Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 full review

A pair of headphones which sound great in all situations and environments are difficult to make but that's what Audi-Technica has tried to do here. Here's our Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 review. See also: 20 best headphones.

Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 review: Price and competition

Priced at £179 on the official store, the MSR7 headphones are expensive but they're hardly through the roof either. The regular black model can be purchased on Amazon for £169 and you can save a few bob if you like the look of the gun metal option with brown fabric which are £143.

The price puts them in the same ball park as rivals such as Bowers & Wilkins P3, Kef M400 and Denon AH-MM400 – all of which are impressive pairs of headphones.

Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 review: Design and build

Although these headphones are design for 'listening at home and on-the-go' they are far more suited to the former. It not that they are ugly and we don't want to be seen in public jamming to our favourite tunes, more that they are a little on the bulky and heavy side of things – they're 290g.

That's not a complaint as such because we expect this from over-ear headphones. It's certainly not out of the question to travel with the MSR7 headphones but if this is what you're going to use them for the majority of the time, we'd suggest browsing around a little first. The ear cups do swivel 90 degrees to help you out but they don't fold down any smaller.

Our review sample comes in black and silver which looks fairly plain but some nice subtle blue details provide a bit of interest. The design is more about comfort and durability than it is being flash – like a Volvo rather than a Lamborghini.

Comfort mainly comes in the form of the large replaceable memory foam pad which fit around your ear – hence being over-ear headphones. Of course, the way they fit each user's head will vary but we found them a little too tight in terms of inwards pressure and they didn't soften up even after a couple of month worth of use.

Audio-Techinca ATH-MSR7 review

Audio-Technica says a 'unique Dual-layer Air-control technology', which consists of a layered metal construction with three vents, 'controls the air stream in the housings'. This sounds good, but we still found our ears getting a bit hot even during short listening sessions. This is a general trait of closed-back over-ear cans and the tightness is more of an issue here.

Build quality is good with a mixture of metal and plastic and we're pleased that the adjustment on the headband stays put once you've set it accordingly. Our main complaint is that the plastic does creak occasionally.

Included in the box is a carry pouch and no less than three cables – two 1.2m cable with and without an in-line mic, plus a longer 3m cable. The left ear cup has a 3.5mm jack port on the bottom so you can easily switch between cables.

Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 review: Sound quality and performance

Like many rivals, the ATH-MSR7 headphone opt for a closed-back design (meaning the outer part of the ear cups have an enclosed hard case). The previously mentioned layered metal construction also reduces unwanted resonance, according to Audi-Technica.

This means you get good noise isolation, so although the headphones are bulky you can shut out your surrounding without tech like noise cancellation. The other benefit is less need to pump up the volume of your music to counteract unwanted sound.

Hidden inside the large ATH-MSR7 ear cups are appropriately large drivers – they're 45mm which is bigger than the usual 40mm typically found in a lot of on- and over-ear headphones. For those of you who like technical specs, the ATH-MSR7 headphones offer a frequency range of 5Mz all the way to 40kHz with a sensitivity of 100dB and an impedance of 35 ohms.

Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 sound performance

The firm calls them ‘True Motion’ Hi-Res audio drivers, but regardless of the shiny tags slapped on them, let's talk about the sound quality.

We're impressed with the overall sounds of the ATH-MSR7 headphones which outclass the highstreet brands in the same price bracket. What they offer for the price makes them extremely good value indeed.

Starting with the bass, it's balanced and has a tight response; it might not be truly thumping but that's good for longer sessions and it's certainly punchy enough for those into the likes of drum and bass.

The top-end is by no means lost but it's the mid-range which is the real performer here. There's a real sense of presence which makes certain vocals and instruments sound like they're right in front of you. There's a nice balance of clarity and warmth, too.

Treble from the ATH-MSR7 headphones lacks a little refinement and the glistening quality of vocals which more expensive pairs like the P5 Series 2 from Bowers & Wilkins has. This remains a minor issue for what is an excellent sounding pair of headphones for the price.

While most headphones will have a V-shaped frequency response – where there are peaks in the bass and treble – the ATH-MSR7 are tuned to a flatter shape. That might sound worse but it actually results in a better overall listening experience, one that we'd describe as smoother. The ATH-MSR7 sound surprisingly spacious for closed-back headphones.


Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7: Specs

  • Driver Diameter 45mm
  • Maximum Input Power 2000 mW
  • Frequency Response 5 - 40,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity 100 dB
  • Impedance 35 ohms
  • Weight 290g
  • Connector 3.5 mm gold-plated stereo mini plug
  • Cable 1.2 m, 3.0m and 1.2m with mic for smartphones
  • Accessories Included Pouch

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