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Audio Technica ATH-M50X Review (Closed Headphone)

Longshan

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These are my tracking headphones.

They get a bit hot and uncomfortable after an hour or so, and the soundstage is pretty small, but I think they're great for tracking, and a decent price.

Thanks, Amir.
 

samwell7

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Thanks, the brainwavz reviews on amazon uk indicate a significant change in sound profile. Maybe oem replacements are the way to go but disappointed how quickly they went flaky.
Hey mate just compared the stock pads to the Brainwavz standard PU ones I have, fairly big difference in the sound (bigger than I realised). Less mids* (autocorrected to miss) with the Brainwavz pads on, I think I might sell them now and get a new set of stock pads.
 
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dtaylor39

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Hey mate just compared the stock pads to the Brainwavz standard PU ones I have, fairly big difference in the sound (bigger than I realised). Less miss with the Brainwavz pads on, I think I might sell them now and get a new set of stock pads.
I tried my flaky oems again and agree, much more bass. I can recover it through EQ but generally use these with my daw without EQ so may do the same unless there is a better alternative. Brainwavz Pro stock are meant to sound the same as stock, has anyone tried them?
 

samwell7

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I tried my flaky oems again and agree, much more bass. I can recover it through EQ but generally use these with my daw without EQ so may do the same unless there is a better alternative. Brainwavz Pro stock are meant to sound the same as stock, has anyone tried them?
You can still buy genuine pads, they're a bit exxy at 40AUD for a pair though.
I'll probably get some soon as my old pads are looking like they want to give up
 

dtaylor39

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You can still buy genuine pads, they're a bit exxy at 40AUD for a pair though.
I'll probably get some soon as my old pads are looking like they want to give up
Thanks yes I've seen stock pads from audio technica but have been put off by how badly my nice brown pads went flaky. Tried some EQ with my velour pads and tbh is quite good, similar to originals, so may stick to this approach instead.
 

samwell7

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Thanks yes I've seen stock pads from audio technica but have been put off by how badly my nice brown pads went flaky. Tried some EQ with my velour pads and tbh is quite good, similar to originals, so may stick to this approach instead.
How long did your oem pads last? Mine around 8 years old and still pretty good, the headband has flaked but that's because I'd wear them first thing in the morning at work when I was still a bit steamy from a shower
 

dtaylor39

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How long did your oem pads last? Mine around 8 years old and still pretty good, the headband has flaked but that's because I'd wear them first thing in the morning at work when I was still a bit steamy from a shower
Probably 2-3 years of light use. They are like dandruff now, headband and pads. I've got a wooly headband cover and cheap velour pads instead of the attractive brown and blue originals.
 

samwell7

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Probably 2-3 years of light use. They are like dandruff now, headband and pads. I've got a wooly headband cover and cheap velour pads instead of the attractive brown and blue originals.
That's not long at all, I wonder if you got a bad batch or if the brown ones don't last as long as the black ones. Like I said mine are still going strong and I wear them for hours on end at work
 

dfuller

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That's not long at all, I wonder if you got a bad batch or if the brown ones don't last as long as the black ones. Like I said mine are still going strong and I wear them for hours on end at work
I have black ones that have totally flaked off. It's a pretty well known problem.
 

Rockfella

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I have the M50 and I find it painful to wear as well.
Put it around a football overnight and buy good pads. Things will improve. I screwed up my old M50 then took care of everything from day 1 once I got the m40s.

M50.jpg
M40x1.jpg
M40x2.jpg
 
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WickedInsignia

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With this FR, it doesn't surprise me that so many rock guitarists use ATH-M50x for tracking.
The M50x is the best headphone I've used (Of HD600, LCD-1, M100 Master, Beyerdynamic COP) for identifying peaks and oddities in guitar FX while giving me a good overall impression of the tone without feeling fluffy or overdriven. It really is fantastic for guitar use. Similarly, I find it great for electronic drums since it seems to do a great job of separating individual instruments.
It gets bashed for casual listening, but in my experience (as a hobbyist) it does its intended job as a monitor/tracking headphone very well.

Used mine for 6 years and taped over the headband, which seems like a thing we all must do eventually haha.
 

Saidera

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I'm not sure why but the monitor/tracking headphone has always been my interest. There shouldn't be any need to go beyond what the creators, musicians, engineers etc use is the way I think. If even a pro engineer will not use higher end models, then maybe they are not exactly necessary.

So for a person who values hearing details ('hires') and less bass, on a budget, in a shared environment, speakers is out of the question. But as for headphones, audio-technica’s 2014 M30x has had me pondering for some time. At the time I bought it, I was really expecting an affordable good performer labelled ‘studio monitor’. A-T’s M30x would ordinarily give way to M40x, and this is clear from rankings where M30x ranks very low. Hearing M30x, I was very satisfied. I didn’t have to go to a store to test it. I had had enough of ZX110 which I didn’t know enough to EQ at the time. Since we’re not expecting speaker-like quality with headphones, M30x seems to be the right balance of various factors. For me personally, M30x trumps all the rest of the M series, since resolution isn’t a big deal for me. I’m also not really into the wireless world, nor the 1AM2, Z7M2 or Z1R with reputations of being able to ‘make you want to listen forever’.

Some audio buffs are into IEMs, others, headphones and portable audio. Still others use speakers and claim it is the proper pure audio. But nowadays headphones are really gaining ground as the loudspeaker of choice. Headphones come in types including open/closed back, with higher impedances for open backs (better sound almost like speakers and less affected by DAC impedance). They can be on ear or over ear. They can have different transducer types. IEMs can come in earbuds or earplug types. Knowing that headphone distortion is far worse than DAC distortion really changes the way a layperson views measurements of DACs.

I didn’t recognise headphones until 2019 when I bought my first pair. Until then all I had was a Qantas headphone. ZX110 opened my eyes to headphones. But until today I didn’t really think about A-T’s headphone lineup. The M series goes from 20 to 70, and shops like to rank them in order, preferring the resolution of 70x. In fact, many contradictions exist in terms of claims regarding treble and bass. Some will relegate M20-40 to a listening category and only consider 50 onwards to be studio grade. I think I got M30x after reading positive reviews of it, and due to its price, with delivery. I was looking for a 40 mm driver CD900ST replacement or equivalent. Actually there are plenty of CD900ST copies, at a much lower cost. In reality M30x is very different. They advertised it to be focused on mids, while M40x supposedly does all three well. Some considered M30x to have less emphasised mids. It is also for smaller ears since they must fit within the small pads. Some talk about an A-T house sound. Electrical engineers tend to find A-T to have quite a neutral and exact sound. One can also infer from the way M30x has a fixed 3 m cable for musicians e.g. playing a guitar and monitoring its recording, that it is for musicians’ monitoring needs. The designer’s intention was already to place M40x as the first model for engineers to use. RTings states that M30x has differences in the high frequencies compared to M40x.

A-T also had a 2009 SX1a model for Japan only. It didn’t catch on and is mostly unknown, despite its good build quality and cheaper price than 900ST. Also, a good comparison of M30x and M40x can’t be achieved easily given the differences in impedance and drivers. I prefer around 50 ohms. 63 ohms of 900ST is somewhat high. Many talk about how different M1ST is, but actually it’s simply a modern driver with a clearer bass you can focus and pinpoint on, in line with current music tastes. Highs are not so different from 900ST and the hires exaggeration isn’t quite correct.

From random FR graphs I eliminated many headphones and chose M30x. It now appears I badly misinterpreted the FR graphs.
So my EQ settings after much tweaking became +12 dB at 5 kHz Q 0.8 and +5 dB at 250 Hz Q 0.5. It lifts the veil on vocals that some users complained about, although it does make the headphone overly bright compared to stock. Then it adds a bit of overall low end though it isn’t obvious for most sources. For example piano sound remains unchanged. This is based on the FR graphs showing a 20 dB dip at 5 kHz which correlates with very high THD at 5 kHz. There is also a 5 dB dip at 250-80 Hz?

AUTEC's M series is actually very confusing and could be why the simpler CD900ST prevails even after more reviewers dispelled the myths surrounding CD900ST in recent years.
 

BlackLion

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Ear pads can be replaced with much sturdier ones, but worn-out headband cannot be replaced.

I think headband should have been made exclusively of plastic.
 

symphara

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Jan 24, 2021
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I have the Bluetooth version M50XBT, driven by a THX Onyx from an iPad. It’s my night listening headphone. I very much like it as it is (no EQ possible) and find no particularly heavy bass, lack of comfort or lack of soundstage. For what I paid, it’s really good value. It‘s not even remotely possible to turn the volume to max in this setup, and the headphones remain thoroughly clean as far as I dare to drive them.

Planning to get an Aeon 2 for Christmas, based on Amir’s review. I’m curious to see the comparison. I tried other (much more) expensive headphones than this M50XBT which I liked less.

I also have the DSR9BT as computer headphone (using the USB input) and while they’re punchier compared to the 50, which is more mellow to me, I couldn’t say I like it more, even if it was several times more expensive.
 

gaderson

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I'm not sure why but the monitor/tracking headphone has always been my interest. There shouldn't be any need to go beyond what the creators, musicians, engineers etc use is the way I think. If even a pro engineer will not use higher end models, then maybe they are not exactly necessary.

So for a person who values hearing details ('hires') and less bass, on a budget, in a shared environment, speakers is out of the question. But as for headphones, audio-technica’s 2014 M30x has had me pondering for some time. At the time I bought it, I was really expecting an affordable good performer labelled ‘studio monitor’. A-T’s M30x would ordinarily give way to M40x, and this is clear from rankings where M30x ranks very low. Hearing M30x, I was very satisfied. I didn’t have to go to a store to test it. I had had enough of ZX110 which I didn’t know enough to EQ at the time. Since we’re not expecting speaker-like quality with headphones, M30x seems to be the right balance of various factors. For me personally, M30x trumps all the rest of the M series, since resolution isn’t a big deal for me.

. In reality M30x is very different. They advertised it to be focused on mids, while M40x supposedly does all three well. Some considered M30x to have less emphasised mids. It is also for smaller ears since they must fit within the small pads. Some talk about an A-T house sound. Electrical engineers tend to find A-T to have quite a neutral and exact sound. One can also infer from the way M30x has a fixed 3 m cable for musicians e.g. playing a guitar and monitoring its recording, that it is for musicians’ monitoring needs. The designer’s intention was already to place M40x as the first model for engineers to use. RTings states that M30x has differences in the high frequencies compared to M40x.
I’ve been looking for inexpensive monitoring headphones for my Niece who’s getting into music making and listened to the A-Ts at Guitar Center…the ‘30x, ‘40x, & ‘50x-WH and found the 30x and 50x more similar than the 40x’s and better bass — only had a few tracks to listen to, but Adele’s “Rollin’ in the Deep” was a great test of muddy bass or not. Now need to see if the measurements match between the two ‘30x & ‘50x
 

adama99

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I’ve been looking for inexpensive monitoring headphones for my Niece who’s getting into music making and listened to the A-Ts at Guitar Center…the ‘30x, ‘40x, & ‘50x-WH and found the 30x and 50x more similar than the 40x’s and better bass — only had a few tracks to listen to, but Adele’s “Rollin’ in the Deep” was a great test of muddy bass or not. Now need to see if the measurements match between the two ‘30x & ‘50x

Having used both, I can tell you that the M50X has the better overall sound. However, if you don't care about cups that fold/rotate or a detachable cable the M30X is a much better value. Either will sound noticeably better with Dekoni Platinum Leather pads.
 

Saidera

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With M30x EQed I am of the opinion that its performance increases. Do disregard the subjective comments in my above posts though. One could also state that ATH-M series does sound 'boring' in comparison to other offerings, say Sony M1ST etc
 

WickedInsignia

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Wow Amir, really enjoying your config on these! Keeps some great energy while taming those peaks that nagged at me. Indeed, a great-sounding and punchy pair once reigned in!
 
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