Audeze MM-500 Review
Audeze generated a lot of buzz when they announced their new MM-500 headphones in June. The MM-500 is an open-back headphone designed for professional mixing and transparent sound recreation. Mixing headphones are a fantastic tool that any serious engineer should have in their arsenal, and Audeze is renowned for its reference headphones. At $1699, the MM-500 is no small investment. I’m going to see if the MM-500 holds up to the excitement.
What’s in the Box
- Audeze MM-500 Headphone
- Braided Cable
- Economy Travel Case
- Certificate of Authenticity and Warranty Cards
Look and Feel
Objectively, the MM-500 is on the larger side. That being said, it is much smaller and lighter than Audeze’s previous releases, which is impressive. The MM-500’s primary demographic is mixing engineers who will undoubtedly have to use them for hours at a time, so it was designed with long-term comfort in mind. These are very comfortable headphones that I didn’t have much trouble wearing. My only complaint is that it slightly restricts me from freely moving my glasses, but this is a very minor complaint. Overall, these are very comfortable. While looks are a secondary concern for professional mixing headphones, the MM-500 still manages to look fantastic. These things look serious and have an air of purpose to them. The grill pattern on the open-back earcups looks angular and aesthetically pleasing, and the materials make it both durable and fashionable. Overall, I’m impressed with the build quality of the MM-500
Audeze spared no expense when designing and manufacturing these headphones. With such a low impedance, I was able to drive them with no problem, even on low-gain settings. The MM-500 has a 90mm planar magnetic driver that utilizes Audeze’s Ultra-Thin Uniforce technology in order to make the driver more compact without sacrificing sound quality. The frequency response charts well beyond the human range of hearing, ensuring you can hear every frequency in your mix. The Neodymium N50 magnet is arranged in Audeze’s signature Fluxor pattern.
The Audeze MM-500 has a frequency response of 5 Hz – 50 kHz and an impedance of 18 Ohms.
Since the MM-500s are mixing headphones, Audeze prioritized neutrality and transparency over everything. The soundstage on the MM-500 is no exception. What you hear is what you get on the MM-500, which is ideal for mixing headphones. Regardless of preference, the MM-500 is brutally honest and to the point. The soundstage is also one of the clearest I’ve heard in terms of layering and definition. I was able to focus on so many different instruments and parts with ease. While it is an open-back headphone, I was surprised by how well it was able to isolate the external sound as well. Obviously, it still has bleed, but it’s strategically minimized in a way that makes me not notice it.
The low range on the MM-500 is very dynamic. It can achieve so many different tonal colors that it’s difficult to characterize the lows in one way. Since the headphones are meant to be neutral, they have to represent whatever you’re mixing without leaning in any direction. The subs can vibrate your head when they need to, but it does so in a way that feels genuine. Every part of the low range is given the same attention.
The midrange is one of the most important parts of the frequency spectrum for mixing. The majority of the timbre and sound that we hear falls into this range, with the lows and highs adding more depth and support to the sound. If a mixing setup doesn’t have neutral mids, then the mix could suffer as a result. Thankfully, the MM-500 is strictly accurate in the mids. If your mix is bad, you’ll hear every ugly frequency clearly and accurately. Since the MM-500 has such a low impedance, you can drive them nicely to get more power without them distorting excessively.
I’m beginning to sound like a broken record here, but the MM-500’s treble range is especially honest. The MM-500’s frequency range has an upper limit of 50 kHz, putting it just shy of being able to produce the entirety of the Dog Whistle Range. The typical adult’s hearing limit is around 23 kHz, which gives the MM-500 plenty of room to comfortably drive frequencies in the highs without being limited by the hardware. The treble on the MM-500 is clear, accurate, and responsive while still maintaining its neutral sound character.
I see what all the hype was about. As far as mixing headphones, the MM-500 is a serious piece of equipment. It lays out everything in a concise and easy-to-digest manner, while still sounding great for listening. I can tell Audeze took the time and care to make sure that these would make the mixing experience as smooth as possible. While they are expensive, you really can’t put a price on good tools in this industry. These are so clear that the hours you’ll save and the mixes you make will pay for these in no time. I’m really excited to see how Audeze tops this.