After reviewing the SoundMAGIC HP200 headphone, it’s now time to review an earphone. ATH-IM50 is the base model of the IM series introduced by Audio-Technica in late 2013. It is warmly welcomed by its fans and gets pretty popular with the public. I have owned one for a year when its price has gone down, but does that mean that its capability is overhyped then? Well, read on to find out the truth!
(this review is written with excessive care to avoid any errors, however, there might still be some appearing due to human error)
Ath IM50 has one of the better-designed boxes compared to other earphones. The box is white with a green tone that stands out. I like the way they use the green hue that is easy on the eyes, and with the earphone printed with a special angle which makes them look sleek and cool. The front part deliberately sports the ‘Limited 1 Year Warranty’ and the ultra eye-catching and shiny ‘BCN Award 2013 Top Prize’. Woooo Hooo! This makes it seem like you are buying a special product that is award-winning. Furthermore, the instructions and specifications are shown in both English and Japanese, giving the feel of a premium Japanese product subtly.With all these combined, you will be attracted to the box and will feel like buying it, especially with its competitive price.
Inside it contains the manual, a pouch, and several ear tips. Pretty normal but One special inclusion is the COMPLY Premium earphone tips which are said to provide better isolation and sound than normal ear tip. I haven’t really tried them, so I could not decide if it’s the truth, as the normal eartip is comfortable enough for me. For anyone that has worn them, you can comment below to tell me your experiences 🙂
The earphone is made with hard plastic of good quality. It does not have the same feel as the cheapish earphone that is sold in some stores. I can tell that it is much more durable and can handle more mishandling from the user. Audio-Technica chooses to implement detachable cables for the earphone, which is a godsend to those that keep buying new earphones due to spoilt cable. Now, you can just buy a new cable from Audio-Technica to keep using your earphone for years to come. I am glad to also reveal that the wire provided is of better quality than normal cables. To me, it seems to tangle lesser and more and not easily spoiled. The connector also connects to the earphones with satisfying and safe-sounding ‘click’.
Instead of a normal insertion, IM50 is meant to be used around the ear. This means that the cable has a memory wire which will go around user’s ear like the image above. The memory wire is pretty tight at first but with regular use, it will start to form nicely around the curve of your ears. You do have to push the tip inside your ear a bit to make it fit, as I have done it for the past one year.(or maybe it’s only me?)
Wooooyeahhh, the sound quality is what probably earned it the BCN Award, other than its build quality. I have tested the sound with the following devices:
Motorola X 2014 Edition Phone
The music is played with Youtube and Spotify(320kbps streaming). When listening through Youtube of the music Ed Sheeran’s <I See Fire>, the dynamic driver is pumping out a pretty good vocal and guitar with reasonable loudness. The IM50 is perhaps very easy to drive than even my phone can do it well. However, there are some hisses and electronic noises during silence and when listening. Definitely not the best way to enjoy music with this award-winning earphone. With Spotify, the vocal is shown with more detail, like there’s an additional filter removed from your ear and the sound comes in more naturally. The same goes for the guitar sound, but the hiss remains probably due to the bad internal amplifier of my phone. Soundstage is not that wide and is actually pretty tight, but that’s normal for an earphone of this price range.
Now, this is it! The famous iBasso DX90 DAP absolutely brings the earphone to it’s maxed potential. Gone are the aforementioned hiss or electronic noises, all thanks to the superior DAC and amplifier of the DAP. Ed’s voice seems to come out from a bigger room, with the soundstage opens up a bit. His vocal during the high and low key is more evident and rendered with confidence and detail. The guitar is strummed harder and with additional previously unnoticeable strumming vibration. This creates a more life-like enjoyable listening experience. Though the soundstage could not be opened wider due to the design and dynamic driver, the increased level of detail more than make up for it. It is recommended to get a decent DAP or external amplifier to fully explore the capability of Ath IM50. To tell the truth, the sound quality even beats some higher priced earphones in terms of handling of details. Also, with the dynamic drivers, I have heard that it makes listening to pop music with heavy bass enjoyable. It seems to be true though as I listened to some tracks from Linkin Park and Tech9.