Audio-Technica ATH-M50x: A Studio Mainstay Evolves for All Listening Needs

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x: A Studio Mainstay Evolves for All Listening Needs

Written by Mark Williams, In Gadgets, Published On
March 10, 2024

In Shor:

  • Built from dense plastic with metal reinforcement, the ATH-M50x exhibits the same ruggedness that has made the M50 a studio and stage staple for years. Added padding finally makes long sessions comfortable without sacrificing the acoustic seal. Detachable cables and replaceable parts extend usable lifespan, protecting your investment.
  • Equipped with large 45mm drivers, the ATH-M50x delivers silky highs up to 28kHz, tight bass down to 15Hz, and an exceptionally clean midrange. The mild V-shaped signature adds low-end power and high-end detail without compromising the midrange. Great wired performance scales to benefit from high-end source gear.
  • Ships with 1.2m, 3m, and coiled 3m detachable cables to match needs across desktop, portable, and stage use. The white color option deviates from the standard studio black aesthetic. Serious monitoring capability meets enhanced ergonomics and portable convenience, which were lacking in earlier models.
  • Forgoes advanced features like ANC and EQ to focus budget on nailing audio accuracy, long-term reliability through rugged construction, and flexible connectivity. The result is a pair of sub-$200 headphones that capably span professional and audiophile applications while achieving excellence at the musical fundamentals.

First released in 2007, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 quickly became an industry staple for music production and audio editing. With a robust build, neutral sound, and affordable price, the headphones gained a strong following across recording studios, radio stations, electronic dance music DJ booths, and audiophile listening stations around the world. In 2014, Audio-Technica released the ATH-M50x as an enhanced revision that keeps the best aspects of the original while upgrading comfort, connectivity, and versatility.

The ATH-M50x retains the same robust construction and accurate audio reproduction its predecessor was known for while adding a detachable cable system that enhances portable use. An improved industrial design with more padding makes long listening or mixing sessions easier on the ears. With excellent wired connectivity across devices and universal 3.5mm compatibility, the ATH-M50x can pull studio recording or mixing duty just as well as portable audiophile listening with phones, tablets, and portable music players.

Key Specifications

Specification Details
Transducer Type Dynamic
Driver Diameter 45 mm
Frequency Response 15 – 28,000 Hz
Impedance 38 ohms
Sensitivity 99dB SPL/mW
Max Input Power 1,600 mW
Cable Length 1.2m – 3m (Detachable)
Weight (w/o Cable) 285 g

Design and Build Quality


The ATH-M50x uses the same basic design and architecture as the original ATH-M50, with oval-shaped earcups mounted to a rugged headband built from dense plastic and reinforced steel. Padding on the earcups and underside of the headband has been increased, improving comfort and achieving a better acoustic seal for enhanced bass response compared to the ATH-M50. The earcups still fold inward into a compact format for easy transport and storage. The key upgrade is an enhanced cable connectivity system. The ATH-M50x ships with three detachable cables: a 3m straight cable, a 1.2m straight cable, and a coiled 3m cable. Cables lock securely into place via a twist-locking mechanism, preventing accidental disconnects while allowing the user to swap cables for the best setup based on the listening environment. The M50x is available in black or white color schemes.

The ATH-M50x retains the tank-like build that made the ATH-M50 a staple in radio stations and recording studios despite heavy daily use. The beefy plastic construction and reinforced metal band can withstand years of use with no visible damage. While plastic creaking is audible when flexing the headband, the headphones still convey a sense of sturdiness with every handling. For their price bracket, it’s hard to beat the construction quality, which protects your investment from damage over years of use across different environments.

Sound Performance and Audio Quality

As a successor to the beloved ATH-M50, Audio-Technica took great care to preserve the highly accurate sound reproduction the previous model was known for while slightly tweaking the tuning toward a more consumer-friendly tonality. The result is a sound signature that delivers enough bass slam and high-end detail to satisfy discerning listeners while emphasizing a clean midrange for accurate reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. The 45mm large-aperture drivers can cleanly reproduce extended highs up to 28 kHz while still delivering tight, punchy bass down to a deep 15 Hz. With an impedance of 38 ohms and high sensitivity, the ATH-M50x plays well with portable music players and phones without demanding extra amplification to reach satisfying volume levels. That said, the M50x scales upward nicely when paired with dedicated headphone amplifiers and high-resolution digital audio players.

The excellent audio accuracy spans the entire frequency range. Low bass is clean and tight rather than boomy. Mid-bass delivers a pleasing bump that brings out the thump in bass guitar lines and the smack of kick drums without muddying the mids. The vocals sound clear and lifelike. Crisp treble adds detail and airiness to cymbals and higher instrumentation without becoming overly sharp or sibilant. Soundstage performance is just average for a closed-back headphone, with a fairly intimate in-the-head listening experience typical at this price point. Still, stereo imaging is quite accurate, with easy placement of individual instruments across the head stage.

Comfort and Ergonomics


While earlier ATH-M50 models were known for good sound at the expense of comfort during long listening sessions, Audio-Technica addressed these criticisms with the M50x revision. Thicker padding on the earcups and underside of the headband helps avoid the pressure point complaints some had with earlier models. The clamping force has been calibrated for a secure fit without excessive tightness. The thicker earpads conform closely to create an improved seal for enhanced bass while avoiding hotspots. Those with larger ears that struggled to fit inside previous M50 models should have an easier time of achieving a good fit with the M50x. The stiff padding does lead to some creaking noises when adjusting the headphones, but the material stays cooler on the ears during extended use compared to leatherette padding. Thanks to these ergonomic improvements, the M50x is better equipped for multi-hour studio sessions than earlier M50 editions.

Versatility: Ideal for Various Applications

While specifically positioned as professional studio monitor headphones, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x brings versatility, allowing it to transition seamlessly between production environments and recreational use. At a basic level, the closed-back design provides a decent level of noise isolation, allowing the ATH-M50x to mute ambient noise reasonably well for travel use or noisy urban environments. A single-sided cable exit and the ability to fold flat aids in pocketability, though the industrial design isn’t as svelte as consumer headphones aimed specifically at portability. The excellent audio fidelity ensures recordings and mixes translate well across systems while providing engaging sound to satisfy the discerning audiophile just looking for musical enjoyment.

The excellent connectivity transforms the headphones from studio gear to portable listening companions. With detachable cables using a 3.5mm plug, the ATH-M50x can connect to just about any modern headphone output. Use the coiled cable for home hi-fi listening, while the 1.2m straight cable enables pocket-friendly portable use. Strong wired performance removes the need to recharge batteries while achieving nearly latency-free playback critical for video editing or DJ monitoring applications. For the style-conscious, white and special-edition color options deviate from the standard studio black aesthetic. It’s this combination of great sound, flexible ergonomics, and universal connectivity that takes the ATH-M50x beyond workhorse studio Monitor status into a versatile listening companion at home, in transit, while producing media, and beyond.

Advanced Features and Technology

In keeping with its studio monitor origins, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x skips advanced features like active noise cancellation, onboard EQ, or wireless connectivity to focus purely on the accuracy of audio reproduction. The oversized drivers utilize powerful magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils in an effort to maximize transient response and minimize distortion. Durable, high-grade wiring ensures consistent performance over years of heavy use.

User-swappable parts like earpads and cables allow customization or replacements down the road, extending useful lifespan. While omitting cutting-edge features found in more consumer-focused headphones, the M50x delivers excellent audio and construction fundamentals at a reasonable price that has appealed to audio professionals and discerning listeners alike since the first M50 model arrived over 15 years ago. Sometimes, excelling at the basics has more appeal than flashy extras bound to fail with use.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your ATH-M50x


While excellently tuned out of the box, a few small adjustments can make the ATH-M50x shine. Ensure cables are fully inserted and rotated to lock in place, reinforcing connections over thousands of insertions. An aftermarket balanced cable can provide cleaner stereo separation when using amps with balanced outputs. Third-party replacement earpads from brands like Brainwavz can alter comfort and sound isolation. For portable use, a rigid case affords more protection than the included carrying pouch. Burn-in isn’t essential but can tame any harshness present out of the box after a few days of use. Even without modifications, tips on achieving the best fit and positioning will extract the ATH-M50x’s full potential. Avoid cranking volumes to protect your hearing and the drivers during demanding use.

Pros and Cons of Audio-Technica

Pros  Cons
Accurate, fairly neutral sound signature The all-plastic build lacks premium metal accents
Excellent mid and treble detail Pleather earpads get hot with extended wear
Tight, punchy bass without muddiness Creaking noises when adjusting the fit
A detachable cable extends the versatility Soundstage performance is just average
Durable construction for daily professional use No advanced features like ANC or EQ
Generous headband and earpad padding improve ergonomics
Good passive noise isolation

Note: As with any headphone model produced over many years, sound character and build variances can exist across different production batches. Purchase from authorized dealers to ensure receiving the latest M50x revision.


Upon its 2007 launch, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 over-delivered on performance-per-dollar appeal, cementing its status as a studio staple for years. The 2014 follow-up ATH-M50x smartly retains the best aspects of the original while enhancing ergonomics for all-day use and expanding the versatility via detachable cables. The result is a pair of sub-$200 headphones that can capably serve both professional and recreational users while achieving excellence at musicality, durable construction, and flexible connectivity. While flashy headphone trends come and go, the ATH-M50x demonstrates why Audio-Technica’s studio heritage and focus on musical fundamentals keep professionals and discerning listeners coming back year after year.


Are the ATH-M50x good for listening to music?

With highly accurate audio reproduction favoring a mild bass bump, the ATH-M50x serves music listening extremely well. Great wired connectivity makes them versatile across stationary and portable setups.

How comfortable are the ATH-M50x for long studio sessions?

Compared to earlier M50 models, added padding helps the M50x achieve excellent comfort for extended use without hotspots or tight clamping.

Does the ATH-M50x require a headphone amp?

Thanks to decent sensitivity and nominal 38-ohm impedance, the M50x plays nicely with phones and portable players. A dedicated amp isn’t essential but can help scale fidelity.

Can you connect the ATH-M50x headphones wirelessly?

No, the standard ATH-M50x lacks wireless support, although Bluetooth versions like the ATH-M50xBT2 exist. The wired model focuses purely on sound.

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