Audio Technica ATH-M50 vs. ATH-M50x – Best Headphones under $150 in 2017


m50x4-1024x682-840x559Description: The Audio Technica ATH-M50x and ATH-M50 continue to garner accolades and rave reviews to this day. This article describes the main feature, pros, cons and benefits you can get by buying these extremely popular headphones. More importantly, you will learn also about how these two headphones compare and my personal recommendation as to which one to buy and why?

After reading this review, you will find out why I definitely recommend to buy the ATH-M50x rather than his old brother the famous ATH-M50. Keep reading, and I am sure you find this very helpful to make an informed decision for your purchase.

First, let’s learn the main and most important features of these headphones and their major specs.

 The headphone industry is one of the most competitive fields in the audio trade, there’s no question about that. Yet there’s something to be said about the Audio Technica ATH-M50 and more in particular its successor ATH-M50x.

Well, I can say I happen to have tried very many headphones and have read and analyzed hundreds of reviews and trust me these headphones have both been among the most popular ones. Professional reviews published on trade publication websites have also mostly been unanimous in their praise.

Features of the Audio Technica ATH-M50 and ATH-M50x

I have always said and will keep saying both these models are among the best headphones under $150.


So what do you get for your money? Here are some of the features you can expect:

  • Closed back design.
  • The drivers measure 45 mm in diameter.
  • The frequency response ranges from 15 to 28,000 Hz with remarkable flatness
  • Come with a neodymium magnet, a copper-clad aluminum wire voice coil, a gold-plated stereo 1/8″ (3.5 mm) connector, and even a protective pouch.
  • Come with either straight or coiled cables.
  • The ear cups swivel 180 degrees for easy one-ear monitoring.


Audio Technica ATH-M50x-3The list of excellent features offered by these headphones is easy enough to recognize.

  • The sound quality is superb. Just about every related review says this, although they may use a synonym for the adjective “superb”. The highs are detailed and accurate without sounding harsh. The mids are just right. The bass is tight and deep, yet it doesn’t overwhelm. You can listen through these headphones for an entire day and you won’t get tired or fatigued.
  • Because of the accuracy of the sound while it’s still neutral, they’re perfect as a studio monitor headphone. You can drive up the volume as far up as you can stand it, and you won’t hear any distortion at all.
  • You don’t need an external amplifier.
  • The headphones are very sturdy, even though they are made largely of plastic.
  • It is quite comfortable to wear, and over time the ear cups will fit your ears even better.


While there have been some superfluous negative Audio Technica ATH-M50 and ATH-M50x reviews here and there, often you’ll realize that the complaints don’t make much sense.

  • Some have commented that one of its negative aspects is that it doesn’t have a microphone attached. That’s because it’s a set of headphones—and not a set of headsets! You really shouldn’t buy something and then complain about what it’s not. The ATH-M50 is not a TV so you can’t use it to actually watch your favorite shows, although you can use it with your TV. And it’s not a car either so you can’t drive it to work, although you can use it if you are a car passenger, and you don’t like the driver’s choice of music.
  • Then there will probably be a complaint about how the delivery messed up and handed them a broken product. We haven’t really found a review like this yet, but sooner or later one will probably turn up.
  • Then there are those who will complain that the base is inadequate while the highs were too crisp. As has been mentioned, the headphones intentionally rein in the bass so it doesn’t become overpowering, but if overpowering bass is your preference you need something else. This is definitely not for bass head freaks.

Of course, we’re not saying that this headphone is perfect. There’s no such thing. One of the most common complaints is that this headphone set isn’t really meant for outdoor use. It weighs 284 grams or 10 ounces, and it’s also a bit bulky. Athletes who are jogging through the streets may want to use a different pair of earphones instead.

In addition, the headphones aren’t really noise-cancelling. It’s more accurate to say that they are noise isolating. The earcups block out quite a large amount of noise, and when you’re playing music you won’t find it easy to hear anything from the outside. But it won’t eliminate outside noise completely.

Finally, because of the closed earcup design there may be some sweating on warmer days. And that’s it. Compared to all the wonderful features, the negatives seem almost inconsequential.

Audio technica ATH-M50x vs. ATH-M50, which one to buy?

Audio Technica ATH-M50x-4By now, you understand why I have always considered and recommended the ATH-M50 as the best headphone for under $150, period. Well, this was true before its successor was introduced to the market.  Now, the big question is how different is the M50x from the M50 and is this difference worth the cost?

While the M50x does cost a tad bit more, they maintain the M50’s awesome build, high quality, flexibility, portable design ideas, attention to detail, main features and technical specifications.

The biggest difference between the two involves the cabling. When you purchase a M50x, you will find that it comes out of the box without any cables attached to it. However, you will see a empty 3 ½ mm headphone jack on the left hand side where you can plug in a cable.

There are three different cables included in the box to choose from. For slightly more money, you receive a 1.2 meter straight cable, a 3 meter straight cable that stretches out to 9 feet, and 1.2 meter coiled cable that appears to be a favorite among most of the consumer reviews I have read. The pictures of the three different cable types are given below so you have a better idea of what you get with your purchase.

You should be aware that a locking mechanism is needed to connect the cable to the headphones, so you cannot use any third party headphone cables. Fortunately, the cables that come with it are more than adequate. The M50x is available in three colors: blue, black, and white.

Essentially, the cables are the biggest exterior difference, but there may be a few other aspects that might be important to some. For instance, the top band of the headphone and the headphone cups are actually a bit softer and more comfortable. In addition, they seem to be more flexible and are not as tight on your head. They are definitely comfortable! Of course, they still have that great noise isolating seal on the top.

With that “Sonic” signature superior audio quality, they’ve definitely taken an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” approach. Both have an excellent, balanced rich sound with really rich deep lows, balanced mids, and detailed highs.

I’ve been using my M50x for everything from traveling, audio monitoring while recording, video editing, and just about everything else you can think of. I really appreciate this and it is certainly a testament to how great the sound is for headphones less than $150.

The ATH-M50x doesn’t need an amp. They actually sound great with your phone. In addition, they are very portable, like the M50. They have a closed back, are comfortable, and feature a great noise isolating seal on the head.

They pretty much check all the boxes. If you are planning to spend a decent amount on headphones, they are definitely worth looking into. The bottom line is that these headphones are an amazingly good buy and there are certainly worth the money.

Last but not least, the the ATH-M50x comes in three different colors as seen below:

Audio Technica ATH-M50x Consumer Reviews

You can almost hear the glee from just about every Audio Technica ATH-M50x review written by an actual consumer. In two words, the consumer ratings are excellent.

I have spent a lot of time reading and digging into reviews for this headphone and see if there is any serious issues pointed out from real users. Almost all buyers seem to be happy with the quality of sound, isolation, build, comfort and the price.

The minor thing that people refer to is the fact that the cabling and related connections are proprietary, As I pointed out in the previous section, you are not able to use a third party connector for this headphone but then you are getting three different cables with your purchase and I seriously you will need a different cable anyways,

Pricing and what to do next?

I believe at this point and given all I explained before, we agree that both these headphones are the best candidates for under $150, no question about it. For just a bit more, you will get ATH-M50x with much greater benefits than the price difference. So, I guess the choice is clear, or should I repeat, just go for ATH-M50x and you will never go wrong.

This is a professional monitoring set of headphones, and as such if you are recording at home this will be perfect for you. And if you value sound and comfort, this one’s ideal. When you are listening to your music or watching a film or a TV show at home, you will have nothing negative to say about it. It will be better-sounding than anything you have ever tried before.

So should you buy it? That depends. Do you care about sound, and how comfortable you feel when you wear a set of headphones? Do you want absolutely clear and crisp sound when you mix and record music? If you care about sound quality, then this is the headphone for you—and you’d be comfortable wearing it on your head as well.

If you ask me, this headphone even deserves a place in any list of the best headphones in the under-$500 category. It really is that good.