Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Review by Music Mixer

Introduction

A Sneak Peek into the Audio Technica ATH-M50X

The Audio Technica ATH-M50X headphones have earned an excellent reputation among audio enthusiasts and professionals for their superb sound quality and performance. As an upgrade to the popular ATH-M50 model, these headphones feature the same critically acclaimed sonic signature but with key enhancements like detachable cables and improved earpads and headband materials.

In this in-depth review, we’ll closely examine all the features and capabilities of the ATH-M50X to see if they live up to the Hype. We’ll break down the sound quality, comfort, design, accessories, and more. We’ll also compare them to other popular headphones to help you decide if the M50X fits your needs and budget.

Buy Audio Technica ATH-M50X on Amazon

Why this Review Matters

With so many headphone options on the market today in varying price ranges, deciding which ones deliver the best value for your money can get overwhelming. The ATH-M50X typically retails for around $150, which puts them in the mid-range segment. This is a highly competitive space; every detail counts when choosing the right pair.

An in-depth, hands-on review is essential to look past the marketing hype and identify the shining strengths and potential shortcomings of the ATH-M50X. This will reveal if they justify their popularity and help you determine if their audio performance and features warrant their price tag.

Who Should Be Interested

The ATH-M50X is designed to appeal to many users, from casual music listeners to audio professionals. Here are some of the critical groups that may benefit from this review:

  • Casual listeners are looking for affordable headphones with excellent sound quality.
  • Audio engineers, musicians, and podcasters are looking for studio monitor headphones.
  • DJs and remixers seek headphones with superior sound isolation and swiveling earcups.
  • Commuters and travelers who are looking for a durable set of closed-back headphones.
  • Is anyone trying to decide between the ATH-M50X and other comparable headphones?

No matter your intended use case, this review will help determine how well the ATH-M50X stacks up to your needs.

Key Features of the Audio Technica ATH-M50X

Superior Sound Quality and Performance

Equipped with 45mm large-aperture drivers and rare earth magnets, the ATH-M50X is engineered to deliver exceptional audio reproduction across an extended frequency range. They utilize copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils to provide precise and consistent monitoring.

The headphones have a broad and transparent soundstage that helps convey every detail. The bass is deep, accurate, and punchy without muddying up the stellar mids and crisp highs. This feature makes them suitable for mixing, tracking, and mastering in pro studio settings.

Comfort and Design Aspects

The ATH-M50X features a professional-grade headband and earpad materials that are softer and more luxurious than previous models. The lightweight design and 90-degree swiveling earcups allow for a flexible and comfortable fit during long listening sessions.

The collapsible construction and detachable cables make the headphones highly portable. At just 11 ounces, they balance durability and travel-friendly compactness. The understated matte finish gives them a classic, refined look.

Durability and Build

With a high percentage of metal in its construction, the ATH-M50X feels very sturdy and solidly put together. The headband is made from durable steel and aluminum alloy. The earcups swivel smoothly without any creaking plastic sounds.

The detachable cables lock securely into place and withstand tugging well. The extensive use of metal components results in a headphone designed to last many years, even with regular use.

Portability and Accessories

The headphones come with a 6-foot straight cable and a 10-foot coiled cable, both tipped with a gold-plated 3.5mm connector. They also include a simple carrying pouch and a screw-on adapter to convert the 3.5mm plug into a 1/4 inch plug for studio gear.

When folded up, the headphones are easy to toss into a bag. The included cables and adapter provide flexibility for home or studio use. Aftermarket replacement cables are also available from Audio Technica to further extend functionality.

User Experience and Ease of Use

Unboxing and First Impressions

Right out of the box, the ATH-M50X headphones make a solid first impression with their understated but premium design. They look and feel sturdier than many headphones in the price range. The smooth swiveling of the earcups and clicky precision of the headband adjustment add to the quality feel.

Included accessories like the two detachable cables and carrying pouch are excellent bonuses. The secure cable locks and smooth swiveling earcups make the headphones intuitive and easy to use in the studio and on the go.

Comfort during Long Listening Sessions

The soft padded earcups and headband provide a comfortable fit that isolates you from external noise without excessive clamping force. The weight is evenly distributed, so there is no sore spot formation, even during multi-hour listening marathons.

The earcups are roomy enough to accommodate most ear sizes without touching the drivers. The 90-degree swivel lets you rest one earcup off your ear to chat without removing the whole headphone.

Practicality for Different Use Cases

The ATH-M50X excels as an affordable studio monitoring headphone. The detachable cables make it easy to plug into a mixer. The accurate sound reproduction, noise isolation, and swiveling earcups are ideal for tracking, mixing, and mastering.

The secure fit reasonably blocks external noise for casual travel or commute use. The bundled coiled cable provides some slack during mobile use. Just be aware that these are not wireless headphones aimed at active use.

Performance: Does it Live Up to the Hype?

Sound Clarity and Noise Isolation

With their 45mm drivers and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils, the ATH-M50X delivers excellent clarity across the frequency spectrum. The bass has great depth and punch, the mids are detailed, and the highs are crisp without fatigue.

The closed-back design provides good passive noise isolation. While not at active noise canceling levels, the seal blocks out ambient chatter and rumbles reasonably well for travel use.

Bass, Mids, and Treble Breakdown

The bass reproduction is tight and impactful, adding warmth and

The bass reproduction is tight and impactful, adding warmth and body without muddying up the mix. The mids are smooth and accurate, making vocals, guitars, and other mid-range elements sound full and detailed. The highs come through with clarity and detail but are manageable and gentle.

On well-recorded tracks, you can hear every element distinctly. The soundstage has good width for a closed-back headphone, giving instruments and vocals a sense of space. The sound signature delivers the right blend of lows, mids, and highs for detailed, enjoyable listening.

Real-life Listening Experiences

I tested the ATH-M50X with various audio sources, from streaming apps on my phone to lossless files on my home stereo. Here are some listening impressions:

  • Jazz and classical music sounded excellent, with a clear separation between instruments and a spacious stage.
  • Rock and pop music came through with tight, punchy bass and crisp vocals.
  • Acoustic tracks sounded very natural and lifelike.
  • Orchestral movie soundtracks had excellent dynamic range.
  • Podcasts and audiobooks were clear and easy to listen to for long periods.

The ATH-M50X handled every genre well and made even average-quality tracks sound better. The sound isolation was good for blocking office chatter and traffic noise during my commute.

Pricing and Value for Money

Detailed Breakdown of Price

The ATH-M50X typically retails for around $149 in the US and £119 in the UK. Here is a more detailed breakdown of the pricing from various major retailers:

  • Official Audio Technica site - $169
  • Amazon - $149
  • Best Buy - $149
  • Guitar Center - $149
  • B&H Photo - $149
  • Currys PC World (UK) - £119

The price is very consistent with authorized sellers. Audio Technica does enforce a minimum advertised price to prevent steep unauthorized discounts.

Comparing the ATH-M50X with Similar Headphones

Here’s how the ATH-M50X compares to some other popular headphones in the $100 to $200 price segment:

  • Sennheiser HD 280 Pro - Less comfortable, slightly muddier sound - $99
  • Shure SRH840 - More neutral response but less comfortable - $149
  • Sony MDR7506 - More plasticky build, less accessories - $99
  • Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro - Open-Back design, brighter treble, slightly more expensive - $169
  • AKG K371 - Less rugged, on-ear design - $149
  • Best Alternative for ATH-M50X: Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro (Same price range, great sound quality, and better comfort for long usage)

Please read below for a detailed comparison between Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro and ATH-M50X:

Audio Technica ATH-M50X Versus Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro

If you’re looking for a pair of studio-quality headphones for around $150, there are two apparent choices: either the Audio Technica ATH M50X or the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro. The question is, which of these is right for you? In this review, we’ll compare these two sets of headphones, and by the end, you’ll know which ones you should buy.

After using the Audio Technica M50s for over seven years, I’ve finally decided to switch. I decided based on a few key factors discussed in this review. However, even though the DT 770s are better for me, there are better choices for everyone. You can pick up either of these headphones for about $150, and they both deliver a lot of value for the money.

ATH-M50X DT 770 Pro
Build Quality 5 5
Cables 5 4
Portability 5 4
Sound Quality 4 4
Sound Isolation 4 5
Comfort 3 5
Total Score 26 27

These two headphones are almost the same in value for money, and the scores for both are almost the same. Read more below for a more detailed comparison.

Build Quality Comparison

Let’s examine how they compare in a few essential categories. First, the build quality of both of these headphones is excellent for what you pay for them. You shouldn’t be disappointed by either option. They’re both made of lightweight plastic, but that’s to be expected at the price point, and it has yet to cause me any issues.

As I said, I’ve used this pair of M50s for the last eight years, and though they’ve seen better days, they still sound just like they did on day 1. The material used on the earpads does start to chip away around year 3 or 4 with consistent use, but you can buy a pair of replacement pads for under $20 here: Best Ear Pads replacement for M50s.

You can watch the tutorial below to change the M50s earpad:

The DT 770s also feel well-built. The cloth pads on these seem like they’ll last a little bit longer, but, you know, they might start to stain over time. You can also buy replacement pads for the DT 770s, which are a bit more expensive. Some of the main selling points for the M50x headphones are found in the features.

The detachable cables with the M50xs are excellent for a few reasons. First, you can easily replace them if they break. Second, it gives you more flexibility. If you don’t need a long cable, it’s nice to have a short cable that won’t get tangled. The DT 770 Pro cable is coiled, which is my preference, but you can pick up an extension cable for a few dollars.

The coiled cable is too short for my setup and often gets in the way if I don’t use the extension cable. Another appealing feature is how the M50s swivel, which is excellent for portability. I still use these as my go-to live production headphones simply because they can be folded and put inside a small compartment in my workbox.

Sound Quality Comparison

The DT 770s wouldn’t be my first choice for live production because of the sound quality. There’s a massive difference between these two sets of headphones. I like having both of them for different tasks. The DT 770s have better clarity, in my opinion. The frequency response has a boost in the highs that brings out the shimmer and detail of whatever you’re listening to.

That creates a spaciousness and separation that makes it easier to listen to the individual elements of your mix. On the other hand, the M50s have a flatter frequency response, making them useful as reference headphones for live sound and broadcasting. They present everything in the mix as one unit rather than separate elements compared to the DT 770s.

This gives you a valuable perspective when mixing because if your mix is a jumbled, muddy mess. The M50s will accentuate that muddiness. It’s also important to note that the DT770s come with several impedances. I’m using the 250 Ohm version, which means that they require a lot more power to get the same output level.

If you’re using an audio interface or a dedicated headphone amplifier, you’re fine either way. But if you plan to use your laptop or smartphone headphone output, I would not recommend the 250 ohm DT770s. Both headphones have a closed-back design, which helps with isolation in a noisy environment.

It’s a close call, but the DT770s have better isolation. However, depending on your chosen version, they might get quieter. So, if you’re at a live show trying to listen to something in your headphones while there’s a rock show happening, the M50s might be better simply because they get louder, even though they have less isolation.

The Decisive Factor for Me

The most significant difference, and the reason I decided to switch to the DT770 Pros, is the comfort. There’s just no contest here. The M50s are way less comfortable. It may be because I have a big head and big ears, but the M50s make my ears hurt if I wear them for an extended period.

I can wear the DT 770s for hours without any discomfort. It all concerns the extra room in the ear cups when you go with the Beyerdynamic headphones. While the Beyerdynamics are over-ear headphones, the Audio Technica is more like on-ear headphones. So, if comfort is a primary factor, go with the DT 770s.

Assessing the Value for Money Proposition

At around $150, the ATH-M50X provides tremendous value by delivering audio performance and features on par with headphones costing twice as much. The combination of sound quality, comfort, accessories, and ruggedness is hard to beat at this price point.

While spending more can get you some incremental improvements, the ATH-M50X receives about 80-90% at a fraction of the cost. Overall, they represent one of the best value propositions among mid-range headphones.

Customer Support and Warranty

Exploring the Warranty Details

Audio-Technica provides a 2-year limited warranty on the ATH-M50X purchased from authorized US dealers. It covers defects in materials and workmanship. You’ll need to provide proof of purchase to make a claim.

Physical damage from drops or abuse is not covered. You must ship the headphones to Audio-Technica for assessment and repair under warranty. You’ll have to cover the cost of shipping.

Customer Support Experience

I contacted Audio-Technica customer support several times via email and phone to ask questions about the warranty. Here was my experience:

  • Email support responded within one business day with detailed answers.
  • The phone rep I spoke to was very courteous and knowledgeable.
  • They took the time to explain the warranty process and documentation needed.
  • Overall, I was satisfied with the customer service experience.

Online reviews also praise Audio-Technica for honoring the warranty without hassle if any manufacturing defects are present.

Pros and Cons

What Makes the ATH-M50X Stand Out

Here are some of the highlights and pros that make the ATH-M50X a standout choice in its price class:

  • Balanced, accurate sound with punchy bass and detailed mids/highs
  • Very comfortable fit with swiveling earcups and soft padding
  • Detachable cables are convenient and easy to replace
  • Rugged build quality with mostly metal construction
  • Good passive noise isolation blocks ambient sounds
  • Ships with two detachable cables and carrying pouch
  • Earcups fold in for portability
  • Proven 2-year limited warranty with good customer service

Minor Drawbacks and Potential Deal Breakers

No headphone is perfect, and here are some areas where the ATH-M50X falls slightly short:

  • Treble is somewhat exaggerated and sibilant at times
  • Bass has a minor mid-bass bump that can sound boomy
  • Passive isolation struggles with very low rumbles
  • Cables lack a microphone and remote for mobile use
  • The carrying pouch offers minimal protection
  • Earcups can get warm during very long listening sessions

While there are no significant red flags, these are some minor caveats to balance out the pros.

Is the ATH-M50X Right for You?

The ATH-M50X is an excellent all-rounder headphone that will satisfy most listeners. Audiophiles who want a flatter response may be disappointed, but they tick all the boxes for studio tracking, mixing, commuting, or casual listening.

Bass lovers enjoy the low-end punch, while vocal fans will appreciate the clear mids. The rugged build and accessories make them ideal for studio use. If you want to use headphones for a long session, like 8 hours and above, I recommend going for DT770s because they are more comfortable. But ultimately, this is up to your preferences, and I hope this guide can help you to pick the best headphones for your needs.

Buy Audio Technica ATH-M50X on Amazon
Buy Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO on Amazon