I’ve been looking to get the Audio Technica ATH-IM50 for the longest time – mainly because they are being touted as the in-ear equivalent of the legendary ATH-M50.
So how does it hold up? Check out my Audio Technica ATH-IM50 review.
What’s In The Box?
The ATH-IM50 contains the IEMs, a set of small, medium, and large silicone tips, a pair of medium Comply foam tips, a removable cable, and a carrying pouch. For the price I paid for this, I would prefer a hard case instead of a pouch, but it’s more or less a pretty good deal.
The ATH-IM50 is sturdy. The removable cable is great, and it is the same cable found on the way pricier ATH-IM0X series. Unlike on my previous SoundMAGIC E30s, I’ve yet to experience tangled cables. This is my first headphone with removable/replaceable cables, and I am relieved that I no longer have to replace a perfectly good pair of IEMs because of a bad cable.
The cables also come with ear guides to help keep the IEMs in place in your ears and to relieve some of the stress from the socket where the cable goes into the driver. I’m not a fan of ear guides in general, and they make the ATH-IM50s awkward to put in and keep me from easily removing them when I need to talk to people. I know what the ear guides are for and I know they work perfectly fine, but I just do not like them.
Honestly though, I want to eventually swap it out for a braided cable with an in-line mic and no ear guides, not because of function, but because I just really like how braided cables look. But I’m satisfied with the stock cable.
What I really appreciated from my previous IEMs is that they are rugged – I can throw my SoundMAGICs in my bag and not worry about them getting destroyed. I don’t see doing the same thing with the ATH-IM50s – I’ve been handling it with care and I’m really worried about breaking the huge plastic driver casing. Some reviewers have mentioned using the ATH-IM50s in the gym, but even with the robust cable I will not even consider taking the ATH-IM50s out on a run.
I mentioned earlier that I’m not a fan of ear guides. In reality, though, once I get the IEMs in, they’re pretty comfortable. The drivers are pretty large and it shows. Unlike other headphones that just disappear, I find myself being aware of the ATH-IM50’s presence whenever I move my head a little too fast.
I’m not saying that they are uncomfortable, because once I manage to get them on right, the ATH-IM50s are one of the most comfortable headphones I’ve used. They’re pretty light for their size, and the ear guides help with the comfort.
One more thing: silicone tips in general irritate my ears, and I’m willing to trade off a little bit of treble for comfort, so I immediately swapped them out for the provided Complys.
For the purpose of this review, I’m using the Sony Xperia Z3 and its built-in DAC. The Xperia Z3 is notorious for having a low playback volume, and coming from an iPhone and HTC Butterfly, it was one of my biggest complaints with the Z3. I’m using pretty sensitive low-impedance IEMs and I still have to crank the volume all the way up just to get the details.
Not with the ATH-IM50, though, because somehow that thing is LOUD. I can’t seem to figure out the proper volume setting on the Z3, because one setting would be too loud that I find myself clenching my jaw to the pressure, and when I turn it a step down it’s too low that I have to strain to hear the details.
Coming from the SoundMAGIC E30, I noticed that the sound signature is very similar – not quite balanced, a little boost on the bass, and sparkling treble. However, the soundstage is wider than the E30s, and listening to Tool’s Ænima with the ATH-IM50s was amazing. However, it doesn’t have the widest soundstage ever – it’s still pretty narrow, but the soundstage is great enough for you to get a feeling of space.
Here are the songs I threw at the ATH-IM50:
- Tool – Stinkfist
- Tool – Forty Six & 2
- Paul McCartney – This Never Happened Before
- Warpaint – Hi
- Warpaint – To Love is to Die
- Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues
- Radiohead – The National Anthem
- Radiohead – Faust Arp
- Radiohead – Paranoid Android
- Passion Pit – Where The Sky Hangs
- Daft Punk – Get Lucky
- Fleet Foxes – The Plains/Bitter Dancer
- Miles Davis – So What (I used a 24/96 FLAC file since the Z3 can handle hi-res audio)
- Scale the Summit – Odyssey
- Yuck – How Does It Feel?
- The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (also 24/96)
- Foo Fighters – Everlong
You might notice a trend – a lot of ambient music got included in that list. It was an accident, really. I was planning on listening to a lot of rock, but the ATH-IM50 sounds great with ambient music and gives you a feeling of the instrumental separation. As other reviewers noted, treble isn’t the ATH-IM50’s strong suit, but give it a little EQ tweak and you will love it. Bass, however, is boomy. It’s not what you would call a “basshead” earphone – god, I hate basshead earphones – but just for kicks, I boosted up the bass and sub-bass of some tracks and the ATH-IM50 handled it pretty well. It was just superb.
Oh, I did mention that I also tried 24/96 files – I know 24/96 are practically useless for home use, and most of the frequencies contained are already beyond the range of normal human hearing. I just wanted to try it out, is that so wrong?
No, I won’t throw in graphs and measurements. I’m not an audiophile.
Ok, so what now?
So what do I think? ATH-IM50 is a great headphone and I’m enjoying every minute of using it. It doesn’t have the widest soundstage, and treble may not be its best suit, but trust me, it’s worth every cent you will pay for it.