The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x offers great sound quality at a fairly reasonable price for over ear headphones. However, it lacks active noise cancellation and wireless functionality. Therefore, it is a great choice for those that place a premium on sound quality, but not those looking to block out ambient noises or enjoy the freedom afforded by a wireless connection and on-headphone controls. These headphones sound so good that they've become a permanent fixture at most of our desks, but when we want to listen to music outside of the office, we tend to gravitate towards wireless pairs and earbuds.Editor's Note: This gear review was updated on January 20, 2022, to include more information testing and which products we prefer.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Review
Pros: Great overall sound, punchy bass, comfortable
Cons: Not particularly portable, mediocre noise isolation
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|Pros||Great overall sound, punchy bass, comfortable||Inexpensive, powerful bass, effective active noise cancellation, comfortable||Incredibly well balanced, detailed and articulate sound, comfortable||Bright, and clear sound, realtively inexpensive||In inexpensive, reasonably good sound quality, portable|
|Cons||Not particularly portable, mediocre noise isolation||Lacks some brightness in mid and vocal ranges, headband may be to large for smaller heads||Not very portable, mediocre noise isolation||Brighness can sound harsh to some||Poor noise isolation, not comfortable for large ears/heads|
|Bottom Line||Well-rounded and impressive, high-quality sound in an inexpensive wired design||Impressively inexpensive given the sound quality, active noise-canceling performance, and comfort||A great and relatively inexpensive option for audiophiles looking for a flat frequency response||Offer impressive clarity in the treble range on the cheap||Offers a decent listening experience for a relatively low price, but certainly doesn't stand out in any aspect|
|Rating Categories||Audio-Technica ATH-...||Soundcore Life Q20||Beyerdynamic DT 770...||Sony MDR-7506||Tribit XFree Tune|
|Sound Quality (30%)|
|Noise Isolation (25%)|
|User Friendliness (10%)|
|Specs||Audio-Technica ATH-...||Soundcore Life Q20||Beyerdynamic DT 770...||Sony MDR-7506||Tribit XFree Tune|
|Manufacturer reported battery life (hours)||N/A||40||N/A||N/A||40|
|Measured weight (ounces)||10||9.3||9.5||8.1||10.3|
|Included case||Soft carrying pouch||Lined drawstring pouch||Soft carrying pouch||Soft carrying pouch||Semi-hard case|
|Earcup padding cover material||Leatherette||Leatherette||Soft cloth||Leatherette||Leatherette|
|Charging cable length (inches)||N/A||40"||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Microphone for voice?||No||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Onboard buttons||None||Volume, multifunction, power, NC||None||None||Volume, play/pause, forward/back, noise cancelling|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We've tested a lot of headphones, and when it comes to sound quality, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is one of our favorite pairs.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x presents a somewhat interesting sound profile. It accentuates both the bass and treble ends of the spectrum. At the low end, you get very punchy and powerful notes that stay tight and well defined, offering a great anchor for rock or hip hop ballads. You get a sharp brightness and great separation at the treble end that brings out every detail of higher vocals, guitar notes, and acoustic arrangement. This combination of power and articulation at the two ends of the frequency spectrum results in a very full and lively sound that we love.
The only downside to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x's sound is that some nuance and definition can be lost in the mid-range, meaning things like lower vocals and rhythm guitars can get a bit lost in most arrangements. We generally don't feel that this detracts from the overall listening experience. However, if you're an audiophile that wants to be able to hear and appreciate every single subtlety in a song and are searching for the elusive "flat frequency response" that provides even articulation of every frequency range, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x may not be your favorite pair of headphones.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x lacks any sort of active noise cancellation, so you have to rely on the earcups and padding to block out any ambient noise.
That passive noise blocking is ok but certainly isn't great. In cafes and airplanes, ambient noise became somewhat muffled, but we had to turn the volume up past the mid-mark before those ambient noises were no longer noticeable. Overall these headphones fall leagues be the relative silence provided by even mediocre active noise cancellation but provide enough isolation to enjoy music at not too loud of a volume in most situations.
We found these headphones plenty comfortable for multiple hours of wear, even for those that have larger heads and/or ears.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x features a good amount of padding on the earcups encased in a soft faux leather. Those cups are large enough to fit around larger ears, but some of our testers found their ears touching the inside of the earcups. Luckily, there is a soft lining here, too, which never created any uncomfortable hot spots. The headband is stiff and can put some pressure on the top of the head, but not to a terrible degree.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is a standard pair of wired headphones that do not provide many bells or whistles. There's no Bluetooth, no inline controls, and no microphone for making phone calls. You do get three different interchangeable cables — a 3.9' cable, a 9.8' cable, and a coiled cable that can stretch between 3.9' and 9.8'-- but that's about it. These are definitely headphones that you buy for the sound quality, not for the extra features.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x folds up reasonably small but only comes with a cloth drawstring bag for storage. If you travel with these headphones, you'll either have to be careful with how you pack them or invest in a sturdier carrying case.
Should You Buy the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x?
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is one of our favorite sounding pairs of headphones and offers a great wired experience. They are a great choice if you value sound quality over wireless capability or active noise cancellation. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x provides exceptional sound quality for a reasonable price for audiophiles who want to listen to music in quiet environments. If you're looking for great noise isolation or the convenience of Bluetooth, your money will be better spent elsewhere.
What Other Over Ear Headphones Should You Consider?
If you prefer to go wireless or simply want or need better noise canceling properties, we love the Sony WH-1000XM4. These headphones offer superior noise cancellation and top-quality sound. However, they sport a premium price that could make them a non-starter for those outside the price bracket. For something impressive but still reasonably priced, we like the Soundcore Life Q20. Sporting a price less than half of the Audi-Technica, this pair scores higher overall with better noise-canceling attributes and comfort.
— Max Mutter
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