The Audio Technica ATH-M50x studio headphones are some of the best monitors on the market for their price range.
If you’re looking for a great pair of studio headphones, I would recommend the Audio Technica ATH-M50x.
I can’t say that they’re the best headphones on the planet because I haven’t tried every pair of headphones, but these are reliably good for the price range.
Let’s say hypothetically you want to drop to less than $100, in that case, the ATH-M30x will do. I think that for most beginners to music production, the M30x is enough to do the trick, for sure.
I use them every day for monitoring as well as mixing and mastering.
These are actually the first pair of studio monitors that I’ve ever bought and I always go back to them due to how good they are.
The Audio Technica ATH-M50x are some of the highest-rated headphones as well, and you’ll notice that many other people make the same recommendation.
First things first, we’re going to talk about these headphones in detail, including the differences between the ATH-series (20x, 30x, 40x, and 50x) and then we’ll discuss some generalities regarding studio headphones and why they’re great to have.
Without Further Ado
Audio Technica ATH-M50x Review
What I like about these studio monitors is how flexible they are as well as the detail that’s been put into them.
With the way that they’re put together, you don’t have to worry about twisting or contorting them enough so they break, because the arms of it are attached to rotating parts that allow it to be flipped up and down.
Also, the M50x comes in the box without a cable attached to them, so the added benefit is that if the cable breaks, your dog chews them, or you find yourself in some other unfortunate situation, you don’t have to worry about them being completely ruined.
If the cable breaks, however, you have to purchase an Audio-Technica cable. A Dre Beats cable won’t work due to the locking mechanism.
Moreover, the actual speaker cups are attached by a rotating ball which means they have a 180-degree range of emotion.
You can spin them around nearly as much as you want, allowing you to either lay them flat on your chest and collarbone when you’re not mixing or swinging them around the other way.
This is a key difference between the ATH-M40x and the ATH-M50x because the ATH-M40x don’t have the same rotating hinges. While the M40x does have one, they only rotate to about 90-degrees, so clearly there isn’t as much range in terms of what can be done with them.
The M30x and the M20x hardly have any flexibility at all in terms of how they can be moved around.
If your cable breaks, just go out and buy a new 1/4 jack cable and you’re good to go again. This is unlike the cheaper models, for instance, the MT30x aren’t like this. The cable is permanently attached and if the cable goes, the entire unit does as well.
You also have the option of purchasing the M50x Blue Tooth headphones. Typically, I would say to avoid using Blue Tooth when monitoring, especially if you’re using your headphones to listen to your computer while playing the guitar or the MIDI keyboard at the same time.
I wrote about this in another article already, the latency article. Using Bluetooth headphones while monitoring is a bad move because it causes latency.
I won’t dive into this too much here, check out the link above where I discuss that factor a little more in detail.
It’s important to note though that if you do choose to purchase the BlueTooth option, they also come with a cable option, so you can use them for monitoring if you want too, but you can also take them on the road with you for just casual listening.
The ATH-M50x also comes with three different cables in the box, which explains why the price of these has gone so much in recent years. You get a 1.2-meter straight cable, a 3-meter straight cable, and a 1.2-meter coiled cable.
When you get your headphones, pull whatever cable you want out of the box and then plug it into the headphone jack and turn and twist it into place.
As I mentioned above, the (small) downside of this, however, is the fact the locking mechanism on the cables dissuades you from purchasing any headphone cables from any other company, so keep that in mind.
If you intend on wearing these headphones for a long time, don’t worry because the headphones cups are actually pretty soft.
You don’t have to worry about hurting your ears with these, in addition to the handy noise-canceling seal that stops all outside signals.
I feel like it’s worth mentioning, however, that these headphones are meant primarily for mixing and mastering professional recordings, rather than taking to the gym with you. Of course, if you really want to take these to the gym, you can, but I wouldn’t.
Take your earbuds or Dre Beats to the gym, headphones like these have an added attention to detail and higher frequencies, that way you can make better mixes. These aren’t the headphones that come with a slapping bass sound.
An important point to add is that the Audio Technica ATH-M50x isn’t totally flat as some monitors are.
Some people like to use the term “pro-consumer” to describe products such as these because they’re a cross between regular consumer-level headphones and professional headphones.
I use these headphones, which weigh around 285 grams, for pretty much every task when I’m at home, including making beats, mixing and mastering for clients, video editing, creating videos for Instagram, and so on.
Let’s say hypothetically that you didn’t want to spend as much money, and instead, you wanted to purchase one of the lesser models. I would say that’s a good decision, however, I wouldn’t go below the ATH-M30x.
Either get the ATH-M40x or the ATH-M30x, anything lower than that, then you’re at risk of not having good enough headphones to really make good mixes because after all, that’s what these monitors are built for.
In terms of its specifications, the ATH-M50x actually has a frequency range up to 28,000kHz, which is just about as much as you could possibly ever need. This is quite different from the other headphones.
For example, you can’t hear anything about 20kHz on the M20x.
Here are the specifications for all of the headphones in this product series:
ATH-M20x = 20,000 Hz
ATH-M30x = 22,000 Hz
ATH-M40x = 24,000 Hz
ATH-M50x = 28,000 Hz.
What’s interesting about these headphones is that there is a significant difference in quality between each model. Rather than being different in name only, each level is actually quite better than the previous.
Let’s talk about the impedance as well. The impedance, in layman’s terms, refers to the amount of power needed to actually power the headphones and make them usable, measured in “ohms.”
Here are the impedance levels for each headphone in the product line:
ATH-M20x = 47 ohms
ATH-M30x = 47 ohms
ATH-M40x = 25 ohms
ATH-M50x = 38 ohms
Let’s talk about the drivers as well:
A driver is a piece inside of the headphone that converts the electrical signal into a sound. From what I understand, the bigger the driver, the more capability there is to turn an electrical signal into a sound.
ATH-M20x = 40mm
ATH-M30x = 40mm
ATH-M40x = 40mm
ATH-M50x = 45mm
If you don’t want to spend more than $100, you can pick up a pair of ATH-M30x.
Why The Audio Technica ATH-M50x Are Worth It
The added benefit of using any of these headphones, but especially the ATH-M50x, is that they allow a user to hear details in the music that they may never have heard before.
The amount of work and detail that is put into creating a solid album, for example, Songs For The Deaf, by The Queens Of The Stone Age, is honestly pretty shocking, and I feel like it’s a tragedy to listen to an album such as this one and not hear all of the details that have been put into it.
For instance, Eric Valentine, the engineer responsible for this album’s production and engineering, created a YouTube video explaining how he went about recording this album. It’s really worth watching.
The reason why a pair of solid studio headphones are a necessity has to do with the fact that the low frequencies on the headphones aren’t boosted like most other casual listening headphones.
For instance, for the last few years, Dre Beats have been among the most stylish, however, these aren’t good headphones for mixing music.
Headphones built for consumers and casual listeners typically have a boosted low-end because that’s what people normally like with their headphones.
People like them when they have a lot of low-end because the low-end is so noticeable and it seems like they’re getting a better bang for their buck.
You may have had some friends before who boast about their headphones and how good they sound with bass.
Thinking about it, it actually makes a lot of sense, because the low-end is, by far, the most aggressive frequency.
When the low-end is cranked in a car with really nice sub-woofers, it’s obviously quite noticeable. A casual listener will never brag about how clear the high-end is but it’s not AS noticeable.
Most studio monitors attempt to be neutral, which means that there are no low-end, mid-range, or high-range boosts.
This means that when you’re listening to your mixes, the headphones themselves aren’t influencing the way the song sounds so much.
Another good reason for mixing with proper studio monitors is that, because there are no boosts in any of the frequencies, the mix has the highest chance of sounding great across multiple sound systems.
If you use just standard casual listening headphones to make a mix, you might find later on that your mix needed more bass, because the bass-boost in your casual headphones were making you think that the bass was louder than it actually was.
Another benefit to using studio monitors is the fact that you can hear more subtle differences in how the mix sounds.
For example, when you turn up the high frequencies a little bit, or perhaps you increase the ratio and threshold on the compressor, you can hear the changes more.
All in all, I’d say that the Audio Technica ATH-M50x are a solid choice as an introduction to the world of higher-end headphones.
With a lot of searching, maybe you could find a pair that are a bit better and $20 cheaper, but you won’t go wrong with a pair of the M50x as your first “professional” monitors.
I hope this was helpful for you when making a purchase for studio headphones. Make sure to share this on social media with your producer friends, it would be greatly appreciated!