Review

Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Review

by April 20, 2014
Overview
Price

$169-200

Product dimensions

11.4 x 10 x 4.1 inches

Weight

2.1 pounds

Item model number

ATH-M50x

Waterproof

No

Noise cancelling

No

Features

Critically acclaimed sonic performance praised by top audio engineers and pro audio reviewers.
Proprietary 45 mm large-aperture drivers with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils.
Exceptional clarity throughout an extended frequency range, with deep, accurate bass response.
Circumaural design contours around the ears for excellent sound isolation in loud environments.
90 Degree swiveling earcups for easy, one-ear monitoring,
Detachable cable.

Positives

Great looking
Great build quality
Excellent sound
Long cords provided

Negatives

Cord is proprietary
Soundstage is lacking

Rating
Our Rating
User Rating
Rate Here
Sound Quality
9.2
8.0
Bass
9.0
12.9
Midrange
8.8
16.1
Highs
8.7
477.5
Durability / Build Quality
9.3
8.3
Value
9.5
8.5
Design
9.4
8.3
Bottom Line

You can easily see why these headphones are rated so highly. The sound, the looks, and the build quality all combine to make an awesome package. Oh, and they're under $200 dollars too.

9.3
Our Rating
77.1
User Rating
1448 ratings
You have rated this

Buy now from Amazon.com (~$160)

The Audio Technica ATH M50xBL  is the latest model of the M50 line of headphones. You may ask the question what is the difference between the XBL edition of the headphones compared to the other M50x’s. The BL simply stands for blue.   The M50’s are critically acclaimed and also a close to unanimous choice of best headphones within its price range.The M50xBL headphones were released at the end of March in 2014. They retain the same great qualities that kept the headphones  a top seller for so many years. Let’s take a look at the box

m50X1

What’s In The Box?

The box that it comes in is large, and there is no other way to put it. There is a large picture of the headphones on the front with the model number. On the back it has the highlights and features. Once we crack the seal and pull off the Audio-Technica labeled cardboard box we have the headphones.Under the headphones we have the cables. Just something to note: each cable is made specifically to work with Audio-Technicas, so just a standard aux cable will not work with these headphones.

Inside we have the following:

  • Protective carrying pouch

  • 6.3 mm (1/4″) screw-on adapter

  • 3 meter straight cable w/ 1/8″ termination

  • 1.2 meter straight cable w/1/8″ termination

  • 3 meter coiled cable with 1/8″ termination

m50x2

Design

The M50’s are around-the-ear, closed back, folding, isolation headphones. It comes with the option of a 2 straight cords or a coiled cord.  Within the package you also have a Naugahyde sack to keep it everything together when traveling. The cord is wrapped in thick shielding and is extremely smooth to the touch.

The color scheme is extremely attractive, bold, and in your face. For some reason, I feel like these are the Avengers edition of headphones.  From the looks of it, Audio Technica got the memo that bold colors are in for headphones. I’m not sure if we’ll see a Lime Green version of the headphones, but this color and the black and white ones are tastefully done.

Everything in regards to the headphones match. The colors on all of the parts of the headphones all follow the blue and coppe rcolor scheme. Even the marking on the headphone to show where the cord is located has an accent of the copper color to show you where it belongs. The little things like this really shows how well thought out these headphones are.

m50x3

Build Quality

Audio-Technica really did not pull any punches with the m50’s construction, the headphones are solid and sturdy.. You don’t hear any squeaks or otherwise unnecessary sounds when opening and closing the headphones.  You get a consistent experience each time you pull them out. Collapsing and expanding the headphones are done in one smooth motion. Other headphones of this style sometimes has a clunkiness to them. Every design element was well thought out and in place, it’s impressive to see, but even better to feel.

The cups on the ear are plush, buttery soft leather, that gently rests around your ears. The band on top has a cushion that may mess up your hair, but keeps the listening experience enjoyable.  the earpieces both flip over 180º so you can hear out of one ear independently and, each yoke also pivots 90º so each earpiece can be folded to lie flat in a bag. These are monitor headphones, which are designed to be worn for long use. Since the headphones do not clasp your ear, but rather sit around the ear, these headphones are delightful to wear. I wouldn’t say they feel weightless, but they are light enough at 10 oz where weight is not an issue.  They seal your ear form most of the outside noise, and also does a great job at remaining comfortable after hours of use. The padding on the ears are large, and I’ve noticed sometimes air would get trapped between my ear and the pads. This is nothing that a minor adjustment can’t fix. These also could get a bit hot when walking around. There is a bit of ventilation that helps with this, but overall these are designed for a sedative listening experience.

Regardless of the two minor cons that I mentioned, these are a great feeling and well constructed headphones.

Performance

The M50’s are monitor headphones, which gives the best representation of true sound possible. They will provide you with accurate tones and vocals. Sometimes this is referred to as transparent sound, but flat is technically the correct term for this sound. During these tests I was using these headphones plugged directly a computer without any additional amps, and I listened to a mix of FLAC and also MP3’s.

The M50’s peaks in its response at about  9,000 Hz, which sound great for many kinds of music, when it comes to classical music  is where you really hear the highs come into play. When the strings kick it up a notch and then you can appreciate the sound that these headphones can produce.  Listening to a vocalist like Jennifer Hudson who can belt out the high tones is a way to demonstrate the great sound of these headphones. Some headphones would create a sharp sound at higher levels, but the M50’s create a smooth tone that is easy on the ears no matter the level. The treble at higher levels finds a way to sneak out of your headphones and allows others within a few feet to hear what you are listening to. This is something that should be mentioned so you are mindful when listening in close quarters.

The soundstage is lacking on these headphones.There is some separation between instruments, but nothing to be truly excited about.

The bass response is always a subjective topic. The bass peaks at 33 Hz, and it goes down to 10 hz which is inaudible to the human ear. There are times that I feel the bass is a bit loose. Compared to headphones that are known for their bass, it just does not have a tight kick. Not saying the experience is bad, by any means, Just you do not have that tight bass feeling. Listening to music that has quick and precise bass thumps is where they can come into play. Listening to One Republic’s Counting Stars is a great example, this song has quick bass hits during the chorus. .

The bass does hit the lows better than most headphones within this price range.. On Mobb Deep’s shook ones PTII – the deep bass comes in within a few measures is a great example. The bass rumbles, and you can truly feel the sound. It’s not overpowering nor jarring. Just enough to really feel it, and that brings attention to the great sound. Some may argue that the lows sounds loose, but I would suggest that its not extremely tight, not necessarily loose on the low end.

m50x4

Conclusion

I can honestly see why these headphones are rated so highly. The style, comfort, and overall great sound is what makes these headphones a great buy. During my time with these headphones, I actually purchased some for myself. I had let several people wear the headphones, and I never heard one negative thing in regards to the comfort or the sound. Price considering, these are the king of over the ear headphones. There is nothing within this price range at sub $200 that even comes close.

 

Buy now from Amazon.com (~$160)

 

  • Darryl

    Hi there. I would like you to elaborate on being “Plugged directly into a computer without additional amps…”. The DAC and Op-Amps are pretty important for sound-quality, so were you using regular Realtek onboard sound or a good soundcard? That plays a huge role in soundstage as well.

    Thanks beforehand for any replies.

  • Pitahson

    I have the V-Moda M80 Shadow headphones and I’d love so see how that stacks up vs this guy. Btw, the site looks sleek and well designed!

  • Nipun

    Wonderful review and I like the way u specify everything and even things in the box
    I would really like to win your “giveaway” and get to try them myself

  • Athos

    Just bought the M50S and I’m lovin it.
    Kevin, just a thing, I can rate how many times I want and it keep counting, even without refreshing the site. I think you have to change that for 1 vote each guy.
    Congrats for the site, it’s very nice!

  • Nikoletta Farkas

    It would be great to win this,
    Great review.

  • sincityjohn44

    will these be ok for gym use? earbuds really hurt my ears unfortunately.

    • Andrian Hendrawan

      This could be a little heavy if you use this for gym. Better find ‘over ear’ type.

  • Kukaneswaran Selva Rajoo

    Hi Kris, Good luck on your new YouTube page Sound Guys and I’ve seen some videos of your and Kudos for you effort 🙂 Well when it comes to review regarding audio I would like to watch reviews on Audio Gadgets (Headset, Earphones, Speakers). Besides that, I would like to get review on the sound quality of mobile devices too. Looking at your setup behind, you have a great collection of guitars too and you can make some reviews on your guitar and their accessories or even guitar lessons. You can also give several tips on how to get the best of listening to music using software or tuning equaliser settings and etc. Lastly, sorry if my requests were unprofessional or too mainstream because I’m not much of an expert in Audio tech and am trying to gain knowledge in this field. GOOD LUCK and hope to win this Giveaway .

  • FireUrEngine

    Nice review I am considering buying.

  • Peter Allen

    Well I purchased a set of m50xbl and am quite disappointed. They sound great but are so tight and uncomfortable that I can only wear them for about an hour before the pain from the tight fit gets too much. I spoke to support and they seemed to think you can open them out a bit by bending the head band. I tried that to no avail. The band appears to be spring steel and won’t stay open. Overall not very happy with the purchase. Open to any ideas on how to make them feel less tight.

    • Marvin

      I feel exactly the same way! Even though I can wear them for about 2 hours before it starts to hurt. Till the point of pain the headphones are amazing, but after that they are just a disappointment…

      • Nathaniel Pillar

        I found them uncomfortable for the first few days, but grew comfortable with them. Either they stretched, or I got used to them, or both.

        • Marvin

          I used them for more than half a year now and they are still a pain after a few hours

          • Nathaniel Pillar

            Well I suppose I typically don’t use them longer than 2 hours.
            Maybe I have a small head?

          • Eryk

            maybe just try softer and thicker pads

    • FormerHighEndAudioSalesman

      I have a large head, yet the ATH M50X’s are among the most comfortable which I have worn. I often leave them on after the music stops playing, but do not even realise that I am still wearing them. And these headphones are true audiophile quality. Their detail and accuracy is amazingly good, as in 90% as good as models costing 10 times as much. Plus, they are 38 ohms, so you do not need a headphone amp to use them with your receiver.

  • Damius

    I would like to use them for 1. Music (computer) 2. Movies (computer) and 3. iPod. Are they a good choice? Also, I wonder about durability (under the sun for example, sweating…) and noise cancelling.

  • I’m very gald to see this so detailed and powerful article about the ath-m50x.It’s a very nice introduction and I believe many people can benefit from it.Well.if anybody want to konw more about the m50s . ath-m50 I think it’s worth reading

  • Peter

    Kevin,
    That is a brilliant review, it answered every question I had, it highlighted things I would never have thought to ask about, it just made the purchase decision easy. I really appreciate the effort you put into this review.
    Thanks

  • Tom Cass

    These apparently are very flat neutral sounding headphones which is what I want. Too many consumer oriented headphones try to appeal to non discerning listeners by boosting bass and treble to unnatural levels.

  • Victor Su

    Check out this video on why the audio technica ATH-M40x are better than the M50x.

    Link: https://youtu.be/D4GZdP9dsHM

  • Alden K Cai

    Exceptional sound, excellent isolation considering fact the pasding isn’t that tight & thick. Tough cables, very good looking and so comfy! Above all the stand out for pro-bass audiophile like me=the bass! Already exceptional, so when i turn the bass dial on sound settings further the bass thru the AT=magnificent-so deep, rich and powerful.
    Highly recommended!