The Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 is a $250 over-ear headphone that any aspiring audiophile would love. These headphones simply provide more sonic detail than any others I’ve tried to date, priced the same or lower. What struck me was their ability to reproduce clear crips highs, with vocals that rise to the forefront. There is just enough bass to provide some punch and low-end, without trying to over power the song.
The Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 SonicPro Over-Ear High-Res Audio Headphones come in a no frills box, with a cloth carrying case and three detachable cables — one of which contains in-line controls and a mic. Its headset functionality for calls was equally impressive. Voices sounded very nice, and the call quality sent to the recipient was extremely clear without background noise.
These over-ear headphones offered good comfort for long listening sessions. Memory foam is used in the earpads and headband, and there was ample adjustment options to get an optimal fit. Although, if I wore them over thirty minutes I’d sometimes get sweat build up around my ears.
As much as I liked the headphones, I can point out some drawbacks. If you crank the volume all the way up, the highs can sound overly harsh. Second, compared to the over-emphasized bass of today’s Beats-style headphones, some may say the bass is lacking. However, I promise you’ll hear so much more musical details that you won’t mind the trade-off. Instruments sound closer to the way they are supposed to and voices crystal clear. Lastly, the company warned me the MRS7’s will sound better after a break-in period. Although, I don’t have any scientific data to report, I can strangely admit I liked them even more over time.
Headphone buyers may also note the MSR7’s have earned a “Hi-Res Audio” badge. This is a new marketing term that essentially means they can reproduce the expanded audio spectrum available from uncompressed or lossless audio 96 kHz/24-bit or better. In other words, better than CD quality sound can be theoretically be heard, but whether you can actually hear a difference is debatable.
In conclusion, I have yet to find headphones that sound and look better for less money. Apparently, I’m not the only one that likes the MSR7’s. Here are some quotes from other product reviews around the web:
“To get a virtually reference level resolution headphone—albeit a little bright—for $249 is simply a fantastic value.”
— Tyll Hertsens, Inner Fidelity
What they offer in a portable headphone for $250 is so far beyond what the high-street brands provide it makes us wish headphone auditions on the high street were’t so rare.”
— Andrew Williams, Trusted Reviews
“These are classic yet contemporary cans – and for the $250 asking price you’d be hard pressed to find a better pair of headphones capable of reproducing such a natural sound.”
— Mike Lowe, Pocket-lint
“From the fantastic metal build to the openness, sense of separation and quality of mids and highs, the ATH-MSR7 headphones are truly a budget audiophile dream.”
— Ali Pardiwala, NDTV
“I really liked the crisp, clean, spacious quality of this headphone combined with its solid, controlled bass, and it proved to be equally kind with streamed/lower-res music as it was to pristine hi-res recordings.”
— Adrienne Maxwell, HomeTheaterReview