After a long time here I got another headphone review for you in my new Audeze MM-500 Review article.
The Audeze MM-500 was developed as high-end headphones together with Manny Marroquin, who won the Grammy Award as a mix engineer, among other things. The planar-magnetic technology used in these headphones is generally said to have a high level of precision. Added to this is its open design, which ensures low-resonance listening to audio, especially in the bass range.
At first glance, this seems to make these headphones the perfect tool for anyone who wants to mix songs and multimedia using headphones. Only the purchase price could deter some interested parties. In my detailed review, I look at whether the test candidate can justify this investment with performance and usability.
Audeze MM-500 Specifications
- Style: Over-ear, open-back
- Transducer type: Planar Magnetic
- Magnetic structure: Fluxor™ magnet array
- Phase management: Fazor™
- Magnet type: Neodymium N50
- Diaphragm type: Ultra-Thin Uniforce™
- Transducer size: 90 mm
- Maximum SPL: >130dB
- Frequency response: 5Hz – 50kHz
- THD: <0.1% @ 100 dB SPL, 1kHz
- Sensitivity: 100 dB/1mW (at Drum Reference Point)
- Impedance: 18 ohms
- Max power handling: 5W RMS
- Min recommended power: >100mW
- Recommended power level: >250mW
- Weight: 495g
You can download the manual here->Audeze MM-500 Manual
Scope Of Delivery
The Audeze MM-500 includes a robust, lockable case. Inside, the foam is perfectly adapted for headphones and accessories. A braided interchangeable cable is included in the case. It is 190 centimeters long and has a 6.35mm jack plug on one side. At the other end there are two mini-XLR connectors. The sockets are colored so that you can see straight away which plug needs to be plugged into which earpiece. There is information on how to download the operating instructions on a small card. A hand-signed certificate of authenticity is also included. Ultimately, however, it is the stylish and impressive transport case that makes the headphones’ scope of delivery something special for me.
Construction & Design
The headphones have circumaural pads that hold the earpieces in place on your head. A membrane with a diameter of 90 millimeters works inside each. Audeze does not use the non-plus-ultra that the manufacturer can offer, but rather a membrane from the “second tier”, so to speak, namely the Ultra-Thin Uniforce series. Inextricably linked to it are conductor tracks that allow it to oscillate between two neodymium magnets. Instead of swinging out, the membrane is balanced between the magnets in this planar magnetic working method. This allows the headphones’ reproduction to be more accurate than models with dynamic drivers. In particular, audio material rich in transients with strong short-term dynamic impulses is therefore reproduced in a precise way by ortho-dynamic headphones.
The Fazor waveguides developed by Audeze are used as the inner grille. They are intended to ensure that phase problems that can occur due to the resonance of designs inside the hearing aids do not play a role. What’s interesting about the Audeze MM-500 is that a large part of the technology used here can also be found in the Audeze LCD-5, which is more than twice as expensive.
The technical values of the headphones show them to be universal. The impedance of the Audeze MM-500 is very low at just 18 ohms. That’s why it can be used not only on high-end headphone amplifiers but also on low-voltage preamps, such as those used in many (including high-quality) audio interfaces. Its sensitivity of 100 dB/1mW makes it a relatively loud headphones. But even in absolute terms, the MM-500 is a powerful competitor with 130dBSPL.
According to the manufacturer, a suitable preamplifier should have a power of at least 100 mW or ideally 250 mW. Regardless, the headphones themselves hardly contribute to non-linear signal distortion during playback. This is also shown by its distortion factor, which is less than 0.1% at 100 dB SPL/1kHz. The MM-500 actually outputs its low-distortion sound over a very wide audio spectrum, ranging from the ultra-low 5 Hz all the way up to the super high-frequency range of 20 kHz.
Handling the Audeze MM-500
The jack plug of the supply line can be screwed on for easy service on the MM-500. The mini-XLR plugs at the other end are attached to the ear cups on either side of the headphones and have a retention lock so that they cannot accidentally slip out. The splice of the interwoven cable is encapsulated with a tightly attached cover so that it cannot be further loosened. Quality is consistently offered here.
The rotating and swiveling ear cups adapt the Audeze headphones optimally to the shape of your head and also ensure that they can be stored quite flat in the included velvet bag. The soft leather ear pads of the headphones enclose the ears with their soft surface, which feels very comfortable. Its spring steel headband with aluminum elements is less squeamish. Although it allows the MM-500, which weighs almost 500 grams, to sit firmly and securely, it also exerts a lot of pressure, which makes it necessary to take a break or two during longer mixing sessions.
Since the size adjustment of the headphones is gridded, it does not need to be readjusted when putting it back on. If you have to rush back and forth in the studio in an ultra-busy manner, you can put the headphones on and take them off as often as you like without being annoyed by the frustration of having to adjust the size multiple times. That’s a good thing because the adjustment is quite difficult and in such a case would take a lot of time due to the two-handed operation that it requires.
The Audeze MM-500 impressed in the test with brilliant highs, ranging from detailed imaging to an airy top end. This allows the reproduced sound to breathe. You can simply hear that these headphones can play up to 50 kilohertz. Depending on the mix, the upper mids stand out when it comes to vocals and speech or the sound of guitars. At the same time, the headphones also offer fine tonal nuances. Anyone who mixes rock or pop music with the MM-500 will have to work carefully, especially in this frequency range. Otherwise, the mix result will be unbalanced and your ears will quickly tire. The open design of the headphones means that they offer little warmth in the bass range, but can produce differentiated sound.
The airy reproduction in the highs, detailed mids, and it’s very concrete bass, together with precise implementation of transients, ensure that audio material can be listened to with the MM-500 with a wide stereo stage and excellent spatial depth. Overall, this results in a precise and largely balanced sound, which is ideal for analytical work with audio signals. In my opinion, these Audeze headphones are even better suited for preparing recordings and editing audio files than for mixing music productions.
Audeze MM-500 Video Review
After the test, the Audeze MM-500 can be said to have a consistently confident performance. Whether the price-performance ratio of the high-end device is “good” depends heavily on the user’s requirements. If you are looking for an entry into the world of planar-magnetic Audeze headphones, you will find what you are looking for for less money with the Audeze LCD-1 and the LCD-2 Classic. In the price range of the MM-500, however, you not only get very analytical-sounding headphones but also a real status symbol. When it comes to the scope of delivery, what stands out is its great transport case, which can showcase the headphones appropriately. The MM-500 impresses with its quality when it comes to materials and technology.
The handling and fit of the headphones make them a real work tool with high usability. However, due to its relatively high contact pressure, some users will have to interrupt long mixing sessions with breaks. Its clearly contoured bass, and detailed mids and highs, which are clear and open, make a precise assessment of audio signals possible. The only critical area is the frequency range of the upper mids because speech, vocals and guitars are sometimes overemphasized here. Nonetheless, its sound profile and dynamic response make the Audeze MM-500 a highly accurate tool for music mixing and an even better tool for accurate editing of music recordings and other audio content, albeit at a steep price.
Audeze MM-500 Pro & Cons
- Analytical sound
- High-quality materials and workmanship
- Good wearing comfort
- Lockable carrying case
- Technically close to the top model LCD-5
- Slight emphasis on the presence range of vocals and guitars
- Relatively high contact pressure