to in the future, but also what you already own! It’s a very powerful concept that stuck with me. Being able to re-discover old sounds is something that is truly priceless and timeless. Everyone loves music. Imagine if the feeling you got from an old album was like hearing it for the first time again, only better and completely amazing?
That’s what these headphones provide. They provide the subtlety and details you’ve never heard before in recordings. They also reveal quite a bit of flaws in a mix/master, so be weary that these headphones were made for good quality recordings from good sources. Also make sure to purchase a decent enough amp to power these correctly. At 300 Ohms, it is pretty much mandatory. I will get into amps more a little later!
Great bass and low end. It’s not overpowering but rather strong, clear, and well defined.
Build quality is solid.
Gold standard for neutrality and accuracy in studio. environments. Everything sounds exactly as it is, with very little coloration.
Check out Metal571’s Review! I have the utmost respect and admiration for him. His reviews are honest, straightforward, informative, thorough, and insightful. Just the facts.
What they are good for/with:
Critical listening and mixing
Jazz and classical
They sound good with just about every type of music, and have been called a genre master..
What they aren’t good for:
They are really honest and will reveal flaws in your everyday recordings. This reviewer mentioned that he was tempted to throw away all of his old badly mastered stuff. Make sure your source is of good quality!
These aren’t really for bass-heads.
Office and portable use, etc. They will bleed sound and aren’t really made for on the go situations or where there’s the potential for disturbing others.
These are going to need a good amp to deliver optimal sound quality and volume. I have done a bit of research and a few great options are:
These across the board are considered the go to options in regards to quality and convenience. Of course, you will encounter really high end amplifiers if you look hard enough, but for your first foray into the world of audiophiles, any of these will more than suffice. The Magni/Modi combo in particular is quite popular and of amazing quality!
Perhaps the most transparent and honest set of cans you will find. The bass is clear and precise, but doesn’t really hit as hard as some would like. Just be aware of your sound source before passing judgement on the headphones themselves. Also a good amp is highly beneficial, if not mandatory to bring out the best in these. They have been called the genre master, and the best price to performance ratio out there!
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 “first foray” (if you will), 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.
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 andplug 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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At 38 Ohms, none. They will do just fine with any mobile device, tablet, phone, iPad, iPod, etc.
Who these headphones benefit?
Producers & beat makers
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.
Similarities & Differences
Both have a strong build quality overall, and will last you for years.
Sound. The HD600 is an open back headphone that leaks sound, while the M50 is closed back and isolates sound. The bass response on the 600 is also noticeably more subdued, but still is tight and well extended. The sub bass is a tad lacking however. With the M50, you get that hard hitting bass that hip hop heads will undoubtedly enjoy. While I’ve used the M50 for mixing to fine effect, the “reference” moniker that it gets is a bit misleading. It’s definitely more of a colored headphone that appeals to the consumer looking for audiophile quality that won’t leave them poor. Lol. The HD 600 is a purely mixing/reference headphone that will also blow you away with an amp paired. All that said, these sound signatures are pretty much the complete opposite of each-other. The HD600 is much darker (especially in the treble range), and as close to neutral/flat as it gets. The M50 by contrast is all color. Think big sound, but not overblown. The treble does have a tendency to get a tad shrill/sibilant at times, so be aware.
Construction. Both sets are constructed quite solidly, but the M50 is a bit more flexible. It contorts and folds in a number of different ways, and is quite portable even with the long cable. The HD 600 by contrast has a very tight clamping force at first. You must take extra care in stretching these, as they have been known to snap. Aside from that, they will last you for years. I can’t say enough good things about the solidity of the M50’s. They can take so much abuse that it doesn’t even seem real to me at this point. I actually dropped them on purpose at work the other day just to show a friend how much they can withstand. I’ve slept on them, the chords been tugged countless times, run over by chairs, etc. and they still hold up magnificently. I literally shove them in my pack everyday and travel with them everywhere. They haven’t flinched since Jan. 2013.
Ear-cups. The M50’s cups are made of pleather, and will crack over time. Mine have also deflated over the years, but replacements are always just a click away. The HD600’s sport that nice velour, and while they don’t crack, they will have to be replaced every 4-5 years. They also deflate over time. The ear-cups on the HD 600 are also larger and deeper than the M50’s.
Headband padding. The padding on the M50 is quite minimal, but still gets the job done. The padding on the 600 is considerably more voluminous and comfy.
Cable. The HD 600’s come with a straight, detachable cable by default. It’s also replaceable. In addition to the velour cups, you will have to replace the chord every few years as well. A small price to pay for an amazing set of cans. The M50’s do not come with a detachable cable. However, the 50x’s do. Another thing to note is that on the 600’s, the cable comes out of both ears, while on the M50 it only comes out of the left side. This makes the M50 more convenient in on the go situations. Metal 571 also said the cable on the HD600 was a little debatable, especially for a headphone of this price and caliber. The M50’s is pretty much indestructible, and feels quite substantial.
Amp/Impedance. The 300 Ohm HD 600’s benefit greatly from an amp, and luckily for you they aren’t amp picky at all. Some have noted that they sound fine without one. You can always add one later. The M50’s by contrast are 38 Ohms and do well plugged in to any source. They don’t need an amp.
If you’re looking for a closed back can that isolates sound well and is an absolute joy, the M50 may be for you! It’s a rewarding experience, and if it’s your first time hearing higher end audio, you will be amazed no doubt. Just know that while it’s pretty good for mixing/reference, it’s ideally more for the casual consumer looking for instant gratification.
If you want to hear what was recorded in it’s purest state, the HD 600 is the headphone for you. Hands down. About as close to perfection in this price range or otherwise, it’s been called the Gold Standard for a reason. It’s neutral, honest, flat, but also remains immensely enjoyable, especially with regard to sound-stage and it’s slightly forward mids. The mid-range gives a tinge of color which contributes to a fast paced and energetic sound that you can get excited about.
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.