Sony MDR-7506 vs. Audio Technica ATH M50x vs. Sennheiser HD280 Pro

Part II of a Reference Mini-Series on affordable studio headphones!

 

Updates:

  • 2/1/21. Article posted.
  • 2/26/21. Video added. Ranking edit. Added chart.

Which of these headphones is best for mixing? Which is best for casual music listening? How do the V6 and 40x come into play? All of these answers and more, comin’ up…

Greetings bass head, and welcome aboard. Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music… All over again, so…

For all intents and purposes, this will be a 3-way shootout and we’ll throw in the 40x and V6 in there for good measure.

So are you ready for the Sony MDR7506 vs. Audio Technica ATH M50x vs. Sennheiser HD280 Pro comparison?

Good. Let’s dive in!

At A Glance

Preview
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone (International Model) No Warranty
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black, Professional Grade, Critically Acclaimed, with Detachable Cable
Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphone (new model)
Title
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone (International Model) No Warranty
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black, Professional Grade, Critically Acclaimed, with Detachable Cable
Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphone (new model)
Color
Black, Silver, Red, Blue
Black, Silver
Black
Weight
7.8 Oz. (221g)
10 Oz. / 284 g (Without Cable)
7.8 oz / 221.1 g
Fit
Circumaural
Circumaural
Circumaural
Type
Closed Back, Dynamic
Closed Back, Dynamic
Closed Back, Dynamic
Materials
Plastic, Metal, Faux Leather
Plastic, Metal, Faux Leather
Plastic, Faux Leather
Connector
Non-Detachable into cup, 3.5mm termination
Detachable, 2.5mm, 3.5mm termination
Non-Detachable into cup, 3.5mm
Headband Style
Traditional
Traditional
Traditional
Impedance
63 Ohm
38 Ohm
64 Ohm
Sensitivity
104dB/mW
99dB/mW
102dB/mW
Frequency Response
10Hz - 20kHz
15Hz - 28kHz
8Hz - 25kHz
Primary Use
Mixing/Mastering/Reference
Heavier genres, casual listening, sometimes mixing
Uh, yeah. Lol.
Cable Length
10' (3m)
3.9 to 9.8' / 1.2 to 3 m 3.9 to 9.8' / 1.2 to 3 m 3.9 to 3.9' / 1.2 to 1.2 m
9.8' (Coiled)
Cable Detachable?
Folding?
Amplification Required?
Prime
-
Price
$96.27
$149.00
$98.49
Preview
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone (International Model) No Warranty
Title
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone (International Model) No Warranty
Color
Black, Silver, Red, Blue
Weight
7.8 Oz. (221g)
Fit
Circumaural
Type
Closed Back, Dynamic
Materials
Plastic, Metal, Faux Leather
Connector
Non-Detachable into cup, 3.5mm termination
Headband Style
Traditional
Impedance
63 Ohm
Sensitivity
104dB/mW
Frequency Response
10Hz - 20kHz
Primary Use
Mixing/Mastering/Reference
Cable Length
10' (3m)
Cable Detachable?
Folding?
Amplification Required?
Prime
-
Price
$96.27
Details
Preview
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black, Professional Grade, Critically Acclaimed, with Detachable Cable
Title
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black, Professional Grade, Critically Acclaimed, with Detachable Cable
Color
Black, Silver
Weight
10 Oz. / 284 g (Without Cable)
Fit
Circumaural
Type
Closed Back, Dynamic
Materials
Plastic, Metal, Faux Leather
Connector
Detachable, 2.5mm, 3.5mm termination
Headband Style
Traditional
Impedance
38 Ohm
Sensitivity
99dB/mW
Frequency Response
15Hz - 28kHz
Primary Use
Heavier genres, casual listening, sometimes mixing
Cable Length
3.9 to 9.8' / 1.2 to 3 m 3.9 to 9.8' / 1.2 to 3 m 3.9 to 3.9' / 1.2 to 1.2 m
Cable Detachable?
Folding?
Amplification Required?
Prime
Price
$149.00
Details
Preview
Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphone (new model)
Title
Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphone (new model)
Color
Black
Weight
7.8 oz / 221.1 g
Fit
Circumaural
Type
Closed Back, Dynamic
Materials
Plastic, Faux Leather
Connector
Non-Detachable into cup, 3.5mm
Headband Style
Traditional
Impedance
64 Ohm
Sensitivity
102dB/mW
Frequency Response
8Hz - 25kHz
Primary Use
Uh, yeah. Lol.
Cable Length
9.8' (Coiled)
Cable Detachable?
Folding?
Amplification Required?
Prime
Price
$98.49
Details

 

Video Discussion

In The Box

Sony MDR-7506

  • Sony MDR-7506 Headphones
  • Soft Case
  • 1/4″ Adapter
  • Limited 90-Day Warranty

Audio Technica ATH M50x

  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Closed-Back Monitor Headphones (Black)
  • Coiled Cable (3.9 to 9.8′)
  • Straight Cable (9.8′)
  • Straight Cable (3.9′)
  • 1/4″ Screw-On Adapter
  • Carrying Pouch
  • Limited 2-Year Warranty

Sennheiser HD280 Pro

  • Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Circumaural Closed-Back Monitor Headphones
  • 1/4″ Adapter
  • Limited 2-Year Warranty

Specs/Graphs

Sony MDR-7506

Shoutout to RTINGS for the graph! This is RTINGS’ graph. There are many like it, but this one is theirs. 😂

Audio Technica ATH M50x

Shoutout to Crinacle for the graph! This is Crinacle’s graph. There are many like it, but this one is his. 😂

  • Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater!
  • Type: Circumaural, Closed Back
  • Frequency Response: 15Hz – 28kHz
  • Design: Over-Ear
  • Impedance: 38 Ohm
  • Sensitivity: 99dB/mW
  • Cable Length: 3.9 to 9.8′ / 1.2 to 3 m
    3.9 to 9.8′ / 1.2 to 3 m
    3.9 to 3.9′ / 1.2 to 1.2 m
  • Weight: 10 Oz. / 284 g (Without Cable)
  • Foldable: Yes

Sennheiser HD280 Pro

Shoutout to RTINGS for the graph! This is RTINGS’ graph. There are many like it, but this one is theirs. 😂

  • Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check eBay!
  • Type: Circumaural, Closed Back
  • Frequency Response: 8Hz – 25kHz
  • Design: Over-Ear
  • Impedance: 64 Ohm
  • Sensitivity: 102dB/mW
  • Cable Length: 9.8′ (Coiled)
  • Weight: 7.8 oz / 221.1 g
  • Foldable: Yes

Which is best for mixing though?

Out of these three, I’d go with the 7506 first, followed by the HD280, and then the 50x.

Sony MDR-7506 vs. Audio Technica ATH M50x vs. Sennheiser HD280 Pro

Edit: In the video, I went with the above ranking, but the 280 is just terrible for mixing/mastering so I’m editing this to put it last.

I have mixed on all 3 in the past, but the 7506 is most certainly going to help you find flaws in a recording better than the other 2. It’s more predictable and neutral sounding, with a smoother overall response aside from the peaky treble. It just sounds the most “correct” if that makes sense.

Sony MDR V6
The V6 and 7506 have been a quintessential studio headphone for many years.
Flatter than a pancake, sorta.
The Best Headphones for Pop
Still relevant despite the haters.
The M40x Basking.

The V6 is a pretty similar sounding headphone with a bit more bass roll-off. By and large, the 2 headphones are almost identical at the end of the day.

Related: Sony MDR V6 vs. MDR 7506

Because the V6 has been discontinued and goes for outrageous prices now, I’d just get a 7506 and be done with it.

The HD280 is certainly a flat sounding headphone for the most part, but it’s dull and there are some sucked out spots in the mid-bass and mid-range that make it sound kind of strange when you’re kicking back with some music or trying to listen critically. I could never quite figure out what the 280 was trying to be, and thus I gave it away.

The M50x and M40x are both marketed as mixing headphones which is a flat out lie.

They’re not. I wouldn’t personally purchase either for mixing. I was able to use an M50 back in the day for mixing, and my beats came out pretty good, but I wouldn’t advise it or use one nowadays for that purpose.

The M40x’s bass rolls off a bit more, but the mid-bass is a bit too punchy and the treble sounds metallic and weird a lot of the time. I actually prefer a 50x over a 40x for both mixing and general music listening, but both are incredibly flawed from a reference standpoint and should be used only in emergencies.

For casual listening, a 7506 sounds phenomenal outside of the peaky treble. While that’s great for finding flaws in a mix, I’d probably EQ 10kHz down by a few dB if I was just maxin’ and relaxin’. It just ends up being a bit too much of a good thing.

The M50x is still a fun sounding headphone, regardless of what some snob like Metal462 (or whatever number he’s using this week) tells you.

Haha just kidding. Love you Metal. Me love you long time!

Don’t expect good Soundstage out of any of these, as they’re all closed back and fairly boxed in sounding.

Genre-wise, they all do well with most genres that I love, including Rock, Metal, Hip-Hop, R&B, Indie Pop, EDM, etc. I wouldn’t really rely on any of them for Jazz or Classical, but I suppose they may work in a pinch. These are headphones mostly meant for studio purposes and harder stuff. Related: The Best Headphones for Jazz < Article is part of a genre series so definitely check it out!

Build

All of these headphones are built pretty well with some caveats.

The 7506 and V6’s pads flake and peel over time, the coiled cable is a pain in the**, and it isn’t detachable. The pad itself on my 7506 came off altogether with hard daily use, causing me to have to re-wrap it around the cup constantly. That was definitely annoying.

The HD280 is built pretty well, boasting a hard plastic, but the headphone itself is a little bit too thick. It’s DUMMY THICC and then some. I’d consider it like that chick who’s pretty, but bordering on sloppy.

“I made ‘em extra sloppy for ya!!” 😂

The 40x is also built well, but its cups don’t rotate all the way around like the 50x’s. The 50x is the best out of these headphones, and in 5 years of daily use and abuse (from 2013 – 2018), I never had one single issue aside from the pads cracking, peeling, and then hardening over time. Definitely be ready to replace the pads on both the 50x and 40x depending on how much you use them. Related: Audio Technica ATH M40x vs. M50x

All 5 of these headphones fold and rotate in many of the same ways, and are generally very good for travel/on the go purposes.

Comfort

As far as comfort, none of these are all that great if we’re being honest. The 280 is probably the best out of this lot, as the cups are large enough not to touch your ears, but the clamp is rather tight and they’ll start to dig into your head after a while, both on the sides and top. Still, I’d say it’s slightly above average in this department.

I’d consider both the 7506 and V6 a hybrid on-ear/around-ear, and both will need slight adjustments from time to time as the pads tend to dig into your ear-lobes.

The 40x and 50x bear a similar sentiment and aren’t that great for long term listening.

Amplification

You won’t need an amplifier for any of these, but I’d invest in something like an E10K or K3 if you really want to get your feet wet with Amps & DACS.

It’s a perfect entry-level solution and will serve you well down the road as you upgrade headphones and Amps, as it can be used as just a DAC into a separate Amp.

Good Resources I’ve written for you:

Final Word

As for my top recommendation out of these? Definitely the 7506. It’s a headphone that withstood the test of time and still remains relevant after 30 years dating back to 1991.

It’s a product that will change your life if you’re brand new to audio, and will also help immensely when you’re mixing down a track and trying to find flaws quickly.

Check out the Video Discussion

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If you’re a little wary about the build and comfort of the 7506 and looking for an alternative, I’d highly consider purchasing a 9500. Learn why:

 

Interested in another relevant shootout?

 


Well, that’s about it for today my friend! Hope you enjoyed this Sony MDR7506 vs. Audio Technica ATH M50x vs. Sennheiser HD280 Pro Shootout/Comparison. I also hope you have a better idea of the similarities and differences between each.

Which of these sound like you? Let me know down below!!

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If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to drop a comment in the box, or Contact me! I very much look forward to speaking with you…

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!!

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