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Best Audio-Technica headphones

Audio-Technica has been providing premium products for nearly 60 years; here’s the best of the best.
By

Published onOctober 27, 2023

The Best
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
MSRP: $199.00
7.8
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Positives
Sound quality
Fast pairing
Headphone jack option
Equalizer
Folds down for storage
Negatives
Heat build up
LDAC does not always work
Tight fit
Best studio
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
MSRP: $119.00
8
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Positives
Sound quality
Durable build
Verstile frequency response
Value
Negatives
Bulky
Ear pads heat up
Just okay isolation
Best earbuds
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9
MSRP: $299.99
7.9
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Positives
Noise canceling
Sound quality
Ear tip selection
Negatives
Price
Microphone
Gets dirty easily
Best gaming
Audio-Technica ATH-GL3
MSRP: $99.00
7.3
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Positives
Great sound quality for the price
Detachable microphone
Easily adjustable controls
Replaceable cable and ear pads
Negatives
Cheaper plastic design
Uncomfortable for longer sessions
Poor quality headband
Bang for your buck
Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT
MSRP: $119.00
7.4
Check price
Positives
Easy maintenance
Battery life
USB-C port
Wired listening
Lightweight
Negatives
Ear pads
Can't fold

Few audio companies are as respected as Audio-Technica. When it comes to studio headphones, 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.

What's new?

  • This article was updated on October 27, 2023, to add new Top Picks and Notable Mentions and ensure the timeliness of the information within.

Why is the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 the best Audio-Technica headphones?

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 on a bench with leaves showing the cushions of the ear cups.
The ear cups can articulate in multiple directions.

If you’re familiar with the audio community, then you’ve heard of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2, as the wireless version of the headphones are some of the most recognizable studio cans around. When you stream over Bluetooth, you get your choice of the SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs for high-quality audio to any operating system.

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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-M50xBT2 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 synthetic ear cup material may not be the most comfortable, seeing as it heats up fairly quickly. Still, it isolates the listener from external noise well enough for professional studio use. You can rotate the swivel ear cups and even flip them up, letting you hear your surroundings when live mixing. If you need something rugged and reliable that works anywhere, get this headset.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
High-quality sound • Fast pairing • Long-life battery
MSRP: $199.00
An excellent-sounding and straightforward headset.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headset offers excellent sound and the long battery life with an optional headphone jack promotes an uncomplicated music experience.

The microphone is good for standard phone calls, and you can even enable sidetone through the mobile app to hear yourself on the call.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 microphone demo (Non-standardized):

How does the microphone sound to you?

5884 votes

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 offers virtually the same design and frequency response as the ATH-M50x but with wired and wireless connectivity options, so you can choose depending on the context.

The ATH-M50xBT2 ditches the proprietary cable connection in favor of a conventional 3.5mm TRS connector. You get some playback controls on the ATH-M50xBT2, which aren’t found on the ATH-M50x or any of its cables. Anyone needing a microphone for Zoom calls can take advantage of the included mic system on the ATH-M50xBT2. If you don’t need wireless over-ear headphones, the ATH-M50x might be the better pick and costs less.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
Rotating ear cups • Well-build quality • Studio-style sound
MSRP: $169.00
A great pair of wired headphones for budding audio engineers and veterans.
Once the best in the ATH-M line, the ATH-M50x is still a good choice for casual listening and recording audio. It offers plenty of cable options to fit a studio setup and yields a pleasant sound for casual and analytical listening.

Both products are closed-back studio headphones that retail for around the same price — between $150 and $160. The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO has a more consistent output, especially with midrange frequencies. When you listen to the DT 770 PRO, you may notice a louder treble response, but this is fairly easy to equalize. 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-M50x is popular amongst EDM artists and DJs because of its boosted bass, relative to the mids, 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.

Get studio sound on a budget with the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x

The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x on Audio-Technica record player
Audio-Technica’s ATH-M40x may receive a lesser model number than the M50x, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lesser headphone.

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-7506.

Unfortunately, the headphone jack is disappearing 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 the best handsets.

Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
MSRP: $119.00

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The ATH-TWX9 are the best Audio-Technica earbuds

The Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 sits on a wooden surface by a window.

When it comes to wireless earbuds that check nearly all the boxes, the Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9 is a top-tier contender. First off, the sound quality is nothing short of impressive, harmonizing well with an array of music genres. It also offers robust codec support, including SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX Adaptive, making it a versatile pick for both iOS and Android users.

The ATH-TWX9 takes customization seriously. With a whopping 12 pairs of ear tips, you’ll get a fit that’s just right, whether you’re pounding the treadmill or navigating a noisy subway. The ear tips come in various widths and depths, allowing for a seal that brings out the best in its decent active noise canceling capabilities. The IPX4 rating means these buds won’t balk at a little sweat or drizzle, either.

The Audio-Technica Connect app adds a wealth of customization options, from EQ presets to distinct active noise canceling profiles suited to different environments. On the flip side, the earbuds and their charging case are dust magnets, so keeping them pristine might be a chore. Battery life could also be better, clocking in at about 5 hours 24 minutes in real-world tests against the claimed 6 hours.

They may not be cheap, but what you get is an exceptionally well-rounded, Android-friendly pair of wireless earbuds that are worth every penny.

Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9
SG recommended
Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9
Fit • Sound quality • Noise canceling
MSRP: $299.99
A versatile pair of true wireless earbuds ideal for Android users.
The huge number of extra ear tips and app options means the ATH-TWX9 is a great option for people who like to tinker with their earbuds.

The Audio-Technica ATH-GL3 is best for gaming

Audio-Technica ATH-GL3 gaming headset and uses the controls on the left headphone.

If you are looking for an entry-level gaming headset, the Audio-Technica ATH-GL3 delivers. The combination of high-quality sound, a detachable microphone, and easily accessible controls add a level of convenience that every gamer will appreciate.

Want to jump from your PS5 to a Zoom call without juggling headsets? No problem. The ATH-GL3 comes with two types of 3.5mm cables, making it compatible with a wide range of devices. Control volume and mute functions directly on the ear cup, and the cable and ear pads are easily replaceable, offering a future-proof solution for avid gamers.

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The ATH-GL3’s lightweight plastic design makes it comfy for short gaming sessions, but be aware of its limitations. The headband lacks cushioning, and heat can build up due to its closed-back design. Still, for many, these are small sacrifices for superior noise isolation and audio quality.

Where the ATH-GL3 really shines is in its sound performance. Whether you’re strategizing in “Halo” or dodging blows in “Elden Ring,” the audio is spot-on. The closed-back design locks you into the game world, ensuring you don’t miss a beat—or a footstep. Although it doesn’t offer built-in software for EQ adjustments, the sound is balanced enough that you might not even miss it.

Audio-Technica ATH-GL3
Audio-Technica ATH-GL3
Audio-Technica ATH-GL3
Great sound quality • Detachable microphone • Easily adjustable controls
MSRP: $99.00
The Audio-Technica ATH-GL3 simplifies the gaming experience and focuses on sound quality.
The swapable 3.5mm cable, detachable microphone, and fair price point make the ATH-GL3s easy to recommend as a simplified gaming headset. The replaceable earpads are just the icing on the cake.

The Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3 or the ATH-GL3 are both open-back, entry-level gaming headsets. Though the two are quite similar on a spec sheet, the former sounds very treble and bass heavy, while the latter is much more “neutral” in its sound. Additionally, the latter also isolates you from outside noise better by virtue of the fact that it has a closed back. However, the ATH-GDL3 does a better job at simulating 3D space when you’re in-game, so FPS players may appreciate the open-backed headset a bit more for this attribute alone.

Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3
Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3
Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3
Open back design • Detachable microphone • Easily accessible controls
MSRP: $129.00
An excellent option for gamers looking for a headset that also delivers on sound quality.
The Audio-Technica ATH-GDL3 feature an open-back design, which is unique in the world of gaming headsets. The focus on sound quality and ease of setup make this an easy recommendation.

The best bang for your buck is the Audio-Technica ATH-M20XBT

A hand holds the Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT shown from the side.
The ATH-M20xBT typically sells for about $70.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M20XBT is for the frugal audiophile. It’s an ideal choice if you need a dependable, no-nonsense Bluetooth headset that doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket. With USB-C fast charging, you can get 3 hours of use with just a 10-minute charge.

These headphones are mostly plastic, matte black, and lightweight at just 216 grams. Don’t let that fool you; they’re rugged and can withstand the daily grind of commuting or extended use. The large battery ensures that you’ll not only rarely run out of juice but also extend the operating lifespan of the headphones. And while they don’t fold, their durability more than makes up for a slightly cumbersome form factor.

The ATH-M20XBT does have its limitations. The ear pads can be too tight for some, but they are easily replaceable with a broad array of options. They also block out a fair amount of high-frequency noise, making them apt for relatively quiet environments. The sound quality is respectable for its price range, though it may lack in sub-bass and high-frequency finesse. But hey, at around $100, you’re getting way more than what you’re paying for.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT
Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT
Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT
Wireless convenience • Decent microphone for calls
MSRP: $119.00
Affordable, ATH M-series headphones
The Audio-Technica M20xBT are the wireless version of the entry-level model in the popular ATH Mx series of headphones. Marketed as Studio Monitors, they seek a natural sound profile for your audio editing needs.

The best Audio-Technica headphones: Notable mentions

The Audio-Technica ATH-M30x resting on a wood surface with the cable folded up.
For many, the long cable of the ATH-M30x is a selling point, but it’s not removable.
  • Audio-Technica ATH-AD900x ($189 at Amazon): Beneath each grill on these open-back headphones is a huge 53mm dynamic driver and CCAW voice coils for clear audio reproduction with a wide soundstage.
  • Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT ($179 at Amazon): These ANC headphones can combat lower rumbles and include touch controls for music playback and wireless calls. The flat-folding design also makes for an excellent travel companion.
  • Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100iSBK ($14 at Amazon): 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.
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M30x ($79 at Amazon): This pair of wired headphones compromises build quality but delivers a similar sound to the beloved M40x. If you don’t care for a detachable cable and sleeker design, the extra money saved is a good thing.
  • 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-WP900: Aimed at studio professionals, these cans feature large 53mm drivers that deliver a wide soundstage and balanced overall frequency response suited for mixing and mastering applications.
  • 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 canceling that is comparable to the Sony WF-1000XM4.
  • Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW: This pair of wireless earbuds doesn’t have much in the way of features, but it sounds great and has an IPX4-equivalent rating, making it a solid option for exercise, too.

The ATH-M70x is a very good headset, but its price-to-performance ratio holds it back from being one of the best headsets around. See, the ATH-M70x has a premium build that looks nicer than the ATH-M50x and its cheaper siblings, but it doesn’t stand out relative to other premium headphones. We are also not that impressed by the treble-heavy frequency response we don’t hear from other Audio-Technica cans. Ultimately, if you’re going to spend this much on a pair of barebones headphones, we recommend the Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X or save some money with the ATH-M50x.

What you should know about Audio-Technica headphones

Like any other headphones on the market, Audio-Technica headphones have a few foibles, oddities, and items of note to pay attention to. Here are the main things you should know before diving in.

How should Audio-Technica headphones sound?

This chart compares the frequency responses of the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x and Audio ATH-M30x against our target curve.
In cyan, the ATH-M20x supplies less sub-bass and fewer highs than the ATH-M30x (in yellow).

Like other household-name headphone brands, Audio-Technica has a signature sound. You’ll find that many of its headsets have a fairly even output across the bass and midrange with some under-emphasis around 300Hz. Usually, you’ll find that the treble response is boosted a bit, but this is normal among pretty much all headsets, and it isn’t so emphasized that it’s painful to hear. Audio-Technica made its name on versatile, utilitarian products at a reasonable price. Its headphones keep their value, and they resell well.

Do these headphones need an amp?

No, none of these headsets require an amp or DAC, keeping things reasonably priced.

What Bluetooth codecs matter for wireless headphones?

When it comes to 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.

How we choose the best Audio-Technica headphones

The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x wired studio headphones on an Audio-Technica turntable.
Though the ATH-M40x isn’t the pinnacle of portability, they fold flat to make space in a bag or to rest comfortably on the chest.

Seeing as Audio-Technica has a legacy of studio headphones and various accouterments, it’s hard to narrow it down to just five picks. That said, we tried to account for a wide variety of listeners, from 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 SoundGuys

A man faces left wearing the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x.
We make sure to test out as many products as possible while curating our best lists to lessen the amount of research our readers have to conduct.

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 on 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.

Frequently asked questions about Audio-Technica headphones

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.

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 a 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 is also good 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.

Audio-Technica generally offers a neutral and detailed sound profile, making them great for studio work or music enthusiasts who prefer an uncolored sound. They also often provide good value for the price.

Sennheiser, on the other hand, is known for its signature warm sound profile and higher-end build quality. They are often preferred for a wide range of applications, from professional audio work to high-fidelity listening.

Neither is universally “better”—it’s about what you’re looking for in a pair of headphones. Choose Audio-Technica for neutral sound and cost-effectiveness; go with Sennheiser for a more colored sound and premium build.

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