Windows 7 audio settings help: Audio Technica ATH-M50

Hi Community,

I recently purchased a pair of Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones. Everywhere I've read and been referred to always mentioned them as being really solid under 200$ headphones. So I purchased them and when I went to plug them in and listen I have to admit I wasn't blown away from the audio quality. The bass comes out really flat, the mids are okay, and even the highs don't seem very crisp.

So my question is, I guess, Why are these headphones not preforming to what I expected? I'm new to the audio world and I'm trying to understand more. So I've read articles online and found that often windows you have to set up the right programs and such to match your headphones. All I can find is Realtek audio manager that came with my comp and the default windows sound control. Neither really gives good options for configuring the headphones at least that I can find.

I even tried plugging them into my cell phone which utilizes a beats audio program which from my understanding should boost the lows. It sounds better but not to how my old Turtle beach X12's sounded which weren't great but they still had bass that way out shined these M50's.

Thank you
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More about windows audio settings audio technica ath m50
  1. What's the source? Are you comparing apples to apples in your testing? Audio playback via your onboard Realtek audio device?
  2. I don't know exactly what you mean by this but I'm running the headphones through the normal green input off an Asus motherboard with an integrated audio card. I'm comparing the audio to old head set? My old headset just seemed to have more well rounded bass. this new headset just sounds flat and lifeless.
  3. These are pretty good cans....

    Type: Closed-back dynamic
    Driver Diameter: 45 mm
    Magnet: Neodymium
    Voice Coil: CCAW (Copper-clad aluminum wire)
    Frequency Response: 15 - 28,000 Hz
    Maximum Input Power: 1,600 mW at 1 kHz
    Sensitivity: 99 dB
    Impedance: 38 ohms
    Input impedance: 47kOhm
    Weight: 284 g (10 oz) without cable and connector
    Cable: 1.2 - 3.0 m (3.9' - 9.8') Coiled, OFC litz wire
    Connector: Gold-plated stereo 1/8" (3.5 mm) connector with strain relief and professional screw-on 1/4" (6.3 mm) adapter

    Basically, you just need to improve the source material(what you are listening to) to hear an improvement.

    You are driving these headphones with a craptastic onboard audio device. Your headphones claim a frequency response of 15Hz-28KHz which is mostly what you are paying for and an input impedance of 47ohms which is likely where a majority of the sound difference is coming from right now. You need to get an aftermarket stereo headphone card to fully utilize what you just payed for and even then, it may be that you are never able to notice the difference in which case you should have just bought some cheap gaming headphones.

    Your old Turtles had inline amplification and BassBoost built in to them:

    Headphone Amplifier: Stereo DC-coupled, 35mW/ch, THD <1%, Frequency Response: DC - 30kHz
    Bass Boost: Variable up to +12dB@150Hz

    You could get an aftermarket headphone amp sound card with better op-amps on it and a whole host of software effects + a software EQ for your current set and it would blow away your Turtles. Problem is you need to spend more money to get there.
  4. Maybe you just don't like the sound signature?
    M50s have emphasized bass (from my research, haven't listened to them personally), but they're not meant to be bass monsters.
    And i don't think using the motherboard as source will have any significant effect on sound signature.

    Headphones are a significant investment. If you aren't perfectly happy with your set, return them. Find something more 'Basshead' oriented. is a good place to ask what to get.
    If you can't return them, you're pretty much stuck with using an equalizer.
  5. maybe in terms more familiar....?

    You bought the nice display(headphones) but are suffering because you are still using the same GPU(onboard sound).

    When you get your new GPU(Headphone Amplifier Card), you will begin to appreciate the investment as a whole.

    You could be satisfied by downloading a software EQ and just running with that also.

    Professional Studio recording/monitoring audio equipment gets pricey real quick.
  6. That makes sense I knew the Turtle Beach X12 had bass amplifier built into and honestly is probably why I'm noticing such a big difference. I just read a similar post to mine from someone else. One reply said in a very simple way that if you're used to crappy head sets with drivers or other artificially created sounds you just get used to that sound and don't appreciate what I'll call "true sound" or sound that is trying to replicate realistic audio. They suggested giving the headset a week of use to get used the new sound. I've using them for a few hours now and I actually get what he's saying. The high's are actually a lot nicer compared to the X12 and although they don't have the crazy bass that the X12 has. They still make a good amount of bass. I guess I need to give them more time

    I also have looked into getting a sound card because I've been told that makes a big difference in terms of audio quality. Like I said though, I'm new to audio and I'm trying to learn what all this stuff means. I should sit down and read through the guide this forum section has to get a start.
  7. i own a pair of ath-m50s and have used them on my cell phone (itunesradio streaming), computer (games, music), receiver (games, music) and ipod (music) and they sound great.

    deep bass and crisp highs.


    now it may be true that you "just dont like" the sound signature of the m50s. honestly that does happen when it comes to sound.

    you might want to adjust the equalizers a bit to get the most out of your headphones.

    if your old set had "bass boost" on... you need to adjust your eq so that it focuses more on bass. your old headphones would sound just as shitty without it.

    getting a soundcard might help a bit but i think changing the EQ is what you need!
  8. I sat down and used these headphones for about 3 or 4 hours last night between music, videos, and games. I'll be honest I love them now for the most part. I still feel like the bass is a bit low compared to my old headset but again that had the bass boost. However, after listening to music I can really tell a difference between the M50 and the X12. There's honestly sounds I've never even heard in some of my favorite artists songs that I've listened to a thousand times before. It's actually really cool, It's like I'm listening to these songs for the first time again.

    Yea, I messed around with the EQ but I don't really know how to fine tune it. I understand, I think, how an EQ works. the lows are on the ends and the high and mids go towards the centers. The bass was better when I turned it up.

    One quick thought. generally speaking I always thought the green audio jack was where you put the headphones in. Since these are a lot nicer than my old ones do I plug it into any of the other colored jacks like blue or black? I thought these were for 5.1 and 7.1 surround but a friend of mine suggested it makes a difference? Is that just nonsense?

    Finally, by how much does a sound card make a difference with audio on a computer? I always thought if you bought a nice pair of speakers or a headset you should be good because that's what is replicating the sound. Will a sound card really make my headset shine as some people have suggested to me or am I just dropping another 100 to 200$ on something I don't really need. I mean MP3 players don't have one or at least I'm not aware of and people use really nice headsets for those why would a PC need a super nice sound card?
  9. Best answer
    you might want to give the headphones some time. some headphones and speakers require burn in. they will sound better after you have used them for a little bit. i find it funny how you mention "its like my first time hearing it" as i thought the same. its amazing what you miss out on when you have bad headphones.

    i think you should first try some tweaks to the eq and software. likely you can improve the sound. getting a half decent soundcard isnt a bad idea either. some integrated soundcards like the realtec ones are junk. the only ones which are half decent integrated are the ones on high end asus boards.

    just so that you are aware: the soundcard does all of the sound processing and amping and sends this to your headphones. all the headphones do is take that signal and convert the signal into sound waves. this is why both a good driver (speaker, headphones) and good dac/amp (soundcard) are important for the best sound.

    yes you are correct in that messing with the eq in that way helps boost bass. perhaps try a setting like this one. also you can get eq software for the pc to try out if you wanted to go that route. such software can give you more control. if you are going to get a soundcard with eq software on it anyways then perhaps you want to hold off though.

    also you want to watch this video as it includes some other tips.

    green is used for "headphones" or "front left and right speakers". this is what you should be using. plugging them in to the other jacks is complete nonsense.

    quite simply the reason to have a good soundcard is A) less electrical interference from your pc (since its shielded) and less harmonic distortion (due to the electronics), B) the software which comes with them and C) the inclusion of a 1/4 phono jack or a more powerful amplifier which can power things like studio headphones.

    A) less interference and distortion means less hissing, buzzing or other strange sound anomolies. of course if you care about this you are already using only the best sound files available (flac, 256kbps+ mp3, etc).

    B) the software can often include features like a bass boost and a better equalizer. the windows version of the eq and bass boost are quite limited and not too great.

    C) a more powerfull amp can drive more powerful headphones. some headphones used for studios need quite a big amp just to drive them. if you plugged them into a mp3 player you would hardly hear any noise! the m50s arent very high resistance though so they dont "need" a powerful amp although having one can help slightly. on my home pc i use my receiver for the headphones (basically an amp) and i get deeper bass over my laptop or phone slightly. not by a huge margin though. some high end cards support 7.1 while most cheap cards support 5.1 only. also of note is that some high end cards are designed for 1/4 inch headphone jacks and studio headphones (like the m50s) so you will be better off if this is your primary sound device. they arent meant for running speakers though (unless of course you use the optical out port to a pair of z906 or something).

    read this for more info on models..

    something like the ipod actually has a decent amplifier inside it compared to other devices or so i've noticed. also there is a quality difference betwen the sound on an mp3 player and what you can generate with a pc running the right hardware and settings.
  10. After a few days of listening and playing with the Equalizer that came with my on board motherboard sound card. I'm actually quite impressed with these headphones. I still wish there was slightly more bass but hopefully if I do more research and get some more cash I can get a decent sound card that will help with this. I never realized how much the bass amplifier in my last pair actually drowned out all the mids and highs that these M50's really let shine.

    Anyway, thank you to everyone who posted and gave me advice it was a lot of a help!
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