- Table of Contents
- Active Features
In the box
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are great sounding closed-back headphones for critical listening. They have an exceptional reproduction of the bass, mid, and treble range and they feel sturdy and durable enough to last you a while. However, their studio design only offers passive isolation from ambient noise and no audio controls, which is not ideal for loud environments and commuting.
These Headphones are currently our best Mid-Range Critical Listening Headphones - Closed-Back Alternative.
- Excellent, balanced audio reproduction.
- Sturdy and comfortable build.
- Slightly leaky.
- Poor noise isolation.
- No buttons or audio control options.
Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x do not change much style-wise from the ATH-M40x. They have a bland design, but they're well-built, sturdy and durable. The large ear cups are decently comfortable and fit well around most ears. Unfortunately, they're not the most stable headphones and will slip off your ears if used while running or jogging. Also, they don't provide an audio cable with in-line controls, so they won't be as practical to use on the go, which is a little disappointing.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x have the same studio design as the ATH-M40x. They look a little bland, but the all-black utilitarian aesthetic could work for some. The flat oval ear cups add a bit more flare to the overall look of the headphone with silver accents around the logo. They look good, but you won't stand out in a crowd wearing these headphones. However, there are other available color schemes, which are more eye-catching than the all-black version reviewed.
The ear cups of the Audio-Technica M50x are slightly larger than the similarly modeled ATH-M40x, which makes them a little more comfortable. The additional space easily accommodates larger ears, and they do not feel too tight on the head. Unfortunately, the padding can feel a little stiff and squeaky, especially when moving or adjusting the headphone on the head.
These headphones do not have a control scheme and do not come with an additional audio cable with an in-line remote like some of the other wired designs.
- 100% Avg.Temp.Difference
The M50x make your ears fairly warm during long listening sessions. They have a closed back over-ear design that prevents a lot of airflow so they won't be suitable for exercising or working out. They should be okay for more casual listening but will make your ears sufficiently warm that you may have to take a break every 1 to 2 hours.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X are on the larger side of over-ear headphones. They fold into a more compact format and can easily be carried in a backpack but will be too large for most jacket pockets. The swiveling ear cups also lay flat which takes up less space but not as much as when they are folded.
The ATH-M50x are well-built headphones. They feel sturdy and durable because of the dense plastic used for the ear cups and headband. They will be able to withstand a few drops without much damage. However, like the ATH-M40x, the joints are weak points where the headphones may be susceptible to breaking. The metal frame used to reinforce the headband is thicker than the one utilized for the ATH-M30x.
These headphones are not designed for sport, and it shows in how stable they feel once on the head. They will easily slip off your ears if you're doing high-intensity activities like running or jumping. Fortunately, they are sufficiently stable during casual use even if you're often tilting your head. The detachable cable is also a plus if you do not lock them into the ear cups while on the move.
The Audio Technica M50x is a great sounding pair of closed-back over-ear headphones. They have a deep, thumpy, and punchy bass, an outstanding and neutral mid-range, and a well-balanced treble. They also have very good imaging and distortion performance. This makes them very versatile and suitable for almost all genres, from EDM to folk/rock and audiobooks. However, their bass delivery could vary slightly from person to person, and like most closed-back headphones, they don't have a large and speaker-like soundstage.
The Audio Technica M50X has an excellent bass. Their LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 15Hz, which is great. Accordingly, sub-bass is overemphasized by less than 1dB. This ensures a deep bass, which just the right amount of thump and rumble. Mid-bass, responsible for the body of bass guitars and the punch of kick drums, is also flat and within 0.8dB of our target. High-bass, however, is overemphasized by about 2dB, which adds a tad boominess and clutter to the sound.
The mid-range is great. Low-mid is underemphasized by 2dB. This thins out vocals and lead instruments slightly, and instead, gives more room to the thump and punch of the kick drums. Additionally, mid-mid and high-mid are flat and within 1dB of our target, indicating a clear and well-balanced reproduction of vocals and lead instruments.
The treble of the M50X is very good. The response is rather uneven, but overall quite well-balanced. Low-treble, is above our target by 0.8dB, but mid-treble is underemphasized by more than 3dB. This will have a small but negative effect on the detail and brightness of vocals, leads, and cymbals. The 5dB peak at 10Khz, is not significant either, but could make the S and Ts (sibilances) a tad sharp on tracks that are already bright.
The frequency response consistency is above-average. In the bass range, the maximum deviation measured on our 5 human subjects was less than 5dB at 20Hz, which is decent. In the treble range, the maximum deviation below 10KHz is about 6dB, which is also decent. This means that the bass and treble delivery will remain reasonably consistent from across different users and re-seats.
The imaging of the ATH-M50x is great. Their weighted group delay is at 0.3, which is good. The GD graph also shows that the group delay doesn't really cross the audibility threshold, except for a tiny bit around 50Hz. This indicates that for the most part, the bass of the M50x is quite tight and fast, and their treble transparent. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were very well-matched, ensuring accurate placement and localization of objects (instruments, footsteps, voice) in the stereo image.
The soundstage of the Audio-Technica M50x is sub-par. The PRTF graph shows that headphone's response doesn't follow our reference very closely. In general, there doesn't seem to be much pinna (outer ear) activation present, and these over-ear headphones interact with the pinna more like an on-ear. On the up side, the notch at 10KHz is pretty decent, which could help a bit with pulling the soundstage out of the head and bringing it to the front.
The harmonic distortion is great. The overall amount of THD is very low. There is also a rise in THD under heavier loads, but it remains within good limits throughout the range regardless.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, like the ATH-M40x, are not active noise canceling headphones. The ear cups can passively isolate high-frequency noise because of the tight seal they create around most ears. However, the lack of active noise canceling will let the low rumbles of trains and planes seep into your audio and potentially affect your listening experience. If you need a more passively isolating headphone that sound as good as the M50x, then consider the Sennheiser HD 598 Cs. Unfortunately, their leakage level is more audible than the M50x, which will be more of an issue at higher volumes.
The isolation performance of the Audio-Technica M50x is sub-par. In the bass range, important for reducing the rumble of airplane and bus engines, they do not achieve any isolation. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they achieve about 9dB of isolation, which is mediocre. In the treble range, occupied by sharp S and T sounds, the achieve about 28dB of isolation, which is good.
The leakage performance is above-average. The significant portion of their leakage is between 500Hz and 4KHz, which is a relatively broad range. This means their leakage sound fuller than that of in-ears and earbuds, but not as full-bodied as that of open-back headphones. However, the overall level of the leakage is quite low, when the music at 100dB SPL the leakage barely reaches 50dB SPL at 1 foot away, which is lower than the noise floor of most offices.
These headphones do not have a microphone and therefore, the recording quality has not been tested.
- 100% SpNR
These headphones do not have a microphone and therefore, the noise handling has not been tested.
These headphones have no active features and therefore do not require a battery. They also do not have a dedicated app or software for added customization options.
These are passive headphones with no active components and no battery.
The headphones do not have a dedicated, compatible app for added customization.
- 10% Bluetooth
- 32% Wired
- 10% Base/Dock
- 22% Wireless Range
- 25% Latency
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x only have a wired connection. This means they have practically no latency for watching movies and videos but do not have the convenient range of a wireless headphone.
- 79% Multi-Device Pairing
- 20% NFC
- 0% PS4 Compatible
- 0% Xbox One Compatible
These headphones are wired and do not have a Bluetooth connection. If you want a good Bluetooth headset for more casual use check out the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2.
- 13% Analog
- 9% USB
- 26% PS4 Compatible
- 26% Xbox One Compatible
- 26% PC Compatible
These headphones come with 3 audio cables with no in-line remote. This means they will provide audio when connected to your PS4 or Xbox One controller but do not have a microphone for voice chat.
- 4% Optical Input
- 22% Line In
- 4% Line Out
- 22% USB Input
- 4% RCA Input
- 9% PS4 Compatible
- 9% Xbox One Compatible
- 9% PC Compatible
- 2% Power Supply
- 13% Dock Charging
The ATH-M50x does not have a dock. If you need a headset with a dock that also has a wired connection for gaming or watching movies, then consider the SteelSeries Arctis 7.
These headphones do not have a wireless range since they're wired. If you want a good wireless headset for critical listening, consider the Bose QuietComfort 35.
These headphones have practically no latency since they have a wired design. Unfortunately, this also means that they're limited by the range of the provided cables.
In the box
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Headphones
- Carrying pouch
- Audio cables (x3)
- 1/8" to 1/4" Adapter
Compared to other Headphones
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are above-average closed-back critical listening headphones. They have an excellent, and well-balanced audio reproduction. They feel sturdy, and the large ear cups fit comfortably over most ears. They're simple and straightforward headphones for enjoying your music. However, this also means their studio design won't be as practical for every day casual use as some of the more feature-packed headphones compared below. They have no buttons or control schemes and only isolate passively from ambient noise, which is not ideal for commuting or traveling.
The Sennheiser HD 598 Cs are the closed back variant of the popular HD 598. They have a decently balanced sound that's slightly sharper than the ATH-M50x but still great for critical listening. They have a good over-ear fit, with well-padded earcups that are a bit more comfortable than the Audio-Technica, but their build quality doesn't feel as durable. On the upside, the 598Cs come with an inline remote which makes them more compatible with consoles and gives you a bit more control over your music. Get the M50x if you want the better-sounding, more durable option, but the 598Cs are a great alternative with a more versatile cable for gaming and commuting.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x are the slightly lower-end model of the ATH-M series. They are the model just below the M50X, so there aren't any major differences in build quality or sound, unlike with the ATH-M30X and ATH-M20X. The M50X come with an extra audio cable and have more range of motion in their joints and hinges. They're also a bit better balanced since their treble range has a little less pronounced spikes and a bit more low-bass. The difference, however, is quite small so if you have the budget, get the M50X but if you want to save a couple of dollars, then the M40X are a great alternative.
The Sony MDR-7506 are also straightforward, closed-back, critical listening headphones like the ATH-M50x. They have a well-balanced sound that has a bit more bass than the Audio-Technica but also a sharper spike in the treble range that could sound a bit harsh with already bright tracks. They're not built as well as the M50s however and the padding on the ear cups are not as comfortable. On the upside, performance-wise they are not that different and they're slightly cheaper. So if you don't mind the somewhat plasticky design of the Sonys, then their lower price point makes them a good alternative to the M50x.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M70x are the highest tier of the ATH-M series that we've tested so far. They do not sound quite as balanced as the M50x and lack a bit of bass. However, their design feels more polished, and they're also a bit more comfortable. Unfortunately, the price difference will not be worth the minor upgrades for most users. They perform similar if not slightly worse than the M50x for most categories so unless you really like the design, the ATH-M50X are the better option.
Questions & Answers
Yes they have changed, and that's because we have added the new Soundstage test. The ATH-M50x don't have as good as a soundstage as the HD 800 S for example. But you can see that the Frequency Response score is still 8.6.
Over the next couple of months our website will be in a transitory phase as we will be adding new tests and refining the current ones, but we are working hard to bring all of the reviews up-to-date as soon as possible.
Before asking a question, make sure you use the search function of our website. The majority of the answers are already here.