(first published in CX magazine – May, 2014)


I seem to have written about a few sets of headphones lately. I guess it’s because, like most studios around the country, I’m always on the lookout for new ones because they take such a beating during recording sessions.

This time it feels a bit like déjà vu. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x is a tweaked version of a product I know very well. I think I have about five pairs of the M50s… great headphones. (The new model has a small ‘x’ suffix. What that denotes I have no idea.)

Discovering any differences between the models requires forensic examination because they do look very similar (although the M50x comes in black, white and some blue/grey colour with a tan headband.) Most notably, the new model has a detachable cable on the left ear – the old model did not. This allows you to swap between curly and straight cables as required, which I really like, and replace damaged cables whenever that’s required. Better still, the cable gently locks into place, so it won’t come out unless you want it to.

The headphones also come with a couple of extra cables: one 3m long, the other 1.2m. A nice touch I reckon. It not only shows that Audio-Technica realises that cables break from time to time and that when they do you don’t want to have to wait for weeks for a replacement, it’s just plain generous… and generosity goes a long way.

If you’re not familiar with the M50x or its predecessor, they’re a DJ-styled over-the-ear, closed-back headphone, ideal for tracking and monitoring duties: relatively big on bass and clean in the top end. The headphones swivel, confounding some and suiting others, and overall they’re robust and take a beating. But they’re also very comfortable and easy to wear for extended periods. I use them every day at The Mill and they’ve never missed a beat.

The new model sounds almost identical to the old one; the difference being that upgrade does away slightly with so much glassy top-end. The difference is subtle to the point where sometimes I think I’m imagining it, but when I do hear the difference, it feels like an improvement.

Hard to beat, the ATH-M50x headphones just bloody work, day in and day out.


In Australia, contact Technical Audio Group for more info: (02) 9519 0900 or