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Audio-Technica ATH-M

Audio-Technica ATH-M30x

User reviews on Audio-Technica ATH-M products

Very good for its price ! (Audio-Technica - ATH-M20x)

By nan3200, 29/07/2016
I use it to listen all kinds of music either home or away on mobile devices, on a smartphone and various fixed audio interfaces (m-audio firewire solo, focusrite 2i2, xfi usb hd, audiophonics U-sabre).
It’s well built, seems sturdier than most headphones I’ve had the opportunity to try or own in this price range.
This trustworthy and sturdy aspect is a good thing and should allow it to survive longer than other headphones…

Soundwise, how clear it is!
What I mean is, sound is “airy”, you can actually feel a sort of space in between the instruments, e.g. it all sounds more detached than with a Senn in the same price range.
But of course, with just any headphone in this price range, don’t push the volume too high or the sound gets messy, which is quite logical.
I’ve had the opportunity to compare it with many of its competitors, and provided you like audio technica’s signature sound (a bit light on the mids and a bit too much low mids (but still dry) with an overall “credible” sound), it’s one of the best you’ll find.
I’ve been a Senn fanboy for ages now and I must admit this model may convert me.

I favour it over my AKGs for instance, as they’re very pleasant but comparatively the sound dull ond too soft.

All in all, it’s a great surprise, not so expensive and it provides a really convincing sound, and most important a worthy building quality (it’s not a plastic thing all about bling bling).

Well done, AT!

Too fun for precise studio work, but perfect for enjoying music (Audio-Technica - ATH-M50x)

By Hrodulf, 18/05/2015


This review will mostly focus on M50x’s qualities from a studio professional point of view – what to expect when using these headphones as a monitoring device for mixing and do they really cut it for mastering work.

After all, you should make your decisions based on what’s in the material, otherwise you might end up with mixes that translate well on your gear and not much else. Know the limitations of your equipment and you will be able to work around them. This text will attempt to illuminate, what to keep in mind when using the M50x for critical studio work.

The original ATH M50 has been one of the most recommended closed headphones at the $150 price point. Most of its fame comes from the consumer segment. One of its largest communities – this forum – has generated dozens of reviews praising its qualities and excellent price/performance ratio. Currently there is a distinct lack of dedicated pro-audio headphone reviewers, therefore most of M50’s pro-fame has largely spilled over from the consumer audio segment. At the same time both M50 and M50x have an abundance of qualities useful for both music listeners as well as producers.

Uncalibrated sonic performance

Perceived Acoustic Power Frequency Response (PAPFR) graph. Measured at Sonarworks lab with a proprietary compensation curve. Not to be compared directly to AFR measurements from other sources.

These headphones perform just like they measure – a fun, clean sound. This is mostly due to M50x’s U-shaped FR and extremely low THD. Looks like ATH has really put in some serious R&D work in M50x’s driver, because THD this low at sub bass frequencies has usually been reserved only to planar headphones. Kudos to ATH for bringing clean bass to the masses!

Now onto the sonic issues to keep in mind if one wants to use these headphones successfully for music production. All of the M50x headphones we measured exhibited level differences between channels. At 200Hz-600Hz there is a wide dip which drops to around -5dB, whilst not too annoying to consumers, it can cause trouble to LCR mixing advocates. With the M50x, some string instruments like guitars for example will change tonality, depending on how they’re panned. The effect will be subtle, but must be taken into account to prevent chasing ghosts in the mix.

On the top end of the U curve we have a peak at 5.5kHz-10kHz which goes up to +7dB at 10kHz which can cause a number of issues. First of all, too much de-essing will be applied to the vocals, as the peak resides right at the sibilant range. Secondly, your sweeps won’t be as accurate because the FR peak will give you a false sense of rising. In general, this peaking can cause your mixes to be dull – one of the inherent cons of all “exciting” headphones, if used in studio.

The low-end response on these headphones is positively thunderous – there is no sub-bass roll-off until 20Hz and THD stays extremely low. The channel imbalance which starts at about 350Hz is still present, but on lower frequencies it shouldn’t be much of a nuisance. Most of the signal at these frequencies is mono anyway and humans don’t really excel at positioning low frequency sound.

Calibrated sonic performance

After we meticulously measured every dip and peak found in the M50x, our engineer generated a calibration profile. These profiles are available for every Sonarworks Reference 3 plug-in user. They turned these headphones into a serious instrument even fit for mastering. This paragraph will explain what can be gained by applying digital calibration to these already great headphones.

We can bet that when you turn on the Sonarworks Reference 3 plug-in, you’ll wonder who flicked the fun switch off! Resist the urge to take the headphones off and listen to some well- mastered tracks. Your ears will need some time to readjust to the reference sound signature and your first impression will surely be dull for lack of a better word. At the same time, it will allow your mixes to translate well to speakers and just about any headphone out there.

All in all, these headphones are a great candidate for calibration due to the low inherent THD and little change in tonality depending on how they’re placed on one’s ears. Obviously Sonarworks calibration gets rid of the U curve and makes these headphones a perfect candidate for mixing and mastering just about any kind of music. One thing to keep in mind is that the average calibration curve won’t be able to combat the channel imbalance properly, because only individual calibration profiles do stereo calibration.

As always there will be some loss of output when applying calibration. In this case it should be about 8dB, which isn’t too bad due to the fact that these headphones are very sensitive. Most audio interfaces will be able to drive these headphones at ear-splitting levels even with calibration enabled. For some higher gain devices, the loss of sensitivity might turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as it will give more usable volume pot range.


Just like its predecessor, the M50x has a great fit that doesn’t get in the way of everyday use. Unlike most on-ear headphones, this one doesn’t rely on a strong clamp to achieve a good seal, therefore it is fairly comfy even in longer sessions. One thing to note, however, is that all pleather pads are prone to becoming sweaty in hotter environments.

Construction wise the M50x is decent, but isn’t the tank that is the venerable HD25-II is. Like almost every other headphone out there, most of the outer construction is plastic, however it feels like it’s the kind of plastic that breaks rather than bends on stress. Both earcups are on hinges which allow them to be folded up for a more compact package. At the same time, every moving part does present more points for wear, tear, and ultimately – failure.

This time Audio Technica has given the M50x a swappable cable and generously included three additional cords. The standard package includes a coiled 1.2 – 3m cable, 3m straight cable and 1.2m portable cable. All three of them feature 1/8’’ TRS jacks and the two longer ones have a thread for 1/4’’ jacks. On the headphone end, M50x have a 2.5mm TRS connector which seems to be proprietary due to a locking groove. All in all, kudos to Audio Technica for choosing to go this route because with most headphones, cables seem to be the first to prematurely fail.

Most studios tend to stick with their headphones until they disintegrate due to natural or unnatural causes and very few give attention to earpad wear. We recommend swapping out pads as soon as they start changing their initial geometry. Old pads seal worse and let the drivers sit closer to one’s ears, thus changing the initial FR. Fortunately the pads on the M50x are swappable as well, so the user is able to maintain their headphones at peak performance for a longer time.

In terms of noise sealing, the M50x works well, but again is overshadowed by Sennheiser’s HD25-II and many in-ear monitors. The seal should be good enough for mixing in moderately noisy environments and will guard musician’s ears from excessive SPL’s, but most of the time noise will obstruct the finer details. The seal will also keep the user from disturbing others working in close vicinity, good for mixing on the road.


Has ATH hit a homerun again? Could be so – at least for consumers! At the studio professional end, things are a tad more complicated. No doubt, it’s a great headphone with relatively little shortcomings, but the tuning might be too “fun” to be considered reference grade. At the same time M50x’s competition doesn’t fare any better, most of the other closed studio headphones at this price range are starting to show their age. Sennheiser HD25-II scores some hits in the ergonomics department, but its drivers are a bit long in the tooth. Same goes for Sony MDR-7506. Now, Beyerdynamic DT770 is a worthy competitor to M50x sound wise, but the Japanese headphone is able to land some hits with its three detachable cables and superior portability. Everyone at the lab agreed that these headphones calibrate very well and after calibration pose a serious threat to newer higher end closed studio phones like Focal Spirit Pro and maybe even ATH M70x.

In the end, this is a modern headphone meant for modern music. Engineers who work with a lot of bass heavy material will be in for a treat as the M50x offers excellent performance in this regard. They might not mind its other shortcomings, but should keep them in mind. Or they can use calibrated headphones and focus entirely on their work. Sonarworks calibration turns the M50x into one of the best closed headphones at any price.

A step up from the rest. (Audio-Technica - ATH-M40x)

By azraik, 04/04/2015
Searching for "The Sound"

The world of headphones is a world of endless possibilities. One might think all headphones are simply designed to create 'good sound,' but this could not be further from the truth: there are multiple factors that are considered in the design and construction of headphone sets at all price points:

- Frequency range
- Sonic accuracy
- Driver size
- Closed-back vs. open-back
- Noise reduction and attenuation
- Comfort and flexibility
- Building materials
- Style

This list only begins to crack the surface of headphone features, and still one of the biggest motivating factors for headphone choice, not listed above, is the price. Headphone prices range from $5 to $500 and beyond, and it is no easy task to shop for a quality set of headphones without being able to test them individually for sound, comfort, and style. Since many musicians and sound professionals (like myself) do not always have the luxury of testing products in person, the next best option is to find recommendations and research specs. This was the process that eventually led to the Audio Technica ATH-M40x closed-back headphones.


It's no secret that Audio Technica has been a leading force in the audio industry for years, because they have continually offered exceptional quality at reasonable prices. The advent of home recording over the past decade has only boosted the demand for affordable gear, and Audio Technica has released a vast supply of options for headphones, microphones, and other recording gear to meet every budget on the market. Many serious home studio users often ask the question, "What is the best set of headphones for $100 or less." No doubt, there are a few industry standard options to choose from, such as the Sony MDR-7506 or the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones. But the title for "A step above the rest" belongs to the Audio Technica ATH-M40x closed-back headphones.

The Sound

When choosing a pair of headphones, most audio engineers and musicians are looking for good sound. Now, while "good sound" is somewhat subjective, accurate frequency production is not. The ATH-M40x's produce an even projection across a wide frequency range of 15Hz-24kHz, making them a very 'flat' sounding set. While this may be a "shorter" range than its competitors, the M40x's do not lack in clarity across the spectrum, and they do not expend energy in low and high frequency ranges outside of the human range of hearing (20 to 20kHz). The comparable Sony and Sennheiser models reach frequencies of 10Hz or lower, but this is wasted energy since it is so far below the actual human range of hearing.

The ATH-M40x's feature powerful 40mm drivers (standard at their price point), and have considerably lower impedance levels than their competitors (35 ohms versus to 64 ohms, respectively) making them very compatible with many modern basic home studio setups.

Distinct Features

Not only do the ATH-M40x's excel in the area of sound, but they also provide some very useful features that cannot be found on other headphones below the $100 range. The most distinct difference is that the M40x's use detachable cables, and every brand new set includes two 9.8 ft. cables--one coiled and one straight--right in the packaging. This means that if one or both of your headphone cables wear out and stop working, you can buy a replacement cable for a fraction of the cost of a new set of headphones. This has huge implications for long-lasting use, when comparable models may stop working and you must replace them altogether.

The M40x's also include additional comfort features such as rotating ear cups and firm ergonomic padding all throughout the headphones. They are lightweight and comfortable for long listening sessions, but they do not feel flimsy and weak. And best of all, they don't break the bank.


Every person has his or her own preferences when it comes to sound, comfort, and style. These preferences may be subjective, but quality and price are not. The Audio Technica ATH-M40x's may not be the audiophile's "dream come true" in terms of sound and build quality, but they are great all around headphones for basic mixing, performance tracking, and easy listening.

They don't last at all (Audio-Technica - ATH-M40FS)

By dalan, 11/10/2014
They look like solid and the audio quality is nice but after two month of use the plastic that covered the foam started to detach. After two more month the whole left side broke completely, try to glue but it did not work, finally throw away . They lasted less than one year.

News Audio-Technica ATH-M

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