Released just last month, the Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT offers a new audiophiles a price-conscious wireless headphone. But without active noise cancellation or any other extras, how does it compete with other options?
Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT Review
The M50xBT marks Audio Technica’s latest iteration of the venerable M50 – a studio monitor headphone released over a decade ago. Audio Technica and the M50 have both come a long way since then – the original M50 retailed for $199 when it was first released (the same price as the new M50xBT). But it remains to be seen (or heard?) how much this new model follows the tried-and-true philosophy of other M50 models.
In terms of design, the M50xBT takes a lot of design cues from the current M50x – a successor to the original M50. As such, the M50xBT utilizes the same general appearance and some of the same parts – especially in regard to the earpads and headband.
Controls for volume and playback sit on the left earcup, next to inputs for power and an included 3.5 mm aux cable.
Like the M50X, this wireless version uses a 45 mm driver for enhanced bass response.
Where wireless connectivity is concerned, this headphone uses the latest Bluetooth 5.0 protocol, with support for aptX, AAC, and SBC codecs. Wireless range measures a standard 33 ft (or 10 m) by line-of-sight. Battery charging utilizes a micro-USB connection and results in 40 hours of continuous playback.
Thanks to the secure fit and relatively large earcups, the design of the M50xBT will offer a decent level of noise isolation.
Rich and detailed, the M50xBT offers a great sound for the price.
Like the wired model the preceded it, the M50xBT sports some extension in the low end. Thanks to the large 45 mm dynamic drivers, the lows seem full and articulate, with a good bass response. On tracks like New Order’s Age of Consent, the sound remains clean and natural, with good tonal balance and accuracy. Accurate and crisp, the bass never appears too sloppy or uncontrolled.
In the midrange, the M50xBT shows off surprisingly good detail and fidelity. However, despite the slightest bit of compression here, the M50xBT still sounds very clean compared to other wireless headphones. This contrasting and lifelike midrange lends itself well to both instrumentation and vocals, but vocals in particular seem to leap out a bit from the background.
High end performance seems about on par with the original M50X, and up to snuff when compared to other over-ear wireless headphones at the same price. There’s a certain kind of sparkling clarity to the highs that marks the extension in the highs. Not exactly bright, this part of the frequency range sounds highly detailed for instrumentation, but a bit rolled off or relaxed when listening to female vocals.
Some depth and space give the impression of room within the sound. However, the effect isn’t what I would call soundstage. Enough to distinguish that different instruments are playing at different distances, it’s a close second to a three dimensional space.
Compared to the M50x
The M50X sounds just a tad bit cleaner, with more fidelity in the mids. Things sound sharper and more precise. The wired version also seems to sport more high-end extension. While not a huge deal for vocal work, it’s very obvious on tracks with lots of strings. While I’d still opt for the wired version, the M50xBT does a pretty impressive job of getting close to the sound.
Compared to Other Wireless Headphones
Compared to stuff from Sennheiser, like the HD 4.50BTNC, the Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT features a deeper profile with more bass and more extension in the high end. However, for casual consumers, the HD4.50BTNC might still win out thanks to the inclusion of active noise cancellation – a feature the M50xBT lacks.
Stacked up against models from Bose, like the SoundLink II, there really ins’t much of a contest, as Audio Technica blows these headphones out of the water with more bass, more detail, and better isolation.
If you’re a fan of the original M50x and want bluetooth capability, this headphone will not disappoint. If you’re looking for a new Bluetooth headphone, and haven’t yet drunk the Audio Technica Kool-Aid, the M50xBT offers a prime position at which to do so. Thanks to a whopping big battery life, fantastic sound, and good build, this headphone seems to cater to audio geeks and the uninitiated alike.
Headphone Dungeon Score
The Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT garners four skulls on the Headphone Dungeon skullometer. While not a perfect headphone, it comes pretty close and offers a wealth of impressive features. My only real misgiving, though, is that this headphone still doesn’t supplant the wired M50xBT in terms of overall sound quality.
Type: Closed-back dynamic
Driver Diameter: 45 mm
Magnet: Rare earth
Voice Coil: CCAW (Copper-clad aluminum wire)
Frequency Response: 15 – 28,000 Hz
Sensitivity: 99 dB/mW
Impedance: 38 ohms
Battery: DC3.7 V lithium polymer battery
Battery Life: Approx. 40 hours continuous use
Charging Time: Approx. 7 hours (for 0-100% charge)*
Weight: 310 g (10.9 oz), without cable and connector
Bluetooth Version: 5.0
Maximum Range: Line of sight – approx. 10 m (33′)
Compatible Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP
Support Codec: Qualcomm® aptX, AAC, SBC
Accessories Included: 1.0′ (30 cm) USB charging cable, detachable 3.9′ (1.2 m) cable with 3.5 mm (1/8″) gold-plated stereo mini-plug (L-shaped), protective pouch
*Depending on environmental conditions
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