Gold accents are a tricky thing to get right in tech products, but I’d argue Audio-Technica has nailed them in its classically inspired navy blue and gold combo on the new MSR7 Special Edition cans. I’ve been a longtime fan of the regular MSR7s — which go a bit light on the bass, but are otherwise the most clear, pristine, and faithful listen I can obtain from a reasonably priced pair of portable headphones — so this new upgrade has me very much intrigued.
It’s not just about looks. Audio-Technica is trickling down some technology from the MSR9 headphones it launched at CES this year, specifically the “specially-tuned” 45mm True Motion drivers with a Diamond-like Carbon (DLC) coated diaphragm. This part has me a bit weary, as I’ve never heard the MSR9s and I can’t vouch for how much of an improvement, if any, they make over the MSR7s. I guess we’ll have to trust that Audio-Technica knows what it’s doing and isn’t going to replace one great headphone with a less great one.
The exciting part on the audio front has more to do with fit and design: Audio-Technica says the limited edition MSR7SE have new pads that are “shaped to boost the lower end sonics” (which is to say give us the extra bass we’ve been missing) and will furthermore lead to improved noise isolation. Those two are highly desirable improvements in a set of headphones in this class. Only other thing you could probably ask for is for them to be wireless, but Audio-Technica has the DSR9BT for Bluetooth audio fans.
The Audio-Technica MSR7SE will be available from October for £299 (about $388) in the UK. That’s a steep price increase versus the £169 ($220) price of the regular MSR7s, though it’s still a reasonable amount to pay for a pair of really pretty headphones with refined sound. Stay tuned for my review as soon as they become available to know if that sound lives up to Audio-Technica’s promise.