Today I will be reviewing the Audio Technica ATH-MSR7B.
TLDR: The Audio Technica ATH-MSR7B is a great pair of closed-back earphones that feels comfortable to use and looks great, while delivering transparent, full sounding vocals and highs, although it can be a little shy with bass.
#TechWithAaron Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.2/5)
Meet my Daily Driver for the past 3 years
I’ve been using the MSR7B headphone for about three years now, and I’ve always wanted to write a review on it; however busy schedules both in uni life and work have prohibited me from doing so all this while. Today, I finally found the time to write my full review of using these headphones, which has served me well in the past 3 years
How I met the MSR7B
Fun Fact: I bought this set of headphones after doing a class research project in 2019. Back then, I was studying how Audio Technica sales executives would promote headphones and turntables in their IT show booth, and had to write a report about my encounter for grades. Yes, this was back in the day when COVID19 was nonexistent and hosting large IT shows with droves of people jostling about was not a concern at all.
Upon stepping into their booth, the design of this set of headphones really caught my eyes, with its full leather headband and earpad cushion. While the demo set was in gun metal with a striking red accent (which looked really good), what caught by eye was the black colour variant, with electric blue accents that surround each ear cup. This made for a subtle, premium classy look that I really love, even till today. Here’s me at the Audio Technica booth back in 2019!
Being really knowledgeable about sound, I certainly wasn’t an easy customer for the sales representative: I asked many questions that compared these headphones to the legendary Audio Technica M50X – which is the industry standard for home studio mixing projects. The MSR7B retails for a little more money than the M50X. My questions revolved around the technical improvements and crux of the subject: Is the Audio Technica MSR7B better than the M50X? Was it worth the additional price premium?
Overall, their sales representative was knowledgeable, yet tactful: He provided the specs, but ultimately encouraged me to decide my ears, which in some ways, is the golden standard when you’re deciding to buy anything in the audio world, because technicalities aside, sound quality is a subjective topic.
Initially, I left the booth empty handed, but as I exited the IT Show, I realized my ears really loved the sound signature of this headphones, to the point where I just had to turn back and buy it, even though finances were a bit tight, as a student.
Unboxing and Specifications
Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to give a full overview of the items that were in the box, as it’s been quite a while since I had this unit. However, what I can tell you is that can of headphones is packaged like a premium product, and it came with a headphones pouch in the box. These are photos I took back in 2019 when I first got these.
The MSR7B supports the High-Res Audio Standard, allowing for both unbalanced (the standard 3.5mm aux-in) and balanced inputs., depending on the cable that you connect to it. These headphones use Audio Technica’s proprietary A2DP detachable cables, and the wires connect in a Y-Split fashion – in other words, the cables connect to both the left and right side of the headphones. Not the most convenient (I would prefer the cable to only connect on one side, like the M50X), but I never felt like I was missing a serious feature. The stock cables are pliable and are of great quality – I’ve been using the same cable for the past 3 years!
The configuration of the speaker drivers inside these headphones are quite unique as well. The speaker drivers are using Audio Technica’s 45mm “True Motion Drivers”, and the chassis itself uses a multilayer air damping technology that provides “superior audio clarity” by reducing unwanted vibration and controlling the air flow. The result is supposedly, a spacious soundstage. The headphones also has a 5-50,000 Hz Frequency Response, which is excellent, and is certainly why it attained the Hi-Res audio certification.
So, the specifications sound fancy, but does it translate into excellent sound?
The Sound Quality of the MSR7B is amazing!
As mentioned earlier, the sound was what caused me to buy these headphones. The rendition of mids and vocals from this set of headphones was what really caught my attention, with vocals of Adele and Ed Sheeran sounding lively and full.
In fact, the vocals are so good that in comparison, it makes the vocals from the venerable Audio Technica M50x sound slightly recessed and “tin-canned”. When it comes to the highs, the MSR7b is also very natural sounding. The sound stage is wide and spacious: Songs like Hotel California sound as if you were in the actual concert hall.
My only gripe with these headphones is with bass quantity. The bass is definitely there; but if you are a basshead like me, you will find that the bass can be a bit lacking (by 3db) in some songs. Fortunately, this is something that an EQ can easily fix. Over the years, I realized that that headphones with flaws in the mids and high frequencies are harder to fix with an EQ. I was very happy with this set of headphones as I able to tweak it to deliver the exact sound I was looking for: transparent, natural sounding mids and highs, with an emphasis on bass when an EQ is applied.
Recently, I’ve been experimenting with music mixing, and this set of headphones enabled me to create decent song mixes as well. This shows how much potential this set of headphones has when it comes to audio quality.
Note: this review was done using the standard 3.5MM Aux cable, which is compatible with smartphones and computers. Unfortunately, I was unable to test if there are further improvements to the sound quality with balanced inputs, as I do not have such equipment. However, there are other reviews online that will tell you that using balanced inputs would further increase the soundstage and level of details that this headphone is able to deliver.
Noise Isolation and Comfort
The MSR7B is a closed back headphone, and the noise isolation is excellent for its class (passive headphones). The leather ear cushion pads seal your ears from the noise outdoors quite well. The leather headband is tight enough to retain a good fit, while never causing any discomfort, even with long hours (2-3hrs) of usage. This makes it perfect for using at home.
However, passive noise isolation just isn’t quite enough for use in public transport. When using these on buses and trains, the sound of the engines and chatter from people would further drown out its slightly anemic bass, requiring me to pump up the bass and volume a little more than I would like.
With that said, the sound is still more than “good enough” for outdoor usage. It’s just that using the MSR7B outdoors certainly isn’t the best use case scenario. (well, it is a high-res audio device after all – it wasn’t really “designed” for outdoor use)
Conclusion: A Great, open sounding set of headphones for it’s price!
With its RRP of $338, Audio Technica is giving you really great value with this set of headphones.
It not only looks sleek, but also delivers sound that is certainly worthy of the high-res audio certification. The overall sound feels enjoyable – natural, refined and balanced. So balanced, it’s probably why the bass quantity can feel slightly lacking at times.
However, at its price, it will be difficult to find other passive headphones that will be able to beat the outright sound quality. Most other headphones in this class would either over-emphasize on bass or be unable to deliver the level of details and natural sound you get with these.
Thus, I would say that if you are using this at home and are looking for an impressive set of headphones, The Audio Technica MSR7B is a smart choice that sounds, looks, and feels good!
I’ve had these headphones for three years now, and even though I have more expensive earphones, these set of headphones are so comfortable and delivers such quality sound, I can’t bear to part with it. It is my go-to set of headphones when taking zoom calls online or listening to music at home.
As such, I would highly recommend this set of headphones, if you don’t mind the wires and need to use a 3.5mm to USB-C/lightning adapter when using it with today’s smartphones.
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