Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Open-Back Mod





Introduction: Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Open-Back Mod

This Modification allows you to use your Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Studio Monitor headphones as open-back headphones for a flatter response and a much improved soundstage. I am very pleased with the sound of these headphones after the mod. I didn't want to always have open-back headphones because of the increased noise leakage so I made it so they can be easily switched between both closed and open. The plate/cap on the end can be applied using a magnet and then removed quickly.


Step 1: Tools and Parts

You will need-

-Audio-Technica ATH-M50/M50X Headphones (or similar if you are willing to experiment a bit)


-Holesaw or Dremel/Rotary Tool (or a different cutting method)

-Magnets (for the removable plate)

-Electrical Tape

-Screen or speaker grill (fabric may work as well but I'm not sure how that will look)



-Something to cut the screen, grill, or fabric

-Also a soldering iron if you are not careful!

Step 2: Begin Disassembly

Start by taking off the ear pads and begin removing the screws from the driver housing. Now, the driver should come loose. Now put the driver aside and remove all of the internal padding and clips. Make sure there are no cables across the enclosure.

Step 3: Cutting Holes in the Enclosure

Prepare to cut the hole in the housing by prying off the disks with a knife. Do not scratch the metal ring like I did. Next choose the correct size saw if you're using a holesaw, and make sure that you leave a small lip around the edge if you are making them convertible so that the disk has something to sit on. Now carefully cut through the housing without pulling any wires off or breaking the case. I did not use a holesaw, I ended up using a forstner bit and got a much cleaner cut than I did with the holesaw.

Step 4: Cutting the Screen

I used a piece of steel speaker grille from some old satellite speakers because I liked the look it gave the finished product. Window screen will work as well, but I highly recommend that you use a steel screen over the cheaper plastic type. Be sure to cut it larger than the disk because it won't work if it is too small as I quickly discovered.

Step 5: Assembly

First put the screen in place. Then place a magnet on the inside of the screen. (For the outer disk making them convertible, and that disk will need a magnet too.) Now put the padding in place followed by the driver. Be sure that it is in so that it faces at your ear. Then screw it back together and put the ear pads back on. If your not doing the convertible open/closed back version, you can remove the metal disks and apply them to the new grille as seen in photo two. The open back version uses the small disk that has the Audio-Technica logo on it with a small neodymium magnet glued on. That magnet will be attracted to the magnet on the inside (be sure to get the magnet polarity right or else they will not stick together) and form a seal against the opening that was cut earlier. It brings back the sealed sound and reduces noise leakage like the headphones originally were at the expense of the flatter sound and better soundstage.

Step 6: Done.

Now your finished! Here is what mine looked like in the end.


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This is an interesting take on some already great headphones. I have original m50's with the cable mod. I've been trying different earpads to get a wider soundstage without losing the bass response of closed cans. If I were to do this, I'd definitely go with the ability to swap between closed and open but my concern is when they're closed, does the cap and magnets rattle any when the headphones are playing loud? I like drive them hard from time to time and would hate to go through with this mod only to be plagued by rattles. Also, did you upgrade your pads to velour to help with the openness or keep them stock? Thanks, and a great job and look, by the way.

Hey, i'm planning to do this as well. But I just don't understand every part. Is there anyway like skype for instance that you could explain the way you switch between open and closed backs?
Anyway nice guide!

Nice mod, very nicely finished. I'm thinking of doing such a mod but where can I get the 'metal disk' as mentioned and illustrated on step 5 (specifically on the second picture), from what I can see its the same ring taken from M50 disk itself, but please correct if I'm wrong.

Thanks, and yes it comes from the headphones. I just (carefully) separated it with a knife. Just be sure not to pry it off or it will bend because it its very soft metal.

I like it. Good article. Well organized, well written, great pictures and great looking end product. If not for the build pictures I would think it was a factory design.

i have the same headphones? why should I do it? please explain

To have a better sound. A flat curve means a sound close to reality.

Exactly. It also widens up the soundstage/the perceived difference between the "speakers."

Very nice build, but took me a while to realize what you did. Maybe a before/after shot is better ? Also, I have a B/W P3 .... Pondering ...