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Audio Technica ATH-M50X Review (Closed Headphone)

amirm

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#1
This is a review, detailed measurements and equalization for the Audio Technica ATH-M50X. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $149 on Amazon including Prime shipping. There are an incredible 24,000 reviews on Amazon! It averages 4.5 stars

Nothing looks fancy here:
Audio Technica ATH-M50X Review closed headphone.jpg


The fit was more or less the same as other closed headphones in its class with cups a bit rubbing against my ears. The cable is removable:
Audio Technica ATH-M50X Review closed pad headphone.jpg


The sample I had was well used with some of the pad surface starting to disintegrate.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are preformed using standardized GRAS 45CA headphone measurement fixture. Headphone measurements require more interpretation than speaker tests and have more of a requirement for subjective testing as a result. In addition, comparison of measurements between different people performing it using different configurations requires fair bit of skill. So don't look for matching results. Focus on high level picture. Listening tests are performed using RME ADI-2 DAC and its headphone output.

Mounting the headphone on my test fixture was challenging, resulting in quite a lot of variation between channels and overall response. I optimized this as best as I could but like there are some error in low frequencies.

Audio Technical ATH-M50X Measurements
Let's start with frequency response of M50X and comparison to our preference target to figure out tonality of the headphone:
Audio Technica ATH-M50X Measurements Frequency Response closed headphone.png


Due to the dip around 425 Hz, I actually referenced this headphone to the response at 600 Hz (otherwise the whole curve would be above our target). Once there, we see good agreement from 500 Hz to about 3000 Hz which is very good. Sub-bass is nice too unlike many headphones I measure. The hump centered around 150 Hz of course is a glaring fault as are a couple of peaks between 4 and 6 kHz.

Subtracting one curve against the other we get:
Audio Technica ATH-M50X Measurements Relative Frequency Response closed headphone.png


I liked the impressively low distortion from midrange up:
Audio Technica ATH-M50X Measurements Relative THD Distortion closed headphone.png


Audio Technica ATH-M50X Measurements THD Distortion closed headphone.png


After we pull down the hump around 150 Hz, distortion should improve even more there.

Group delay shows some indication of why the response is so clean from 500 Hz and up:

Audio Technica ATH-M50X Measurements Group Delay closed headphone.png


Impedance is dead flat and low so look for amplifiers that have good current capability:
Audio Technica ATH-M50X Measurements Impedance closed headphone.png


Sensitivity is very good:
Most sensitive closed back headphone review.png


My RME ADI-2 DAC could drive the M50X to ear bleeding levels.

Audio Technical ATH-M50X Headphone Listening Tests & EQ
Without equalization the sound was fine. Bass was exaggerated a bit depending on content. Spatial qualities were low with sound on each side of the ear. You could live with it if you didn't have EQ. I have EQ so I went to work on that. :)

Audio Technica ATH-M50X Equalization EQ closed headphone.png


Getting rid of the bloat in upper bass let more of the detail in music to be heard. There was too little bass though so I put in the other two boost filters around it. I found the treble a bit annoying so dialed in two small filters for the two peaks we saw in frequency response.

At this point, the sound was quite good. Power handling was superb with me not be able to find the limits of the headphone as noted earlier. You can put an early end to your hearing without the headphone complaining with heavy distortion.

Note: I did not spend too much time fully tuning the filters. I got the results I wanted so I stopped there. Due to large difference between the two cups, more optimization may result in slightly better response.

Conclusions
There is no feeling of fanciness here which goes with the cost of the unit. Performance without equalization benefits from lots of good bass but that can be too much of a good thing. Equalization took the headphone from just "OK" to "yeh, this is sounding really good!"

I am only going to recommend the Audio Technical ATH-M50X with equalization.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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sweetchaos

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#2
To import this PEQ profile into 'Equalizer APO', use:
Preamp: -3.8 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 70 Hz Gain 3.0 dB Q 3.0
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 148 Hz Gain -4.0 dB Q 2.5
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 350 Hz Gain 4.0 dB Q 3.0
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 4300 Hz Gain -2.5 dB Q 4.0
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 5700 Hz Gain -2.5 dB Q 4.0
To import into your favorite PEQ app, enter it manually.
Otherwise, see my PEQ guide.
..................................................................................................................
For those who don't have PEQ-capable app, and want to use GEQs instead.

Preamp: -2.9db
32 -0.2
64 3.2
125 -3.2
250 1.4
500 1.8
1000 -0.3
2000 1.0
4000 -2.0
8000 -0.1
16000 0.6
Preamp: -3.9db
20 1.1
25 0.8
32 0.5
40 0.2
50 0.2
63 2.4
80 2.0
100 0.1
125 -1.7
160 -3.3
200 0.1
250 0.0
315 3.2
400 2.7
500 0.2
630 0.4
800 0.3
1000 0.3
1250 0.3
1600 0.3
2000 0.3
2500 0.2
3150 0.4
4000 -1.6
5000 -2.0
6300 -1.4
8000 0.4
10000 0.3
12500 0.4
16000 0.6
20000 0.1
If you want to import into "Wavelet" (Android App):
GraphicEQ: 20 -4.0; 21 -4.0; 22 -4.0; 23 -4.0; 24 -4.0; 26 -3.9; 27 -3.9; 29 -3.9; 30 -3.9; 32 -3.9; 34 -3.9; 36 -3.9; 38 -3.8; 40 -3.8; 43 -3.7; 45 -3.7; 48 -3.6; 50 -3.5; 53 -3.3; 56 -3.0; 59 -2.7; 63 -2.0; 66 -1.5; 70 -1.2; 74 -1.5; 78 -2.2; 83 -2.9; 87 -3.3; 92 -3.7; 97 -4.0; 103 -4.4; 109 -4.8; 115 -5.2; 121 -5.7; 128 -6.3; 136 -7.1; 143 -7.6; 151 -7.7; 160 -7.2; 169 -6.5; 178 -5.9; 188 -5.3; 199 -4.9; 210 -4.5; 222 -4.3; 235 -4.0; 248 -3.7; 262 -3.4; 277 -3.0; 292 -2.4; 309 -1.7; 326 -0.8; 345 -0.2; 364 -0.4; 385 -1.1; 406 -1.9; 429 -2.5; 453 -2.9; 479 -3.2; 506 -3.4; 534 -3.5; 565 -3.6; 596 -3.7; 630 -3.8; 665 -3.8; 703 -3.8; 743 -3.9; 784 -3.9; 829 -3.9; 875 -3.9; 924 -3.9; 977 -3.9; 1032 -4.0; 1090 -4.0; 1151 -4.0; 1216 -4.0; 1284 -4.0; 1357 -4.0; 1433 -4.0; 1514 -4.0; 1599 -4.0; 1689 -4.0; 1784 -4.0; 1885 -4.0; 1991 -4.1; 2103 -4.1; 2221 -4.1; 2347 -4.1; 2479 -4.1; 2618 -4.2; 2766 -4.2; 2921 -4.3; 3086 -4.4; 3260 -4.5; 3443 -4.7; 3637 -5.0; 3842 -5.6; 4058 -6.3; 4287 -6.8; 4528 -6.7; 4783 -6.2; 5052 -6.2; 5337 -6.5; 5637 -6.9; 5955 -6.5; 6290 -5.8; 6644 -5.1; 7018 -4.8; 7414 -4.5; 7831 -4.4; 8272 -4.3; 8738 -4.2; 9230 -4.2; 9749 -4.1; 10298 -4.1; 10878 -4.1; 11490 -4.1; 12137 -4.1; 12821 -4.0; 13543 -4.0; 14305 -4.0; 15110 -4.0; 15961 -4.0; 16860 -4.0; 17809 -4.0; 18812 -4.1; 19871 -4.3
Otherwise, see my GEQ guide.
 
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acbarn

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#3
This was my first set of decent headphones some years ago. I still have a pair that I use for monitoring in live performance and they work well in that setting. Of course, there are other headphones in this general price range that outperform these for casual listening (the HD58X comes to mind).

Thanks for the review!
 
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#4
*chuckles*
And he reviewed my 3rd can. Well I have the M50 w/o the X but I recon they perform in a similar manner.

I second his assessment: good sounding while not too expensive and rugged. Perfect for an outdoor-can.
 

YSC

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#5
Interesting that this matches the target curve so well, since this is the generally agreed bass heavy cans which upon personal listening it surely is
 

dfuller

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#8
I've owned a set of these forever. Very bassy in an unpleasant way to me. Sure other than that upper bass boost they come pretty close to the harman curve, but that ruins them for me. EQ fixes it, but not everything has a PEQ.
 
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#9
Anyone using the Android EQ app called "wavelet"? It said to correct HP response to the Harman curve and they have 2300 models in their bank available to anyone who upgrade to the premium version. It also has all sorts of manual fine-tune options as well. I have BT version of this HP and the Auto EQ does a great job IMO to make this HP sound great with no obvious peaks and dips.
Sonarworks's Tru-Fi was a great option too [for Windows], but they renamed it and changed it to "Sound ID" but basically the same concept. They measure the headphones and create a compensation curve to load it whenever the user selects a headphone that is in the bank.
The gray curve is the measured response the orange flat line represents the reference "curve". The correction values are not provided.
Wavelet only shows the corrected curve applied on that screenshot.
 

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Koeitje

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#12
Anyone using the Android EQ app called "wavelet"? It said to correct HP response to the Harman curve and they have 2300 models in their bank available to anyone who upgrade to the premium version. It also has all sorts of manual fine-tune options as well. I have BT version of this HP and the Auto EQ does a great job IMO to make this HP sound great with no obvious peaks and dips.
Sonarworks's Tru-Fi was a great option too [for Windows], but they renamed it and changed it to "Sound ID" but basically the same concept. They measure the headphones and create a compensation curve to load it whenever the user selects a headphone that is in the bank.
The gray curve is the measured response the orange flat line represents the reference "curve". The correction values are not provided.
Wavelet only shows the corrected curve applied on that screenshot.
I use this, its the only way to make my Sony WH-1000XM3 sound good.


Anyway, the M50X has been recommended by many people for as long as I can remember. Now I can see why. Just a pretty solid performer.
 
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#13
I had original ATH-M50, they were very uncomfortable and even painful to wear. I don't remember much about their sound to be honest. When I was selling them, somewhere around 6 years ago, that man was very happy during the listening test and bought them instantly with a big smile. If my price wasn't low it would be too shameful to remember.
 
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#14
Anyone using the Android EQ app called "wavelet"? It said to correct HP response to the Harman curve and they have 2300 models in their bank available to anyone who upgrade to the premium version. It also has all sorts of manual fine-tune options as well. I have BT version of this HP and the Auto EQ does a great job IMO to make this HP sound great with no obvious peaks and dips.
Sonarworks's Tru-Fi was a great option too [for Windows], but they renamed it and changed it to "Sound ID" but basically the same concept. They measure the headphones and create a compensation curve to load it whenever the user selects a headphone that is in the bank.
The gray curve is the measured response the orange flat line represents the reference "curve". The correction values are not provided.
Wavelet only shows the corrected curve applied on that screenshot.
+1
Wavelet is a nice little app. Made me go back to regularly using my HD595s (driven by an LG V40) which had been collecting dust for a couple of years, because <subjective, untested>I couldn't shake off the impression they sounded 'anemic', as if 'too open'</subjective, untested>. On the other hand, the PortaPro curve is an overkill with some tracks (too much bass - I feel physical 'punching' in my ears + crackling noises). Still dreaming of an 'autotune-style' active EQing that would take into consideration the input signal, not just the headphone FR
 

sweetchaos

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#15
Amir vs Oratory1990:
amir vs oratory.gif

Amir vs Jaakkopasanen (measured by Oratory1990):
amir vs jaakko.gif

Oratory1990 vs Jaakkopasanen (measured by Oratory1990):
jaakko vs oratory.gif

PEQ profile by Amir (from my post #2 above):
Preamp: -3.8 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 70 Hz Gain 3.0 dB Q 3.0
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 148 Hz Gain -4.0 dB Q 2.5
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 350 Hz Gain 4.0 dB Q 3.0
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 4300 Hz Gain -2.5 dB Q 4.0
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 5700 Hz Gain -2.5 dB Q 4.0

PEQ profile by Oratory1990:
Preamp: -2.9 dB
Filter 1: ON LS Fc 90 Hz Gain 2.8 dB Q 0.9
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 200 Hz Gain -3.3 dB Q 0.9
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 290 Hz Gain 4.5 dB Q 1.8
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2800 Hz Gain -3.7 dB Q 1.5
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 3670 Hz Gain 2.7 dB Q 4.5
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 4340 Hz Gain -5.0 dB Q 4.5
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 5800 Hz Gain 2.8 dB Q 3.5
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 7000 Hz Gain -3.0 dB Q 6.0
Filter 9: ON PK Fc 8100 Hz Gain -4.6 dB Q 5.0
Filter 10: ON HS Fc 11000 Hz Gain -10.0 dB Q 0.8

PEQ profile by Jaakkopasanen (measured by Oratory1990):
Preamp: -6.4 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 23 Hz Gain 6.2 dB Q 0.94
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 328 Hz Gain 3.2 dB Q 2.34
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 6446 Hz Gain 5.0 dB Q 1.41
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 17371 Hz Gain -4.4 dB Q 0.09
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 19477 Hz Gain -7.0 dB Q 0.35
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 166 Hz Gain -2.0 dB Q 2.61
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 2481 Hz Gain 2.3 dB Q 0.55
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 2604 Hz Gain -3.8 dB Q 2.26
Filter 9: ON PK Fc 4375 Hz Gain -4.4 dB Q 7.37
Filter 10: ON PK Fc 20240 Hz Gain -0.4 dB Q 2.00
 

Apollo

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#16
Thanks for another excellent review, Amir! Does anyone have its younger sibling, the Audio Technica ATH-M40X, which they could kindly send in for Amir to test? Some say it has a better/flatter sonic profile than the M50X? Also interested in seeing how the Beyerdynamic DT-240 Pro also performs in comparison in the sub-£100 closed back headphone monitor category? Is the AKG K361 king?
Oh and another, but slightly higher priced option, the Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro? Many thanks
 

rdo

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#17
I have an m50x since forever, but i never really liked how it sounds out of the factory. The bass was boomy and there is a really annoying hiss in the highs. The best sounding that i have achieved is with Brainwavz velour memory foam pads and a sheet of toilet paper. The pads smoothens the bass and the paper removes the highs hiss. I've tryed equalizing them, but it is a pain to manage EQs on all devices that i listen to.
 
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#18
Is it the current demand not being met or the lower treble bump that make these sound shrill and painful to me? It seems like they're designed with portability in mind, and yet I find them completely unlistenable straight out of a phone. Meanwhile Audio-Technica's Art Series stuff sounds fine straight out of a phone, but is totally impractical for mobile usage.
 

acbarn

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#19
Amir vs Oratory1990:

Amir vs Jaakkopasanen (measured by Oratory1990):

Oratory1990 vs Jaakkopasanen (measured by Oratory1990):

PEQ profile by Amir (from my post #2 above):
Preamp: -3.8 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 70 Hz Gain 3.0 dB Q 3.0
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 148 Hz Gain -4.0 dB Q 2.5
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 350 Hz Gain 4.0 dB Q 3.0
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 4300 Hz Gain -2.5 dB Q 4.0
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 5700 Hz Gain -2.5 dB Q 4.0

PEQ profile by Oratory1990:
Preamp: -2.9 dB
Filter 1: ON LS Fc 90 Hz Gain 2.8 dB Q 0.9
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 200 Hz Gain -3.3 dB Q 0.9
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 290 Hz Gain 4.5 dB Q 1.8
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2800 Hz Gain -3.7 dB Q 1.5
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 3670 Hz Gain 2.7 dB Q 4.5
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 4340 Hz Gain -5.0 dB Q 4.5
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 5800 Hz Gain 2.8 dB Q 3.5
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 7000 Hz Gain -3.0 dB Q 6.0
Filter 9: ON PK Fc 8100 Hz Gain -4.6 dB Q 5.0
Filter 10: ON HS Fc 11000 Hz Gain -10.0 dB Q 0.8

PEQ profile by Jaakkopasanen (measured by Oratory1990):
Preamp: -6.4 dB
Filter 1: ON PK Fc 23 Hz Gain 6.2 dB Q 0.94
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 328 Hz Gain 3.2 dB Q 2.34
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 6446 Hz Gain 5.0 dB Q 1.41
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 17371 Hz Gain -4.4 dB Q 0.09
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 19477 Hz Gain -7.0 dB Q 0.35
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 166 Hz Gain -2.0 dB Q 2.61
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 2481 Hz Gain 2.3 dB Q 0.55
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 2604 Hz Gain -3.8 dB Q 2.26
Filter 9: ON PK Fc 4375 Hz Gain -4.4 dB Q 7.37
Filter 10: ON PK Fc 20240 Hz Gain -0.4 dB Q 2.00
Excellent! Thank you!
 

KxDx

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#20
I've had a pair since 2015, and use them when walking or exercising.

The factory pads are quite uncomfortable. I replaced mine with these:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B075M4TRWR?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_mob_b_asin_title&th=1

The "pleather" on the headband started to wear and peel badly after a couple years also so I bought a cover for it that just zips over the original. That and the new pads totally transform the comfort experience.

Lastly, some 3rd party Chinese builders finally put out the one product owners had been begging AT for since forever... a cord with a microphone and volume controls!

Needless to say, it takes a little modding to get the full potential out of them, but they're worth the effort.
 
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