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Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Review

Well-rounded and high-quality sound in an inexpensive wired design
Top Pick Award
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Price:   $150 List | $129 at Amazon
Pros:  Great overall sound, punchy bass, comfortable
Cons:  Not particularly portable, mediocre noise isolation
Manufacturer:   Audio-Technica
By Max Mutter ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 9, 2020
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65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 18
  • Sound Quality - 30% 9
  • Noise Isolation - 25% 3
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • User Friendliness - 10% 6
  • Portability - 10% 4

Our Verdict

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x offers great sound quality at a fairly reasonable price. 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.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is a great choice for audiophiles that want impressive detail in their music and don't mind dealing with a cable.

Performance Comparison



Sound Quality


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 still stay tight and well defined, offering a great anchor for rock or hip hop ballads. At the treble end you get a sharp brightness and great separation 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 headphones include a short cable  a long cable  and a coiled cable  along with a 1/4" jack converter.
The headphones include a short cable, a long cable, and a coiled cable, along with a 1/4" jack converter.

Noise Isolation


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 on airplanes ambient noise became at least 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.

Comfort


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, so this never created any uncomfortable hot spots. The headband is a bit stiff and can create some pressure on the top of the head, but not to a terrible degree.

Plush earpads offer all-day comfort.
Plush earpads offer all-day comfort.

User Friendliness


The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is a standard pair of wired headphones that does 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.


Portability


The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x fold up fairly small, but only come 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.


The headphones fold up into a fairly small package.
The headphones fold up into a fairly small package.

Value


For audiophiles that want to listen to music in quiet environments, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x provide exceptional sound quality for a reasonable price. If you're looking for great noise isolation or the convenience of bluetooth, your money will be better spent elsewhere.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x's cloth carrying case.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x's cloth carrying case.

Conclusion


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.

Max Mutter