Meet the , a set of closed-back over-ear headphones.
The speaker element is protected by a fine cloth mesh and faux-leather ear cup, pictured on the right. Stripped (pictured left), you can see that the speaker is also ensconced in a plastic casing.
The back of the 's cans are simply black plastic with some brushed aluminum accents.
The band of the is adjustable and very comfortable, not to mention the fact where the ear cups meet the band, you can swivel them a total of 180 degrees, if you don't want to wear them, but still listen to one channel anyways.
The cable of the s is as beefy and durable as they come. Not only does it have significant wire insulation, but it also even has a section of spiraled cable, allowing some give before it is pulled taut.
The plug of the is not your standard 1/8th inch jack. Included in the package is a 1/4th inch adapter screwed onto the threading of the plug to keep it secure. In addition, the entire assembly is constructed out of metal, which should withstand several gigs or shows.
The 's cord guards are thick rubber, and one metal spring, which should prevent a good amount of internal damage to your cans.
The comes packaged with your headphones, 1/4th inch plug adapter, carrying case, and some documentation.
These seem to be very rugged over-ears, even if you can't actually re-cable them easily without damaging the casing. Their cord guards are extremely robust, and a few drops aren't going to destroy your cans. The closed backs mean that you won't have to worry too much about the humidity, and the removable ear cups will allow you to maximize your mileage from your s.
Even though these headphones aren't as flashy as the Monster Beats Pros, we still like their clean appearance. We especially like the brushed metal accents.
As you can see from the chart below, the frequency response of the was a little more dynamic than what we usually like to see, but for some people the overemphasized bass and subdued 5-10kHz ranges might be preferable to other headphones. Audio Technica seems to have frequency responses very similar to this one in other models they've fielded, but this one is somewhat improved over other models we've seen. Still, don't let the branding fool you, these are not headphone variants of studio monitors. Not even close.
What does this response mean for you? Well, in addition to feeling like you have a subwoofer inside your head, you'll also notice that sibilants (s, sh sounds), cymbal crashes and high-hats will all sound a little muffled in comparison to other instruments and voice sounds. Given that these specific sounds are typically pretty loud in comparison to others when their levels aren't toned down a bit in an unmixed track, it's not terribly surprising that Audio Technica would elect to downplay these sounds. We still believe that if the track is mixed correctly, this underemphasis is unnecessary (and leads to bad mixing if you use these headphones at home to create tracks). These are not ideal headphones for this purpose.
Included in the packaging with the is a bag to port around your headphones. Still, be aware that you're never going to fit these in your pocket, so you will have to plan around the bulk of these cans when you want to bring them out and about.
The faux-leather and cloth ear cups are removable to make for easier cleaning, but aside from this there isn't much else you can do with the s. The headphones don't offer anything in the way of cable maintenance.
In this matchup, we compare the
This comparison is a little apples and oranges, but the
As you can see from the charts below, where the
The DT 990 PROs have almost perfect tracking, whereas the
Neither set of headphones did well in terms of isolation, but the
Don't get us wrong, the
If you're looking for studio quality headphones, get the DT 990 PROs. Not only do they outperform just about every pair of headphones we've ever had in terms of sound quality, but you can find them online for about the same price as the
Up next is the battle of mis-branded "studio quality" headphones. Neither one of these headphones are truly "studio quality," but that didn't stop their marketing teams! Oh, no!
Here we'll compare the
Both over-ears are very durable, and both are aesthetically pleasing, though very different. Really, this one depends on your tastes. The one objective advantage held by the Monster Beats Pros is the removable cable, allowing you easy replacement if you somehow manage to saw through the ridiculously thick wire insulation, and need a new cable.
While both headphones had issues with over-emphasized bass response, the Beats Pro stayed within our ideal limits for a wider range of frequencies, where the
Neither set of over-ears had any trouble with distortion.
Neither set of headphones did a good job isolating sound, and the
Really, you have to decide what's more important to you in this comparison, as each set of headphones have their advantages. if you like very marginally better sound quality at a hugely inflated cost, go for the Beats Pros. If you want to pay less than half as much and not feel like you have a vice on your head, stick with the
To see how well the
Well, this one yet another case of "different strokes for different folks." While the
Well, this one is a clear slam-dunk win for the
Neither set of over-ears had any trouble with distortion.
Despite how erratic the tracking is for the
Neither set of headphones isolate well at all.
This one's tough. Both headphones are fairly comfortable, but the ATH-A700s are much heavier. If you have the neck muscles for it, by all means use them. However, us lab geeks prefer the lighter
In virtually no way are the ATH-A700s better than the
Taking a bit of a break from the over-ear comparisons, we will now look at another entry-ish level set of headphones, but this time we will look at a set of in-ears with disproportionately high audio performance, the Etymotic Research mc5s.
The ATH-M50s and the mc5s are obviously wildly different in terms of design, as one is a set of in-ears and the other is a set of largeish over-ears. Both are stylish and although the ATH-M50s are more durable, the mc5s have a little more character. We'll leave it up to you to decide what you want in headphone design.
Despite the hype of being "monitor headphones," the mc5s actually have the flatter response here, with only one peak in the mid range and slight general underemphasis. The ATH-M50s have a very dynamic response, with odd ranges of underemphasis that can be very distracting if you're looking for sibilant sounds, attack on drums and guitar or cymbals.
Neither set of headphones had much distortion.
The mc5s had a crazily-good tracking, whereas the ATH-M50s have a largely inconsistent tracking response.
Possibly one of the biggest advantages of the mc5s are their capacity for passive noise attenuation. They block out a almost the entire range of audible frequencies by a significant amount, and can make you feel dead to the world while listening to them. The ATH-M50s let in a bunch of sound.
We typically go with headphones that are "not in-ears" when discussing comfort, and the ATH-M50s are easily more comfortable. Despite their weight, they cradle the skull and distribute their weight very well, and they are soft on the outer ear, making for a decent comfort level.
These are two very different headphones designed for two very different uses. If you're looking for decent audio quality on the go, the mc5s are a better bet than the ATH-M50s if you care about isolation and frequency response. If you're looking for a set of on-ears that don't disappoint for the price and will withstand high amounts of abuse, the ATH-M50s are absolutely the better pick.
The s aren't a bad set of over-ears, although they aren't studio or monitor headphones by any stretch of the imagination (as their branding claims). Still, if you're using these at home or at a show, you shouldn't be disappointed with them for the amount of money they'll set you back. They have their ups and downs (specifically in frequency response) but they are about par for the course in their price range. They won't dazzle, but they won't disappoint either.
Meet the tester
Staff Writer, Imaging@cthomas8888
A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.
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