For the last few months I’ve been using my Apple EarPods for nearly every application that requires in-ear audio. I use my EarPods for monitoring while recording voiceovers, for podcasting, and for everyday music listening.
Absurd as it is, the last pair of headphones I’d owned, a pair of Sony MDR-7506’s, ended up developing a short in the cable. I simply never got around to replacing them in a timely manner.
Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50, and the updated ATH-M50x, have received rave reviews from tech sites, bloggers and YouTubers alike. The love that these headphones receive on a regular basis convinced me that the next pair of headphones that I tried needed to be these. Do they live up to the hype?
Outside of sound quality, the most important thing about a pair of headphones is comfort. If the headset isn’t comfortable, then it really doesn’t matter how good they sound.
I figured that the ATH-M50x would be comfortable thanks to many recommendations from friends, but trying them for myself affirmed this assumption. These cans are comfortable to wear for extended periods of time thanks to the supple padding provided on the ear cups, and the horizontal and vertical pivoting ability of each cup. From what I can remember, they seem to be significantly more comfortable than the Sony MDR-7506’s that I owned before.
True, I’ve been using EarPods for the last few months, so it shouldn’t take a lot to impress my ears, but I don’t remember ever hearing a pair of headphones that sound this good in this price range. Of course, no description can replace hearing how the ATH-M50x sounds for yourself, so you’ll have to take my word for it if you haven’t heard them before.
All of the ranges — lows, mids and highs — sound crisp and clear. Lows are somewhat punchy, but not so much so that it becomes a distraction or is detrimental to the overall sound quality.
Both music and spoken word benefit from the clarity provided by these headphones. I noticed that my voiceovers sounded more accurate to my true voice and provided a sense of clarity that I wasn’t able to hear with my EarPods.
It might seem a little silly to even think about comparing any sort of third-party headphones with EarPods, but I’m betting that I wasn’t alone in my former predicament. If you’re wondering if you should upgrade your EarPods to something better, then by all means do so.
Like it or not, with the help of companies like Beats, headphones have become a fashion statement. There’s nothing crazy about Audio-Technica’s design that makes it stand out from an aesthetic perspective, but I like the understated look of these cans.
The black version provides a more low key and subdued look, but Audio-Technica does make versions of the ATH-M50x in white and other colors. There’s also a third-party skinning community from companies like dbrand, if you’re interested in really switching up the look.
One of my favorite things about the ATH-M50x is that it comes with a detachable cable. As someone who has experienced several issues with bad cables in the past, having such a modular cable input ensures that these headphones can long outlive a suspect cable. Each cable included in the box (there are 3) slides into the port on the left can and locks into place with a simple twist.
As mentioned, Audio-Technica includes three different cables in the box— a coiled 3.0m cable, and two straight cables — one 3.0m and a shorter 1.2m version geared towards personal audio devices. As someone who loves the flexibility added by having a coiled cable, I quite enjoy having the option to choose between the three on a whim.
Included in the package is a locking 1/4″ stereo plug adapter for connecting the headphones to amps, mixers, amplifiers and receivers. The adapter screws onto the 3.5mm headphone jack on each of the longer 3.0m cables.
If you use Apple’s Smart Battery Case with your iPhone 6s, you may be disappointed to find that none of the included cables will work with the battery extending case. This is more of an Apple design decision, and not a fault of Audio-Technica or any other third-party headphone manufacturer.
The ATH-M50x comes with a carrying bag that can be used when folding the headphones into their most compact position. The travel bag is the typical sort of inexpensive leatherette bag that headphones ship with, and are nothing special. I recommend going with a hard case if you’re keen on keeping your headphones in tip-top shape while traveling.
Sound quality and comfort are important to me, but so is price. At less than $150 on Amazon, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is well within reason for budget-conscious buyers who don’t wish to settle for less. These headphones have proved to be something of an “anti-Beats”, in that they provide noticeably better sound quality in all dynamic ranges for a modest asking price.
Are there better sounding cans out there? Certainly. But for the price, I’m happy to say that the ATH-M50x lives up to the hype.