Sony MDR-7506 vs. Audio Technica ATH M50x vs. Sennheiser HD280 Pro
If you landed here from another page, don’t worry. It’s all here! 🙂
2/1/21. Article posted.
2/26/21. Video added. Ranking edit. Added chart.
6/20/21. Article overhaul/re-fresh.
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…
This article will attempt to cover any and all questions you may have about, well, a LOT of headphones that I’ve had experience with.
Below you will find a Table of Contents containing a list of all the headphones compared today. Just find and click the one you need!
By the end of this gargantuan article, you should have a great idea of how all of these headphones compare, but also how they sound individually so that you can cross-compare as well.
Many Years Of Experience
All of my impressions and experience have spanned 14 years (on and off) of beat making, mixing, and EQ’ing tracks, as well as just listening to and enjoying music as an Audio FILE. What is an Audiophile?
I’ve owned at one point every headphone on this list save for the SRH440 (which was sent for demo by my buddy @Metal571), the M50x (demoed at a friend’s house), and the DT770 (demoed).
The first 4 sections will be primers, which will help make you aware of the subtle differences between similar headphones of the same company.
This will clear up any confusion in subsequent sections when comparing them with others.
The last 3 sections will be deep dives into the headphones themselves and how they stack up against each other.
The Difference Between the 40x, 50x, original M50, and M50S
Audio Technica first came out with the M50 way back in like 2013 IIRC. I first received the headphones as a Christmas gift and held onto them for 5 years before giving them away in 2018. You can read that story here.
The M50S version simply referred to the headphone that came with a straight cable, but at that point, it still wasn’t detachable. I owned the original M50 with the coiled variety.
The current version is the M5ox, which comes with a straight and coiled cable, and this time both are detachable.
The only real difference between the original M50 and the newer 50x is the treble.
The M50 had a fairly biting top end and could really get fatiguing after a while. I remember mixing on them into the wee hours of the morning and having to rip them off because I was so exhausted from EQ’ing.
I got a chance to demo my friend Thomas’ 50x in 2014 or thereabouts and immediately noticed how much better the treble sounded.
To this day, it’s still one of the best-selling entry-level audiophile headphones of all time and one listen reveals why.
Despite what audiophile snobs say, it’s a crisp, clear, detailed, and hard-hitting sound that will appeal to 98.947493% of people.
YEAH I ACED MATH CLASS. WHAT OF IT.
It doesn’t sound artificial either. It’s a well-done sound signature and the reviews speak for themselves.
M50x vs. 40x
When I first bought the 40x, I thought sounded better. More controlled, tighter, a little better for mixing. But the longer I listened, the more its flaws became apparent.
In actuality, it’s just not that great of a headphone when compared to other better sound signatures.
Problems with the 40x
The 2 problems with the M40x are its metallic, artificial, essy sounding treble, and the too elevated mid-bass.
In addition to that, it ends up becoming too boxed in and claustrophobic. The 50x to me is a better headphone, but neither should have ever been marketed as “monitors.”
They aren’t even close.
However, they both do well for casual listeners as well as those looking for the bass head sound.
While you can technically mix with them, the results will be sporadic. I mixed on an M50 back in 2013-2014, and my mixes came out good, but nowadays I wouldn’t recommend one first if that makes sense.
It can work in a pinch but isn’t something you’ll purchase right off the bat for that purpose.
Sony MDR-7506 vs. V6
This has been the subject of much debate over the last few years. I’ve owned both of these headphones (but never at the same time), and the differences, if there are any, are very minuscule.
Both have an elevated mid-bass, not much roll-off below 40Hz, a bright treble, and an overall crisp, lively sound.
At the end of the day, they do sound incredibly similar, and you won’t have to worry about which one to go with as the V6 was discontinued in 2020 after 35 years.
Because of that, I would definitely recommend the 7506 as it still sits around $100. The V6 goes for really high prices now and I wouldn’t bother with it.
The Difference Between The K240S & K240M (600 Ohm)
The sound signatures are the same. I’ve owned 2 K240M’s and 1 K240S.
DT770 Ohm Differences
The differences between Ohms are subtle but still there. The 80 Ohm’s mid-bass dips a little more than the 25o Ohm version. There’s some added emphasis between 100-200Hz, but by and large, you’ll find these very similar.
Out of these three, I’d go with the 7506 first, followed by the HD280, and then the 50x.
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.
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 HD280 does not have a detachable cable, and its pads are faux leather as well. I didn’t own them for long enough to know if the pads break down, but the material was similar to that of the 50x.
The 40x is also built well, but its cups don’t rotate all the way around like the 50x’s.
The M50/50x 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, 40x, and 7506/V6 depending on how much you use them.
Some great pads for the 7506 can be found here.
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.
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.
So really, none of these headphones are particularly comfortable if we’re being honest.
If I had to rank them, I’d put the HD280 first, followed by the 7506/V6, and then the 40x/50x.
I have mixed on all of these in the past, but the 7506 is most certainly going to help you find flaws in a recording better than the others. 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.
As mentioned earlier, 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 some years back.
When you listen to it, it’s not that you’re going to go “This is terrible”, but you also aren’t going to love it either. It’s just really blank sounding. There’s no life to the music, but it’s also not that great for mixing because there are some parts of the frequency spectrum that just feel carved out or something. It’s hard to explain, but if you’re a producer you’ll know immediately that something’s amiss.
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, you’ll probably want to EQ 9-10kHz down by a few dB if you’re just maxin’ and relaxin’. It 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!
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.
The problem with a 7506 and Classical is that the genre tends to go from quiet to loud in a hurry, and the 7506 is already a bright headphone.
You do the math.
You’re going to be in a world of pain like Smokey from Big Lebowski if you rely on these for Classical. Jazz will fare a bit better, but you’ll find that Jazz tends to excel best with wider sounding cans like the K612, K712, or K702.
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.
Build wise I’d take the K240, then the CB-1, then the 40x.
The 40x is infamous for cracking around the hinge area, something its older brother 50x, fortunately, circumvents by making the headphones almost completely collapsible and foldable.
You can move them in virtually any way you want; something you couldn’t do with a 40x.
The CB-1 has a detachable cable, but the cable on the 40x is much, much easier to pull out and push in. Both require you to turn and then pull, but the CB-1 is much harder to turn and kind of fights you coming out.
The 40x has a nice white line indicator on both the 2.5mm termination as well as the insertion on the ear cup. Align the white indicator on the 2.5mm end so it’s slightly below the white line on the cup.
Then, push in and turn it a half measure. Both will line up and you’ll feel it when it’s in properly. It doesn’t make any clicking sound but you’ll know it when you feel it.
Both the 40x and CB-1 come with 2 cables – a coiled and straight version for each. This is a welcome addition and adds a ton of value to both headphones.
The CB-1’s have a little more padding on the headband as well as for the cups. It feels like a higher quality protein leather, a step up from the faux leather of the M40x. It feels fantastic to the touch and very plush, and also doesn’t seem prone to cracking or peeling over time.
The overall build of the CB-1 is indeed heavier than a 40x but feels a tad cheaper and lighter by contrast. This is pretty strange until you consider that the plastic is a bit bulkier, the pads are fatter, and the headphones overall look and function in a way that simply takes up more space.
The CB-1 actually borrows many elements from the M50 and M50x – The 3.5mm jack termination is almost identical, and the headband adjustment that attaches both cups hearkens back to the interesting shapes present on the M50 as well.
The jack on the M50 was and still is the most robust I’ve ever experienced. The fact that Status Audio noticed that and implemented it into their own headphone is admirable.
Form Factor: M40x vs. CB-1
Another interesting similarity between these is that they both rotate and fold identically. The small difference here is that when the CB-1 folds, it’s a bit wider than that of the 40x. The 40x is simply more compact all around. It’s a slight difference, but still should be noted.
Both sets of ear cups rotate inwards 90 degrees, and both cannot rotate back out 180 degrees. Each stops back in the neutral position and cannot be rotated towards you when holding each headphone out in front.
Both cups also rotate downward and can be propped up on a desk with the cups resting (facing down on the surface).
In addition to that, the CB-1 seems ultra-flexible, and stretches from that position to where the cups are kind of semi-facing outwards!
The M40x can do this too but is less flexible at the headband. I don’t feel as uncomfortable twisting and contorting the CB-1 as I do with the M40x.
The CB-1’s headband adjustment is all plastic, while the M40x’s have that hint of metal that we discussed earlier.
Both have lines for the adjustments, but the CB-1’s also come equipped with numbers while the 40x do not. Also, the adjustment on the CB-1 seems too loose. It kind of slides up and down with no click stops, while with the 40x it’s a bit easier to stop on a dime and get that perfect OCD adjustment. 😛
Lastly, there are Right and Left indicators on both, but for the CB-1 they are on the outside while with the 40x they are on the inside.
I don’t really prefer one over the other as far as looks, but the M40x utilizes a much more utilitarian appearance vs. the slightly geeky-looking CB-1. This is especially true when it’s on your head; you kind of look like a giant nerd to be honest.
From the side, the CB-1’s have circular cups with black and a hint of Gold. The 40x’s sport a more oval shape for the outer portion and a circular inner shape with the Audio Technica logo embossed inside.
The K240 seems like it would break rather easily, but I’ve owned 3 different models of this headphone and not one of them has given me a single problem. I owned a K240 Studio around 2016-2017, and 2 pairs of K240M.
The first model 240M I owned had a buzzing/static issue in the right channel that the eBayer conveniently forgot to mention, so I re-sold it making the next person AWARE.
About a year later, I acquired another K240M in perfect working condition per a friend of my mom. He just had one lying around and gave it to me! What luck praise God!
Comfort-wise, the K240 isn’t very good and tends to get uncomfortable quite fast due to its incredibly shallow earcups and the propensity for your auricles to dig into the drivers. What is a Headphone Driver?
I suppose it’s understandable as this is a headphone originating in the mid-’70s, but the flaw remains. The headband feels fine for the most part.
Also, keep in mind that the K240 is the first we’ve talked about in this article with the hammock style auto adjustment. Just put it on and it will adapt to the shape of your head.
The 40x’s clamping force is pretty snug, but all in all, I don’t have many complaints aside from the small earcups and the less-than-stellar faux leather.
These are cups that will crack, peel, and harden over time, and no, my name ain’t James.
Both the 40x and K240 have a detachable cable; the K240’s is a mini-XLR variety while the 40x is a 2.5mm at the cup end IIRC.
Do keep in mind my K240M (Austrian Model) does not have a detachable cable.
The newer Chinese-made K240 Studios do have one.
The CB-1’s comfort levels are better because of the padding and the fact that they clamp a bit less. I find the CB-1 to be a little above average comfort-wise.
I’m not making as many adjustments as I am with a 40x, and in fact, there’s really no contest here. The fit and comfort of the CB-1 are much better.
Just as I said that I had to make a slight adjustment. I’m finding that they’re also digging into my ears a bit more than I would like. Another issue that’s popped up as I’m writing this review and listening to music is indeed the headband. It’s starting to dig into the top of my head, right in front of where the scalp is located.
Even still, the headphone just feels lighter on your noggin’ and makes a pretty good Gaming option for those long sessions.
Overall, the CB-1 is the clear winner. Just remember that you’re going to look like E.T. while your mashing buttons on the controller. This isn’t a headphone that I’m going to be wearing outside like, ever.
Unless you want to get beat up or something like Dee-Dee from My Brother and Me, just stay indoors. Lol.
First, we’ll talk about the 40x; a headphone marketed for reference without rhyme or reason. This is NOT a mixing/mastering headphone by any stretch of the imagination.
It’s a casual listening headphone with a couple of glaring flaws:
The mid-bass is too punchy and ends up being overdone like your mom’s meatloaf.
The treble is metallic and essy and ends up sounding artificial like the ingredients list on Food Lion Brand Pound Cake.
The mid-range is meh. Not much more needs to be said. It’s your typical rollercoaster ride for sissys; sucked out low mids followed by a slight rise in the presence area.
Outside of the sound, comfort is pretty bad and the cups tend to dig into your ears quite a bit. Everything about it screams NO from a reference standpoint, but yet it still bears that moniker and is sold as such.
Quite ridiculous if you ask me.
Overall, it’s too inconsistent of a sound signature to recommend for anything in particular – even general music listening becomes a chore after a while.
You may like it at first (as I did), but you’ll soon outgrow it once you get more experience with better headphones.
Speaking of, the K240 performs markedly better than a 40x.
The main difference between these 2 headphones is where the presence peak lies, as well as the treble and bass.
When you first put a K240 on your head, you’ll likely be taken aback at just how unique it sounds in comparison to most consumer low-grade dog food.
It will take your brain a bit of getting used to the rise at 5-7kHz, as well as the 3 1/2kHz (or thereabouts) dip, both of which will undoubtedly leave you a bit perplexed.
Bear with it. The K240 is designed to prevent hypothermia. Wait we’re not playing Metal Gear Solid 1, sorry. xD
It’s incredibly natural and detailed if you give it some time. The treble is non-fatiguing and you can listen for hours without getting annoyed in the slightest.
It definitely does better than a 40x for listening casually, as nothing about the sound signature really tries to make itself known. It’s a very smooth, relaxing type of sentiment.
The mid-range is well done, and the bass, while it does roll off, sounds articulate, clean, and detailed. The K240 is a real treat with older Rock, Soul, Oldies, and Motown recordings.
Its instrument timbre is most definitely the best out of everything we’ve discussed thus far. What is Timbre?
Attack, sustain, and decay of instruments and vocals are more fleshed out and apparent. At times it almost feels like instruments have a microscope over them.
You’re able to distinguish how they sound in relation to one another, but also their true essence in and of themselves.
M40x vs. CB-1
I think the sound of the 40x is more predictable than the CB-1. The mid-bass is there, but again, it can get a tad bloaty and unnatural as mentioned earlier.
The mids are a bit pushed back, but I still don’t find it to be too much of a problem. Vocals and instruments are still crystal clear, with a surprisingly nice Timbre for such a cheap headphone. What is Timbre?
The treble is really the only problem area for me with the 40x and always has been. Keep in mind this is also a fairly minor issue but does rear its ugly head on certain songs.
For instance, on “So Cruel” from Young Empires, you can clearly hear that metallic, artificial sizzle pretty much the entire time.
Also, I’ve owned the 40x for quite a while and you can hear that on most tracks in some form or fashion.
With some, it won’t be as problematic or glaring, and with others, it will be. It just depends on the song.
By contrast, the CB-1’s treble is definitely more toned back.
Good Great Fine OK’s “Without You” just sounds so incredibly natural and organic with the CB-1. There’s nothing forced here. There’s a nice bounce to the track and I’m not finding any part of the sound signature overbearing, muddy, or overly flamboyant.
Bass & Mid-Range
There’s some bass roll-off, but it’s really the perfect amount. You still hear the kick drum’s impact unlike a K240, but it also has some nice texture and nuance.
The CB-1 admittedly has a somewhat strange sound signature. The lower mid-range takes a dip around 500Hz, which I haven’t really experienced in many headphones.
There’s some presence around 1k, it dips again at 2k, and then comes back up at 3k.
Still, on some tracks, it sounds a bit light and feathery, like there’s some sense of sparkle and lushness missing. It’s hard to explain. There’s this ever-so-subtle sense of an artificial character, but without sounding essy or metallic.
I guess a good word to describe the sensation that I’m currently feeling is “dry.” As if it’s lacking body or trueness.
Yeah, that’s not even a word. Oh well, deal with it.
Imaging & Soundstage
The CB-1 is known for being more open and airy than most cheap closed-back headphones, so perhaps that’s what my brain is perceiving.
It does indeed possess pretty great Soundstage width, which will fare very well with Gaming and Movies. What is Soundstage?
You’ll start to hear subtle details way off in the distance at times, but I wouldn’t really call this an out-of-your-head feeling.
I haven’t quite experienced that yet with the CB-1. It’s the feeling you get when you whip your head around to make sure Jason Voorhees isn’t about to go ham on your ass.
By contrast, the 40x will sound more boxed in but still has nice instrument separation and clarity.
I thought about it some while I was taking the photos for the CB-1 and 40x.
I think out of the 3, the CB-1 would work best for mixing as it sounds the most neutral, has the right amount of bass, and possesses a more open sound with a bit better clarity than the 40x.
Though the 40x is marketed as a reference headphone, I don’t think it fits that moniker much at all. It should be considered a casual headphone first and used as a 2nd or 3rd option for mixing duties.
What sets the CB-1 apart from even a 7506 is clarity.
You can hear pretty much everything going on with it, and that’s the main takeaway here. I was pretty surprised to find out that I was able to make out a lot of small details in the mix that I wasn’t previously aware of in the 40x or 7506.
There are artifacts in music that the artist may not have even intended for you to hear, and those perceived imperfections will manifest with the CB-1 in one way or another. For that reason, a CB-1 alone will likely make you a better producer because of how raw and honest it is.
Fortunately for us, it mostly adds to the enjoyment of the song and doesn’t become a hindrance.
The K240 is wildly inefficient and takes quite a bit of power from an amp to reach an acceptable listening level. The official number per the mW is around 91dB. The 600 Ohm version needs even more juice to get pumpin.’
Still, I wouldn’t call a K240S power-hungry; a term thrown around loosely by internet snobs since seemingly the dawn of time.
It does need some power, but don’t get crazy. A K5 Pro is my default recommendation for most cans that need a bit extra, but it’s also a fantastic product regardless.
Right away you’ll notice the SRH440 seems a bit flimsy in your hand, but it’s not light per se. It’s a fairly bulky headphone like the HD280 but doesn’t seem quite as durable.
It’s also been known to break down over time but your mileage may vary. The cable is not detachable.
The HD25 is perhaps the most durable headphone I’ve ever owned or tested. You may remember my stress test from 2017. I literally threw it off of my 2nd story balcony onto some grass/leaves about 30-40 feet away and it asked for more.
Because it’s made for DJs, you can imagine why it’s so rugged. Simply one of the best-built products I’ve come across after demoing over 100 headphones.
The headphone itself has a split headband and the left side can move up and down. It doesn’t really fold, but can be adjusted in these ways. The cable is detachable as well and very short, and the cups are rather small being that it’s an on-ear headphone.
The DT770 is built incredibly well and seems more malleable than the others. You can abuse this one a bit more than the 440, but I wouldn’t go too crazy or anything.
It sports that weird button-up headband that Beyer is known for, with velour ear cups and spring steel headband. The cable is single-sided but not detachable.
As far as durability goes in comparing the entire crop, I’d rank them like this:
Sennheiser HD25 – Almost indestructible.
Audio Technica ATH M50x – Similar to the HD25. Incredibly durable and folds in a myriad of ways. One of the best-built headphones I’ve owned.
Beyerdynamic DT770 – Similar to the 50x.
AKG K240S & 240M – Deceptively good build, but extremely light. The 240M I own is from the ’70s.
Sony MDR-7506/V6 – Compact and very durable. Rotates and folds nicely. Solid metal for the headband adjustments. The only problems here are the flaking/peeling cups and the coiled cable which becomes incredibly annoying after a year or 2.
Status Audio CB-1 – Durable, if a bit flimsy. The headband stretches out nicely, though you may have issues pulling the jacks in and out of the cups.
Sennheiser HD280 Pro – Durable for the most part, but the plastic has been known to crack under pressure like Henry Hill.
Audio Technica ATH M40x – Good, but known to snap around the hinge area because it doesn’t rotate fully like the M50x.
The 440’s comfort level is mediocre; not that great, but not horrible. You will start to notice it after about an hour for sure.
Not only are you going to feel them on your head more than others, but the fit feels strange when they’re on. I can’t really explain it, but I think it has to do with the fact that they’re both bulky and kind of flimsy. They feel loosey-goosey on your melon for sure – kind of like you’re wearing something that maybe you shouldn’t be wearing. Like a dude in drag or something. xD
The HD25 is perhaps the most uncomfortable headphone I’ve ever worn because the on-ear fit means it’s going to dig pretty hard; perhaps even more so than other types of on-ear headphones.
You’ll first start to notice it digging into your earlobes and then gradually move to the entirety of both your ears after about 30-45 minutes. It’s that aching/sore feeling that makes you want to massage your ears.
Because the split headband is highly adjustable, you’re afforded a bit more time before really feeling like you need to rip them off, but the sentiment remains. This is a headphone meant for short burst listening.
On the contrary, the DT770 is perhaps the most comfortable headphone I’ve ever worn. If it’s not, it’s definitely in the Top 5.
The velour earpads here feel like pillows (but not dirty ones – Austin Powers reference anyone?)
“Sorry, love. I got lost in your dirty pillows.”
Anyway, The 770 is going to sit and feel perfect on your head for extended listening sessions, no doubt about it. The clamping force, depth, width, and shape of the cups are all perfect. They don’t really touch your ears in any way.
If I had to rank them all?
Beyerdynamic DT770 – Easily the most comfortable out of these. Top-tier comfort levels.
Status Audio CB-1 – Above average in comfort. Great for extended listening/mixing sessions.
Sennheiser HD280 Pro – Average to slightly above average, but clamps really hard which you’ll notice right away. Good for isolation, not so good for comfort.
Shure SRH440 – Average comfort levels. You’ll feel it, but it doesn’t really dig. It just sort of feels strange to wear.
Sony MDR-7506/V6 – Average comfort levels. Will start to dig, but not quite as much as an HD25. You’ll notice that your ears will start to become hot and even slightly damp depending on the duration of your mixing/listening session.
Audio Technica ATH M50x/40x – Average to slightly below average. Digs fairly hard, but the pads also crack and harden over time.
AKG K240S & 240M – Below average in comfort. The cups are extremely shallow and thus the drivers will start to dig into your ears pretty hard after a short time. The headphone is light and feels good on your head, but it’s not enough to balance out the awful cup depth.
Sennheiser HD25 – Easily the least comfortable out of this crop. The Supra-Aural fit and tiny pads mean lots of digging into your ears. Use in short bursts or you’ll be making adjustments every 1-2 minutes.
The SRH440 is probably the most neutral out of this entire crop, and sounds exactly like the above graph would indicate. Out of all these, I would probably take it for mixing, mastering, reference, and tracking first.
It’s not a headphone that’s going to excite you all that much, but its sound signature is solid and there aren’t any glaring issues. This is honestly what the 280 should have been.
Both have great isolation, but I’d certainly take the sound of the 440 over a 280 because of what we discussed previously – the 280’s weird mid-range and awkward dips make for a disappointing experience overall.
At times the 440 can sound a bit lifeless and dare I say dry, but you can feel comfortable knowing your mixes are going to turn out really good if you’re relying on one.
The HD25 sits in the middle here of being not entirely neutral, but not overly V-shaped.
As mentioned in the HD25 Review, it’s a V-shape for connoisseurs.
The treble is going to get bright and intense, but it’s an almost perfect representation of the metal head homie sound. Exciting, lively, engaging, intense, and exciting. Also does incredibly well for Hip-Hop and anything bass-oriented really.
I’d definitely only use it for those types of genres. You’re not going to want to use these for Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Folk, etc. It’s just too much.
Out of all the headphones I’ve heard, the HD25 is certainly the best for metal and also the liveliest. It has great mid-bass slam and impact, an almost perfect mid-range, and detail for days.
The 770 is easily the most V-shaped out of these, but the comparison to the M50x is also an interesting one.
In my M50x video, I talk about the weird cult-like following that the 770 has in audiophile circles while the M50x gets constantly dumped on by those same people.
For what though, exactly?
If you look at both graphs, which looks more balanced to you?
I rest my case.
There is really no reason why the 50x should receive as much hate as it has.
Reviewers who think they know better constantly thumb their noses up at the 50x while at the same time acting like the 770 is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It really doesn’t make much sense, but I digress.
Yes, the 770 is going to be more comfortable than a 50x. Outside of that, both are great headphones. Both have elevated bass shelves and a bright treble, but the 50x is more balanced overall if you can believe it.
50x vs. 40x
The 50x is also better than a 40x in my mind. Its treble doesn’t feel overly metallic, and the headphone has a much richer, crisper sound. The 40x’s sound signature feels artificial and contrived as if it’s trying just a bit too hard to impress you.
Add to that it actually feels more boxed in and claustrophobic sounding to my ears.
It will likely impress you upon first listen until you get lots of time with it and start to realize how flawed it is – especially when comparing to loads of other headphones as I have over the years.
Imaging & Soundstage
I’d say the 770 is closest to what an open-back headphone sounds like. It’s incredibly spacious and does do a really good job of separating instruments.
The 50x isn’t nearly as bad as some people make it out to be, as you’ll also have some out of your head moments. It’s still a closed headphone and mostly does sound like one.
The HD25 is similar, but again, more open than you would expect. Great instrument separation and tonality although it may feel slightly artificial at times.
It’s lush and rich, but imagine a photograph with a tad too much contrast. That’s how the HD25 can come across at times. Even so, it’s an admirable sound signature and a whole heck of a lot of fun.
For Mixing, Mastering, and Reference
If I had to choose, this is how I would order them:
Shure SRH440. Definitely the most neutral out of this bunch. Likely the quickest and easiest to get a mix right.
Sony MDR-7506/V6. Right there with the 440, but the treble is a bit sizzly which will turn some folks off. Still, just about perfect for finding flaws quickly and the sound signature is super detailed as well.
Status Audio CB-1. The incredibly open Soundstage on this one makes it almost better than the above 2 for hearing things in mixes you wouldn’t normally hear. Great for cleaning up a final mix.
AKG K240S & 240M. The anemic nature of the bass holds this one back, but otherwise an incredibly revealing headphone and has been a studio staple for decades. Don’t overcompensate on raising the bass in your mix and you should be okay.
Sennheiser HD25. A bit too intense for mixing, but could work in a pinch seeing how revealing and detailed it is.
Audio Technica ATH M50x/40x. Not terrible for mixing, but should only be used in emergencies.
Beyerdynamic DT770. Same as above, but slightly worse due to its exaggerated bass shelf and more V-shaped signature. The mid-range here is surprisingly well done given the bass and treble.
Sennheiser HD280 Pro. God awful for mixing. One of the most overhyped headphones of the last 10 years.
The only headphones out of this crop that I’d feel really good about Gaming with are the CB-1, DT770, and K240 variants.
The great part about the DT770 is that the completely wide-open Soundstage is almost perfect for gaming, but the bass will sometimes get in the way. This is why it’s a bit better for watching action films.
The CB-1 is also wide open but will do better for gaming because across the board it’s a more neutral signature.
You’ll easily be able to pick up footsteps and other miscellaneous sounds in plenty of time to eradicate baddies. In other words, your head will always be on a swivel like that girl possessed by a demon in the Exorcist.
The K240 will also do really well as its bass isn’t going to get in the way of hearing what’s going on. Its Soundstage is also quite good, but perhaps not as good as the CB-1’s.
If I had to give a final ranking for gaming, I would order them like this:
Status Audio CB-1. Definitely the best out of this crop for gaming. The wide-open Soundstage on this headphone is honestly better than some open-backs. It really does reveal more subtle nuances in sound than you could ever imagine.
Beyerdynamic DT770. Like the CB-1, the 770 does well for gaming because of its open nature, but the bass will get in the way at times. Still a decent gaming headphone all things considered. Both the CB-1 and DT770 are closed-back headphones that sound like open-backs.
AKG K240S & 240M. The 240’s open and revealing sound does well for gaming and the bass doesn’t get in the way. This would make a pretty good FPS headphone, but the relaxed treble could present clarity issues for some.
Sennheiser HD25. All things considered, I wouldn’t hate using an HD25 for gaming because of how insanely detailed it is + the great sound separation, but like the 770, this works a bit better for action films given how intense it comes off.
Shure SRH440. Would be a decent headphone for gaming because of how flat and neutral it is, but the Soundstage and immersion will be lacking.
Sony MDR-7506/V6. Same as the 440, although the treble may help you pinpoint footsteps and other misc. sounds easier. Still, I would generally avoid using either of these for full-time gaming duties.
Audio Technica ATH M50x/40x. Could be decent for gaming, but the closed-in nature of the 40x specifically will hurt the immersion factor and cause more headaches than it’s worth.
Sennheiser HD280 Pro. No.
As mentioned at the start, you will want to invest in some Amplification for the 250 Ohm version of the DT770, but the 80 Ohm and 32 Ohm don’t necessarily need anything – especially if you have a modern phone with a good DAC. Beginners Guide: What is a USB DAC?
The CB-1 is also very efficient and doesn’t need anything, as is the HD25. If you’d like to invest in a desktop Amp/DAC for these, I’d go no further than something like an E10K or K3.
For the DT770 250 Ohm, you’ll probably want the K5 Pro as it has plenty of power for even the most demanding of headphones.
Well, that was quite a mouthful.
If I had to choose one headphone from this entire list to take with me on a deserted island, taking all factors into account including build, comfort, sound, imaging, soundstage, gaming, film, reference, amplification, and the least amount of potential issues down the road, which one would I go with?
Let’s assign final rankings and call it done.
Sennheiser HD280 Pro.
While likely the most neutral headphone on the list, it’s not particularly fun and is almost unanimous for breaking down rather quickly.
That, in addition to the weird comfort factor, makes this a no-go for being on a deserted island with nothing else to listen to.
Taking everything into account, the 7506 wouldn’t be the best deserted island pick but still sounds mostly amazing.
The problem is that the pads would break down and fall off, and the coiled cable would eventually make you want to pull your hair out. Add to that its treble is hot and can get essy.
Still, the 7506 has been a studio staple for decades and should still be considered if you’re looking for great reference headphones.
I always found myself subconsciously reaching for one when I needed to hear what was going on in a song or mix, and that certainly is a true testament to its staying power.
I can also listen casually to music with it but be advised you may want to EQ the high treble down by a couple of dB.
When the K240 is 5th down on the list, you know it’s tough to rank them.
This isn’t a perfect headphone but does a whole heck of a lot right. If you listen to mostly Soul, Motown, and oldies, this may be the only thing you’ll ever need.
Comfort, as well as a lack of bass holds it back quite a bit, but there’s texture and articulation there that you aren’t going to get with many other headphones. The problem with ranking this any higher is that by the time the shallow cups have really started to EARitate you (I’m sorry), you’ll have already thrown the headphone into the ocean.
Audio Technica ATH M50x/40x
I’d take the 50x over the 40x, and truthfully the 50x is a really good pick if you were isolated forever.
It’s built incredibly well, doesn’t need amplification, and sounds great for the most part.
Comfort isn’t the best thus why it can’t take top honors, it isn’t the most open-sounding headphone in existence, and the pads will harden and crack over time, but it’s a solid pick despite the haterade and should be at least considered.
The Sennheiser HD25 is my third deserted island pick, but if I strictly listened to metal and/or hip-hop 100% of the time, it would probably be first.
This is perhaps the liveliest and most engaging headphone you’ll ever come across, and for that reason alone gets a spot near the top.
Add to that it’s immensely detailed with plenty of impact and doesn’t break down.
Comfort definitely holds this one back, but you may just grin and bear it if you were stranded (after all, you’re stranded). That’s how good it sounds.
Coming in at second on the list is the DT770. Like the CB-1, everything about it is great, but the bass shelf and brighter treble may start to bother you after a while.
Still, it’s incredibly comfortable, built really well, and has great imaging and Soundstage. The lack of detachable cable may irksome, but this is a headphone you’ll likely have around for a long time.
Status Audio CB-1.
This is probably the best all-around headphone out of the crop.
Soundstage, build, comfort, sound, and imaging are all just about perfect. It does well for gaming, film, and reference duties, and you won’t necessarily need an Amp to power it.
It comes with 2 detachable cables (coiled and straight), and the coiled version is way less of a pain than the 7506’s cable is.
This is the headphone I’d take with me first if I could only have one.
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, but I also hope you’ve gotten the most out of this mammoth-sized article and in-depth guide.
How did I do? Which of these sound like you? Let me know down below!!
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Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.