About the Audeze MM-500 (Manny Marroquin Series)
Premium studio headphones deliver a spacious, accurate mix
Manny Marroquin has mixed major releases on the Audeze MM-500 headphones, including Kendrick Lamar's Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.
Premium studio headphones deliver a spacious, accurate mix
One thing was immediately clear when I spoke with 11-time Grammy® winning mixer Manny Marroquin: he didn't just slap his name on the Audeze MM-500 studio headphones. In our conversation, Manny detailed how he spent five years in development alongside the Southern California audio experts — testing prototypes, providing design feedback, and helping fine-tune the sound. And he now uses these headphones for mixing new releases from some of today's top artists.
I auditioned the MM-500s soon after our interview. They offer all the sonic components of Audeze's large audiophile planar magnetic offerings — spaciousness, detail, and a keen sense of place. But they look streamlined and feel lighter than traditional Audeze over-ears. "That was key to our design," Manny told me. "Imagine having a true reference — basically a set of [monitor] speakers you can travel with and put in a bag." (Check out our full interview with Manny.)
Lightweight and well put-together
Manny's been a fan of Audeze from the first time he tried their LCD-X headphones years ago. "I was blown away," he said. Those headphones' linear frequency response and precise impulse control have made them a favorite of studio pros. Audeze gave the MM-500s a similar tuning to the LCD-X — but made them 20% lighter.
The MM-500s offer Audeze's oversized drivers and sonic presentation but sport a lighter design for long studio sessions.
A flexible steel headband binds the extra-large earcups together, and a new suspension system helps better distribute the weight. The leather lining hugs the crown of your head, while the strong frame holds the headphones firmly in place. And plush, sculpted leather ear pads conform to your head and properly position the drivers in relation to your ears.
The MM-500s in action
Manny's home base is the legendary Larrabee Studios in North Hollywood, where he's worked on seminal records from Alicia Keys, Taylor Swift, Jon Batiste, and Rihanna, among endless other artists. (He's currently mixing new albums for The 1975 and Paramore.) His room — Studio 2 — is packed with cutting-edge digital gear, classic analog mixing consoles, and a plethora of hyper-calibrated monitor speakers. So, the fact that he grabs for these headphones as part of his workflow says a lot.
"For mixing, when you have [near-field] speakers in front of you, it's really hard to tell the width," he told me. But with the oversized MM-500 headphones, he finds he gets more depth and better-defined space — helpful when working on delay trails and reverb. "And I can actually EQ percussion," Manny added, "I can dial in the the 808s, kicks, and snares...very few headphones let me do that with confidence."
The MM-500s have helped Manny deliver Grammy award-winning results in Larrabee studio and beyond.
Efficient and versatile with accurate, consistent sound
But it's how these headphones perform away from Larrabee studios that excites Manny the most. The MM-500's streamlined diaphragms and voice coils make them efficient enough to work with a pro audio interface. And on the go, you can drive them easily with a smaller headphone amp, whether you're creating or enjoying music.
An on-the-go origin story
In fact, when Manny realized the prototype was ready for prime time, he was actually connected directly to his laptop — no separate amp, merely an adapter — mixing a song on Pro Tools. He was far from the dimly lit solitude, tactile faders, and familiar routine at Larrabee, where he can more naturally tap into a song's mood or vibe.
But on deadline, he finished the mix at his hotel room desk using the MM-500s. That song went on to win him another Grammy.
My hands-on experience: unboxing
The MM-500 unboxing experience is all Audeze. Which is to say it feels super-special. I found the headphones inside of a sturdy, latching hard storage case, nestled in thick foam. Alongside them was a heavy-duty braided cable with a 1/4" headphone plug. Audeze says the braided design helps with durability and preventing noise from EMI and RFI interference. I found it pleasant to hold, and a nice design touch to further enhance the high-end feel.
Speaking of design touches, I immediately noticed a little extra sparkle to the familiar out-facing grilles with the Audeze "A" pattern. Manny's name and initials are also tastefully placed on the earcups and headband. These headphones have an attractive look, at once functional and downright cool.
Fit, feel, and first impressions
As noted, these headphones are lighter than most Audeze headphones I've tried in the past. Still, they are certainly bigger and heavier than the average headphones. But like the new Audeze flagship LCD-5s, these headphones fit snugly and securely without feeling like they grip too much. This helps distribute the weight well and keeps them from slipping around or drooping, so I felt comfortable wearing them for whole work shifts.
I used them for listening to music rather than creating it, but the well-balanced, linear tuning worked well for that, too. I enjoyed trying out different headphone amps and hearing these headphones — almost chameleon-like — taking on their characteristics. The MM-500s adapted well to the warm charm of my vintage tube amp and also handled the more forceful slam of the iFi ZEN CAN.
Strong vocal presentation
Another trait these headphones share with the LCD-5s is their midrange presence. I recently named the LCD-5s the "best audiophile headphones for vocals," and while Audeze uses an even thinner, higher grade film diaphragm for that headphone, I found the MM-500s get you 95% of the way there. Vocals come across with plenty of nuance and bite and seem to sit in just the right place.
Manny's mixes are known for there potent vocals, so one great example is the Pusha T album he worked on earlier this year, It's Almost Dry. Push has a very precise delivery that lends eloquence and authority to his rhymes — but can invite harsh sibilance in lesser hands (and 'phones). Streaming Qobuz through these headphones in high-res, the pronunciation came through clearly but never sounded grating or sharp.
Switching gears a bit, I played the Amanda Shires album, Take it like a Man. Her charming twang came through dead center as she harmonized with soulful duet partners like Maren Morris and Brittney Spencer. It added heft to the already poignant lyrics and timely ruminations on household dynamics.
"Emotion with space"
In other headphone reviews, I've talked about how much I enjoy Manny's hypnotic Dolby Atmos Music mix of the Kendrick Lamar track "Mother I Sober." Manny, who's concerned above all with how a track feels, told me, "For stereo mixes, it's always been an evolution of how we 'glue' sounds together to make emotion."
He says he and his fellow mixers and artists are still trying to figure out how to make emotion with the extra space Dolby Atmos gives them. Well, through the Audeze MM-500s, the stereo version of this song provided a visceral, soaring, and three-dimensional experience that rivaled the Atmos mix.
Thundercat's bone-deep bass seemed to pulse through my whole body, giving way to Kendrick's introspective whisper. It sounded haunting, secretive, and positioned right in front of me. Then chamber-esque piano entered from the right, before the wave of Beth Gibbons' vocals crashed over my head.
I sat there, taken back — all over again — by a song I'd heard countless times since its release. And I could only think of Manny working on all those moving parts, getting the mix just right. Imagine that first time he heard the final product through these MM-500 headphones — the way he knew the song should sound.
- Featured in our article: Best planar magnetic headphones for 2023
- studio headphones designed in collaboration with famed professional mixer Manny Marroquin
- tuned for accuracy and a linear frequency response
- open-back design allows air to move more freely for spacious, transparent sound
- 20% lighter than previous-generation Audeze studio headphones
- designed and assembled in Audeze's Southern California headquarters
- planar magnetic drivers offer low distortion, enhanced dynamics, and detailed sound
- Fluxor™ magnet array for precise and accurate music reproduction
- Fazor driver technology offers improved phase response, three-dimensional imaging, and extended frequency response
- require less powerful amplification than typical planar magnetic headphones
- a separate headphone amplifier will produce optimum sound quality
- flexible steel headband with split-band suspension system for easy fit and comfort
- leather lining cradles the top of your head
- lightweight machined aluminum earcups with thick, plush leather earpads
- sturdy headband sliders for proper adjustment
- snug, secure fit keeps headphones in place during long sessions
General info and accessories:
- braided oxygen-free cable with a 1/4" plug
- balanced 4-pin mini XLR connectors for each earcup
- hard storage case
- frequency response: 5-50,000 Hz
- sensitivity: 100 dB
- impedance: 18 ohms
- weight: 17.4 oz.
- warranty: 3 years (planar drivers), 1 year (earpads, enclosure, headband, and cable)
- MFR # 100-MM-1030-01
- Large, yet lightweight
- Snug fit
- Good for focused listening
What's in the box:
- Over-ear headphones (black)
- 8' Braided audio cable with straight 1/4" plug
- Cloth storage pouch
- Hard storage case (black)
- Key for storage case
- Certificate of Authenticity
- Plastic card with User Guide and Driver URL
Customer reviews for Audeze MM-500 (Manny Marroquin Series)
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More details on the Audeze MM-500 (Manny Marroquin Series)
Features & specs
|Earcup Width x Height||3.935" x 3.935"|
|Mic For Taking Calls||No|
|Voice Assistant Access|
|Frequency Response||5-50k Hz|
|Parts Warranty||1 Year (3 Yrs drivers)|
|Labor Warranty||1 Year (3 Yrs drivers)|
Overview: The Audeze MM-500 (100-MM-1030-01) is designed for unparalleled sound quality, whether you're in the recording studio or your living room. These audiophile planar magnetic headphones were developed in collaboration with Manny Marroquin, an award-winning producer and mixer. The plush leather ear cushions and soft leather head strap are so comfortable, you can wear them for hours without fatigue. The hand-crafted MM-500s are constructed with a machined aluminum frame, adjustable spring steel headband, and aluminum yoke posts that will provide years of reliable performance. The open-back headphones come with an 8' braided cable, a soft cloth pouch, and a heavy duty hard travel case.
Manny Marroquin: Manny Marroquin is a Grammy Award-winning recording engineer, and Audeze's Head of Professional Products. He has applied his years of expertise into helping Audeze create the MM series of headphones for the professional recording studio. Mixing recordings using headphones require durable materials and construction that can withstand daily use, as well as all-day comfort. The MM Series brings studio-quality sound and consistent performance to every listening experience. A pre-production version of the MM-500 was used by Marroquin to mix Kendrick Lamar's #1 album "Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers" in early 2022.
Drivers: The 90mm (3.54") planar magnetic drivers on the MM-500 feature strong Fluxor™ magnet arrays and low-profile Fazor™ waveguides extend the frequency response out to 50,000 Hz. The ultra-thin Uniforce™ diaphagms move between the magnet arrays to create ample air movement for the powerful bass response Audeze headphones are known for. The uniform magnetic force provides better controls the movement of the diaphragm, which results in lower distortion and higher resolution.
Ear Pads: The earpads are made of supple, premium leather for ultimate comfort and lower fatigue during long mixing and listening sessions. The scuplted earpads are internally sloped to reduce interior reflections and unwanted resonances. The earcup is ergonomically designed to place the drivers in the optimal position for the best sound quality.
Cable: The MM-500 comes with a flexible 8-foot braided cable that remains tangle-free and resistant to transfer noise. The cable has two 4-pin TA4F mini-XLR connectors for connecting to the left and right earcups, and a straight 1/4" (6.3mm) plug that is compatible with virtually all audio consoles and interfaces.
- Frequency Response: 5Hz to 50kHz
- Transducer Size: 90mm
- Impedance: 18 ohms
- Sensitivity: 100dB /1mW (at Drum Reference Point)
- Maximum Power Handling: 5W
- Recommended Power Level: >250mW
- Minimum Power Requirement: >100mW
- Maximum SPL: >130dB
- THD: <0.1% @100dB SPL, 1kHz
- Ear Cup Dimensions:
- External: Diameter 3.935" Depth 2.282"
- Internal: Width 1.76" Height 2.601" Depth 1.16"
- Weight: 21.05 ounces