Audeze MM-500 Review: Reference Sound and Improved Ergonomics

Today, we will be taking a closer look at the Audeze full-size isodynamic headphones from their latest MM series. While these headphones may not be the flagship model, they certainly belong to the...

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Today, we will be taking a closer look at the Audeze full-size isodynamic headphones from their latest MM series. While these headphones may not be the flagship model, they certainly belong to the upper echelon and are marketed as a studio solution. Not only do they offer a unique sound experience, but they also boast an updated design, smaller ear cups, and greatly enhanced ergonomics.

Packaging and assembly

The headphones come in a typical Audeze metal case that looks like it could survive a fall from an airplane, with protective foam inside and cardboard packaging outside.

The delivery set includes:

  • Audeze MM-500 headphones
  • protective case with key
  • brand Audeze wire
  • MM-series soft case
  • warranty card with serial number and documentation

In general, the kit contains everything necessary for monitors of this level, but in the latest revisions, Audeze expands it even more by adding additional adapters. These are not significant enough changes to expect new revisions, but it’s always nice to have more options.

The case is massive, reliable, protected from the mechanical impact of external factors and can be locked with a key.

 

 

Audeze’s cable is characteristic of their products, featuring a standard thick braided wire ranging from 6.3 mm to mini XLR. This cable is identical to the one included with the base monitors of the Origin series and the entire Audeze Reference line. However, the premium cables are reserved for the pricier models, which is understandable given the cost of the MM-500 and its professional focus. For instance, the Audeze LCD Premium Cable alone is priced at $599.

 

 

Design and ergonomics

The Audeze MM-500 has been redesigned with a new look. The bowls are now crafted from sleek gray metal, while the faceplates feature black grills with smooth edges and a protective grill on the inside.

In terms of appearance, the MM-500 headphones have a more understated aesthetic compared to the luxurious LCD-3, which is priced similarly. This is because the wood used in the LCD-3 gives it a more expensive look, although it may not be as reliable as metal. The MM-500, on the other hand, shares a similar shape and overall style with the flagship LCD-5 headphones.

 

 

The headband has also changed, which has become more ergonomic and received new fasteners, which also affected the shape.

Similar to previous iterations of Audeze headphones, this model features a sturdy metal frame and a leather fastening (although it is possible that it is made of leatherette for practical reasons), ensuring a balanced weight distribution.

 

 

The ear pads are made of soft leather and memory foam. Complete ear pads are one of the most comfortable among all full-size models, here Audeze keeps the brand of quality not only in top models, but also beginners with Audeze LCD-2.

 

 

The Audeze MM-500 offers a remarkable improvement in comfort and ergonomics compared to classic models like the Audeze LCD-2 and Audeze LCD-3. In contrast to the bulky Audeze LCD-XC, which feels like a knight’s helmet, or the HiFiman Arya, which lacks a perfect fit due to its specific shape, the MM-500 provides a much more enjoyable listening experience. This enhanced level of comfort will particularly benefit professionals who spend long hours wearing headphones. Furthermore, it serves as a delightful bonus for loyal fans of the brand who previously found the weight and size of Audeze headphones to be a drawback.

Features

The sound of the model is provided by exclusive 90 mm planar radiators. They were created using a number of proprietary technologies:

  • They use the Uniforce diaphragm – an ultra-thin and light diaphragm that provides fast and accurate sound reproduction.
  • Fluxor magnet array – a specially designed magnetic system with N50 neodymium magnets that provides a stable and powerful magnetic field.
  • Fazor introduces patented waveguides that allow sound to travel around magnets without affecting the propagation of sound waves.

 

 

The headphone case not only has an attractive aesthetic appearance and recognizable style, but also represents reliability and comfort. The ear pads are made of high-quality leather, and the adjustable headband contributes to optimal weight distribution and reliable fixation of the headphones.

Sound

The Audeze MM-500 offers a truly fantastic sound experience. In fact, the entire range of Audeze models can be described with this word once they surpass the boundaries of conventional entry-level audio and reach the middle and high-end segments. However, the MM-500 stands out with its unique sound character and exceptional level of detail, rivaling the best monitors available in the market.

The positioning of instruments is excellently executed, accompanied by a high-quality timbral component and outstanding sound separation. This becomes particularly evident when listening to heavy and complex genres like metal and symphony orchestra. With a high-quality sound source and well-recorded tracks, you can easily discern individual instrumental parts and analyze the mixing and mastering techniques employed.

Nevertheless, the MM-500 does not solely deliver a monitor-like sound. While the Audeze LCD-X represents the epitome of typical and standard professional monitor sound, the MM-500 possesses a distinct melodic, vibrant, and detailed character that deviates from the typical neutrality associated with monitoring devices.

For testing purposes, the primary sources used were the Chord Hugo 2 and Chord Mojo 2 DACs connected to an Apple MacBook Air M1 laptop, utilizing Audirvana Studio.

Even when paired with these two devices, it becomes evident that the Audeze MM-500 sets a benchmark for measuring source quality. When connected to the Hugo 2, the soundstage expands significantly, enhancing the overall listening experience across various compositions. Additionally, the reproduction of ultra-high frequencies sees a slight improvement. On the other hand, when using the Chord Mojo 2, the sound may feel slightly compressed, but this becomes noticeable only when switching to a more powerful audio source. Overall, the MM-500 performs exceptionally well with the younger Chord DAC.

 

 

Clearly, the manufacturer has made significant improvements to the emitters, as the headphones now have a much smoother swing compared to earlier models. This means they can be used with less powerful DACs and audio players. However, it is still advisable to opt for a more robust and stationary option such as the Astell&Kern KANN MAX or the new FiiO R9.

Conclusion

Audeze MM-500 are top-notch with no drawbacks and exceptional sound quality, making them the perfect choice for any audiophile. The ergonomic design surpasses the larger and less comfortable Audeze Reference and Origins series, which may have deterred potential users.

They are not demanding on the power source, especially for a full-size isodynamic model of this caliber, making them suitable for use with a portable device. However, they are very particular about the quality of the recording and source parameters.

Highly recommended for anyone seeking the ultimate full-size headphone solution but unable to invest in flagship models like the Audeze LCD-5, Focal Utopia 2022, or Meze Elite (although, in my opinion, Focal and Meze fall short compared to Audeze).

Audeze MM-500
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