Part of The Audiophile Rabbit Hole Series!
This series takes a look back on my experiences with headphones dating back to 2010. Enjoy!
- 3/11/21. Article posted.
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What is it about the M50 that’s divided so many? Is this headphone still relevant today? Is it worth a purchase? How exactly will it change your life?
All of these answers and more can be had for about Tree Fiddy.
Nah, stick around, and let’s talk…
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At A Glance
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
Limited 2-Year Warranty
Shoutout to Crinacle for the graph! This is Crinacle’s graph. There are many like it, but this one is his. ?
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- Type: Closed-back.
- Fit: Circumaural (Over-Ear).
- Frequency response: 15 Hz – 28 kHz
- Impedance: 38 Ohms. What Is Headphone Impedance?
- Sensitivity: 99dB/mW.
- Material: Plastic, Metal, Faux Leather.
- Color: Grey/Black/Silver.
- Connector to earpiece: Detachable 1 x 2.5 mm TRS Male.
- Connector to source: 1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRS Male Straight.
What is it about the M50 that’s divided so many people?
This product sits in a weird cross-section of not quite audiophile worthy, but not quite consumer either. I think many audiophiles would scoff at the notion of someone actually enjoying it, which I think is a bit unfair.
It’s not a true audiophile headphone in the sense that it’s not really close to neutral or “correct”, but it’s also not quite V-shaped or trashy sounding like typical drug store dog food.
I think it’s an appropriate headphone for someone who’s fairly new, but also a bass head. That is to say that at a particular time and place in your journey, it’s kind of just one of those things you’ll probably end up experiencing regardless of if it’s “right” or “wrong.”
It is a headphone that will change your life if you’re completely new, or fairly new to the hobby as I was back in 2012-2013.
Last time, we discussed a headphone that changed my life in 2010 (The 7506), but I was surprised at just how amazing the M50 sounded to me when I first heard it.
I was in college at the time and received the headphone (M50) as a gift that Christmas. When I went back to school for the Spring 2013 semester, I had the headphones around my neck seemingly night and day without taking them off. I even slept with them.
Because I was a bass head, everything about it was perfect for me: elevated bass shelf for everything below 200Hz, a detailed treble with loads of sparkle, and a lively mid-range with plenty of focus on instruments and small details.
It’s a headphone I primarily used for listening to instrumental hip-hop beats, and for that, it’s hard to beat even to this day (no pun intended).
Is the M50x still relevant today?
As long as people are willing to purchase them, of course. It’s hard to argue with someone who enjoys what they have. I certainly loved my time with them immensely, and I wouldn’t mind having a Bluetooth pair for the gym to be quite honest.
I do believe it’s a headphone you’ll outgrow as you become more familiar with the hobby and try more products, but for someone just getting their feet wet? I still think it can work in certain circumstances and it’s certainly not bad sounding, regardless of what some snob like MetalHD600 tells you. Me love you long time, Metal!
I don’t like the fact that both the 50x and 40x are marketed as “reference/monitor” headphones, as their sound signatures indicate anything but.
What I do like is that the 50x is ruggedly durable, portable, folds and contorts in a myriad of ways, and works well without an Amp. I would stick to harder genres as it just doesn’t pair well with certain types of music. It’s also not very comfortable and the pads will tend to crack and harden over time.
Even so, I remember sitting in the graphic design lab feeling like something was going on outside almost constantly, a testament to the fact that the Soundstage is actually quite decent; at least more so than people give it credit for. What is Soundstage? [Detailed Explanation]
This is especially noteworthy for a closed-back headphone that, let’s be honest, sounds like a closed back for the most part. My impressions could have simply been the way the track was recorded and certainly, I understand that on a deeper level now that I’ve demoed quite a bit of gear over the years.
It’s also interesting to me how hip-hop songs do tend to elicit those types of small details; something I wasn’t really aware of before I tried an M50.
Also keep in mind that back when I owned the M50, the 50x hadn’t come out yet. I got a chance to demo the 50x a year or so later in 2014 and appreciated its somewhat more subdued treble response; an issue apparent in the original that certainly needed to be rectified; and was.
The cable also upgraded to a detachable 2.5mm, but the overall build retained that same rugged quality that I really came to appreciate over my 5-year relationship with it.
I would recommend the M50x if not for the fact that the DT770 is insanely comfortable and thus should be looked at first for aspiring bass heads.
Even so, looking at graphs side by side reveals that the M50x is actually a bit more neutral with a less extreme bass shelf and a smoother response.
Also Crinacle’s Graph!
This is partly why I get irritated with the audiophile hobby sometimes. I feel as though this stuff can border on elitism.
If you look at these 2 graphs side by side, there’s no reason why the M50x should get as much hate while the 770 garners a weird cult-like following even though it’s arguably a more flawed headphone. This is of course, up for debate, but I’m just giving you some food for thought. They’re still pretty similar-sounding cans at the end of the day.
BE COOL HUNNY BUNNY!!
Ready to venture further down the rabbit hole?
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Audio Technica ATH M50/50x Review & Discussion, and came away with some valuable insight.
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Do YOU think the M50/50x’s have been treated unfairly? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,
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Keep in mind this was right before I sold it. As you can see, I completely peeled all of the headband faux leather material off. The original cups also peeled in the same way, leaving just the memory foam underneath.
I replaced the cups with the ones pictured (Brainwavz HM-5 velour IIRC), but they made the headphones sound even more bright and tinny. Comofrtable? Absolutely. Recommended for sound? Not at all. Just stick with the originals or find a better pair of aftermarket pads that don’t alter the sound signature.