Gear Reviews

Audeze MM-500 review: "You're about to work on the best songs of your life"

If it’s good enough for DJ Khaled and 11-time Grammy-winning mix engineer Manny Marroquin, it’s good enough for Headliner to try out – and it’s not only the former that’s just released another one. New from Audeze are the MM-500 headphones, which were conceived and refined in one of the world’s most acclaimed studios to deliver mixes that consistently translate and capture the emotion the artist intended. Headliner takes them for a spin…

There are few situations where I would choose to mix using headphones, but with the clarity and dynamics I found with the new Audeze MM-500, I may have to re-evaluate my thinking. 

Maybe it’s the influence of 11-time Grammy-winning mix engineer Manny Marroquin (Bruno Mars, Lizzo, The Rolling Stones, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Avril Lavigne, Glass Animals, Kanye West) that elevates these headphones to provide such precision and accuracy; either way, it’s hard to argue with the improvements Audeze has made here.

To get to grips with the brand’s latest headphones, Audeze invited me to Larrabee Studios in California – which in itself is an offer no music fan can refuse. Larrabee Studios has been a leader in the L.A music industry for over 40 years and is regarded as one of the top recording and mixing facilities in the world. 

Even at a glance, you can see why: clients include Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Madonna, Mary J. Blige, Christina Aguilera, Usher, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez, Snoop Dogg, Katy Perry, Boys II Men, Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber.

Once inside Larrabee, Audeze wasted no time in showcasing its headphones (designed in collaboration with Marroquin himself) utilising a few different amps including a Chord Electronics Hugo 2 and an SPL Audio Phonitor x – which as coincidence would have it – I also used in my home studio for this very review.

Any mixing engineer knows that you need to hear what you’re working on at its most natural and pure – anywhere, anytime. Marroquin was there himself to walk Headliner through the highlights of the MM-500 in the control room, asserting that “these headphones make you feel confident and that you're about to work on the best songs of your life. Once you get used to them, you’re not gonna be able to live without them”.

Once you get used to them, you’re not gonna be able to live without them. Manny Marroquin

It turns out the MM-500s have racked up some impressive credits already: they were used to mix Kendrick Lamar's number one album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. 

Marroquin also reveals that he mixed DJ Khaled’s Grammy winning track, Higher (featuring Nipsey Hussle and John Legend) in a hotel room in the Bahamas using these very headphones: “The proof of concept is there!” he enthuses, adding that the MM-500’s planar magnetic drivers work to provide a realism that audio professionals like himself “can’t live without”.

Just like the manufacturer’s flagship headphones, the MM-500s are hand-crafted at Audeze’s Southern California workshop. Lighter than Audeze’s LCD-X, the MM-500’s sleek and sturdy chassis are optimised to offer all-day comfort. 

I also noticed that the sleek design, attractive carbon fibre headband and fitted leather pads with swivel earcups provide a sturdy and comfortable fit for long term wear – you can really feel the quality behind the design and manufacturing.

The MM-500 is designed to suit the requirements of long, daily listening sessions, and after using them for a few weeks, I am confident that mixing professionals will surely enjoy the comfortable design and feel for long-term session work. 

Meanwhile, the extended headphone cable is braided with high-purity copper with quality terminal connectors providing less signal interference – plus, the cable doesn’t get tangled up easily.

These headphones are specifically designed to deliver mixes that consistently translate well, and as far as the sound goes, the layering and separation are impressive and the quality of the mix is honest, true and pure, with a clean and genuine bottom low end that provides you with exactly what you need.

As for the mids – they do what you’d hope and follow through the centre of the mix exactly where you want them. The crisp and natural-sounding highs complete the package.

Priced at $1,699, these headphones are designed to remove your room from the equation (like near-field monitors) and give you studio-quality sound – anywhere. 

Marroquin even pointed out that he’s just as comfortable using these headphones as he is with his studio monitors, which is quite a testament to the overall sound quality. And after spending a few weeks mixing with them myself, it would be hard for me to disagree with him.


If you’re looking to make an investment in some pro-quality, mix-ready headphones, the Audeze MM-500 would make a great addition to use in your studio or to take with you when you’re on the go. Go and check them out and you will hear the proof for yourself.