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Audeze MM-500

Planar Magnetic Headphones By Sam Inglis
Published October 2022

Audeze MM-500

Audeze’s newest open-backed headphones were designed with the help of mix legend Manny Marroquin.

Time was when audio engineers were backroom boffins who stayed out of the public eye. Not any more. In a world where there are few salaried studio jobs, it’s not enough to be good at the craft. Today’s successful engineers are minor celebrities who have built their own brands. When they’re not making hit records, they’re teaching the rest of us how to do it, developing plug‑ins with their name on and even opening restaurants.

Manny Marroquin is a perfect example. Not only is he a brilliant mixer whose name is on countless hit tracks, but he’s also as close to being a household name as any engineer. There are Manny Marroquin plug‑ins and Manny Marroquin mixing courses. A YouTube search on his name brings up thousands of videos. And, yes, he has his own restaurant in LA. As if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he is also Head of Professional Products at headphone manufacturers Audeze.

The first product to issue from this partnership is the MM‑500 open‑backed headphones, and it’s clear that Marroquin has been deeply involved in their design. He has, apparently, been an Audeze user for many years, and has provided feedback on many previous pairs. All of that feedback and experience has now been distilled into a new model, intended as the mixing headphones Manny Marroquin always wanted but has, until now, been unable to buy!

Magnetic Attraction

The name Audeze should be familiar to readers from previous reviews, but in case it isn’t, a quick recap might be in order. Audeze headphones are the brainchild of Dr Drag Colich, who has devoted much effort to improving planar magnetic drivers. These have been around since the ’70s, but in the past, their good qualities — low distortion and extended low‑frequency response — were often counterbalanced by drawbacks such as low sensitivity and poor high‑frequency response. Thanks in no small part to Dr Colich’s research, these limitations have largely been overcome, and flagship Audeze headphones such as the LCD‑X offer a truly sumptuous listening experience. Manny Marroquin is a fan, and so am I.

So why the need for a new model intended for mixing? It seems that there have been three main concerns in the development of the MM‑500: one ergonomic, one sonic and one economic. As anyone who’s ever tried the LCD‑Xs will know, they are among the largest headphones on the market and also some of the weightiest. I’ve always found them pretty comfortable to wear, thanks to their wide headband and deep ear cushions, but there’s no denying that 612g can...

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