Latest News

CES 2015, The Personal Audio Perspective: Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7

ATH-MSR7_Cover_Image

by Warren Chi

ces-logoPop quiz, hotshot! Your main competitor (Sony) has been reaping the rewards of a successful new lifestyle headphone as part of their hi-res audio strategy. It’s fairly balanced, with respectable detail resolution, and it’s stylish to boot. What do you do? What? Do? You? Do?

Well, if you’re Audio-Technica, you release the new ATH-MSR7 and confuse the living daylights out of people.

From the moment it was announced three months ago, the ATH-MSR7 immediately invited comparisons between itself and Sony’s MDR-1R. Why? Oh, I dunno, maybe because they look like brothas from the same mutha?

line_vs_Sony

Sure, they’re not exactly the same, but they’re very close in terms of overall design. Audio-Technica then went and used the same “Hi-Res Audio” logo (a mark of the Japan Audio Society) that Sony employed previously, creating even more confusion for the casual observer. In short order, a burning question formulated in everyone’s mind: seeming so similar, just how do the ATH-MSR7 and MDR-1R differ from each other?

I could tell you about the MSR7’s True Motion 45mm drivers, or scribe about the use of multi-layer air damping technology, or even wax eloquent over the mesh acoustic resistor, but none of that is going to tell you anything meaningful. Instead, I’ll simply say this:

The ATH-MSR7 packages Audio-Technica’s house sound into a stylish and portable circumaural (over-ear) headphone.

In doing so, it stands in stark contrast to Sony’s offering. Whereas the Sony MDR-1R offers us a warm and smooth presentation, with an accentuated mid-bass, even mid-range and non-fatiguing but somewhat rolled off highs… the ATH-MSR7 presents us with Audio-Technica’s neutral-bright and w-shaped signature, which gives us impressive sub-bass, a boost in the mid-range for vocal clarity and thrilling percussion, and an airy openness at the top.

Audio-Technica_MSR7_Black-Blue

Who’s to say which is best? We’re talking about two very different acoustic philosophies here, two complimentary yet divergent approaches as to what constitutes “hi-res audio” proper. That said, if you are not a fan of the relaxed warmth and smoothness that is the MDR-1R, then you’ll want to give the ATH-MSR7 a listen for sure. Conversely, if you are treble-sensitive or sibilance-averse, then you’ll want opt for something other than the ATH-MSR7.

The ATH-MSR7 comes in three attractive finishes: black w/blue accents (shown previously); gunmetal w/red accents (shown above); and a limited-edition red w/gold accents (not shown and currently available only in Asia). Save for the limited-edition model, they’ll be available now starting in March, at a retail price of $249.95.

*If you would like to see us cover Audio-Technica’s ATH-MSR7 in greater detail at Part-Time Audiophile, please leave us a comment below to let us know.

Audio-Technica_MSR7_Silver-Red

Get your Occasional now
About Scot Hull (979 Articles)

Founder, Editor and Publisher at Part-Time Audiophile and The Occasional Magazine.