This is a battle of two critically acclaimed industry standards when it comes to studio monitoring equipment.
Sony MDR-7506 vs. Audio Technica ATH-M50x is a hard decision as both are well-known as critical listening headphones for studio work.
But which is right for your needs? Which is the best for your budget? Are there other alternative headphones?
I’ll answer all of that below!
Sony MDR-7506 Overview
The Sony MDR-7506 headphones are a staple in the studio.
I’ll start with the sound quality and frequency response of the Sony MDR-7506, as I imagine someone looking at these headphones is focused on good sound quality.
As expected of a studio headphone, it has a fairly flat, balanced sound.
However, I wouldn’t say it’s not COMPLETELY flat. Instead, its sub-bass is rolled, and its highs spike around the mid-high treble.
It also has a balanced mid and delivers crystal sound conducive for serious listening!
In terms of physical features, I’m happy that the Sony MDR-7506 is quite light!
It’s made with a metal headband which will help it be flexible for the many times you need to put it on and take it off.
The headband also includes adjustable sizes to accommodate ANY head size.
The ear cups are made of good build quality plastic, making them light and comfortable for long sessions.
The cups are also big enough for an over-ear design.
The design would ensure good sound isolation and comfort for EXTENDED because the pads won’t push on the ears themselves.
The pads are covered with a thin, wrinkly leatherette, providing soft cushioning to the area around your ears.
I find it very convenient how you can fold the ear cups into the headband, which makes it easier to bring around. They also include a soft carrying case with the Sony MDR-7506 for on-the-go purposes.
On the topic of on-the-go, it doesn’t use up much power, so you can use this for casual listening on low-power gadgets like typical smart devices.
However, the long-coiled cable is not ideal for on-the-go purposes.
It’s also NOT a detachable cable, so if you want to have a shorter cable on it, all I can say is I hope you know how to solder.
- Detailed high-frequency response
- Over-ear design
- Frequency response: 10Hz – 20 kHz
- Neodymium magnets
- Dynamic Driver
- Driver Size: 40mm
- Cord length: 9.8 feet
- Detailed sound quality
- Better value option
- Light, comfy for long listening sessions
- Good build quality
- No detachable cable
- Rolled sub-bass
Audio Technica ATH-M50x Overview
The Audio Technica ATH-M50x is also a VERY well-known pair of headphones for mixing and music production purposes.
As I did with the Sony MDR 75 the Audio Technica ATH-M50x’s sound quality and sound signature.
The Audio Technica ATH-M50x has excellent sound quality and a well-balanced sound.
But like the Sony pair, it doesn’t quite perfectly fit a Harman flat sound signature.
The Audio Technica ATH-M50x is a bit different compared to the Sony MDR-7506’s sound signature.
If the Sony pair has a rolled sub-bass, the Audio Technica ATH-M50x has a boosted bass. The Sony headphones have pretty flat mids, while the Audio Technica has a dip in the low mid.
The Audio Technica ATH M50x also has a SLIGHT bump to the mid-mid. And concerning the highs, there is a dip at around the 12k frequency.
Overall, the Audio Technica ATH M50x has very clear audio and provides a professional-grade monitoring and listening experience.
I also have a lot to talk about in terms of physical build and miscellaneous features!
For one, the Audio Technica ATH-M50x is solidly constructed and made with high-quality matte plastics.
It also features a metal headband with several adjustment levels to fit various head sizes.
Sadly, I think the pads on the ear cups are probably the number one turn-off for those who like to listen for long periods.
While the pads are circumaural designs, they may be too small for those with large ears.
I find that the Audio Technica ATH-M50x clamps pretty hard on the head and is very hard to ignore when Ive been sitting down, mixing, and producing for hours.
You can take one from me and get third-party pads to wrap around the ear cups if you want to make this more comfortable.
But for all the discomfort the pads give, I promise it has great sound isolation.
The Audio Technica ATH-M50x also has an ear cup folding mechanism for easy portability AND a leatherette carry bag for added protection.
I also like the detachable cable setup for the headphones. Not only that, but they also include three detachable cables in the box.
You get a long straight cable, a short straight cable, and a long coiled cable — so you can definitely interchange your cables depending on your needs.
You can also buy a third-party cable, but make sure that the locking mechanism would fit the headphones’ locking mechanism.
It is also low power, so you can use it on mobile devices without an additional amp to power your headphones to get high volume.
- Detailed high-frequency response
- Over-ear headphones
- Frequency range: 8Hz to 25kHz
- Neodymium Drivers
- Dynamic Driver
- Driver Size: 45mm
- Cord length: 9.8 feet
- Detachable cables
- Detailed sound
- Solid build
- Earpads are uncomfortable and cannot be worn for an extended period
- The more expensive option
SONY MDR-7506 vs. Audio Technica ATH-M50x: Performance Review
Sony MDR-7506 vs. Audio Technica ATH-M50x? Which is better for my purposes? Which of these closed-back design headphones have the features I need?
Let’s compare, shall we?
Build and Design
They’re both built sturdily, although the Sony MDR-7506 is a lighter weight at 8.1 oz.
Both headphones are equipped with neodymium, dynamic drivers and closed-back designs for their headphones, allowing for better sound isolation and prevents sound leakage.
Not much noise comes out, and not a lot of noise comes in, so you experience only MINIMAL ambient noises.
The Audio Technica ATH-M50x has more adjustability in its ear cups. It can rotate so you can rest it flat on your chest when you’re hanging it off your neck.
Both headphones also have metal headbands that can take the bending in contrast to the hard plastic that you find in cheaper headphones that may snap in two after a while.
However, only the Audio Technica ATH M50x features a detachable cable among the two.
I find that having detachable cables is a BIG convenience when it comes to wired headphones.
Usually, the point of failure for wired headphones is the cable failing.
But having detachable cables means you can replace the cables when something goes wrong WITHOUT resorting to soldering.
You can get more mileage out of headphones that have cables that can be detached since you DON’T have to replace the whole thing when the cable breaks.
With the Sony MDR-7506, you don’t have that option.
Another advantage of removable cables is that you can swap them out for a different length.
If you’re out and about, I assure you that having the long cable of the Sony MDR would look ridiculous sticking out from your mobile device.
Not to mention it’d be plain unwieldy due to its length.
Again, the Sony MDR-7506 is the lighter option of the two. The ear cushions on the Sony MDR-7506 are also softer than the Audio Technica ATH-M50x
So compared to the ATH M50x, I can wear the Sony MDR longer.
I’ll say the ATH M50x is comfortable too. However, you’d have to change the earpads in order to achieve the same level of comfort as on the Sony MDR.
Those with larger ears may also find the small pads on the ATH-M50x uncomfortable.
The ATH M50x, however, comes with removable cables, so you can change the length to whatever is comfortable for you.
No need to fumble around with cables that are too long!
Speaking of wires, you can make the M50x wireless! too! You can purchase an additional adaptor to turn it into Bluetooth headphones.
Both options provide a fairly accurate sound that is suitable for studio work. But as I’ve mentioned above, there are some differences between each.
For one, the ATH M50x provides more bass while the Sony pair has rolled off sub-bass.
The M50x has a slight dip in its treble region while the Sony has a spike in their treble — but not so much that it ruins its crystal clear audio with harshness.
It’s a “One has what the other doesn’t” type of situation. When it comes to listening to music, it will come down to preference:.
- Do you want a more bassy sound? M50x.
- Clearer highs and more balanced mids? MDR-7506.
The Sony MDR-7506 is at a lower price point at less than 100 USD than the ATH-M50x’s price, which usually floats around the 150 USD price range.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are probably a few questions that you still have lingering in your mind. Let me try to answer some of those questions.
What Is an Audiophile?
From the word audio meaning sound, and the suffix -phile from the Greek philos meaning, to love, it simply is someone who is passionate about sound quality.
It’s someone who seeks the BEST listening experience out of their playback and audio equipment.
What Is a Headphone Driver?
The driver is the most important part of a headphone! It is where your digital signal gets turned into actual sound.
There are several kinds of headphone drivers, but the most popular ones, and the ones used by the headphones in this article, are DYNAMIC drivers.
What Is Soundstage?
Soundstage is how well your headphones or speakers can reproduce a feeling of 3D space.
Have you ever experienced listening to a piece of music and noticed that you could somewhat pinpoint where a certain instrument is?
Or if you are watching a movie and you can tell where an off-screen sound came from?
If you said yes, your cans or speakers probably have good soundstage replication!
Alternatives to Consider
Are there other headphones can look at if these two don’t fit your needs, or maybe you want more options?
The world of headphones is wide, and there are many options to choose from. Below are some of my recommendations:
1. Audio Technica ATH M40X
Here’s another product from Audio Technica. And surprise, surprise! It’s the “little brother” of the ATH-M50x, the M40x.
They are identical save for the extra mobility on the ear cups on the M50x. So, unfortunately, you also get the problem of uncomfortable ears.
The pads on the M40x are also quite uncomfortable after putting them on for a while.
However, despite it being the “little brother,” I would say that its sound signature is FLATTER than its bigger brother, the M50x.
This makes it better for studio mixing, producing, etc.
So if you’re into what the M50x offers but want to save 50 USD, the M40x is the one for you.
2. Shure SRH440
The Shure SRH 440 is another line of cans that are PROFESSIONAL grade!
Like the previous entries, these are closed-back can, which is good for sound isolation.
Like the previous an over-ear — the ear cups on this one cover more of your ears, giving them a snugger fit.
It also comes with a removable cable.
The SRH440s have great sound, and you can expect this is very close to the flat Harman target.
So if you’re looking for a flat signature, this is it!
On top of all that, it is also CHEAP, hovering around the 100-USD-and-below price range.
3. AKG 371
The AKG 371 is a pair of cans priced around the same as an M50x, which is around the 150 USD price range.
This pair is also a set of closed-back cans which provide good sound isolation. It is also over-ear and covers a good part of your ears — and I can tell you that it’s comfy!
It also features a removable wire, so you don’t have to worry about breaking wires and having to replace the whole unit. Instead, you can just buy extra cables.
How’s the audio?
You get EXCELLENT sound quality! Much like the Shure above, the sound signature of these cans is close to the Harman target for flatness.
I recommend this amazing choice for a home studio workhorse or even an actual studio workhorse.
Final Verdict: Which Headset is Better?
Sony MDR-7506 vs. Audio Technica ATH-M50x — which of these should be your new pair of cans?
If you want something more versatile, the M50x wins as it is more suited to bringing around for casual use and studio use at the same time.
But I would still recommend the Sony MDR-7506 is for those who want a strictly-for-studio-use headphone.
If you stay in the studio, you wouldn’t need the interchangeable wires that the M50x provides.
Cables would also be less likely to be abused if you stay in the studio all the time.
December 1, 2022 – minor formatting edits