Reviewed on Sep 12, 2017

Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7NC HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.3
6.4
Mixed Usage
7.3
Neutral Listening
6.3
Commute/Travel
6.1
Sports/Fitness
6.5
Office
5.4
Wireless Gaming
7.0
Wired Gaming
6.3
Phone Call
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7NC are well-built and sturdy headphones with a well-balanced sound. They're comfortable and do not leak much at high volumes. However, they don't block a lot of noise despite being noise canceling headphones, so they're not the best option for traveling or commuting. They're also a bit too bulky for sports, but they deliver a good audio reproduction for critical listening.

Test Results
Design 7.1
Isolation 6.2
Microphone 6.4
Active Features 7.3
Connectivity 3.8
Pros
  • Good audio reproduction.
  • Low leakage.
  • Sturdy and comfortable.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation especially for noise canceling headphones.
  • Slightly bulky design.
  • Bass delivery varies significantly across users. Sensitive to glasses.
  1. Update 11/6/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  2. Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  3. Update 9/28/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here

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Black ATH-MSR7NC
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7.1

Design

The ATH-MSR7NC are the most high-end-looking audio-Technica headphones that we've reviewed so far. They have an excellent build quality that feels sturdy, durable and makes use of premium materials. They're also comfortable with better padding on the headband and the ear cups compared to the rest of the ATH-M series. Unfortunately, they're not very portable headphones. They're too bulky for sports and have a slightly disappointing control scheme. They also have a rather basic carrying pouch for their price range.

Style

The MSR7NC have a similar look and feel to the rest of the ATH-M series but are considerably better built. They look high-end and feel sturdy when you pick them up. They have a decently thick headband and large circular ear cups that are amply padded. If you liked the designs of most of the ATH-M lineup, then the MSR7NC will look even better thanks to their more premium appeal. However, they still have a somewhat studio vibe, so they won't be a flashy fashion statement to go with your outfit.

7.5 Comfort
Weight : 0.7 lbs
Clamping Force
:
1 lbs

The MSR7NC are comfortable over-ear headphones. They're bit bulkier than the typical M series lineup, but they're not uncomfortably heavy. They have thicker padding and deeper earcups than the ATH-M70x or ATH-M50x. However, the headband does not extend far enough so they may feel a little tight on some heads.

5.7 Controls
OS Compatibility
:
Not OS specific
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Decent
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : No
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : Yes
Talk-Through
:
No
Additional Buttons : No

The MSR7NC have an average control scheme that's easy to use but lacks volume controls. They only have one button on the inline remote for calls, pausing and playing audio as well as track skipping. On the ear cup, there's an on/off switch for the noise cancellation. The buttons are quite responsive and straightforward but the lack of volume controls feels limiting.

6.2 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 6.3 C
6.0 Portability
L : 7 "
W : 6.3 "
H : 2.5 "
Volume : 110 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

The MSR7NC are decently large over-ear headphones which unlike some of the other headphones in the ATH-M series, do not fold into a more compact format. The ear cups lay flat to save a bit of space, but they're too bulky and cumbersome to comfortably carry around on your person without a bag.

6.5 Case
Type : Pouch
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A

Comes with a cloth pouch that will protect the headphones against minor scratches if you put them in your bag. Unfortunately, the soft pouch won't shield them from drops impacts and water exposure which is disappointing given the price range and level of care put into the design of the MSR7NC.

8.0 Build Quality

The ATH-MSR7NC have a great build quality that feels durable and high-end. The headband is thick and reinforced with a plastic and metal frame. The ear cups are dense and won't get damaged from accidently dropping the headphones. The cables are also thick and detachable, which means these headphones should be able to withstand regular wear and tear pretty well.

6.5 Stability

The MSR7-NC are tight enough to be stable during casual use but won't be the ideal headphones for running or working out. The earcups sway a lot during physical activities and may slip off your ears. On the upside, the cable is detachable, so it will disconnect if it gets hooked on something.

Headshots 1
Headshots 2
Top

Sound

They have an excellent and extended Bass, a very good Mid Range, a very good Treble Range, and low distortion. However, their Bass Range is susceptible to inconsistencies, and if you wear glasses, there's a chance you may not be getting all the Bass that these headphones are capable of producing. Also, like most other closed-back active noise cancelling headphones, the MSR7 won't have the most open and spacious Soundstage.

Sound Profile
Neutral
:
8.4
Bass-Heavy
:
4.2
Warm
:
4.8
Bright
:
7.7
7.4 Peaks/Dips
Peaks
:
1.7 db
Dips
:
1.2 db
5.5 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
1.19 dB

Sub-par consistency performance. The Bass Range response is susceptible to consistencies due to head shape/size and also the presence/absence of glasses. Our human subject who wears glasses loses 3dB of Bass starting at 300Hz which is quite significant. The Treble Range consistency is also mediocre, with a deviation of +/-3dB at 3KHz.

7.8 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.18
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
2.02
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
2.19
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
6.83
6.1 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
2.69 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
3.02 dB
PRTF Distance
:
16.47 dB
Openness
:
4.5
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
2.7
8.8 Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
:
0.113
WHD @ 100
:
0.054
6.2

Isolation

The MSR7NC do not have the best noise cancellation. They isolate fairly well against high-frequency noise like most passive headphones, but their active noise cancellation is a little weak and lets the rumbles and chatter of a busy commute seep into your audio. On the upside, they're not very leaky headphones, so at higher volumes, they won't be as distracting to the people around you like some of the other ATH-M headphones.

5.5 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-14.67 dB
Bass
:
-4.56 dB
Mid
:
-8.14 dB
Treble
:
-31.34 dB

Sub-par Isolation. The noise-cancelling system of these headphones kick-in at around 50Hz and are effective up to 1KHz. They achieve about 5dB of isolation in the Bass Range which is sub-par. In the Mid Range, the reduce the outside noise by about 8dB, which is about average. However, in the Treble Range, they achieve more than 30dB of isolation which is good.

7.6 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
35.85 dB

Good Leakage performance. The significant portion of Leakage sits between 400hz and 7KHz, which is a relatively broad range. However, the overall level of leakage is quite low.

6.4

Microphone

Integrated
:
No
In-line
:
Yes
Boom
:
No
Detachable Boom
:
N/A
6.1 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
472.58 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
1.46 dB
HFE
:
2215.77 Hz
Weighted THD
:
0.14
Gain
:
22.04 dB
6.7 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
18.77 dB
7.3

Active Features

The ATH-MSR7NC are straightforward, wired, noise canceling headphones. They do not have any wireless features or a compatible app to customize their sound. However, since they're wired they have no latency when watching videos but do not have the range of most wireless headphones. On the upside, they provide up to 27 hours of continuous playback when the ANC is enabled but take quite a bit of time to charge. 

8.1 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
:
27 hrs
Additional Charges
:
0
Total Battery Life
:
27 hrs
Charge Time
:
2.5 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
No
Audio while charging
:
Yes
Passive Playback
:
Yes
Charging Port : micro-USB

These headphones have up to 27 hours of continuous playtime at average volumes, which is great for long flights or road trips. Unfortunately, they take quite a bit of time to charge and they do not have any battery saving features like an auto-off timer. On the upside, they can be used completely passively when the batteries die and can charge while continuously playing audio.

0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
N/A
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
N/A
Playback control
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

No compatible app.

3.8

Connectivity

0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
:
N/A
NFC Pairing
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
:
N/A
Default Latency
:
N/A
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

Wired connection, negligible latency.

0 Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
:
N/A
Non-BT Latency
:
N/A
9.5 Wired
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
Detachable : Yes
Length : 4.1 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRRS
Wired Latency
:
0 ms
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
:
Audio + Microphone
PC / PS4 Wired USB
:
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
:
No
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox Analog
:
Audio + Microphone
Xbox Wired USB
:
No
Xbox Wireless
:
No
0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A

In the box

  • Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7NC Headphones
  • 1/8" to 1/4" Adapter
  • Airline adapter
  • Audio cables (x3)
  • Manual
  • Carrying pouch

Compared to other Headphones

6.4 Mixed Usage

The MSR7NC are decent mixed usage headphones with a good sound. They won't be the ideal headphones for commuting despite being noise canceling headphones and they may be a bit too bulky for sports. On the upside, they have a good sound, a great build quality and a polished design that will appeal to casual and serious listeners.

7.3 Neutral Listening

Good for neutral listening. They're comfortable enough to wear for hours and have well-balanced sound. Their bass extends into the lower frequencies, which gives a good kick without being overpowering, so you can still clearly distinguish instruments and vocals. However, there's a slight bump in the high-mid/low-treble that may push instruments a bit too forward on some tracks which could sound a bit harsh. They also do not have a wide soundstage due to their closed-back noise-canceling design, but overall they sound good enough for both casual and more neutral listeners.

6.3 Commute/Travel

Mediocre for commuting. They have a comfortable fit but a mediocre control scheme and a subpar noise cancellation performance., They may be able to mask some noise if you're playing at high enough volumes, but they won't be the ideal headphones for loud environments.

6.1 Sports/Fitness

Mediocre for sports. They have an easy to use but limited control scheme. Unfortunately, they're a bit too bulky and cumbersome for sport. They also create a pretty good seal around your ears which means they won't be the most breathable headphones to run with.

6.5 Office

Average for office use. They do not leak much, so they won't distract you colleagues at higher volumes like some of the other over-ear headphones we've reviewed. However, they do not block a lot of noise so they may not be the best headphones to use in a lively and noisy office environment

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