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The headphones have a smaller-than-average set of ear pads, which make them slightly awkward to wear at first. Thankfully, we found this discomfort subsides with time.

The headphones also had very inconsistent audio quality results. They had a few drops in their frequency response and their tracking was a bit off at one point, but they have an impressively low distortion.

The SP500MMs are currently available for about $100.

The AblePlanet PS500MMs are a set of on-ears with a microphone and in-line volume control.

HATS-Front Image

The ear cups are smaller than we typically see on a set of on-ears.

The back of the ear cups are semi-open. They can tilt back and forth on the band.

The head band has soft padding on its underside and can extend.

Part of the way down the cord is the control pendant. The front of the pendant has an on/off toggle for the mic, as well as a volume control dial on the side.

The cord ends in two 1/8-inch plugs. The green one is the headphone plug and the pink one is for the mic.

In the PS500Ms' box you'll find a pouch. The headphones are also in there, but that's about it.

These headphones seem durable enough. They have a thick cord, not a lot of moving parts, and seem to be manufactured well. The ear padding is covered by a soft skin that might be punctured if you have spiky earrings, but should stand up to extended use. Also, the ear cups can tilt, which can lead to wear and tear. The cord guards are decent. The mic sticks straight out, so make sure you don't step on it.

For a set of headphones with a mic, these aren't bad. They do look rather like the ones you see at a fast food drive through, but that aesthetic comes with the territory. The tiny ear cups might make the headphones look a bit strange on your head, but since we can only fathom guesses as to what lies atop your neck, we can't really make a judgment about that.

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Overall, we liked the look of the PS500MMs, but the mic adds some nerdy to the picture, and that's a look that some people may not find appealing. Of course, this is our opinion, which likely differs from your own personal style. What we're saying is this: follow your heart.

The PS500MM headphones started out with a decent enough frequency response. They had a good bass level that didn't get boomy towards the low end. Then something terrible happened. After about 800Hz, the response gradually begins to roll off. Just before 7kHz, the response falls off precipitously, before bumping back up. After this point it's a bit inconsistent.

The oddly inconsistent response lead to the headphones producing a muffled, flat sound. The lower end fared much better, but the high-end issues will likely turn a majority of listeners off of the PS500MMs.

Frequency Response Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Frequency_Response) The PS500MMs had negligible distortion levels, resulting in a good performance score. What this means is that you'll hear the music the way it was intended to sound, without the headphones adding distortion that wasn't in the original recording. We really don't have much more to say about it than that.
Distortion Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Distortion) As foreshadowed by the frequency response graph, the PS500MMs didn't have the greatest tracking. It was pretty even for a long while, then the right channel has a heart attack towards the high end and drops way down, leading to the left channel seeming far louder at those frequencies.
Tracking Graph
[Click here for more information on our frequency response test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Tracking) The PS500MMs didn't isolate from outside sounds particularly well. They block out some high frequency noise, but don't do much for the low end. This shortcoming probably won't be an issue, since you're unlikely to be using these headphones on a noisy bus or train.
Isolation Graph
[Click here for more information on our isolation test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Isolation) The PS500MMs did a good job controlling leakage. We found that a slight whisper was all that was audible in a quiet room. Of course, this test assumes you won't be yammering away on the microphone, asking for heals or screaming obscenities at campers. [Click here for more information on our leakage test.](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Leakage) The headphones had a decent maximum usable volume. We were able to pump them up to 121.89 dB without getting a high level of distortion. This is loud enough that it's harmful over long periods of time. If you love damaging your hearing, these headphones are for you. [Click here for more on our maximum usable volume test](/content/How-We-Test-149.htm#Maximum Usable Volume) We thought the PS500MMs were a bit awkward at first. They're on-ears with tiny ear pads. It felt a bit odd to have such a small portion of the ear covered. They weren't too tight or anything, they just took some getting used to.

Once we were used to the fit, the headphones were quite comfortable. They didn't exert a lot of pressure, either on the sides or top of the head. The mic can adjust to a comfortable position.

There isn't a whole lot you can do with customization. The PS500MMs cover the basics, such as tilting ear pads and an extending band. You can also bend the mic into various shapes, which was admittedly amusing for a few minutes. There aren't any pad replacements, faceplates, or other customization options included.

The PS500MMs' cord is 6.5 feet in length. The cable should be a good length if you're looking to use the headphones for PC gaming. It will not, however, be a good length of cord for console gaming, unless your console is located very close to your couch.

Cable Image

The cable ends in two seasonally festive 1/8-inch plugs. One is for the audio, and one is for the mic.

Plug Image

There's also a USB adaptor included that merges the two outputs and allows you to connect them to a computer and use them as a separate sound device from your sound card.

Due to their design, the PS500MMs aren't very portable. Their cord is long and ends in two plugs. The headphones themselves are on-ears, so they're not as portable as a set of in-ears, despite having the tiniest ear cups ever. They also have a mic, which looks awkward outside of the gaming/telemarketing setting.

The headphones also come with a small sack to carry them around in. It doesn't help much more than any old pocket or brown paper bag would.

Unlike most on/over-ear headphones, the PS500MMs aren't the easiest set to maintain. You can remove the ear padding and there are a few screws on the band, but otherwise there isn't a lot you can do to fix or clean your headphones.


The PS500MMs don't require batteries, which is awesome. Batteries are lame and always die at inopportune times. We have therefore awarded these headphones some points, as our way of saying, 'Thank you!'

Remote & Mic

The PS500MMs do have a microphone. In fact, we'd wager a guess that 'microphone' accounts for at least one of the M's in the product's name. The other M is probably some sort of adjective, like 'marvelous,' or 'mighty.'

Speculation aside, the mic is implemented well. It's attached to the headphones via a bendable arm. There's also an in-line control pendant for switching the feature on and off.

Cable Image

Volume Control

There is an in-line volume control. It's a wheel design, which we're not too keen on. Often the wheel is very easy to turn, so any movement on your behalf will spin it in some direction. This being said, unless you're playing some sort of team-based DDR variant on your computer, you probably aren't planning on moving around a lot with these.

Both sets of headphones are a bit blah. The Apple headphones are white and clean and were once chic. Now their charm has been laid to waste by their rampant proliferation. The PS500MMs are decent enough, but don't have any flair to them.

In terms of durability, the PS500MMs win this match-up by a long shot.

The PS500MMs have a bit of an issue in their high end. The Apple headphones have a much more even frequency response throughout the whole frequency spectrum.

The PS500MMs had very low distortion levels. The Apple headphones had a bit of an issue with their low end.

The PS500MMs have a bit of a spike in their tracking towards the high end. If they hadn't had that, the two headphones would've had similar tracking scores.

The PS500MMs have better isolation than the Apple headphones. Since you're more likely to use the Apple headphones on the go, it's more important that they have isolation (and they don't).

Both sets of headphones are slightly uncomfortable. While the PS500MMs get more comfortable over time, the Apple headphones pop loose.

In terms of being just headphones, we think the PS500MMs are better. In terms of being a set of headphones with a mic, we think the PS500MMs are better. The Apple headphones are better for portability, obviously.

The DT770s look better than the PS500MMs and have a slightly better construction overall.

Both headphones have a decent bass and an erratic high end. The PS500MMs are more erratic in their high end, and dampen quite a few chunks of the frequency spectrum.

Neither set of headphones has distortion levels worth worrying about.

While the PS500MMs have better tracking overall, that spike towards the high end is definitely cause for concern. One thing to note is these two graphs have different X-axis: the PS500MMs' graph only extends to 7kHz.

Both sets of headphones have similar isolation levels. Neither one is particularly good.

We thought the DT 770s were more comfortable overall; the larger cups are more comfortable for extended use.

If you're looking for audio quality, the DT 770s are a much better set of cans. If you're looking for a set of gaming headphones, the PS500MMs make up a more budget-oriented option; purchasing the DT 770s and a separate mic will likely be expensive and more awkward to use. If you're a DIY-minded person, however, it might make for a fun project.

As in-ears, the SE115s are less durable than the PS500MMs. Neither have an aesthetic worth mentioning.

Both headphones screw up their high end with erratic responses. The SE115s manage to be slightly less erratic.

Neither set of headphones have troublingly high distortion levels. No one will notice any in either.

The SE115s didn't have any mess-ups before the 7kHz mark (their graph goes to 20kHz; we've since stopped displaying this information because it wasn't 100% accurate). Aside from the PS500MMs' spike, both headphones have equivalent tracking.

If isolation is what you're after, the SE115s are the way to go.

Most of the comfort/discomfort will come from the differing form factors. The PS500MMs' on-ear design boasts small ear pads, which feel a bit awkward initially if you're not used to them. The SE115s' in-ear design mandates wrapping the cord around the back of your ear.

Obviously, these headphones are meant for two different functions. The PS500MMs are meant for at-home gaming, while the SE115s are meant for use with a portable media player. The SE115s have better audio quality overall, but probably wouldn't be a good alternative if you're looking for a gaming headset.

The SE115s also don't come with a mic right out of the box: it requires a separate purchase.

The ATH-ESW9s are swanky looking and feature a slightly better construction overall.

Like some of the other comparisons, neither the PS500MMs nor the ATH-ESW9s have pristine high-ends. The ATH-ESW9s botch their high-end less than the PS500MMs.

Again, distortion won't be an issue for either set of headphones.

The ATH-ESW9s have no issues below the 7kHz mark, whereas the PS500MMs have a significant spike.

Neither set of headphones do much to isolate you from outside sound: both only block a small amount of high frequency noise, but let through a lot of low frequency rumbles.

We thought the PS500MMs were a bit odd initially, with their tiny ear pads. The ATH-ESW9s were also uncomfortable, due to their tight fit. Unlike the PS500MMs, however, we thought the ATH-ESW9s got less comfortable over time.

Unless you're looking for incredible audio quality, we'd recommend the PS500MMs for gamers. For your purposes, gamer, the ATH-ESW9s are too expensive and don't come with the convenient mic.

The AblePlanet PS500MMs are not for audiophiles. They have a weird sonic quality that sounds as though your audio is coming from a distance. It also sounded a bit flat. The low distortion helps, but doesn't erase its issues. From our experience, this seems to be common among low-to-mid-range gaming headphones. If you're not an audiophile, you'll get used to the sound quickly.

For most gamers, the PS500MMs aren't a bad pick-up at $100. They have a good fit, a control switch for the mic, and a volume adjuster. Console gamers will likely need some long extension cable to make it work, but will find that they are an improvement over the packaged-in headphones.

Meet the tester

Mark Brezinski

Mark Brezinski

Senior Writer


Mark Brezinski is a senior writer with seven years of experience reviewing consumer tech and home appliances.

See all of Mark Brezinski's reviews

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