Audio-Technica is one of those companies that has earned the respect of the audio world, and one of its most popular products is the ATH-M50x headphones. These headphones went viral several few years ago and, as is the case with all great headphones that have a 3.5mm connector, are still going strong. But what is it about these headphones that make them so good for just about everyone? Let’s find out.
Editor’s note: this Audio-Technica ATH-M50X review was updated on November 14, 2020, to address an FAQ about if the ATH-M50X are still a good buy in 2020.
What’s in the box?
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones come with accessories in the box so you can get the most out of them in many situations. In the box you’ll find the usual suspects including a soft carrying pouch for when you’re traveling and a quarter-inch to 3.5mm adapter for plugging into equipment like amplifiers. You also get three different kinds of audio cables, one straight 3-meter cable, one coiled 3-meter cable, and one straight 1.2-meter cable. All of the cables have the proprietary Audio-Technica connector, so try not to break or lose them or you’ll need to purchase another from Audio-Technica.
Who are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x for?
- Students and commuters. If you’re always on the bus or train, the plush padding and closed-back design of these headphones do a decent job at blocking outside noise. You’ll also benefit from the folding design as you can toss them in your bag when you get to where you need to be.
- YouTubers and anyone starting to get into audio production. When these headphones “went viral” it was because of the YouTube community. Whether you’re working with audio for videos or for music production, the ATH-M50x is a great all-around pick. They don’t have as neutral a sound as something like the Sony MDR-7506 (which are an industry staple for audio editing), because of the slight emphasis in the low frequencies, but they’ll work for casual mixing and editing.
What’s it like to use the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x?
When it comes to build and design, Audio-Technica hit the nail right on the head with these headphones. They’re stylish enough to stand out but not so flamboyant that they draw unwanted attention. Since their initial release, these headphones have become available in a few different color options including subtle dark blue with tan leather and stealthy all-black. While there aren’t a plethora of color options, you shouldn’t have a problem finding one that you like.
Aesthetics aside, the ATH-M50x are a pretty sturdy pair of headphones. The entire build is plastic, so don’t expect anything premium here, but combine the lightweight plastic with the plush padding and these are comfortable to wear for those long listening sessions. The ear cups also rotate 90 degrees so you can have them flat around your neck when not in use, and you can adjust them ever so slightly to get the most comfortable fit. While they’re not as comfortable as something like the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones we reviewed with their velour padding, they’re certainly more versatile when it comes to finding a good fit.
On the downside, the ATH-M50x don’t breathe very well due to the padding, so if you’re in a hotter environment you might find that you need to take them off from time to time to avoid sweaty ears. While we had no issues with durability, it’s worth keeping in mind that these are still made of plastic so you might not want to throw a pile of books or a laptop on top of them.
How’s the connection strength?
These came out before everyone decided that removing the headphone jack a good idea (which it wasn’t), so all three cables that are included in the box have 3.5mm jack at the end. As we mentioned above, it does come with a ¼” adapter so if you have an audio interface or higher end piece of gear you can just screw it on.
But it’s worth mentioning that Audio-Technica recently released a wireless version of these, the ATH-M50xBT. And I encourage you to go for that option over the aging ATH-M50x, not simply for the wireless upgrades, but the removal of the cable locking mechanism. By removing this, you can use any old 3.5mm to 3.5mm TRRS cable lying around should yours break. Just keep in mind that as convenient as Bluetooth is, it isn’t perfect and the quality of certain codecs is dependent on whether you’re using an Android or an iOS device.
How do the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x sound?
The Audio Tehcnica ATH-M50 is marketed as monitor headphones, but it’s more like a Swiss Army Knife of audio if you’re going just by the sound performance. It’s frequency response is relatively neutral, but there is still a slight emphasis on notes in the lower frequencies that you won’t find on higher-end studio headphones.
These headphones sound great when it comes to classical music, especially in the upper frequencies where string instruments lie. These headphones reproduce mids and highs without losing any detail or sounding harsh.
Should you buy the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x?
I can honestly see why these headphones are rated so highly. The style, comfort, and great sound are what makes these headphones a great buy. Because they’ve been out for a few years now, their price has dropped even lower giving them better value.
That said, if money’s no object, you should consider grabbing the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT instead. They’re essentially the very same headphones as the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x just wireless.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, the ATH-M50x still have excellent sound quality that is up to today's standards, and they're lightweight and comfortable too. If you're looking for a more affordable pair of studio headphones, the Sony MDR-7506 are a great alternative.
Currently, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is available in black, Gun Metal, White, and purple. The Bluetooth version also has a black version and a purple version. Just remember, some of these color options are more expensive, if you're shopping on Amazon.
No, you don't need an amp! You can enjoy these with any source that supports the 3.5mm TRRS plug.