Audio Technica ATHM50X Measurements
Dekoni Audio is pleased to share a “deep dive” look into our Audio Technica M50x line of Earpads, specifically tuned to elevate your listening experience.
We start with comfort, using our soft, high density, slow rebound memory foam for an extra plush experience that conforms to the shape of your face (and accommodates glasses stems). Like all our earpads, they are offered in a wide range of fabric options, including Elite Sheepskin, Elite Velour, Choice Leather, Choice Suede, Choice Hybrid, and our Protein Leather pads. We ensured the pads mount just as securely as the stock pads – these pads will fit the M50x, but also the popular Sony MDR-7506. Finally, we shaped and measured the pads to tune the sound and share a preview of how they sound compared to stock pads.
In our measurements, we use the measurement data from the headphone coupled with the realistic ears of our microphone dummy head. We have been fortunate to have acquired a certain well-known Audio Precision-based measurement rig, and will continue to keep the measurements coming! The data is presented raw and uncompensated, except to cancel out the ear response of our microphone dummy head, and it’s the average data from 5 slightly different seatings of the headphone. Some measurements by others are made without headphones actually sitting on ears, or with adjustments to reflect the effect that the shape of a generic inner and outer ear will have on the sound waves – we don’t do that, because as every experienced audio enthusiast knows, we all have different ears! So, as part of a series of Dekoni Describes posts, we will walk our readers through understanding our graphs.
The first thing to understand about an uncompensated graph is that it will sound different to the listener than the graph will show. For one, we haven’t smoothed our graphs, so there are many peaks and valleys that would have been lost information, but also there are other factors, such as the effect from the earcups and pads resting against a head and around ears, the human ear’s extra sensitivity to vocals (thus most headphones are designed with a midrange “bowl”), and that the shape of our ears and depth of our ear canals can actually amplify certain frequencies. For the purposes of swapping earpads, it is enough to say that a flat line along the 0 dB line wouldn’t sound “good” on these uncompensated graphs, a dip in the midrange is to be expected since human ears are more sensitive to that region, and mainly we want to focus on how a Dekoni pad compares to the Stock pad. With our measurements, we used the classic M50x, which comes Stock with Audio Technica’s microsuede pad.
We use supple, natural Sheepskin that is the softest and most breathable available today. With our solid Sheepskin, overall we see a similar frequency response curve shape as stock, except the sub-bass “rumble” response gently rolls off more than before. Great for anyone who chooses the M50x for tight bass, emphasis on the midrange and treble, and prefers the feel of leather (and thicker, memory foam pads).
Our Protein Leather also has mildly lighter sub-bass (mostly it just sounds less boomy) and a more linear progression from bass to mids to treble. The upper mids and upper treble have a little less energy now, so if you ever felt the midrange of the stock pads (which lack the typical midrange bowl we would expect to see in an uncompensated RAW graph!) was too shouty or the treble was too hot, these could be a great option! Our Protein Leather is also more special than (plastic) pleather, as the eggshell membrane protein results in a more supple, moisturized and soft material.
Our Elite Velour has a higher thread count and tighter weave than typical velour pads, soft and breathable but as you can see the performance is similar to a sealed pad (and the stock pad!), with a little more quantity of low-midrange and sub bass. If you need something to wick away sweat and stay noticeably cooler than the stock pads, the Elite Velour are for you!
Our Choice Hybrid pads are sealed with sleek and solid Choice Leather on the outside face and inner face, and soft Choice Suede on the face facing your face that won’t stick to your skin. This pad measures the close to the Velour and is shaped similarly to Audio Technica’s stock pads, with more sub-bass and low mids compared to the other pads, no more 4.5 kHz spike, and a bit more upper-midrange energy and “air” in the highest ranges of our hearing which helps with positional accuracy and sense of soundstage space.
Choice Leather is a super soft synthetic leather, offering an animal-free option. With a steeper dip in the midrange, the headphone sounds stronger in the bass than before, for a more exciting sound great for those deep electronic beats, but also smooths our the upper midrange spike centered around 4.5 kHz. 4.5kHz spikes are often correlated with sibilance, so this could be a great solution for taming more edgy harmonicas and violins.
Choice Suede has a similar sound to Choice Leather, because both are actually sealed synthetic pads! The sound still has the smooth volume transition between (a touch extra) sub bass and midrange with no spike, and the stock dip at 6.5 kHz has shifted down to 5.5 kHz, so the sound may seem more romanticised. Our Choice Suede is also our most luxuriously soft textured pad textile, while also avoiding the stickiness that sometimes happens with smooth pads.
The subjective factor of experiencing headphones and earpads matters the most, of course. If it sounds good, it is good! We listen with our pads for several revisions before release, and we want to thank the reviewers and our patrons on Head-Fi and other platforms who have shared their experiences. Real user experience is the best judge, and we thank everyone who has tried to describe their experience!
Our Audio Technica pads are available now at our fine dealers internationally, and dekoniaudio.com.