Final Thoughts

I regard this headphone as the best closed back $300 and under headphone of recent times. I think it is superior in sonic quality to the likes of the Momentum, M-100 and the Denon D-2000, but the HP50 is also vastly inferior in musicality. This is not a musical headphone to me and seems setup for those who either prefer this type of flat response ( there are a lot of audiophiles who like this ) or studio engineers who need a solid pair of monitors. Studio’s in general are going to love this headphone and right now I cannot think of a single closed back sub $300 set that even remotely came close to the overall usefulness of this headphone. It’s one of those well rounded headphones with no real weaknesses.

Another fantastic and shocking quality I found with the headphone was that it is immensely efficient and requires almost no amplification to sound awesome. Right out of my Sansa Clip and Fuze, it sounds fantastic and I found this headphone to not scale up at all. The difference from my RWAK120 to my Burson Conductor SL is nominal at best. I notice some better layering qualities but that pretty much is it. That is fantastic to know that you don’t need a great source or any amplification to get excellent sound off this headphone. NAD did a great job on this one and produced exactly what they were out to make. My preferences are subjective, I prefer a bit more color in tone, a bit more bass, more forward mids and a brighter upper end. This headphone is for those who enjoy a flat sound, despite not meshing with me there is no question this headphone is the most clear and spacious mid tier closed back I’ve ever used. Can’t wait to hear what the future has in store from NAD. Fantastic Headphone!

Technical Specifications

SIZE (W x H x D)
Overall 210mm x 200mm x 71mm
Ear cushion outside 68mm x 98mm x 17mm
Folded 200mm x 210mm x 50mm
Traveling Case 215mm x 230mm x 63mm
1 inch equals 25.5mm.
Weight: 10 ounces without cable.

Links

http://nadelectronics.com/products/headphones/HP50-Over-Ear-Headphones

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  • George Lai

    The Abyss-shaped headband and the small ear cups of this headphone put me off totally when I first tried it. It didn’t stay long enough on my head to form an opinion on the sound at all.

    • headfonics

      Everyone has heard this but me – unfair I say unfair! :)

      • George Lai

        I’ve tried that twice and both times, I somehow felt only Fred Munster would look good in it!

      • Ishcabible

        You really need to. ;)

    • 24bit

      Yeah, I know what you mean. It is a serious problem for some and i hope their future models fix that issue, but no getting around the sublime sound qualities in the hp50. Stunning to say the least in my opinion.

  • biku

    The headband is 100 times more comfortable then it looks. As much as we all think it could be something else, it does not get in a way of a great music presentation. I stumbled though lots of “buts” in this article, but trying lot’s of closed headphones during the years, this one is still a winner for me. I use it every day and every day it amazes me how good it is.

    • 24bit

      That red mark on my head disagrees with you :P Definitely doesn’t get in the way of anything musically, the headphone sounds good enough to make me forget that the comfort factor for me isn’t up to par. Some consider it comfy and dont have issue, people with hair I guess and who don’t shave their head. Maybe their hair cradles it more and offers some extra padding, distributing the weight more evenly. On my bare head though, it’s pretty rough and leaves a bit of a bruise. I find the clamp factor just fine, no problem there. But , I do want more plush pads. I’m amazed by it as well, I think its the best mid tier closed back I’ve ever heard.

      • George Lai

        The simplest almost utilitarian yet by far the most comfortable headband I’ve experienced this year is the cheap-looking leather strap of the MrSpeakers Mad/Alpha Dogs. Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best.

        • 24bit

          My favorite in comfort in the headband was certainly the AKG K267, nothing even came close to how well conforming it was to my head. Wish that had a bit more padding, the the shape of it was perfection in my opinion. The HP50 earpads were definitely softer and more comfy than the AKG, both headphones needed bigger earpads for me but I think the general softness factor is clearly better on the NAD.

  • Jose Quintini

    If you like V-shaped more than flat headphones, what about B&W P7? Do you still like more the AKG K267?

    • 24bit

      I really dislike classic V shape and recessed mids. The AKG K267 has a reverse V shape sound type, with prominent mids but more laid back highs and bass. I don’t have much experience with the P7 so I can’t really say anything about it.

      • Ishcabible

        I’ve tried both this and the P7. I have a feeling you wouldn’t love the P7, because I thought it was on the harsh side at times, but other times I thought it had fantastic resolve because of the treble.

        • 24bit

          That doesn’t surprise me, I wasn’t a fan of the past models, but they were good headphones. I’m picky about my sound preferences, I think sharp treble and recessed mids are my absolutely most despised qualities.

          • Ishcabible

            I really wanted to like the P7, but the midrange was definitely the weakest part of the headphone. I’d struggle to call it recessed, but it was definitely not prominent.

  • Fabio_Rocks

    Nad Hp50 vs ZMF t50rp?

    • headfonics

      i rate it 50:50 :)

    • Ishcabible

      I’ve heard both (I was actually supposed to get a review sample of the HP50 months ago, but Lenbrook (the US distributor for NAD) was selling every pair they were getting, so I’m glad 24bit was able to get his hands on a pair!) but I’ve only demoed the HP50, and for only about an hour at that, while I own and love the v2 ZMF so take what I say with a grain of salt.. I don’t really find them to be all that comparable. The HP50 is more energetic than the ZMF, but other than that, I find the ZMF to be superior. The bass is more detailed and separated, the midrange is more realistic and romantic, and the treble has better decay, but again, it’s more of a romantic headphone, which may or may not be to your taste. I know I wouldn’t be able to live with the ZMF as my only headphone as they just don’t give me the oomph I want for electronic or rock music. But for acoustic, folk, or jazz, I still maintain that I like my particular pair more than the HE500 I demoed. But if you’re looking at having only one headphone, I’d probably go with the HP50 and pretend that the ZMF doesn’t exist. The ZMFs are also a pain to use outside because they’re so big and cumbersome, which is a shame because with the Alpha Pads, they’re perfect for the brisk Boston winters.

      • Fabio_Rocks

        I got a ZMF v2 Zpex rewired with ALO COPPER and Copper Cable. The bass on my set is HUGE with a lot of rumble, the overall sound quality is phenomenal. I can’t be more happy.

    • 24bit

      I’ve not heard that version, but I don’t think the Mad Dog is as good as the HP50. Switching up between the two and its fairly obvious which one is superior in every way. Mad Dogs sound muffled, and I’m told the ZMF is probably better than the Mad Dog but I’ve not ever heard or read of anyone saying it was THAT much better.

  • RN2013

    24 bit…how would you compare the NAD to the Mad Dog when it comes to creating a live, life-like musical presentation…in other words, which would be the most fun to live with if you could only own one pair.

    • 24bit

      Oh man, the HP50 destroys them in imaging. It is about on par with my AKG K812 ( Retail $1499 ) in the depth of stereo imaging. It is VERY good with that, trust me, nothing else closed back can touch this headphone sub $1500 IMO for imaging. I regard the HP50 as probably “the best” headphone ever made, but its general coloration is something I do not desire. Not that its bad as I mentioned, but I prefer a brighter treble that is sparkly and glistening, as well as generally more colored experience in the bass and mids, the Audeze LCD3 nailed that tone for me as well as the JH16s. But, the HP50 is more sterile, but yummy in every way. Great bass, great forward mids and a relaxed treble with some of the best imaging around…hard to complain about this outside of the headband styling. I could easily pick the HP50 has my go to, the one and only if it had that tone that fits my preference. The sound qualities and setup are everything I’ve always wanted, but not the coloration of the headphone itself. If I had to pick one headphone, it would be the JH16s.

  • Headphone.ph

    Thanks for the nice writeup. I’ve been looking on purchasing this however is this available locally or it has to be purchased outside the country? Also I am intending to only use it straight out of iPod and I’m wondering if it’s just fine ( I presume it is but i just wanted to get your opinion anyway). :)

    • headfonics

      I saw it in the Hifi Show last Nov 2013 so the answer should be yes.

      • Nicklaus

        You know where i can try them on? I asked some online sellers but they have no demo units.

        • headfonics

          In which country?

          • Nicklaus

            Philippines. I’ve tried looking around malls and audio stores but I haven’t seen one.

    • 24bit

      Thank you! The odds of finding a store that carries them is slim. No amplifier needed my friend, it sounds powerful and loud on just the sansa clip and fuze, eyepoppingly great on the AK120 modded by red wine, and actually a bit too powerful on the HM901 unless I am using the IEM card. Also wanted to say sorry for the delay in responses everyone, seems my Disqus notifications were disabled all this time.

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  • tand

    Hi,

    How does this compare with a COP?
    I listened to it in the store..and i love its bass. IMO it totally blew away the P7 and the my own headphone I was carrying that day. Philips L1 and UE6000.

    You mentioned it’s very neutral. But i found the bass really good. So tight fast and with a great punch. Weirded me out a bit…and blew me away.

    • 24bit

      By neutral on the bass experience I meant it is not overly warm, velvet like, nor it is immensely pure and solid. Its middle ground in tonality and texturing. Glad you enjoyed it, they blew me away too. In terms of quantity, there is plenty of it and it is not at all a reference, accurate headphone with regard to the bass quantity. Definitely elevated, but very linear and well executed. Not quite a bass head headphone, but not at all lacking.

  • Matjub

    Do these headphones leak sound/audio?

    • 24bit

      There is some leak, but less so than lets say the Momentum, Vmoda M100 and even the AKG K267. Not as good with sound leakage prevention as the new Sennheiser HD8, which might be the best at preventing sound from leaking in a closed back I’ve seen lately.

      • matjub

        what are the measurements of the inside of the ear cup? In inches or cm

  • Jp Carlos

    which is the best among the three, HP50, Fidelio X1 or Fidelio L2? and why? :)

    • headfonics

      Sounds like a thesis and probably impossible for me or Michael to answer since neither of us have had all 3 in the same sitting or in the same room. From what i can deduce though the Nad is flat and neutral, the X1 is lively and musical and the L2 is probably a bit darker and closed. Personally I would get the NAD but if you want something musical and indoors only then the X1.

      • Jp Carlos

        Thanks for the input! It’s been really dragging me and I still can’t choose. I have no means to audition any of them and its too bad that being in the Philippines, I can’t just buy and try all so I could pick the one I’ll like the most. I’ve got the HP50 on the lead by a hair right now based on the reviews I read all over the web. The online prices for both the hp50 and x1 are very close. I wish I could find a far better deal for one over the other to force myself in choosing it haha.

        • headfonics

          Go with the HP50 :)

    • Guest

      Easy, the HP50. More realistic, more clear, more well rounded, more responsive to EQ, easier to drive.

      • Leon Coleman

        Have you heard the Fidelio x1?
        If so then compare the soundstage to the hp50 and x1.
        Thanks!

        • headfonics

          I will lay money down both are vastly different – the X1 is fun, musical and the HP50 is monitor-like and composed.

          • Leon Coleman

            Nope they are not very different. Sound similar in some ways.
            The x1 has a little more bass, more Soundstage width and air.

            They both are pretty level in the frequency (flat side of things). The hp50 is louder (easier to drive), maybe slightly clearer (probably not really though since the x1 is very clear too)

            I think I like the x1 slightly better but they are equals since one is for indoors and the other is portable.

            I’m keeping both.

  • Martin K.

    Hi, can you kindly compare the HP50 to B&O H6?

    • 24bit

      I’ve no experience with the H6 Martin, so sorry. Wish I could help on that :[

      • Martin K.

        Too bad. Thanks for you reply! :)

    • headfonics

      Well now I can do this for you as I have had both. I preferred the Nad by a long way over the H6. The H6 has more dynamics and fizz in the upper ranges but the HP50 felt more accurate and technically correct. Both have good build quality but the pop out marks might go to the H6. The HP50 bag is better than the H6 pouch. Both can run easy off a usual portable DAP setup.