Audio-Technica has recently released two heavy-hitters. And they’re both priced at $199. The SR50BT and the M50xBT might be the most well designed Bluetooth headphones that MajorHiFi has seen from Audio-Technica’s extensive line-up. At the same time, these two cans offer quite different sound signatures. They also utilize different technologies to control functions. My colleagues and I have written extensively about both, the SR50BT and the M50xBT here and here. But this review is for those who are familiar with at least one of these models but are still hesitant to open their wallets. So, which headphone suits your ears? Let’s find out in this Audio-Technica ATH-SR50BT vs ATH-M50xBT Review.
The SR50BT feels a bit more comfy to wear. And it’s certainly more luxurious. The M50xBT is a lot more secure around the ears and provides great sound isolation. But if you’re worried about you headphones feeling obtrusive, you’ll be happier with the SR50BT. The earpads are softer, pudgier and less tight than the comparatively unforgiving M50xBT.
A major difference to note in the design of these two headphones is the controls. The SR50BT uses touch controls on the side of the earcup, while the M50xBT employs good ol’ buttons (except for the voice assistant, which you activate by pressing the earcup). Personally, I find the sensitive touch controls on the SR50BT frustrating to use at times. For example, when I try to raise the volume by swiping vertically, the headphones will read it as a horizontal swipe and skip the track. Maybe I just need to practice more, but the simple three buttons on the M50xBT were much easier to control.
The other main difference in design is the noise reduction function offered on the SR50BT. In theory, it’s a great feature to have. But in reality, with the noise reduction feature turned on, the SR50BT provided no more sound isolation than the M50xBT did. And again, this is probably because the M50xBT offers a tighter seal and wider earcups.
And let’s not forget the battery life. The SR50BT will give you around 28 hours of use with the noise-reduction feature on. The M50xBT will give you a whopping 40 hours of listening time. So, if you have an aversion to recharging your stuff, the choice becomes a lot easier.
Finally, my little DJ’s out there might prefer the classic Audio-Technica design of the M50xBT. The ear cups flip in all directions, both on the horizontal and vertical axes. The SR50BT is a little less nimble, but it also folds and swivels flat. It’s just not a “DJ” style headphone.
Overall Impressions: The SR50BT’s detail and present mids vs the M50xBT’s impactful bass and warmth.
The lows on the M50xBT are a lot fatter and more forward than they are on the SR50BT. So, if you need a generous bass, you might prefer the M50xBT. That being said, the bass on the SR50BT is much tighter and more detailed. So, if you prefer fidelity over impact and warmth, you’ll probably lean towards the SR50BT.
If you like even and present mids, you’ll probably gravitate towards the SR50BT. The M50xBT feels more hollowed out and gets most of its power from the low and high frequencies. If you prefer your vocals to sit forward in the mix, the M50xBT is the way to go. But if you enjoy a sense of fullness and like to hear all of the instrumentation, you can rest assured that you won’t experience any FOMO when listening to SR50BT. It’s the more honest headphone. In terms of clarity, the SR50BT wins again. It offers a cleaner sound when listening to acoustic guitars, doing a better job at separating the notes and conveying more detail.
Listening to strings, both headphones reveal the same amount of transparency. And the high frequency extension is similar. Still, because significant low frequencies are absent on the SR50BT, it definitely presents itself as the brighter headphone.
Because the SR50BT has a flatter and cleaner sound, you’ll get a slightly richer soundstage on this headphone. For example, percussion instruments that appear faint on the M50xBT sound cleaner and more fleshed out on the SR50BT. As a result, the sense of dimension is more audible on the SR50BT, and instrument placement feels more precise.
Kids who need serious bass should go for the M50xBT, while purists should opt for the SR50BT. I think the M50xBT sounds most like Audio-Technica’s classic sound signature. At the same time, I love that the SR50BT gives you a more generous midrange. And you can’t beat it in terms of clarity and detail. In any case, don’t base your decision on noise-reduction; both headphones give you the same isolation from the outside environment. Finally, it’s touchpad versus buttons. But I’ll let you decide whether to wear gloves this winter.
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Audio 46: Audio-Technica ATH-SR50BT Headphones (Use our promo code, “majorhifi” to get a 10% discount)
Audio 46: Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT Headphones (Use our promo code, “majorhifi” to get a 10% discount)
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