The Audio Technica ATH-M30X are a great pair of headphones that offer comfort and amazing sound quality for under $100. With stunning body construction and a very simplistic design, these headphones are a joy to use. I bought the ATH-M30X to replace my old Philips SHL3105WTwhich were wearing out after a year of use. The Philips SHL3105WT are $20 headphones that have given me an enjoyable listening experience. They did however have a slight “comfort” problem. Lets find out how the Audio Technica ATH-M30X have been treating me so far.
Minimal design, rugged construction
The headphones come inside a huge box. You will find a leather carry pouch, neatly tucked headphones, a 6.5mm adapter and a really long cable. You will also find instruction manual and warranty information along with everything else.
The headphones are entirely black with silver Audio Technica logo on the faces of both ear cups. Also, you will notice “Audio Technica” printed in white on the top side of the headband.
The soft material on the headphones is made from leather. That includes the headband and the ear cushions. It appears to be really high quality material that will last long without wearing out. Even though the headphones are constructed entirely with plastic, there is no residue of the injection moulding process as you see on cheap headphones. The body looks well finished as a result of that.
The headband has a metallic support on the inside which becomes visible where it connects to the ear cups. The headband adjustment is very smooth. You will not find the clicking mechanism here but even without it, the headband and the ear cups do not slide once adjusted. Both the ear cups rotate but do not swivel more than a few degrees. The rotating mechanism is again supported by a plastic hinge. Apart from the rotation and swiveling movement, the ear cups fold inwards thereby making them shrink for a fit inside the given leather pouch.
Excellent isolation and satisfying comfort
Audio Technica ATH-M30X sports large ear cups that gobble entire ear and you will feel silence. That is the kind of sound isolation you get from these headphones where even in noisy environments you will experience a drastic drop in the noise floor levels. ATH-M30x does not press the ear cups too hard against your face to achieve that good isolation level. Therefore, it is unlikely you will ever experience any pain due to these headphones. The plush leather material on the ear cups also allow some level of air circulation thereby preventing heat build up. This is particularly important if you use headphones for long hours.
The headband twists and stretches with ease but exerts just enough pressure to keep the headphones from moving around when you are wearing them. The soft leather material on the headband never felt like it was causing any pain or distraction while using the headphones.
The cable is long
Unlike the ATH-M50X, the cable is fitted permanently to the left ear cup. It runs for 1.5 meters and ends with a nice golden 3.5mm audio jack. The jack has screw threads where you can attach a 6.5mm adapter. The cable is of pretty good quality by the looks of it and should not break so easily. Being 1.5 meters in length, it is definitely not meant for people working out. Even if you do wish to use it for a workout, make sure you roll it together and tuck it somewhere.
Cheap in price, rich in sound
It is really hard to have headphones that offer balanced audio at sub $70 price point. As I already mentioned, wearing these headphones will isolate the surrounding noise by a great degree and this is exactly what is needed for hearing the sound the drivers produce. Large 40 mm drivers with neodymium magnets are really responsive to minor sounds that usually do not get heard with other cheap headphones. The sensitivity of the ATH-M30X may not be the best, but it is the first difference I recognized over my old Philips headphones. I was able to hear sounds that were not previously audible. Is it because of the good isolation that I am able to hear those sounds or is it because of better drivers? May be a bit of both.
The second best thing about the isolation offered by ATH-M30X is its ability to make you immerse in the music that you are hearing. The disconnect with the surrounding does help in making a better connection with the music you are listening to. At the time of testing the headphones, I had access to the Sennheiser HD203 which also happens to fall in a similar price point. The comparison between the two showed that the ATH-M30X definitely had better isolation and sensitivity; while the HD203 felt slightly more bassy which is exactly the point we will be talking about now.
Flat bass, flat mids and a little bumpy treble
Generally looking, the ATH-M30X keeps the audio response flat. There is no bass boosting noticeable as you see on the Beats. Many sealed cans display resonance, the ATH-M30X displayed nothing as such.
The frequency response of the drivers paint a clearer picture.
The response all the way from 10Hz to 3kHz shows a nearly flat response. There is a slight bump on the upper mids and a roll off at about 5kHz which is basically close to the Harman response. The treble on the other hand is slightly overpowered but falls off gradually after 10kHz. Since, the amplitude measurements shown are in decibels, to our ears, the difference doesn’t feel much.
Having said all this, in simpler terms, if your music is bassy, you will feel the punchiness and its depth in all its glory.
The instruments and the vocals definitely sound distinct from each other which I believe is a good thing because it allows you to focus on different aspects of the audio track, something which is necessary for editors. I felt the vocals which consist of mid frequencies felt much more lively on these headphones.
Because of some non-linearity in the drivers, harmonics are generated at higher frequencies and they do get noticeable if the volume is too high. Nevertheless, the harmonics remain masked behind fundamental tones. So, that should not be a major concern. Speaking of higher frequencies, the treble is quite bright and sharp.
A suppressed soundstage
Since, the distance between the drivers and the ears is not much, effects such as outer ear resonances do not fully come into the play. Therefore, the sound stage instead of appearing to be in the front, appears somewhat constricted inside and around the head.
Audio Technica ATH-M30X are a decent pair of headphones with a very industrial look, unlike the jazzy looks of Beats and Bose. For less than $70 they offer balanced audio, which is a rare thing at this price point. These headphones offer comfortable experience that will allow you to wear them for hours. Great passive noise isolation disconnects you from your surrounding while you are immersed in music. The ATH-M30X is a confluence of comfort and great audio, two things that make a headphone great.
For anyone wanting to experience good quality sound without shelling out hundreds of dollars, ATH-M30X has to be your next purchase. Audio Technica ATH-M30X does not come with an inbuilt microphone and if you are looking to having one, do check out the mod-mic detachable microphone add-on that we reviewed previously.