Audio-Technica ATH-M50’s were “legendary budget headphones”. Almost every audio enthusiast would recommend these over other headphones for under $100, years back. The scenario has changed now, with a lot more competition and price, therefore, these no longer are the “King of Budget Headphones” but are still darn good.
Today we are going to look at not only the new M50x but rather the limited edition matte gray version. Let’s see what the old horse has up its sleeve.
Build and Design: 8.0/10
The build and design of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 has always been excellent. These have to be the sturdiest headphones I’ve ever used with the kind of daily use and abuse I put them through. The newer M50x are no different, they are exactly the same design-wise and equally sturdy.
The Limited Edition M50xMG has matte gray finish which is quite nice and subdued compared to the original M50. The original M50’s had a glossy finish and with a metallic rim which gave a shiny look to the entire headphone.
The main design difference is that you get a removable cable with the M50x which is really helpful from the original design which either came with only flat or coiled cable. The removable wire fits in and twists shut securely in the headphone, so no amount of accidental pulling would remove the wire.
If you are wondering, why any sane person would like to change wires? Well, audio enthusiasts aren’t that sane to begin with, and they love to try new third party wires, modify headphones to make it sound better, etc. Audio-Technica smartly recognised this and therefore introduced this aspect into their range of “ATH-M” headphones. On the saner side, you now can easily swap wires in case you need the shorter portable 1.2m cable to the longer 3.0m cable or even the coiled cable from the yesteryears design.
What I particularly love about these headphones is their dynamic design. These can be used by DJ’s, for studio monitoring (they are sold as studio monitors), or by engineers who need to listen through one ear for testing or monitoring sound while having their hands-free and this is exactly what Audio-Technica M series supports well. You can try all sorts of acrobatics, twist-n-turn the ear cups 90 degrees, collapse one side only, or collapse entirely for better portability.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50 is a good sounding headphone. Throw any music at it and it sounds good. The M50’s aren’t new to us at all, we’ve done a review before of the regular M50, and I’ve personally been using these headphones for more than five years on a daily basis. So let’s do a quick detailed rundown and comparison.
As it’s been mentioned in our review before, “the M50’s are great for metal and rock genres of music where sharp, gritty sounding guitars play along a mellow bassline and punchy bass drums. The bass on the M50 is just right and doesn’t cut out into other frequencies. This characteristic is irrespective of the volume. If there had to be something missing, it would be the scooped sound because of a slightly underwhelming mid-range frequency range”.
Difference between the Audio Technica M50 VS M50x
Audio-Technica claims that the sound signature is essentially the same and they are quite right. The word “essentially the same” means that there is a difference but not much, nothing to be alarmed or product-breaking.
The bass is better on the M50x as it is deeper, tighter and punchier. I even noticed better sound stage and more clarity than my older M50. However, it is important to note that my old M50’s are quite worn out and that I’m using unofficial replacement ear-pads with it. On top of it, the new M50x obviously don’t have the same amount of burn-in time. Whatever it maybe, Audio-Technica ATH-M50x certainly sounds better and more enjoyable.
Driving these headphones is not a problem at all, it can run on your phone/MP3 player equally well with 38 Ohms impedance. Sound separation is great though the sound staging is narrow, this has always been a problem with M50 line-up.
Verdict and Price in India
You’ll get to hear a lot more detail, balanced, yet fun sound from Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. This is by no means is a clinically accurate headphone for audiophiles, it isn’t meant to and neither would most of us like such a sound.
The regular M50x costs approx Rs 9,000 (street price) and the M50xMG (Matte Grey) costs approx. Rs 10,299 (street price). The matte and grey finish is quite nice but whether you’d like to pay more than Rs 1,000 or so for looks is completely up to you. Either way, you’ll get an excellent headphone.
This brings us to the question whether M50x is a good budget headphone of not?
In India, the clear answer is No. In the US, the M50x standard edition costs approx. $115. With conversion, the Indian price makes sense but is still much more than what most folks would pay. If you want a decently well-balanced, yet fun headphone around Rs 5,000, the Sennheiser HD280pro would make more sense for the budget conscious.
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