There is no denying that when it comes to the top headphones in the market, two of the names that usually come up happen to be Audio-Technica and Sennheiser. Both of these companies have been producing some amazing headphones for a long, long time and they have been leading the industry standards, too.
Today, we want to take a look at two of the most iconic headphones from both companies; the ATH-M50x by AudioTechnica, and the HD598 by Sennheiser. The former is an open back while the latter is a closed-back reference headphone.
I still remember reviewing the best studio headphones, and that somehow convinced me that this comparison needs to happen. So, here we are with the comparison and we are going to see which one wins.
Design and Build
The reason why design and build is such an important factor is that whoever is going to invest in these headphones are going to use them for a long time. They demand proper loyalty in order to give you the best possible experience, and that is something that we all need to know about.
Starting with the M50x, both the design and the build quality is top of the line. It uses heavy plastic and aluminum for the construction. The mixture of these two gives the headphones a strong and durable. Granted, the use of plastic at some places is a downside, but the overall feel of the headphones is anything but cheap. The ear cups are plush enough to provide you with an easier and comfortable listening experience and they create a phenomenal seal around your ears, too. However, if you wish to change them in the future, there are a lot of third-party options available in the market that you can use. The headband is also comfortable, and you will never feel that the headphone is putting too much pressure on your head. The headphones are actually available in a number of different colors, so you are not really left behind in terms of the design element.
Moving onto the Sennheiser HD598, the design happens to be pretty luxurious, it uses bold colors such as ivory and maroon, giving the headphones an exotic look. They look great, and you can even get them in black but in my opinion, this combination of maroon and ivory works really, really well. The comfort on these headphones is great, and so is the build quality. You really do not have to worry about wearing them for longer periods of listening because they will provide you with a great audio experience that you will love.
In all honesty, the design of both headphones is so far apart that it might be almost impossible to choose the winner. If you are looking for something subtle and something that can be under the radar, go for the AudioTechnica ATH-M50x but if flamboyance does not bother you a lot, the Sennheiser HD598 are the winners here.
This is kind of a tough sell for most people but when you are looking at the headphones that are mainly used for studio monitoring, you do not really need a lot of features. But for the sake of it, we decided to look at this factor anyway.
The good news is that both headphones come with detachable cables, however, M50x comes with three detachable cables. One is a long, straight cable, you also get a long coiled cable, and then on the last, you get a short straight cable for when you are out and about. You also get a carrying pouch but it is a soft pouch, and we are not sure if everyone would want that.
The Sennheiser also has a detachable cable, but it is awfully long and meant for home use only. You can buy a 3rd party cable but due to the fact that both headphones have proprietary connectors at the ends that go into the headphones, finding good quality cables that give you the same stock performance can be a difficult situation.
In all honesty, though. If you are comparing the features on both headphones; they are very identical to each other. Which is not really a bad thing. If you want to take your headphones with you more often, then the ATH M50x is better. The Sennheisers offer you the ability to listen in your studio and room mainly due to the longer cable.
This is something that everyone has been waiting on. The sound quality is the one aspect that defines the headphones. It can either make the headphones or break them. So, having a good sound quality s something that happens to be very, very important and something that we should never ignore.
Keeping that in mind, the ATH-M50x is among the finest studio reference headphones I have tested. Granted, they do have a sound quality that is a bit on the warmer side, meaning that they are not entirely flat, but whether you are listening to music, watching movies, playing games, these headphones are going to produce among the finest sounds you could imagine. They get pretty loud as well, so that is another benefit for those who want that. Every single detail can be heard in these headphones.
On the other hand, the Sennheiser HD 598 is in the league of their own. They are easily one of the most impressive-sounding headphones you will get to see. The sound is much similar to the one on the M50x, and the greatest difference is the soundstage. Being open back, these headphones sound wide and open which can really give you an immerse experience. However, it does come with some drawbacks. For starters, the outside noise easily gets in, what you are listening to can easily go out, as well. There is almost no noise isolation present on these headphones.
Considering how I prefer that I can easily close off myself from the world when I am listening to music or watching a movie, having a closed-back pair of headphones with good noise isolation is what I would prefer in general. So, for me, the winner has to be the AudioTechnica ATH M50x;
Winner: AudioTechnica ATH M50x.
Price is the last factor that we are going to talk about here today. Considering how both are entry-level reference headphones, they are priced accordingly, as well.
The Sennheiser HD 598 will run you about $180 for the open back version and $150 for the closed-back version. On the other hand, the AudioTechnica ATH M50x is available for $140 but due to the popularity they have, you can always find them on sale for about $100 with some additional goodies, as well. At the given price point, I do not think why anyone would not choose the ATH M50x.
Winner: Audio-Technica M50x.
Being a seasoned audiophile, this was perhaps one of the most difficult comparisons that I have done in a long time. Both these headphones are among my top favorite studio headphones but a decision had to be made.
I am not saying that the Sennheiser HD 598 is not as good, but when it comes going against the M50x, the M50x are just slightly better to the point that it all boils down to the use case, and what type of sound you are looking for.