Great build quality
Long cords provided
Cord is proprietary
Soundstage is lacking
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.