Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Audio technica ATH-M50x - has to be one of best 'bang for the buck' headphones at its price point

     The ATH-M50, the predecessor to the ATH-M50x, was well known for being an extreme value at its price point, and the ATH-M50x solves some of the problems the M50 had, making it an even better value.

Pros: 3 detachable cables included with screw on 6.35mm adapter which works with 2 of the cables, improved sound quality over the M50, better comfort, robust and sturdy design, extremely foldable

Cons: clamping force may be a wee bit too great and headband padding a bit too thin for some people, slightly recessed mids
      The M50x came in a large, squarish cardboard box that is neither plain nor flaunting. A large picture of the headphones themselves is shown on the front of the box and the back shows the features of the headphones in a few languages. Upon opening the box, you will find another piece of cardboard containing the soft pouch and covering the M50x, and the M50x itself lying flat on what I think is recycled cardboard moulded to fit the headphones. The cables are hidden under the Audio Technica logo of the recycled cardboard, which is a very cleverly disguised container.
      The design of the M50x is one I always found attractive, in the understated, 'classic headphone design' kind of style. Some people may find it too plain for them, but for me, the design is just perfect, and the Audio Technica logo with its distinctive silver ring around it on each earcup adds a little flair to an otherwise plain design.

      Despite being made entirely out of plastic on the outside, the M50x is very sturdy. This is helped by the fact that the headband extenders are made of metal. The hinges do not creak or squeak and when folding or unfolding the headphones, there is a very reassuring feel of solidity.

     As for the cables, it comes with a 1.2m cable, a 3.0m cable and another 1.2m-3.0m coiled cable. All the cables connect to the headphones with a 2.5mm plug and a special locking mechanism that prevents the cables from being pulled out accidentally. The 3.0m and 1.2m-3.0m coiled cable both are able to use the screw on 6.35mm adapter, but the 1.2m cable cannot, as it is meant more for mobile use.
     To round up the package, u also get a soft drawstring pouch to keep your headphones in. I sometimes do wish for a hardcase with a pouch inside it to store the cables, and if u do want that, Slappa sells a lot of hardcases that fit the M50x on Amazon.

     I also find these very comfortable, though clamping force out of the box is unusually strong. After a few hours of usage though this gradually eased up and its noe a very comfortable fit. The earpads are quite soft and plush. Pressing them down and they yield easily, and upon releasing the spring back to their original shape. This sponginess helps the pads to adhere to the uneven surfaces around our ears and provide a consistent seal.

     Now, for the sound quality. I found the sound to be improved over the M50, though Audio Technica claims there is no difference between the two. Specifically, what has been improved is that the bass is now more well extended and tighter with less mid bass bloat, and the treble is also less piercing and sharp thanks to a reduced 10kHz treble peak. The mids, on their own, are pretty clean and even, but are slightly recessed compared to the bass and treble, so the M50x can sound a little hard and unnatural and vocals can sound a little withdrawn. The bass is tight and punchy and delivers each beat in tight, solid thumps. Cymbals, high-hats and other high frequency instruments like violins can get a little piercing at times but it is still ok. Separation is good across all ranges. This headphone also spaces pretty decently. Its not that great in a left-to-right perspective, but front-to-back is slightly better. Overall, its not the best, but its still decent. this is a very good sounding headphone for the price.

      I recommend this set of cans to anyone who has a budget around the price of the M50x, and who wants versatility, sturdiness, good sound and great value all in one package.