The Audio-Technica M50x is one of the most popular headphones among producers, artists, engineers, vocalists, you name it. For under $200, it’s impressive that this deceivingly unassuming headphone has become such an industry standard, especially in a profession full of exorbitantly priced gear and technology. But even with years of new products and innovation, the M50x has stood strong and continued its legacy. While other Audio-Technica models like the M30x and M40x have received high praise too, none have managed quite that of the M50x. If you are involved in the world of music or sound creation, you’ve likely considered buying the M50x or have used a pair before.
Recently, Audio-Tehnica released a special edition of this beloved headphone, a metallic orange model titled “Lantern Glow.” This version runs for $169, a slightly higher price than the $149 for the typical black or white models. When I received this new color, I figured I’d revisit this headphone and give it a proper review. I’ve had my own M50x for over 6 years now, and it’s managed to keep chugging along just fine, despite its pleather coating flaking off all over my ears as its aged. Let’s look at the classic headphone that is the M50x, and see if it’s still the same sound I’ve known for so long.
What’s in the Box
- Drawstring carrying pouch
- 1.2m – 3.0m coiled cable
- 3.0m straight cable
- 1.2m straight cable
Look and Feel
The M50x is a very functional headphone, it’s comfortable but nothing to write home about, and that’s ok. This is a headphone that gets the job done, and does it well. It’s got plush ear pads and some added padding on the headband. Other features include foldability and expandable length. It’s quite unlikely anyone will find these hard to wear for long periods of time, as this is what they’re made for. You may occasionally need to take them off to let your ears breath, as they seal quite well, but that’s about it.
Looks wise, these don’t stand out, and aren’t really meant to. They’re a function over fashion headphone, and basically look like any other pair you’d pick up at the store, which is part of what makes it hard to see why they’re so popular if you’ve never used them before. The new Lantern Glow color adds a bit more character to their build, which has stayed the same for a long time, so I’m definitely a fan of the fresh, bright design.
The M50x have always felt like it had a relatively wide soundstage to me, but they’re not trying to achieve insane width. They aim for realism and accuracy, as is their goal. This means these may not cast a song wide into cyberspace, but they will give a track whatever width it’s earned through the quality of its mix. If you can make something sound insanely wide, the M50x has the abilities to accommodate that, but you’ll have to work for it.
These have a strong, highly impactful low end. While it’s not dominating, it certainly doesn’t hold back, and like everything on the M50x, you get out what you put into it. If you throw your craziest, most sub heavy kick at this headphone, you’ll hear it full fledged. On the other hand, don’t expect it to beef up your thin sounding baseline too much. The M50x does extenuate low end a bit, however not much more than most modern systems or headphones, making it applicably inaccurate in my opinion.
The pair of these I’ve owned for years has always had harsher, snappier mids, whereas this brand new M50x I opened felt more neutral and smoothed out in its mid range. While this could be due to a number of causes, I appreciated the less forward mids I heard this time around. In the past, I’ve had to make my mixes sound a bit resonant on the M50x in order for them to translate as balanced and full-bodied on other systems. With this newer one, it seemed to have corrected this issue and given a more accurate, trustworthy mid range.
The M50x is a brighter headphone, no doubt, so be prepared for that. Its boost isn’t a huge shelf that extends every last bit of high end, it focuses more on the highest of highs. Still, it gives this extra shiny area a good push. The M50x’s brighter sound, while not as transparent as the rest of its attributes, ensures all high end elements are detectable and can be fine tuned in the production or mixing process. It also ensures you’ll be more light handed on your high end boosts, often resulting in a mix that does’t shine too aggressively.
The M50x is an incredible headphone and earns its reputation each time I use it. Despite growing competition throughout the years, it’s managed to hold its own, and I suspect it will continue to for years to come. This is a headphone you can count on to last and take with you everywhere, and it won’t totally break the bank. If you’re on the fence about the M50x, I say go for it. There’s an abundance of evidence that it’ll do just what you need it to.
You can purchase the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Lantern Glow Limited Edition or Original model at Audio46