Sennheiser HD 280 Pro vs Audio-Technica ATH-M50 headphones

I’d been using Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones since November 2007. They’re great and I’ve been happy with them. They’re popular headphones—I believe they’re one of the standard headphone choices at both Facebook and Google. Last month the plastic headband on mine broke in half and they were no longer wearable. I figured I’d try something new.

Based on Amazon reviews I purchased a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M50 headphones. I’ve used them for a week now and I prefer them to the HD 280 headphones. They’re both great and you really can’t go wrong with either choice, but I like everything about the ATH-M50 headphones just a bit more.

The biggest reason I prefer the ATH-M50 headphones is that the sound feels warmer. Low range sounds are fuller and more pleasant. Imagine someone playing an upright bass a few feet away. That’s a very full sound that’s difficult to recreate with headphones. I think the ATH-M50 headphones do a better job without the bass being excessive or overpowering.

Wearing any headphones for a long period of time eventually makes my eardrums tired. I’m able to wear the ATH-M50 headphones for longer before that happens.

They both block out a similar level of ambient noise. I feel like the ATH-M50 headphones attenuate mid and high range environmental noise more, which means background conversations are harder to hear which I appreciate because it allows me to stay focused because voices are distracting.

I also find the ATH-M50 headphones to be more comfortable. The ear cups feel more appropriately sized for my ears (bigger? smaller? more square? not sure). The clamping force doesn’t feel too tight. Maybe my head is big, but I felt like the HD 280 headphones clamped too tightly.

I also prefer the build quality of the Audio-Technica headband: the padding is sewn to the headband and not replaceable. It’s solid yet soft. Whereas the padding on the HD 280 headphones is removable, replaceable, and always felt a little flimsy to me. In fact, the padding on mine had been slowly tearing and twisting for years.

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2 Responses to Sennheiser HD 280 Pro vs Audio-Technica ATH-M50 headphones

  1. Flavio says:

    Thanks for this! Sounded like a straight, honest comparison. I’ve also used Sennheiser (not the HD280) for many years but their life had reached their final point (had replaced drivers a couple of times) and so was curious about the M50’s. I just tried both HD280 and M50 at a loud Guitar Center, and was leaning towards the M50’s already, but your review really helped. Thanks again :)

  2. Mark Doliner says:

    Great! Glad it was helpful!

    The Wire Cutter has also done some good headphone comparisons:

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