The ‘hi-res’ logo on the Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 packaging highlights the fact that these headphones, it is claimed, cover a wider frequency range than ‘normal’ cans. (5Hz to 40kHz in the case of the MSR7s – human hearing ranges from 20Hz to 20kHz.)
But don’t be bamboozled by the figures, this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get a better quality of sound...
In terms of resolution and detail, the ‘hi-res’ Audio Technicas don’t fare too badly. Play Florence + The Machine’s What Kind Of Man, and the MSR7s pick out more than the odd morsel from Florence’s distinctive vocal.
And the headphones cast their detail-gathering net out further, as more and more elements are introduced. Their preference for an open, clear and spacious sound works well here, giving Florence and her machine plenty of breathing room.
Timing is okay and the Audio Technicas sketch out basic outlines of music without too many issues – but complex arrangements, Alt-J’s Breezeblocks for example, sound less convincing.
And, the MSR7s penchant for a leaner take on music means that low frequencies come up short in terms of weight and solidity. Play Macklemore & Lewis’ BomBom and you don’t really get the sense of power behind that pounding drumbeat - it comes across more as a weak pulse.
Higher up the frequency range there’s also a slightly coarse tinge to the upper mid-range. Highs aren’t especially harsh as such, but there are more rounded, better balanced headphones out there.
More after the break
Build and design
It’s disappointing, because out of the box the signs are promising. This particular gun metal finish and brown leather combination works together well – it’s showy enough, without being in your face.
The materials look and feel nice, though the inner edges of cutout sections of the headband feel sharp to the touch.
There are two choices of headphone cable: one with a one-button control and mic, the other just a plain cable more suited to listening to hi-fi kit at home. As is the norm for headphones such as these, you get the obligatory carry pouch to keep them safe and sound.
The fit is firm, but fair. There’s a decent amount of pressure fixed on the your ears, but we didn’t find overheating a problem during testing. And, they remained in place despite our best attempts to dislodge them some enthusiastic head movements.