The M50 – Best Under $200

Well, hot in the heels of my last headphone purchase, I just went out and out and got myself the fabled Audio Technica ATH-M50 studio monitors.

These cans are reputed to be the best in the world under $200US. And from the last hour I spent with them, I have absolutely no reason to disagree.

They just officially ROCK. Without prejudice. They just simply blow away every Bose, Sennheiser, Shure and AKG I have owned or heard in this price range. I own a bunch of headsets but they were all in the $100 or less category. Sennheiser HD212 Pro, Sennheiser HD465, Shure E2C, Bose Triport OE and IE, AKG K81 DJ and the VModa Vibes. These easily beat out all of those. At the same time. With one hand tied behind its back.

They are seriously that good. As my GF said when I snuck behind her and stuffed these on her ears, “I feel like I’m in another place!” They are good enough to suck you into another dimension. The sound signature of the M50s is very warm and bassy, meaning they have strong low frequency fundamentals. Yet the mid range is very smooth and creamy, with a very forward presentation that does great justice to vocals. The highs are smooth and rolled off, without any sibilance or harshness. It’s exactly the kind of sound signature I like to have in a headphone.

Having gear like this really lets you enjoy the pleasure of life. It’s amazing how technology has evolved to allow monitor class headphones such as these to be made availble to the consumer at such an affordable price points. In the past audio gear of this quality was usually limited to studio professionals who would spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars for the tools of their trade.

We should never overestimate the magic a good pair of headphones can bring to your listening experience. While most people are apt to be content with the white earbuds that come with their iPods, you really discover what you’re missing once you listen to a solid pair of cans.

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