Audio Technica has crafted a pair of headphones that might make you second guess your pair of MX50s, or any other headphone in this price range. Here is a guide to the ATH-MSR7''s examining what they do right and where they fall short....
Audio Technica has crafted a pair of headphones that might make you second guess your pair of MX50s, or any other headphone in this price range.
Here is a guide to the ATH-MSR7''s examining what they do right and where they fall short.
+ Very "public" friendly (GREAT looking set of headphones)
+ Matte finish on the aluminum housing and nice colored accents as well as chrome touches in several places
+ Brushed chrome slider
+ Outward bulk is as minimal as it can be given the size, no strange gaps, stay pretty flushed to your head
+ Good durability and flexibility
+ They may slide a bit, but they stay on your head if you''re walking, turning head quickly.
+ Aluminum casing around the drivers and metal headband look and feel impressive
+ Balanced weight, no manufacturing oddities
+ Earphones twist (the correct way, unlike QC25 which fold outwards if you are wearing them around your neck -.-)
+ Large adjustment range to suit different sized heads
+ Tolerances are all tight and flush
+ Cable has tight fit into left headphone
- Strange decision to put (LEFT/RIGHT) on outside of headphones. Not that unappealing though...
- Lots of creaking plastic when expanding headphones (everything except driver housing and slider is plastic)
- Not foldable
- Squirmy cable with large jack housing
- Weight (290g) - not such a big deal
- Adjustment slider is a bit stiff
+Earpads are large, fit all the way around your ear
+Earpad depth is DECENT, some might look for a little more breathing room - ears are VERY close to drivers
+ No sharp parts or anything like that
+ Just enough padding on the headband which wraps around a good portion of it
- Earpads are not memory foam - they are soft, but why not make them even softer?
- OK the headband. It''s not curved correctly. Out of the box it pressed down onto the top point of your head. Flex it a bit, break it in. NO ISSUES
- OK the clamping pressure. Again, out of the box it is a bit irritating. Because the earpads are so large, the pressure from the bottom of the earpads was getting to the top of my jaw after about an hour. Again, flex it, break it in, open it, close it, open it. *lots of creaking* It will work out. STILL, pressure is above average for sure.
- Again, 290 oz is a good amount of weight on someone''s head.
Sound Quality - I''m going to try to keep this simple and unbiased
+ DETAILS. Lots of details.
+ Impressive Clarity, no muffling of vocals
+ Soundstage is impressively wide for a closed back headphone - all instruments and vocals have their own "space"
+ Natural and relatively neutral.
+ Reaches high and low: Good bass, mid and treble presence
+ Tight, focused bass that can drop fairly low
- NOT a relaxing headphone. Ears seem to work hard with these on, focusing in and out to deal with those upfront mids and trebles especially at higher volumes
- Bass is not for bassheads or for anyone who is looking for dynamic bass response
- Because it is closer to neutral than most consumer headphones, it won''t sound as full, rather music sounds more separate and clear
- Flirts with sibilance in the treble - what''s this mean? S''s sound a bit raspy and sharp
Neutral - Personal Preference
= Vocals and treble are very much upfront
= Mids are emphasized
= Bass is only present when it needs to be
=Treble is not smoothed out (more sharp than soothing)
Isolation/Sound Leakage - A short summary
- Not great. Isolation average at best. It muffles outside noise, but nowhere nears cancels it. Sound leakage is decent. Better than the QC25''s, about the same as UE6000. It''s what you expect, not spectacularly worse or better.
= 3 cables: short, longer, longest. The short one is for your average consumer, comes with inline remote that comes with mic and ability to play/pause, NO VOLUME. Works on Android/iOS
- Fake leather...Vinyl? well. It''s a bag. And that''s a shame. It should be a hard or semi-hard carrying case at this price point. It''s a nice bag, feels good - the headphone fits fine, but it''s still just a bag.
Sony MDR-1A ($300):
Boy these looks similar. Well, the Sony is more comfortable by a long shot w/ memory foam earpads, lighter, smaller footprint and no clamping force/headband issues. (it''s incredibly comfortable vs. mildly comfortable). The Sony is plastic all the way around though it is arguably better designed. Why? The cable is designed so that it does not run up on your shoulder. The cable has this neat twisting input and most importantly the plastics don''t creak. That being said: The MSR7 is arguably more impressive to hold and look at with its matte aluminum driver casings and sturdy build. Sound quality is entirely subjective. They may look the same, but they act differently. Sony is less neutral, much smoother and more relaxing. It lacks the details of the MSR7 and the vocals are a lot more subdued. The bass is very present, and fairly well behaved. The treble and midrange are definitely not as upfront.
Recommendation: Rap, Metal, R&B, Hard Rock listeners go with the Sony''s. Classical, Acoustic, Alternative, Indie: Go with MSR7
Bose QC25 ($300):
Just to shorten this, we''ll say that the QC25 is about as comfortable as the MDR-1A, they remind me a lot of each other (w/o having had both at the same time). All plastic again. Very light, memory foam, etc. Comes with semi-hard carrying case. Noise cancelling as you well know is very impressive (INCREDIBLE on a plane, not as good with ind. voices). The MSR7 has better clarity, better soundstage, more present mid range and treble. The QC25''s are pretty well balanced, with a decent bass (close to MSR7, not as refined) and good mid and treble range, They are still much more relaxing a listen. They are a jack of all trades but a master of one.
Recommendation: If you plan to wear your headphones in public a lot (loud places), get the QC25, no question. Otherwise, MSR7 sound is more detailed.
Audio Technica MX50 (~$160 at time of review):
Here we go. The younger brother (kinda). This one is tough. Well they are similar in many ways. The MSR7 has slightly improved earpads (softer). Clamping force is a little stronger on MSR7. Otherwise, comfort is pretty similar. Build is similar, except you have aluminum instead of plastic, frankly the MSR7 look a lot more "grown up." Weight is similar. The MX50''s fold up (That''s nice.) MX50 cord is a little better (who cares at this point?). OK, sound: MX50 has more bass, MSR7 has a little more detail and better soundstage. While the MSR7 bass is a little more refined (less boomy) the MX50 bass gives a much more dynamic, better overall impression. MX50 mids and treble not as forward as MSR7, so more relaxing listen.
Logitech UE6000 (Discontinued, available for $115)
UE6000, again, is more comfortable. Less so than the Sony''s and Bose headphones, but the lighter weight body makes the difference here. Clamping force is also a relief. Overall, the sound is worse than the MSR7. It''s not as detailed and much less clear. The bass is just a tad bit more pronounced, but given the lack of clarity, well, it''s not worth that loss. Build quality is good...it''s plastic again...fabric carrying case (not a bag), comes with headphone slitter which is nice. I should say came with it, these are discontinued.
UPDATE: Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 comparison
I got my hands on the new Momentum 2.0 and 2.0 Wireless at this years SXSW trade show. The MSR7''s and Momentum''s were positioned a few yards from each other, so a few awkward walks back and forth gave me a good idea of how these stack up to each other. The new Momentum''s (especially wireless) are about as close to perfect as you can get for a portable consumer headphone. They are supremely comfortable, have great sound, and are quite stylish. They isolate noise better than the MSR7''s, and even weigh a little less. I would argue that they have slightly better build quality with a leather headband and no creaking plastics. The sound? Well they both sound great. The Momentum''s dig a little deeper in the bass which makes them a little more dynamic, but they do not separate sound as well as the MSR7''s. They are not as clear and unfront, they are a more relaxing, balanced listen. But then there is the price. It''s $350 ($500 for wireless) vs. $250. That''s pretty significant. The original Momentum''s started at $370 and are now at around $200, so I would suspect a similar decrease. That might take a while though, so reach into your wallet and see what you are willing to spend. Oh. They fold up and come with a nice carrying case as well...
Recommendation: I would buy the Momentum''s if you have the money. They are just incredible comfortable and sound really good. If you don''t care about the fancy features offered by the Wireless version, and strictly listen to piano or acoustic based music, I would consider getting the MSR7''s.
Note: The Wireless version did a GOOD job cancelling out noise. Better than average, worse than Bose. The bluetooth was pretty skippy though. I think they used an 5s if I remember correctly. Might just be an isolated issue. You can connect a cord to the wireless Momentum''s if you want.
Others to recommend in similar category:
Sennheiser Momentum 1 ($188 at time of review) and Momentum 2 ($350) and Wireless ($500)
Bowers and Wilkins P5 II ($300) and P7 ($400)
Bang and Olufsen BeoPlay H6 ($400)
NAD VISO HP50 ($300)
Denon AH-D600 (~$300)
V-Moda M100 ($300)
and many more...
Summary: Beautiful design and nice matte black aluminum finish marred by some creaky plastics. The comfort level is a notch below "good" because of the weight (290g), clamping force, and headband pressure. Accessories are OK, 3 cables of varying length and just a cloth bag. Sound quality is excellent, though not relaxing. The mids and treble are very forward and border on fatiguing, especially at higher volumes. That being said, details are excellent, soundstage is impressive, bass does a good job, and nothing sounds unnatural. Isolation and sound leakage are nothing special.
No point to recommend these to you, because I do not know who "you" are. Facts are facts and preferences are preferences. But these are good headphones. They do a lot of things well. I hope if you read this, you know which direction to go in.
Here are some other things:
***These headphones were tested on a Dell XPS 13 (2014) and LG G3. No amp. Various sources (Google Music, Soundcloud, Youtube, "Hi-Res" audio, Surround sound tests, bass tests, etc.)
Please feel free to comment and ask questions. I really do hope this helped. If it did, please give me some credit for this exhausting review.