Audio Technica LS50 Review

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Audio Technica LS50 Review

Since its announcement just shy of five months ago, I’ve been waiting to get my paws on the Audio Technica LS50iS.  I’ve been a fan of Audio Technica’s budget earphones for ages, so I’m dying to see if the $79 LS50 lives up to my expectations.

Audio Technica LS50 Review

Audio Technica LS50iS Review

With four pairs of eartips and a soft carrying pouch, the LS50 comes with just the right amount of accessories.

Sporting an angled earpiece comprised primarily of plastic, the fit remains comfortable and light.  Once placed in the ear, that snug fit remains secure thanks to memory cable loops that wrap over the top of the ear.  Once these babies are in, they aren’t going to be slipping out.

The cable itself measures a standard 4 ft (1.2 m), yet it seems just a tad bit too short.  This is really the only misgiving I can level at the LS50iS in terms of design – otherwise the feel strikes me as fantastic.

Even the built-in remote (with a mic, to boot) doesn’t appear to be as cheap as with other inexpensive earphones.

On top of all of this, the cable is removable, using an A2DC connection.  This further enhances longevity, ensuring you can swap out damaged cable to extend the use of the earphones.

Specs

Frequency Range: 5-25,000 Hz
Impedance:  24.3 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL):  100 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD):  NA

As you can see from the specs, the LS50 sports a fairly standard frequency range with decent emphasis on the low end.  Impedance is low – perfect for use with smartphones.  Sound Pressure comes across as slightly lower than one would expect, but in actual operation it doesn’t appear to be a problem.  Finally, though the manufacturer doesn’t supply a rating for Total Harmonic Distortion, I’d posit a THD of around <0.5%.

Low End

Perhaps the most obvious trait of the LS50, the low end is home to some rather intense bass.  While not too sloppy or overpowered, there’s a decided amount of weight at play here.  Decent control keeps bleed to a minimum, but a slight air of compression and lacking details may detract from the overall listening experience.

Mids

All in all, the midrange isn’t too bad.  While these earphones still offer an amazing sense of clarity and balance for the price, there’s noticeable distortion at play in the upper mids.  I wouldn’t discount these babies entirely, but I would warn against critical listeners considering the LS50.

Highs

Somewhat bright-sounding during my first listening session, the high end can seem a bit overbearing the first time around.  However, further listening reveals a relatively smooth high end that may miss some finer nuances.  Despite this one failing, the high end is sure to impress those listeners who prefer slightly relaxed highs – a configuration that easily compliments the heavy low end.

Soundstage

Curiously, the LS50iS offers a better sense of placement than depth, leading to an interesting (if still lacking) sense of soundstage.  While not completely abysmal, the lack of realism disqualifies these headphones for those who need comprehensive soundstage.

Other Observations

That bass is fantastic.  The LS50 seems tailor-made for hip hop and rock tunes, or other bass-centric casual listening.

Add to this the snug, secure fit and you may well have the perfect commuter earphone.  And the volume, while not too loud, is still loud enough to drown out unwanted ambient distractions.

Pricing is more than fair.  I usually don’t like to focus on this aspect when it comes to most headphones, but at $79, this earphone is one hell of a deal.

Recommendations

Those seeking balance and tons of detail in an earphone need to look elsewhere – and consider expanding their budget to consider models approaching $200.  For casual listeners with a penchant for bass, however, the Audio Technica LS50 is a solid choice.

In most respects, this earphone seems to be the spiritual successor to the CKM500 – a plastic bundle of bass that retailed for $50 before it was discontinued several years ago.  Now you can get more bass, more detail, and better design (including a removable cable!) for just $29 more.  Back when the CKM500 was still on store shelves, I remember people LOVING them.  I can’t see this earphone being any less popular.

Final Analysis

The Audio Technica LS50iS offers intense bass and an impressive sound at the competitive price of $79.  While a lack of real detail in the mids and highs may prevent its use for critical listening, the immaculate design provides a perfect, secure fit for everyday travel.