- Good build quality
- Reasonable price
- Excellent low-mid performance
- Proprietary cables
- Noise isolation could be better
- No wireless option
Running the rule over the Audio Technica ATH-M50x headphones, and seeing if all the hype is justified, checking out the build, the quality, the performance and the price.
Introducing the Audio Technica ATH-M50x
These headphones are the little brother of the immensely successful ATH-M50. Those acclaimed headphones are much beloved by the pros and are a studio engineer, DJ, and audio reviewer staple. These are a more consumer-friendly model, at a distinctly high street price point. At nearly half the price of their big brother, they should be well within reach of those serious about their listening. But they don’t stray too far from their studio pro roots, in appearance or performance.
What Do You Get For Your Money?
Opening the box, we find 3 cables. A 3-meter, straight cable, a 1.5-meter straight cable, and a 3-meter coiled cable, all of them have 1/8” termination. There’s also a ¼” screw on adapter, the headphones themselves, and a protective carrying pouch.
Design and features
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x specs are pleasing. They’re folding, round the ear headphones, good and comfy with plenty of padding. There’s plenty of room for your ears here. One drawback here is that they can get a little bit warm after extended use, but an hour or so should be no problem, comfort-wise. The headband grips the head quite firmly; you don’t get that feeling that they could be one head shake away from falling right off your head that some of the more style-oriented cans can give you. The folding means they’re easily transportable.
These cans have a good, chunky design. They’re heavy on the plastic, but it’s a good, durable kind. They reflect the Audio Technica ATH-M50x’s roots as a pro studio headphone, where appearances don’t matter so much. There’s not a lot of shiny airbrushed metal here. These headphones are built to be worn, not to be looked at. You get the feeling they can take a lot of punishment. That said, they don’t look bad. The band doesn’t stick out too far from the head, and neither do the cans. The central headband is available in a variety of colors, which is a nice touch, there’s good range and variety. But if you want to make the high level of plastic in the construction less obvious, best to stick with the black.
This is a solid piece of kit. The cables have a twist and lock mechanism that insures against them falling out, which is handy, but has the unfortunate effect of meaning you can only use the cables that come in the box. Given that three are provided though, that is highly unlikely to be too much of an obstacle to your listening pleasure. And even if you do manage somehow to burn your way through all of them you can always buy replacements. Some may complain that there’s no wireless alternative, but that seems like looking for problems, wireless isn’t everything.
They weigh in at a pretty light 285g. Enough that you know they’re there, but they’re not going to break your neck. The headband spreads the weight evenly across the head. Overall they’re a comfortable headphone to wear.
The folding is where the build quality is most evident. It’s a smooth and fluid motion folding and unfolding the cans. There isn’t any looseness or rattling, just a pleasing and satisfying consistency. It just oozes quality, you feel you’re in safe hands here. Other headphones can feel awkward here. You also have the option to turn each can through 180 degrees, meaning you can listen through one ear in isolation.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x label themselves as a “professional monitor headphone” which is a bold claim; do they live up to it? Well, almost. They come pretty close to justifying the label they’ve given themselves. They’re high quality, with a couple of only minor issues.
These headphones offer a highly enjoyable listen. They show a good performance, strong in the midrange, and the treble has some punch even when the volume’s been cranked up, though it could do with a little more clarity at the top end. These are a good all-round performer, suitable for a variety of styles of music. As over-ear headphones they’ll offer you a superior listening experience, with the music sounding as close to as it should as you’ll get at this price. The bass can feel a little loose, but it’s still got plenty of power. It can almost be a little bass-heavy at times. They may not be the headphones for heavy bass fans, lacking a little tightness at the lowest end, but they still deliver a powerful kick.
Tonality is clear on the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, and instruments and vocals are easily separated and picked out within the overall sound stage. These are good headphones for listening to singers who can really pack a punch. Aretha Franklin’s never sounded better. Complex, layered instrumental works are well treated by these headphones as well. There’s an unusually high degree of clarity to the sound which can do the intricate nature of someone like Radiohead justice. Overall the tone is warm.
One slight problem is that noise isolation is only average, with over-ear cans like these you’d expect the isolation to be a bit more effective than it is. There’s no active noise-cancellation onboard either. There’s also a little bit of sound leakage towards the treble end, something to bear in mind if you’re going to be listening around other people.
Should I get them?
Depends on what you want from your headphones. These Audio-Technica ATH-M50x professional headphoones aren’t designed for those who want to pose, and they’re too bulky for the gym. Given the issues with the warmth around the ears, these are definitely not the headphones you want to take if you’re going for a run. But if you want a good quality headphone, and an immersive audio experience, then by all means go and find an ATH-M50x deal. You won’t be able to find a better, more effective pair of headphones on the market at this price. But if you’re a committed music fan, you want some headphones that will do your tunes justice and you have a little money to spare, then these headphones are probably the ones for you.
With the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x price is one of the most appealing aspects. It’s impossible to find another set of headphones with this performance for under £130 or $150 on Amazon.com (link to the product listing is at the top of this page)
It’s unusual to find sound of this quality at this price range. The ATH-M50x offer good, no nonsense performance at an excellent, no-nonsense price.
It may seem like a lot for a pair of headphones to the casual listener. But believe me, the step up in quality between these and more standard models has to be heard to be believed. Think of them as being an investment for your ears. These are cans that are just there to get the job done with a minimum of fuss. Buy these and feel like a pro.