Home Closed Back Headphone Reviews Audio Technica ATH-M50x Review – Was The Ridicule Warranted?

Audio Technica ATH-M50x Review – Was The Ridicule Warranted?

by Stuart Charles Black
Audio Technica ATH M50x Review

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Originally published 12/31/14

Updates:

  • 3/30/22. Article revisit.

Greetings friend and Welcome aboard!!

Before we get into the Audio Technica ATH M50x review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…

You’ve come to the right place!!!


Table Of Contents

Specs/Intro
Build & Comfort
Sound
Pros & Cons
Amp Requirements
Consensus/Conclusion & Final Word

Video Discussion

At A Glance

Preview
Bass Head
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black, Professional Grade, Critically Acclaimed, with Detachable Cable
Title
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black, Professional Grade, Critically Acclaimed, with Detachable Cable
Color
Black/Silver
Weight
10 Oz. / 284g (Without Cable)
Fit
Circumaural (Around-Ear)
Type
Closed Back, Dynamic
Materials
Plastic, Metal, Faux Leather
Connector
To earpiece: 1 x 2.5 mm TRS Male To Source: 1 x 1/8" / 3.5 mm TRS Male Straight
Headband Style
Traditional
Impedance
38 Ohms
Sensitivity
99dB/mW
Frequency Response
15Hz - 28kHz
Primary Use
Bass Head
Cable Length
3.9 to 9.8' / 1.2 to 3 m, 3.9 to 9.8' / 1.2 to 3 m, 3.9 to 3.9' / 1.2 to 1.2 m
Cable Detachable?
Folding?
Amplification Required?
Prime
Price
Price not available
Details
Bass Head
Preview
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black, Professional Grade, Critically Acclaimed, with Detachable Cable
Title
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black, Professional Grade, Critically Acclaimed, with Detachable Cable
Color
Black/Silver
Weight
10 Oz. / 284g (Without Cable)
Fit
Circumaural (Around-Ear)
Type
Closed Back, Dynamic
Materials
Plastic, Metal, Faux Leather
Connector
To earpiece: 1 x 2.5 mm TRS Male To Source: 1 x 1/8" / 3.5 mm TRS Male Straight
Headband Style
Traditional
Impedance
38 Ohms
Sensitivity
99dB/mW
Frequency Response
15Hz - 28kHz
Primary Use
Bass Head
Cable Length
3.9 to 9.8' / 1.2 to 3 m, 3.9 to 9.8' / 1.2 to 3 m, 3.9 to 3.9' / 1.2 to 1.2 m
Cable Detachable?
Folding?
Amplification Required?
Prime
Price
Price not available
Details

In The Box

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Closed-Back Monitor Headphones (Black)

Coiled Cable (3.9 to 9.8′)

Straight Cable (9.8′)

Straight Cable (3.9′)

1/4″ Screw-On Adapter

Carrying Pouch

Limited 2-Year Warranty


Specs..

Specifications

  • Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check eBay! | Standard replacement pads: Here!
  • Earpiece Swivel: Yes, 90°
  • Foldable: Yes
  • Type: Closed Back
  • Driver: Dynamic
  • Fit: Circumaural (Over-Ear)
  • Impedance: 38 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
  • Sensitivity: 99dB
  • Frequency response: 15 – 28,000 Hz
  • Maximum Power Handling: 1600mW
  • Material: Plastic, Faux Leather, Metal
  • Color: Black

Introduction

It’s hard to believe I first put these on my head all the way back in 2013.

At that time, there was no M50x. It was simply the M50.

The difference is that the 50x improved upon the treble issue present in the original but also added a removable cable, a choice of different colors, and contoured ear cups that seal tighter for improved isolation.

I did get a chance to demo the 50x around 2014 but never owned one. My friend Thomas had just bought a pair and I got a chance to try them at his pad. They were all the rage back then and in many ways still are.

I can confirm that the treble was handled much better which only improved upon an already fantastic product.

I still feel that way today.

The 50x is just about the most polarizing headphone in the audiophile community. Heck, it’s one of the most polarizing products, period – perhaps even more so than the Sennheiser HD600.

It’s the type of headphone you’ll either love or hate, but I’ve never understood the pushback it’s gotten over the years.

Let’s take a gander at one of the most popular headphones ever made and find out if it’s still worth a purchase today.

Build & Comfort

Audio Technica ATH M50x Review

First off, these are built deceptively well, and certainly better than their M40x counterpart. The M40x had issues at the hinge because it didn’t fully rotate around.

In other words, it snapped under pressure like Henry Hill in Goodfellas.

The M50x’s hinges do fully rotate, however.

I’m still impressed with how tough these things are. They certainly went through a lot in the 5 years that I owned them from 2013 – 2018.

Anything you can think of I’ve probably experienced with them. They’ve been dropped, tossed, stuffed in book bags, the chord has been pulled and run over more times than I’m comfortable admitting, but they still somehow always asked for more like Mick Foley.

They were heavy enough to where I didn’t get worried about breaking them but light enough to remain portable.

The build is mostly plastic, but it’s a rugged variety similar to an HD280 but not quite as bulky as that one. The headband adjustments are metal and make a satisfying clicking sound.

The earcups are made of faux leather which brings me to my first complaint: They will crack, peel, and harden after a couple of years, so users beware.

Fortunately, thy are replaceable so it’s still a good investment regardless as most cups will break down in some form or fashion over time.

The headband padding will also come off, but there’s enough of it, and doesn’t dig too hard into the top of your skull though you will feel it from time to time.

The protective coil

The famous indestructible 3.5mm jack.

Audio Technica ATH M50x ReviewOne of the most unique and impressive things about these is the stainless steel coil that protects the cable from damage. It appears on the end near the 3.5 mm jack and has probably prevented these from having to be replaced numerous times.

Over the years, many companies have copied Audio Technica’s design and it’s easy to see why.

Comfort

Comfort is hit and miss. In other words, about average to maybe slightly below.

Back when I was younger and mixing into the wee hours of the morning, I kind of just accepted it. It’s like a “grin and bear it” type of thing.

The pads tend to dig into your ear lobes and they will get hot/sweaty after a while. Not all that surprising, really.

These are marketed as Circumaural (Around-Ear) and barely fit that moniker.

As with the MDR-7506, I find them to be a cross between Supra-Aural (On-Ear) and Circumaural as they kind of envelop your ears but kind of don’t.

In my experience, I found them to rest more on top of my ears rather than surrounding them, which is part of the reason why they became uncomfortable after a while.

Sound

Audio Technica ATH M50x Review

If this is your first foray into the world of audiophiles, and you’ve never experienced anything other than low-grade dog food, these will sound pretty remarkable.

Heck, they sound great regardless of what any of those snobs say.

The problem with the internet is someone with influence says something, then everyone else parrots it.

So go ahead, parrot what I just said. xD

No really, the M50x hate is completely out of control in my opinion.

If you put a DT770 graph side by side with an M50x, you’ll start to wonder why the former has been essentially placed on a pedestal while the latter is mocked and ridiculed into oblivion.

It really doesn’t make any sense. The 50x has been accused of being “horribly unbalanced”, but which of the 2 is actually more V-shaped?

If you guessed DT770, you guessed correct.

The 50x opts for a 5dB shelf across 20Hz – 200, but it sounds really good and in no way bloated or artificial.

This in my mind is what sets it apart from other bass head offerings.

You’ll love the weight and impact that it has, but it really never sounds out of control or overdone like your mom’s meatloaf.

When we talk about colored headphones, it simply means they have an added warmth to them and aren’t quite neutral. They are a bit more forward in sound and provide an enjoyable experience rather than a critical one.

The only thing that prevents the M50x from being a true reference headphone is the bass response. It isn’t neutral in the slightest. It is tight and accurate but also hits really hard. This also happens to be one of the M50x’s best qualities.

When you first put these on, you may finally realize what you were missing all those years. The sound is tight, controlled, and accurate, but also has a touch of warmth/color to it.

As mentioned before, the bass is their bread and butter. Hip hop heads will love the deep, tight, and accurate response. The low end never becomes too boomy, bloated, or artificial. It also somehow manages not to drown out the other frequencies.

The low mid-range is a bit pushed back around 300Hz, but other than that, what exactly are audiophiles complaining about?

The highs sparkle, and again are much improved over the overly bright/sibilant M50.

You will start to hear things in your music that were previously absent. Very subtle details will start to emerge, and the best way I can describe it is that the sound envelops and completely takes you away. They aren’t noise-canceling but isolate very well.

I was honestly floored when I first put them on and can remember vividly how I felt throughout that specific day.

Audio Technica ATH M50x Review

Soundstage

For a closed back model, these deliver quite the experience. For those that don’t know, sound-stage simply means how lively the music feels, and if you perceive the music to be outside of  you rather than in your head.

With open back headphones, it’s more prominent because the sound has room to breathe (Some of it literally escapes through the backs of the headphone).

Have you ever thought you heard a noise while you were listening to music and subsequently taken off your headphones and looked around?

That’s what I mean. Good headphones can sort of fool you into thinking that you are right there with the band. What is Soundstage?

As good as the sound is here, the downside is that they can become exhausting after a while.

Being that these are closed-back, the music can get trapped in your head and you may have to take frequent breaks if you tend to listen for long periods of time.

This happens more so when you are mixing a track in the studio, because of the fact that you are sitting and analyzing the song for a good number of hours.

Pros

  • Deep, tight bass response, with crisp highs.
  • Extreme and vivid clarity between each instrument.
  • Great Soundstage for a closed-back model.
  • Great for hip-hop/rap (a bass-heads dream).
  • Sturdy build quality, not too heavy, not too light. They can really take quite a bit of abuse.
  • They contort in a myriad of different ways for added flexibility.

Cons

  • The earpads are prone to cracking, peeling, and hardening over time.
  • Comfort can be problematic.

Will you need an amp?

Audio Technica ATH M50x Review

Amp/DAC requirements

At 38 Ohms, none!!

The M50x is built for portable devices. If you do opt for an Amp/DAC, I wouldn’t invest in anything more than a FiiO E10K. Related: How to Choose a Headphone Amp [Definitive Guide]

Consensus/Conclusion

The M50x is a great pair of headphones for bass heads but also works for most genres and even does okay as reference headphones in a pinch. Comfort is hit and miss, but the build quality and longevity here are excellent at the price point and easily make the best headphones for hip-hop list.

Final Word

I loved the M50x back then and still love it today. It’s not a perfect headphone by any means but still deserves a look even despite a barrage of headphones flooding the market in recent years.

 

 

All in all, an excellent set of headphones that will last you a very long time…

Well, that’s about it for today my friend! Hope you enjoyed this Audio Technica ATH M50 Review.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.

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Do you think the M50x is a good value? What are some of your favorite headphones? Let me know!! I would love to hear from you…

All the best and God Bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

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Audio Technica ATH M50

4.65

Comfort

4.5/5

Sound

4.3/5

Durability

5.0/5

Longevity

4.9/5

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Crisp sound
  • Solid and Durable
  • Longevity
  • Tight bass

Cons

  • Ear pad crackage after 2 1/2 years
  • Recessed mid-range

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20 comments

Michael January 2, 2015 - 3:09 pm

Nice information and Products you are sharing on this Website.

Reply
Stu January 2, 2015 - 3:17 pm

Thanks Michael!!

Reply
A. Marc January 2, 2015 - 3:58 pm

what’s up Stu,
Fun review as usual. I might pick them up, do me a favor and try them with that song Fat Joe – Ballin feat Wiz Khalifa, Teyana Taylor. Wanna see ya face after hearing it with audio technica ath m50. Can you handle it?

Reply
Stu January 3, 2015 - 3:57 am

Lol I still haven’t gotten around to it.. bout to go to bed now.. i will tmw brother. Hope you’re well. Thanks for the love
-Stu

Reply
James January 2, 2015 - 4:37 pm

Great review Stu. You certainly know your stuff. Keep it up
James

Reply
Stu January 3, 2015 - 3:56 am

thanks bud!!

Reply
djolence March 27, 2015 - 4:24 am

could you please tell me the combination between ath m50x and scarlett 2i2 ? im making electronic music (dubstep/big room house),and i need studio headphones and some sound card (in the future maybe i would buy krk 6 g3) for now,i have money only for m50x. I really need your thoughts. Is good all that combinations? thanks

Reply
Stu March 27, 2015 - 5:55 pm

Hey Man! Yeah actually right now I have my M50’s on (not listening to music because they are so comfy) hehe, and the headphone jack is plugged into my 2i2! It’s really just the perfect little interface.. I can’t recommend it enough!! The M50’s as well as the 50x’s come with a 1/4″ adapter that enables you to plug your headphones right into the front of the interface. In all honesty, these headphones are the best I’ve ever had (Sony MDR 7506 being a close second).. GET EM you won’t regret it
-Stu

Reply
djolence April 2, 2015 - 5:01 am

Thank you for your answer, i really do appreciate it 🙂 So the M50x and 2i2 is great combination? Can I can just plug them into my computer without 2i2?

Reply
Stu April 2, 2015 - 3:41 pm

Yes you can! If you bought the 50x’s, you wouldn’t screw on the adapter.. instead you just plug your headphones into your laptop or CPU as normal. But yeah.. the M50x’s work great with my 2i2!! They are the best headphones you can buy for under $200. I’ve had mine for over 2 years now! If you give me your email I’ll send a couple of pics i just took.
-Stu

Reply
djolence April 4, 2015 - 11:18 pm

What i really need is sound quality for sure. I know how they look, its not necessary 🙂 That’s why I’m here! To seek your advice 🙂 I think I’m going to buy them; are you sure I don’t need 2i2? will they sound good on my old computer without 2i2?

Stu April 5, 2015 - 12:05 am

Yeah they sound great in my laptop, in my 2i2, in my ipod.. pretty much anywhere… the sound will vary slightly from each device.. but it has nothing to do with the headphones.. You will be blown away when you’re breaking them in. You will start to hear stuff in your favorite songs that you’ve never heard before! 🙂 -Stu

djolence April 5, 2015 - 4:57 pm

I can imagine that 🙂 This will be my first experience listening on studio equipment. I do need these because like I said, I’m making music and would love to have them..

Greetings! 🙂

Reply
Stu April 6, 2015 - 4:14 pm

yeah man, let me know if you get them!! -Stu

Reply
Alex February 10, 2016 - 5:44 am

The T70p is much better for natural classic music, while the more boosted bass and better head seal of the ATH-M50 make it better for popular music.

Reply
Stu February 13, 2016 - 10:22 pm

Thanks! I will have to check out the T70p for myself.

-Stu

Reply
Alex July 22, 2019 - 6:10 am

Hey stu, I did it anyway, I bought the audio technica m50x. I am surprised. It sounds better then I thought. When you play for 24 hours the sound is awesome. I doubt now if the audio technica m50x is less then dt 770 pro. I know how the drivers of the dt 770 pro look like. I find the drivers in the audio technica m50x of better quality. It looks more robust, I did not open this headphone but I look at photos on google. The drivers of the dt 770 pro IMO look vulnerable. I also read opinions of other people with the same conclusion.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black July 26, 2019 - 5:33 pm

Hey Alex!

I had an original M50 for 5 years before I gave it away and loved my time with it. My friend had bought a 50x and I did a side by side back in 2014 or thereabouts. Couldn’t tell that much of a difference but I tested them a long time ago. I know that they fixed the treble issue that was apparent on the original 50 and tamed it down a bit. I do think the 770 is definitely a more comfortable headphone overall. Interesting findings about the driver though. I haven’t heard anything about that although I haven’t researched the 770 in awhile. Keep me posted on your impressions of the 50x!

Reply
Alex August 6, 2019 - 7:26 pm

Hey Stu!

The dt 770 pro is more comfortable yeah I find that too. The dt 770 pro is more noticed concerning the vulnerable driver then you expect.

I have a lot of experience now with the m50x, when you listen out of the box and leave it that way the dt 770 pro definitely sounds not better but nicer, when you eq the m50x the m50x is nicer.

I am afraid that the dt 770 pro is losing my attention. The m40x is definitely losing.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black August 10, 2019 - 2:00 pm

Hey man!

Yeah I definitely got a lot more use out of the M50 back in the day. 5 Years worth. Then again I was just a beginner and it was only my second “good” headphone. The first being the MDR 7506. The 40x purchase came at a time when I had a lot of cans lying around and it just never saw as much use as I thought it was going to. I ended up selling most of my headphones recently and sadly the 40x didn’t make the cut even though it’s still a pretty good headphone overall.

Reply

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