Audio Technica ATH-M50X Headphones Review
$119.95 on Amazon.com
Audio Technica ATH-M50X
• Good quality construction
• Soft plush material on ear cups and head band
• Quite flexible body
• 3 different cables provided
• Balanced audio
• Punchy bass
• Diaphragm break up might occur on high volumes
• All plastic construction
• Proprietary audio jack
Audio Technica truly makes some of the best, reliable headphones on the market. They do cost more, but it is really worth the money spent. Their M50 line up has been one of the most popular headphones among a wide array of users, ranging from casual listeners to professionals. Their recent addition to the M50 lie up has been the Audio Technica ATH-M50X which costs around $189.
ATH-M50X has an unchanged design
The previous version of the M50 headphones were good enough in their design. Audio Technica has taken the stance that, if its working, don’t change it. The Audio Technica ATH-M50X comes with an identical design with only one apparent change; the plastic moulded name indicating that it’s an M50X. Another noticable change is the cabling. The M50 came with a whopping 3 meter long cable and a 1.2 meter coiled cable. Both of them were pretty inconvenient for use while on the run. The M50X now comes with a 1.5 meter straight cable, a 3 meter straight cable and a 1.2 meter coiled cable.
Looking at the headphones, they appear to be quite large. The ear pads or the ear cushions are quite big. The entire assembly looks quite plasticy but yet manages to show the high quality of the overall assembly. The earcups are connected to the headband with hinges and they fold inwards, which is a good thing when it comes to storing them while travelling. Also, they have a swivelling mechanism which makes them ideal for monitoring with one ear.
The Audio Technica ATH-M50X comes in 3 colour variations, Black, White, Blue with orange highlights and Black with Brown. All four colour combinations look attractive to the eye. The Blue version has a dark blue body with some parts in orange which is quite a contrasting colour combination. This in my opinion does look better than the other two colour variations. With the box you get a proprietary detachable cable that has a locking mechanism that goes with the headset. If you happen to damage the cable, you will have to buy one from Audio Technica themselves. You will also be getting a black carry pouch to store your headphones.
Good isolation and comfortable to use
As compared to the M50, the M50X feels softer. The headband cushion and the ear cushions are somewhat softer and feel more comfortable. They are made from plush and feel smooth to touch. The headband is also less tighter yet manages to apply enough pressure to keep the headphones in place while wearing them.
The ear cups provide acceptable level of sound isolation without pressing too hard on your ear. In fact, they do not even sit on your ear rather, around it. The circumaural design is one of the reasons why they are comfortable and provide an immersive experience whilst listening to audio. If you want to use them while travelling, you can expect satisfying levels of isolation from outside sound. As for wearing them, the weight is what matters a lot; they weigh approximately 300 grams which is ideal for most users.
Warm and Balanced audio
Looking at the frequency response curve of the M50X obtained from innerfidelity.com, we can see that Audio Technica has tried to engineer the drivers so that they fit the first approximation of the Harman human target response curve . Therefore they have tried to compensate for the resonance peak at the 5kHz to 6kHz range. This absolutely alters the usual flat response of the drivers and changes it so that human ears can hear truly balanced sound. If the resonant peak was not compensated for by means of any human target response curves, then it would not have been a balanced headphone. Instead, the headphone would sound sensitive in the upper mids region and it could also possible for a reduction the effect of bass and the mids.
We can also see a recess in the 300Hz region. This is the transition region where the upper bass merges with the lower mids. Apparently, the recess will get noticed by a really well trained ear and that could mean slight lack of that “wholesome” feel. To an ordinary listener, this will probably go unnoticed as it is quite good compared to many other headphones out there. The bass appears to be quite punchy. If we compare the M50 and the M50x in terms of frequency response, we can clearly see that the M50X’s bass is 3dB more than the M50. In simpler terms, it is nearly two times louder but you won’t notice it that much because our ears follow a non-linear response curve. The treble on the other hand is kind of ideal. It is sparkly and it sounds very clear.
The strong, punchy bass along with clean, sparkly treble and a well balanced mids region is all we need for a balanced tone reproduction. Other than that, it is well worth mentioning that the drivers are 45 mm in diameter which also means that the bass produced with them is much accurate and spacious to hear. A smaller driver may not be able to produce a punchy bass because of their size. Bass on small drivers sound as if it’s coming from a damped, suppressed drum. A larger driver gives more free space for the sound to vibrate, in turn producing better lower frequencies.
There are one problem with this driver, which is diaphragm break up. It is the distortion caused when diaphragm simply pops out and falls back into its position and this is likely to be caused by high volume levels. Speaking of volume, the drivers are rated at 38 Ohm impedance and a massive 1600mW power dissipation which is a strong mix for high volume levels.
If you want all the great sound of M50X but you are not willing to shell out around $150 for it, you can go ahead and get Audio Technica ATH-M40X. It has an identical audio response, but it is a little bit smaller than the M50X. On the other hand, you can also try out the Sennheiser Urbanite XL which is also a smooth, natural sounding headphone that is comfortable for long hours of use. You may also prefer to check out Philips Fidelio X2 headphones that are also among the good sounding headsets released recently.
The Audio Technica ATH-M50X headset will definitely be welcomed by audiophiles as the headphones to go for. They are one of the more popular headphones that are well under $200 whilst sounding exceedingly professional. At this moment, you can even buy it for little over $100 from Amazon.com, which I feel is a steal. The balanced audio over the audible range, punchy bass, crispy mids and sparkly treble along with good quality physical construction is what makes the Audio Technica ATH-M50X a personal thing for many.
A fantastic bargain at this price point.
Reproduction is extremely pleasant across the audio spectrum, with good imaging, full natural dynamic range, and no audible distortion.
I never get the impression that they might break.
The mids are very warm and rich, and the low end is tight and doesn't distort the rest of the sound.
- Driver 45 mm
- Magnet Neodymium
- Voice Coil CCAW (Copper-clad aluminum wire)
- Frequency Response 15 – 28,000 Hz
- Maximum Input Power 1,600 mW at 1 kHz
- Sensitivity 99 dB
- Impedance 38 ohms
- Weight 285 g (10 oz) without cable and connector