Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 Review

Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 Review
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With a new-and-improved version already announced and arriving on store shelves any day now, the original Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 may be looking a little dated.  But thanks to some stellar performance, this $249 headphone’s popularity is still holding strong.

Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 Review

Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 Review

The MSR7 is packaged with a soft pleather pouch, a short _ audio-only cable, a short _ cable with an in-line mic and remote, and a long _ audio-only cable.  There’s also some literature about the headphones in there, too.

Where build and comfort are concerned, the MSR7 is a real choice pair of cans.  They are definitely the best-looking and best-feel consumer headphones Audio Technica has made to date.  Incorporating equal measures of plastic and aluminum, the whole package is sturdy without being heavy.  The headband and earpads feature pleather padding, and the cups swivel 90 degrees to lay flat.  Isolation is fantastic.

Specs:

Type Dynamic
Driver Diameter 45 mm
Frequency Response 5-40,000 Hz
Maximum Input Power 2,000 mW
Sensitivity 100 dB/mW
Impedance 35 ohms
Weight 290 g
Cable Detachable 1.2 m (3.9′) standard cable, detachable 3.0 m (9.8′) standard cable, detachable 1.2 m (3.9′) cable with in-line controls and microphone for smartphones
Connector 3.5 mm gold-plated stereo mini plug, L-shaped
Accessories Included Protective pouch
Type (Microphone) Condenser
Frequency Response (Microphone) 50 – 4,000 Hz
Polar Pattern (Microphone) Omnidirectional

As you can see from the specs, there’s some decent highs and lows in there thanks to the 5-40000 hertz frequency range.  The low impedance of 35 ohms allows this headphone to work with low output devices, and probably won’t benefit all that much from amplification.  The slightly-larger-than-standard 45mm driver should also impart a bit more pizzazz to the bass.

Low End

The MSR7’s low end is replete with detail.  While I sometimes lose certain nuances with even more expensive, “professional” models, the MSR7 delivers damn near everything it should, and then some.  Because, while the low end is chock full of detail, there’s also a certain kind of “oomph” to the bass.  While not as pronounced as it might be on their Solid Bass models, the bass on the MSR7 is nevertheless quite natural.

Mids

Midrange usually suffers when it comes to consumer-oriented headphones.  Maybe it has something to do with mic and remote cables.  We don’t know, because everyone at MajorHifi is old school and only uses the audio-only cables.  But if the presence of mid-range detail is any indicator as to the overall quality of a headphone (and we think it is), then the MSR7 is truly the dog’s bollocks.  Everything in the middle of the frequency range is articulate and clear, with excellent contrast – even with less-than-stellar recordings.

High End

The high end on the MSR7 is great.  Never too piercing, it might sound perhaps just a little rolled-off, but still accurate, still fantastic.  Violins and other strings might not sound as shrill as they do in reality, but this is, in the broad scheme of things, a small price to pay for these otherwise-perfect headphones.

Soundstage

As with most closed-back headphones, soundstage on the MSR7 may not be the very best.  It’s a little constricted and constrained by the limitations of the design, but there’s still some semblance of soundstage in these puppies, so it’s not a total miss.

Clarity

The biggest thing that stands out about these headphones?  An overwhelming sense of clarity.  Everyone who tries it out seems to agree:  it’s an amazing sound with TONS of detail.  And the fact that it spans a full gamut of sound, from lows to mids to highs, does much to recommend this headphone over most others.

Overall Impressions

Sure it’s about to see a new-and-improved version with active noise cancelling try to replace its spot in the limelight.  Sure there are more expensive and higher-fidelity ‘phones out there.  But let’s be real about this.  At $249, there are few alternatives that will wear this well and deliver such a high-quality sound.

Recommendations

Got an itch for a great pair of cans?  Looking for the most amount of detail and clarity you can get in a closed-back headphone for under $350?  Get these.  If you’re a basshead, you could potentially opt for the Audio Technica ATH-WS1100iS Solid Bass headphones.  They cost the same amount ($249) but use a larger driver and definitely skew bass-heavy.  Or, if you want something even more fashionable (albeit with perhaps a lower-quality sound), you could consider the Sennheiser Momentum M2.  Personally, though, I’m willing to bet that almost anyone who will try the MSR7 is going to love them.  And that’s not changing anytime soon.