Audeze MM-500 headphone review
Audeze MM-500 is a new Hi-End class headphones from the American company Audeze. The letters “MM“ in the title are the initials of the famous sound engineer, winner of 11 Grammy awards, Manny Marroquin. Here's how he describes the MM-500 on the official Audeze website:

"Finally there are headphones in which I can mix music. I rely on my MM-500 as much as the main monitors in my studio".

Audeze MM-500 headphones are presented by the company as a reliable reference monitoring tool when working with music".
- Frequency response: 5-50000 Hz;
- Impedance: 18 Ohm;
- THD: <0.1% @ 100 dB SPL, 1kHz;
- Sensitivity: 100 dB/1 mVt;
- Maximum SPL: >130dB SPL;
- Weight: 495 g.;
- Style: Over-ear, open-back;
- Transducer type: Planar Magnetic (90 mm);
- Ear pads: Premium Leather;
- Cable: 1,2 m XLR-mini - TRS 6.3.

- MM-500 Headphone;
- Braided Cable;
- Standard Travel Case;
- Certificate of Authenticity and Warranty Cards.

Audeze MM-500 delight with its appearance at first sight! There is no pretentiousness in the design.

The design of the headphones is similar to the more expensive model in the line - Audeze LCD-5. Compared to the LCD-X, the headband controls have been improved, so there are no backlashes and creaks. The headband is metal, with a leather strap. The cups are made of metal in the recognizable Audeze style - horizontal lines dissected by a vertical “arrow".

The ear pads are leather, they feel nice and comfortable. From the back bottom of the cups there are “sockets” for wires: left and right. They use 4-pin mini-XLR connectors with a separate ground for each channel. The wires are strong and glossy. On the opposite side of the wire with an output to the TRS connector. Headphones feel expensive in the hands.

Usage experience:
The size of the Audeze MM-500 is average, smaller than that of the Audeze LCD-X/XC. But it's still hard to call them compact.

The clamping pressure is average, it does hold the headphone super steady when moving around.
Frequency response:
Without Realphones correction:
Out of the box, the headphones sound comfortable, there are no sharp rises in the all frequency range. The range up to 800 Hz is perceived quite linearly, and the upper middle and top are slightly weakened. The middle in the range of 500-1500 Hz feels slightly elevated. The tonal balance is somewhat similar to the Sennheiser HD 650, but in the MM-500 the edges of the ranges are straightened out more, that is, more sub-bottom and top.

The detail across the entire spectrum is higher than that of the Audeze LCD-X/XC, but the clarity of the sound, in my opinion, is slightly inferior. Attacks and releases of medium and medium-low frequencies are worked out quickly, thanks to which the headphones feel very articulated and the reverberation tails are heard better than in other headphones. The low frequencies are quite punchy and also well articulated. But the medium-high and high frequencies against the background of the low-frequency range seem more smoothed than we would like.

The combination of the decline of high frequencies in the frequency response and the “de-esser” effect gives a feeling of a small “cloudiness”, but at the same time the integrity of the sound. Virtual sound sources feel like they are alive. There is something similar, for example, in Audeze LCD-X/XC and Sennheiser HD 800 S. Spatial qualities are also similar to Audeze LCD-X - it seems as if virtual sound sources are “outside the head”, but the effect is not as pronounced as in the Sennheiser HD 800 S.

With Realphones correction:
Thanks to the good detail, the headphones demonstrate nonlinear distortion in music very well. The reverberation fades are also clearly audible.

After correction, the tonal balance becomes correct, but due to the unusual behavior of high frequencies, the effect of “ultra-high contrast” of the mid-HF range appears. This property is typical for mastering-level monitor systems.

Speaking about the nature of headphones, we can say that commercial pop music in them sounds catchy, a little harsh, perhaps a little “pretentious". At high volume levels, there is a “veil” effect.
However, in academic music (and in general any audiophile-level music), the sound is impressive! Low-level details, sounds and performance noises are clearly captured. However, not as clearly as in Audeze LCD-X/XC.

The coloration of the MM-500 is quite strong and it is most pronounced at high frequencies. There is an effect of “friability” on sibilants and high-frequency transients. They are detailed and bring some kind of amazing “sparkle”.

Despite some color, the headphones demonstrate the technical quality of the music being played without compromise! If the track is mixed well, it's easy to hear in Audeze MM-500. If the track is sharp, or muddy, or reduced to a lack of dynamics, the headphones will show it exactly.

Audeze MM500x makes it easy to feel the real sound quality of the recording.

The timbres of the instruments sound freely, openly. Attacks in the entire frequency range are good, transients do not “shoot” and at the same time do not “chew”. Releases are felt at the highest level - all sounds fade out exactly as the sound engineers and composers intended. I was especially pleased with the confident punch at low frequencies, the pulse of the barrel is clearly audible.

Overall impression (with correction and emulation):
Headphones are quite capricious and very sensitive to musical material and to the position on the ears. It is also worth noting that the headphones have a specific and unstable directional pattern: high frequencies are directed by a narrow beam, which is why at the slightest shift from the axis, their number significantly changes. But if you close your eyes to these nuances, we can say that this model is very worthy!

These headphones are not suitable for everyone, but if you like their unusual sound character, then you will be satisfied with the purchase.

MM-500 is quite accurate in terms of timbres and dynamics, and can be perfectly used in mixing.

But their sensitivity to the nature and quality of the musical material makes them especially interesting for mastering as well!
Our scores:
(according to their class)

Musical styles

Studio tasks

- Excellent articulation;
- Good attacks and great releases;
- High low-level detail (noises, sounds, reverberation tails);
- The sound “outside the head”;
- Saturation is clearly audible;
- The integrity of the sound, which allows you to evaluate the sound picture;
- Better fit and less weight than other full-size models of the Audeze LCD series.

- High sensitivity to the influence of objects near the cups;
- Some people may find the pressure too strong. This does not affect the comfort of wearing, but the sound. Sometimes the sound is perceived better if you loosen the clamp and slightly bend the metal headband;
- Excessive coloration;
- High sensitivity to the influence of the position on the head/ears (high-frequency sound waves are directed by a very narrow beam);
- Crackling of membranes when putting on headphones.

Comparison with other models:
The release of the Audeze MM-500 has attracted a lot of attention, as for some of its design features, this model is inspired by the Audeze LCD-5.

Of course, cheaper headphones could not beat the model, which costs three times more expensive. But Audeze MM-500 are endowed with their own character, which was able to excite me and quite deservedly cause aesthetic delight and “audiophile” emotions!

If you need headphones for restoration, mastering or critical analytical listening, but the Audeze LCD-5 is too expensive for you, they are definitely worth paying attention to.

Also, many are interested in how the Audeze MM-500 can be compared with the Audeze LCD-X 2021, which have proven themselves among Realphones users as a well-deserved “workhorse" for mixing in the premium price segment.

Here I will share my subjective opinion. However, it is shared by all colleagues from our team with whom I discussed these two models.

Without a doubt, Audeze MM-500 has a more gentle sound and a higher “micro-detail”, which allows you to reveal the smallest technical nuances and errors of the phonogram. This allows us to confidently recommend them for mastering tasks.

If you are engaged in producing and arranging, the expressive nature of the Audeze MM-500 can cheer you up and find your inspiration.

But for mixing tasks, Audeze LCD-X 2021, with its clearer, rectilinear, though less detailed presentation, subjectively fit better, since they will not distract with their character and microscopic nuances.

Audeze LCD-X 2021 - more versatile in musical genres, simpler in nuances and does not “turn on the alarm” when playing oversaturated modern music.

Unfortunately, it is rarely possible to find monitoring that is equally well suited for both information and mastering. In any case, your own assessment may differ from our opinion.