Audio Technica ATH M50x | Preface
My first introduction to Audio Technica was when I lived in Japan in 05/06. Back in the UK options for getting good headphones in stores were limited to the likes of JVC, Skullcandy and if you were lucky some lower end Shure models like the E2c and the SRH but Tokyo was a revelation. I hopped on a train from my home at Nakano to the electronic District Akihabara and was introduced to what would be every audiophiles wet dream and the one brand that stood out more than any other back then was Audio Technica..... I was hooked. Fast forward 10 years and Audio Technica are big, really big in the consumer headphone market, I have 3 sets of A.T. in my possession right now the unusual EC700 the wonderful A900 and the highly touted budget friendly ATH-M50x. The first 2 are slightly more obscure and a full review of each is on the way but right now lets take a look at the model most folk will be looking at when deciding to enter the world of better sounding audio.
The Meat of the Review
Audio Technica ATH M50x | Design and Build Quality
My set of the Audio Technica ATH-M50x are in the companies new and very good looking metallic blue and brown leather styling. When ordering I wasn't sure which ones I would go for as so many times I have been burt by some good looking photos only to be let down when receiving a product in, just to be safe I ordered both the black and blue/brown versions. When they came in though there was no question about which set of headphones I would be keeping, the black are good looking in their own right but I believe the brown and blue set have that x factor to them. They're not garish, they have almost the classy look of something like Sennheisers Momentum's on the head or round the neck they are a great looking set of cans. The cup swivel point where connecting to the headband is integrated around the driver bulge so the headset manages to retain a relatively low profile and the materials used further add to the sleek looks.
Build quality on Audio Technica in the past has never really disappointed and I am happy to report that the same goes for the ATH-M50x the materials used are of high quality. The headband extension arms are made of metal and the rotation point on the cups is extremely robust. The headband again is reinforced with that metal band and is well padded with the lush PU leather on top which displays the Audio Technica Logo. The earpads are also made from the same material and from my initial month testing them seem to be a good compromise between comfort and longevity. One thing I really love about the ATH-M50x is the detachable cable (2.5mm at earcup end). A.T. have been massively generous here providing an assortment of 3 separate cables that are all very high quality the come in a few different lengths and should keep you with plenty of backup options if god forbid anything ever goes wrong.
Audio Technica ATH M50x | Fit & Isolation
I found the ATH-M50x to be extremely comfortable to win and surprisingly they are also very good isolators despite the low profile cup design. The headphones are of the over ear design as opposed to on ear and they offer a very good clamping pressure keeping noise out while also making them resistant to moving about on your head. I found I was able to get a decent amount of time on ear before they came a little to hot and i had to get some fresh air under there. Thats not uncommon at all for a studio monitor phone and is inherent of a closed back (no air circulation) headphone but something that users should take into consideration.
Audio Technica ATH M50x | Sound Quality
The sound from the ATH-M50x is one of the high points of the headphone with large 45mm drivers pounding out the beats with consistent energy and clarity. Its a powerful sounding headphone with good low end grunt that still manages to retain the tightness and control that is so often the downfall of similarly priced cans. Soundstage and separation deserve note as both work very well together. Decent width on the soundstage as well as depth give ample room between instruments meaning that you can precisely pin point certain sounds again this is excellent for monitoring purposes and the combination means a very enjoyable casual listening experience.
Now for the specific sound frequency reports and for the most part its all very very good. To start with the bass is strong powerful and yet manages to retain detail in the mid bass whilst providing a decent level of deep down sub bass. No real bleed of the bass was detected into the mids and there was very little observed in the way of bass roll off. The mids came across well, not as enjoyable as something like Grado's SR80e or the Focal Spirit One but none the less the were clean and reasonably well detailed. Male vocals performed best with female vocals sounding slightly less impressive but then acoustic instrumentation and drums all sounded very good. There was just enough treble to make these headphone solid all round performers but certainly not enough there to trouble the big boys, but then again these headphones come in at a fraction of the price of Audeze and Final Audio.
Audio Technica ATH M50x Review | Conclusion
As an all rounder the ATH-M50x is very good, as a style icon its ok but at value for money it is virtually unmatched. Energetic sound with controlled is what I loved most but then you have the combination of the very good looks and outstanding ATH build quality and this headphone is a winner. Up against Shure's SRH440 the ATH-M50x headphones come away with a resounding victory in every area and in fact they are only significantly bested by headphones costing many times the price. I will happily use these both at home and on a commute and anyone who picks up a set should be happy that they have bought a very capable well made set of headphones. For experienced audiophiles they still manage to satisfy but its newcomers stepping up from low to midrange cans that will be blown away, showing them just how addictive a headphone hobby can be.