Few audio companies are as respected as Audio-Technica. When it comes to studio monitors, audio engineers and enthusiasts alike are bound to sing their praises for the Japanese company. The fandom is well-earned, too, as Audio-Technica puts performance and dependability first time and time again with its premium audio products, drawing professionals to the brand like a band of cats to tuna.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on January 11, 2021, to address an FAQ about Audio-Technica microphones.
Related: Best studio headphones
The best Audio-Technica headphones are the ATH-M50xBT
If you’re familiar with the audio community, then you’ve heard of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT as the wireless version of the headphones are some of the most recognizable studio cans around. They’ve earned their keep by proving time and time again that they can withstand studio usage. Swivel earcups may be rotated left, right, and even flipped up. This lets you hear your surroundings during live mixing.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBTFull Review
Housed within each ear cup is a 45mm dynamic driver that reproduces exceptional audio quality for professional use. If you’re looking for a pair of consumer cans with markedly exaggerated highs and lows, the ATH-M50xBT isn’t it. While the bass response is a bit more emphasized than its little sibling the ATH-M40x, its main purpose is for studio mixing so audio engineers can accurately create a sound.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT has earned its place as a studio staple.
The synthetic ear cup material may not be the most comfortable seeing as it heats up fairly quickly, it isolates the listener from external noise which is all that matters for professional use. When it comes to reliability, it’s nearly impossible to beat these cans.
What you should know about Audio-Technica headphones
- Even though Audio-Technica headphones can be used by anyone, they may not produce the most pleasant sound for general consumers. Bass response isn’t as emphasized as with Beats, but certain models do retain a strong low-end like the ATH-M50x.
- Audio-Technica offers a huge range of headphones and microphones. If you prefer a certain style or level of performance, there’s typically at least three options you should consider. Be sure to check out their site if you can’t find what you’re looking for.
- Audio-Technica made their name on versatile, utilitarian products at a reasonable price. They keep their value on resale well.
- Fortunately, none of these headsets require an amp or DAC, keeping things reasonably priced.
- That said, when it comes to the wireless options, keep an eye out for high-quality Bluetooth codecs. As it stands, wireless cans can’t compete with the quality of wired alternatives. Getting a set with aptX compatibility for Android users or AAC support for iPhones will mitigate any perceptible audio-visual lag.
Get studio sound on a budget with the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
There’s no point in fixing what isn’t broken, and Audio-Technica embraced that sentiment when it released the ATH-M40x. This pair of headphones retains the same 45mm drivers found in the original version, and offers very respectable sound for such a low price. For $99 there’s not a ton of competition here, outside of the Sony MDR-V6.
Audio-Technica ATH-M40xFull Review
Unfortunately the headphone jack is disapearing from phones, so this may be an at-home-only type deal if you have an iPhone or Note 10. If you like these headphones and want to find a phone that fits them, be sure to check out our picks for best handsets.
For open-back cans, it’s hard to beat the ATH-AD900X
If you’re on the prowl for the most realistic sound possible, open-back headphones should be a top consideration. The company made its name off its open-back headphones and have maintained a respected reputation throughout the years. Beneath each grill is a huge 53mm dynamic driver and CCAW voice coils for clear audio reproduction with a wide soundstage.
The winged headband is designed to mitigate any vibrations that may degrade audio quality. Unfortunately, listeners have mentioned that, while effective, it isn’t the most comfortable mechanism. If you want comfortable open-back headphones, Sennheiser may be a better—albeit more expensive—option.
Gamers and audiophiles alike will benefit from the open-back design of the AD900x.
This isn’t just a great option for audiophiles, though. No, the open-back design bodes well for gaming too, since it provides a more natural representation of sound. Due to the open nature of the cans, you’re able to more realistically register what direction enemy footsteps are approaching from.
Need noise cancelling? Get the ATH-ANC900BT
While it’s true that the Sony WH-1000XM3 is king of noise cancelling headphones, the ATH-ANC900BT puts up a fight. These can combat lower rumbles and include touch controls for music playback and wireless calls. The minimal design is appealing and will likely complement any outfit, or at least not clash with it.
With an improved battery life of 35 hours, these headphones outlast the Sony WH-1000XM3, even when using Bluetooth and ANC. While you’ll get the best audio quality by using the included 3.5mm plug, aptX support is good enough for on-the-go scenarios.
Speaking of which, the flat-folding design makes the ATH-ANC900BT an excellent travel companion, while the memory foam ear pads are plush and ease any pain that may arise from extended listening sessions. If you want fine active noise cancelling paired with Audio Technica’s sound signature, these headphones are definitely worth considering.
The best bang for your buck is the ATH-CLR100iSBK
If you’re looking for a no-nonsense pair of in-ears that get the job done for cheap, the Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100iSBK is it. Jutting out from the housings are angled nozzles which create a comfortable, secure fit. The stress relievers transitioning from the housings to the cable seem substantial enough to hold up against normal wear and tear.
Despite the compact size of these wired earbuds, relatively large 8.5mm drivers are used to pump out a clear sound. What’s more, the company includes an integrated one-button mic and remote module for hands-free calling and basic playback controls. For less than $20, it’s a solid deal for people who just want a basic headset.
Best Audio-Technica headphones: notable mentions
- Audio-Technica ATH-ANC300TW: These true wireless earbuds are equipped with the company’s neutral sound signature, an IPX2 water-resistance rating, and active noise cancelling that is comparable to the Sony WF-1000XM3.
- Audio Technica ATH-R70x: For professionals, these open-back studio headphones provide accurate audio reproduction and unparalleled comfort that will complement any studio setup.
- Audio-Technica ATH-SPORT90BT: For the active Audio-Technica enthusiast, these are reliable pair of workout earbuds that feature a built-in 4GB music player and an IPX5 waterproof rating.
- Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BT: These over-ear Bluetooth headphones are perfect for people who are constantly on-the-go—featuring good sound quality, aptX support, and a whopping 70-hours of battery life!
- Audio-Technica ATH-WP900: These high-end cans were announced earlier this year, along with the ATH-AWKT and ATH-AWAS, aimed at studio professionals. Large 53mm drivers deliver a wide soundstage and balanced overall frequency response, suited for mixing and mastering applications.
How we chose the best Audio-Technica headphones
Seeing as Audio-Technica has a legacy of studio headphones and various accoutrements, it’s hard to narrow it down to just five picks. That said, we tried to account for a wide variety of listeners from the traveling audio enthusiasts to the casual listener who just wants an easy pair of earbuds to listen with. If we omitted your favorite pair of headphones, be sure to shoot us a line in the comments, since we maintain these best lists as living documents.
You may find that you want another set of headphones, or that Audio-Technica only offers certain models near you, and that’s fine! The company doesn’t really put out bad headphones, so you should give the others a whirl if you’re able.
Why you should trust us
We strive to educate our readers first and foremost. When it comes to audio, each of our writers understands that it’s both an objective and subjective topic. We perform in-house testing to all review units, while also taking them out into the real world whether that means working out, commuting, or leisurely listening to something.
While our site does operate via referral links, none of our writers may benefit from awarding one product over the competition. We strive to be transparent and just want you to enjoy your purchase if one is made. Ultimately, we want to sate your auditory appetite and pique your interest in the science of it all.
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Frequently Asked Questions
No, it doesn't matter if all of your studio equipment is from the same brand or not—compatibility should be no issue so long as you're using a USB interface to record from an XLR mic. What's more important is that you like each individual product you buy and they serve your particular needs. You may be able to get deals on Audio-Technica products if you buy microphones and headphones in a set, though.
From our testing, we found that the microphone of the Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT is serviceable enough for conference calls. Its mic isn't very accurate, with dips in the low-to-mid frequencies, however your voice should sound intelligible on the other end.
Both products are closed-back studio headphones that retail for around the same price—between $150-$160 USD. The Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro is known for its flatter sound signature and wider soundstage over the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT, which better reflects the conditions of a proper mixing studio. This makes the DT 770 Pro ideal for more critical listening applications, such as production sound mixing and broadcast. On the other hand, the ATH-M50xBT is popular amongst EDM artists and DJs because of its extra bass boost, which allows percussion and bass lines to cut through a mix—a must-have when trying to keep track of tempo during a live performance.
Because the Audio Technica ATH-M40x lacks a built-in microphone, this headphone would not be ideal for conference calls—unless you were planning to use an external microphone. If you want a good pair of Audio Technica headphones for such use case, consider the Audio Technica ATH-M50x, which features a decent built-in microphone. For more alternatives, be sure to check out our list of the best Bluetooth headphones for conference calls.
A lot of users have reported that the Audio-Technica ATH-M40X had a flatter sound signature than the ATH-M50xBT, which results in a more accurate reproduction of your mix—ideal for home studio applications. The M50xBT, however, has also been well-received for basic home mixing applications and casual listening—especially with its inclusion of Bluetooth. If you're still unsure, visit your local audio shop and try these cans out for yourself! At the end of the day, the best studio headphones are the ones that cater to your needs.