It's only been two weeks since I picked up the Audio Technica M50s but I just couldn't fight the desire to upgrade so now I am the proud owner of the legendary Sennheiser HD25-1-II!
I loved the M50s, there wasn't really anything wrong with them. They were almost perfect in every way. They were suuuuper comfy with HUGE cups that were truly circumaural on my ears, great sound, great details and clarity, folded up for portable use, solid build quality, great isolation, I could go on. However, there was a bit of a problem. The pair I picked up initially started to crackle on the low end, no bueno. I exchanged for a new pair so hopefully it won't be there next time I plug them in.
What ultimately made me upgrade is that the WHOLE time I was listening to the M50s, I kept thinking about the HD25-1-II. When I finally took the plunge and headed over to GC (Guitar Center) to exchange the AT's and pick up the Senn's, the awesome sales guy let me test out a few pairs before making up my mind. I was so glad he did, because the Senn's were just amazing. The clarity and details on the HD25 is just so much more present over the M50. The mids were a lot better too, which was my main gripe with the M50. I also got to try the new-ish Shure SRH940 and WOW. Let me say that again. WOW. If I ever need to upgrade again, it will be for these. Sound wise they are amazing. They by far blow the rest of the SRH line out of the water. I'd say the sounds was just as good, maybe even better then the HD25 I tested. They also are really stylish, foldable, are suuuper comfy, light, and are packaged beautifully. At $300 street and a few hundred more retail, these are out of my grasp for now, but they sure are tempting!
The not so good news: I got home and tried on my brand new Sennies, only to be confronted by this awful noise! The bass was too heavy, everything else seemed muddled. The detail and clarity also wasn't there, as well as a pretty much nonexistent sound stage. I've heard that these don't have much to begin with but these are far worse than other examples I've heard. If they don't improve over the next few weeks, then these will sadly have to go back, and I'll happily return to my M50, with no complaints. If they improve, the M50s will be relegated to back up/home duties. That's a big if though. I've heard that these phones need a lot of burn in, and there is significant improvement after 100 hours. I sure hope so because I love the way other HD25's I've tested have sounded, and those had definitely been burned in. Fingers crossed!
Some initial observations, from memory, no time to do a real side by side right now:
Sound: As it stands, I'll have to say the AT's with about 50 hours burn and the crackle beat out the brand new unburned Senns. CRAZY! I know, but on these ears...true. I also think the M50's are a lot more forgiving than the HD25's in that almost any genre will sound "good" which is not true for the Senns.
Comfort: The AT's also have the Senns beat on comfort. While the M50 can start to feel heavy after a while, it really feels like they were designed to perfectly fit my head, maybe even a little loose. The HD25's are supra, which is not my fave, but are actually pretty comfy. I don't find the clamp too strong, even without stretching them out first. It does get a bit much after a few hours though, even if the force isn't too bad.
Isolation: Ok, for once, the out of box HD25's have the M50 beat. The isolation on the HD25 is simply pronominal, and they're supra! I would not believe it unless I (didn't) hear it!
Leakage: Senns also win here. I took them off, cups were not touching, and with my face just inches from the cups, I could barely make out the sound! Now THAT is leak control! I had the volume at about 1/3 which was plenty loud enough too.
Microphonics: Senn wins again. The microphonics on the M50 is horrible in comparison.
I'm really hoping the Senns improve with burn in. I'm so ready to love these...but just can't. Not yet