Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT Review

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Audio-Technica is one of the industry leaders when it comes to headphones—both in the professional and consumer audio markets. The most popular Audio Technica headphones is, without a doubt, the ATH-M50x, an over-ear cable headphone. The ATH-M50x is affordable, comfortable, sounds incredible, and is even featured in our article on the best over-ear headphones.

In 2018, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT Wireless Over-Ear Headphones were released. The release of the wireless ATH-M50xBT was met with excitement from the consumer market and contempt from the professional audio market. Let’s take a closer look at what all the fuss is about.

At a Glance

Cable or Wireless: Both
Speaker Driver: 45mm
Noise Cancelling: No
Battery Life:40 hours
Primary Build Material: Plastic & pleather
Color: Available in black
Weight:310g (10.9 oz)

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT

If you were to take a pair of ATH-M50xBT and hold them up to a pair of ATH-M50x, you likely wouldn’t notice any difference between them. The good news is that Audio-Technica recognized nothing was wrong with the original design and chose to leave this element alone. The materials, padding, and fit appear to be the same from an aesthetic point of view. So what has changed?

Bluetooth

Firstly, the ATH-M50xBT is a wireless headphone featuring the latest Bluetooth version 5.0, which is compatible with A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, and HSP Bluetooth profiles. The headphones range 10 meters (33 feet), sufficient for the average consumer. The built-in battery powering the ATH-M50xBT has an impressive 40 hours of playing time, which is better than most competitors. Charging time from the flat is 7 hours long, so you’d want to ensure the ATH-M50xBT is fully charged for long-haul flights.

Design

Like the original, the ATH-M50xBT is an over-ear, closed-back headphone featuring a 45mm driver in each ear. The ATH-M50xBT covers both wireless and cable connections and, like the original, features a 38-ohm impedance. You can use the ATH-M50xBT with any device, including mobile phones.

The cable and even the connector into the headphone ear cup on the ATH-M50xBT are vastly different from the original. With the ATH-M50x, you have three cables: a 1.2m to 3.0m (3.9′ – 9.8′) coiled cable, a 3.0m (9.8′) straight cable, and a 1.2 m (3.9′) straight cable for mobile devices. The two longer cables featured a threaded ⅛-inch connector with a ¼-inch adapter for professional audio use.

With the ATH-M50xBT, you get only one cable, a 1.2 m (3.9′) straight cable with an inline one-button remote and microphone for hands-free calling. The ⅛-inch connector that goes into the headphone ear cup does not lock in place like the original ATH-M50x, preventing the cable from pulling out. I don’t feel this is an issue since the ATH-M50xBT is designed as a wireless headphone for use with mobile devices rather than moving around a studio. The ATH-M50xBT cable sits securely in place and doesn’t feel like it will pull out when moving around.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT

Control

The one-button remote on the cable allows you to play/pause tracks and answer, reject, or end incoming calls. When using the ATH-M50xBT in wireless mode, you have more controls via the left ear cup. A three-button panel includes a volume control (up and down) and a multi-function button. Like the incline remote, the multi-function button allows you to play/pause tracks and answer, reject, or end incoming calls. There is also a built-in microphone on the left ear for use without the cable. A power switch is separated from the three buttons, activating Bluetooth pairing.

A cool feature of the ATH-M50xBT is the touch-sensitive pad on the left ear cup. Tapping the pad activates voice assistants like Google or Siri. Not everyone uses voice assistants, so I feel this is a wasted feature. The touchpad could have been better for skipping tracks or play/pause. Another small annoyance is the three buttons on the left ear. They are close together and at an awkward angle, making them easy to access and operate. I rarely use the buttons on headphones, and even if I did, this wouldn’t be reason enough for me not to buy the ATH-M50xBT.

Also located on the left ear cup are the ⅛-inch cable input and micro USB charging input. Unfortunately, the ATH-M50xBT does not have a cable input on the right ear.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT

Sound

Finally, the sound. How does the ATH-M50xBT stack up against the original regarding sound? If you use a cable connection with the ATH-M50xBT, the sound is much the same as the ATH-M50x. The headphones sound warm with a nice, solid, low-end response. The clarity in the mid-range and high frequencies is exceptional, allowing you to pick out every detail and nuance in the audio you are listening to. The sound is flat and true without sounding dull and lifeless, which so many loved about the ATH-M50x.

Using the ATH-M50xBT as a wireless headphone is a different story. While the sound quality is far superior to most wireless headphones on the market, it’s certainly not the same experience as using the cable. The Bluetooth compression means you get a slight frequency loss, losing some detail and clarity in the audio. The difference is so slight that most people won’t even notice. This might be an issue for audiophiles, but I’m sure even these consumers will appreciate just how good the ATH-M50xBT sound is for a wireless headphone under $200. And that’s one of the best features of the ATH-M50xBT, the price. For under $200, you get a premium-sounding wireless headphone with a 40-hour battery life, leaving the competition in the dust.

What’s in the Box?

Included with the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT Wireless Over-Ear Headphones:

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT
  • USB charging cable
  • 2 m (3.9′) straight cable with inline remote
  • Carry pouch

Conclusion

If you’re a fan of the ATH-M50x, then the ATH-M50xBT is essentially the same headphone with wireless capability. Keep your ATH-M50x at home or in the studio and the ATH-M50xBT for travel. The ATH-M50xBT doesn’t have active noise cancellation. However, a significant amount of noise isolation offers a reasonable attenuation for noisy environments like planes and public transport.

With the ATH-M50xBT, you get 40-hour battery life, the option of cable or wireless, an inline remote and microphone with the same features in the ear cup, voice integration, and incredible sound for under $200. If you are knowledgeable about the headphone market, you’ll know that’s incredible value for a premium headphone brand.

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Author: Matt Hallowes

Matt has worked as a sound engineer and tour manager since 2003. His work as a sound engineer includes both live production and venue installations. With a passion for the industry, Matt shares his knowledge and expertise with us.

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