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January 23, 2014
1.2-3m (coiled cable)
1.2m (straight cable)
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. This headset went viral several years ago and, as is the case with all great headphones that have a 3.5mm connector, is still going strong. But what is it about this set of headphones that makes it so good for just about everyone? Let’s find out.
Editor’s note: this Audio-Technica ATH-M50x review was updated on March 24, 2022, to include new charts and in-line FAQs.
- Students and commuters should get these headphones. 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.
- YouTubers and anyone starting to get into audio production will benefit from these budget studio headphones. Whether you’re working with audio for videos or for music production, the ATH-M50x is a great all-around pick. Sure, the Sony MDR-7506 (which is an industry staple for audio editing) has a more accurate frequency response, but the slight bass emphasis in the low frequencies makes this headset fine for work or casual mixing and editing.
What’s it like to use the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x?
When it comes to build and design, Audio-Technica hits the nail right on the head with these headphones. It’s stylish enough to stand out but not so flamboyant that it draws unwanted attention. Since its initial release, this headset has become available in a few different color options including subtle dark blue with tan leather, and stealthy all-black.
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Aesthetics aside, the ATH-M50x is 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 it is comfortable to wear for those long listening sessions. The ear cups also rotate 90 degrees so you can have it flat around your neck when not in use, and you can adjust it ever so slightly to get the most comfortable fit. While it’s not as comfortable as something like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, it’s certainly more versatile when it comes to finding a good fit.
No, there is no IP rating or water-resistant coating on this headset. If you want a water-resistant pair of over-ears, we recommend the following:
- Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (IPX4 rating)
- Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones by JBL (IPX4 rating)
- Jabra Elite 85h (internal water-resistant coating)
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On the downside, the ATH-M50x doesn’t breathe very well due to the padding, so if you’re in a hotter environment you might find that you need to take it off from time to time to avoid sweaty ears. Bear in mind that this is made of plastic, so you might not want to throw a pile of books or a laptop on top of it.
How do you connect the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x?
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x came out before everyone decided that removing the headphone jack was a good idea (which it wasn’t), so all three cables that are included in the box have a 3.5mm jack at the end. As we mentioned above, it does come with a quarter-inch adapter so if you have an audio interface or higher-end piece of gear you can just screw it on. That said, you don’t need an amp to use the ATH-M50x.
Audio-Technica also has a wireless version of these headphones, the ATH-M50xBT2, which is one of our favorite eco-friendly headphones simply because of the long battery life and option for wired listening too.
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.
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Does the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x block out noise?
Passive isolation is okay: incidental sounds like nearby conversations and the clang of dishware get blocked out by the headphones. You’ll notice that particularly high frequencies (10kHz) sound nearly one-sixteenth as loud with the ATH-M50x on, compared to no headphones at all. Still, this isn’t the pair of headphones to take onto an international flight. For that, you’ll need something with active noise cancelling (ANC) like the Sony WH-1000XM4 or Bose QuietComfort 45.
How does the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x sound?
The Audio Technica ATH-M50x 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. Its frequency response is good enough for studio use, but also serves the general consumer. These headphones sound great when it comes to classical music, especially in the upper frequencies where string instruments lie. The ATH-M50x reproduces mids and highs clearly.
Should you buy the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x?
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x isn’t going anywhere; the style, comfort, and great sound are what make these headphones a great buy. You can often find the ATH-M50x on sale, making it an even better value. That said, if money’s no object, you should consider grabbing the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 instead. It’s essentially the very same headphones like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x just wireless.
Frequently asked questions about the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
Yes, the ATH-M50x still have decent 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.