Here at MajorHifi, we’re a little hesitant to jump on the hype train every time a new headphone starts making the rounds. So it was with reluctance that we pounced on the new MSR7NC – probably because the original MSR7 sounded so damn fine, and we figure this one is going to be even better. But at $299, what kind of sound is this baby packing?
Audio Technica ATH-MSR7NC Review
The MSR7NC doesn’t seem any larger or more unwieldy than its predecessor. There’s still pleather padding on the earcups and headband. The headband is still narrow and a little uncomfortable. The biggest difference in build is the inclusion of a built-battery, a micro usb charging port, and a switch for turning the noise cancelling on or off.
Comfort-wise, too, this headphone is much the same as the MSR7 – for better or for worse. You may still have to bend the headband to get comfortable, but the thick earpads only add to the efficacy of that active noise cancellation.
|Driver Diameter||45 mm|
|Frequency Response||5-40,000 Hz|
|Sensitivity||104 dB/mW (active mode)|
|Impedance||150 ohms (active)|
|Battery||Internal Battery: 3.7V rechargeable lithium polymer battery|
|Battery Life||30 hours (continuous transmission time including music playback time), Depending on environmental conditions
Battery Charging Time: 4 hours, Depending on environmental conditions
|Weight||305 g (10.8 oz.), without cable|
|Cable||Detachable 1.2 m (3.9′) standard cable, detachable 1.2 m (3.9′) cable with in-line mic and controls|
|Connector||3.5 mm (1/8″) gold-plated stereo mini plug, L-shaped|
|Accessories Included||USB charging cable, airline adapter, pouch|
|Frequency Response (Microphone)||50 – 4,000 Hz|
|Polar Pattern (Microphone)||Omnidirectional|
As the specs show, the MSR7NC offers a wide frequency response, low impedance (we consider 150 ohms with active noise cancellation to be fairly low), and decent volume levels to boot.
The low end is full and detailed, with decent control and maybe the slightest bit of bleed. Maybe. On another note, bass hits a sweet spot between “relaxed” and “overpowered” – there’s just enough “oomph” to let you know it’s there, without sounding like rubbish.
The MSR7NC’s midrange is great. Almost perfect with beau-coup details and no compromises in the form of compression or distortion.
If there’s one part of the frequency range that steals the spotlight on the MSR7NC, it’s the high end. A tad bit bright, the sparkling high end is as good as (or even better than!) that offered by the original MSR7. Clear and precise, it handles strings and vocals excellently.
There is some depth and placement to the sound of the MSR7NC. Okay for a closed-back headphone (as to be expected), it’s not a sonic revelation or anything, but it does sound better than something like the ATH-M50x.
MSR7NC vs MSR7
Compared to the original MSR7, this newer, noise-cancelling iteration does offer some improvement in sound quality. The impression of a brighter sound in the MSR7NC’s high end is accompanied by just a shade more detail – making highs a little more clean and articulate. The mids, too, seem a little more detailed or wider than those on the original MSR7. Of course, there are still things that the original might do better than the new MSR7NC, too. The sound on the original MSR7 is somewhat bassier with a little more low-end detail. This more robust low end can give the impression of a deeper, more expansive soundstage.
The Audio Technica ATH-MSR7NC is a slightly-bright-sounding headphone oozing detail. It’s stylish, its cancellation is impressive (nearing or even besting the audio-voodoo of Bose), and it doesn’t sound like your music is echoing through a sewer. Is there any reason to recommend another headphone over this one? Probably not, but we’ll do it anyway.
The bass and low end on the MSR7NC is good, but if you’re a bass junkie, you might crave that kind of bass that makes your molars rattle. And if that is the case, you could opt for something like the PSB M4U 2, which would give you the bassy low end while keeping the active noise cancellation and the same price of $299. For pretty much any other listening preference, though, the MSR7NC would offer a more accurate listening experience, while remaining travel-friendly (more so than the highly-detailed M70x, for example).