Headphones come in all shapes, sizes and prices. Some headphones tend to be priced on the higher side, but their features and sound quality will justify the high price tag. Other headphones maybe in the $100 to $200 range, but may not offer the highest levels of sound quality.
Finding a reasonably priced headphone with a ton of features and amazing sound quality is hard. But Audio Technica has got it right with their two popular headphone models, namely M40x and M50x.
In this guide, we will be comparing these two headphones to understand which of the two is most suited for you.
Table of Contents
Audio-Technica M40x and M50x Similarities & Differences
In this section, we will comparing Audio Technica's M40x and M50x across different parameters to help you decide which headphone scores better in the areas that matter to you the most.
Design and Build
Both M40x and M50x are models in the same series, so their design, look and feel tends to be similar in many ways. Audio Technica has not experimented much with these models, all that it has done is collected feedback from users of M40x and rectified them in M50x. Otherwise, a lot has remained unchanged.
There hasn't been much feedback from users of M40x in terms of design, and this can be attributed to the fact that the design and build are top-notch. There is really nothing to change in these headphones, and this is why the same build and design is extended to M50x as well.
In fact, when you keep both the headphones side by side, you can hardly distinguish one from the other, that's how similar they look.
But that doesn't mean they are the same. Let's figure out their similarities and differences in terms of design and build.
When it comes to design and build, both the headphones are sure to impress you. Both are made of heavy duty plastic with an aluminum head band and aluminum extenders. The use of such good quality materials makes the headphones feel solid and robust. They are sure to last for a few years, if not more.
Both the headphones have plush padding on the ear cups to make for a comfortable listening experience. The ear cups sit well on the ears to give a good fit and at the same time, is airy enough to ensure that you don't sweat after a few hours of listening to your favorite music.
The head band is nice too. The padding on it is thick and feels comfortable. It also sits well on the head and suits heads of most sizes.
The head band also looks luxurious and classy with the company's logo and name written on the top side. The metal adjusters are also covered in padding to give a rich look to the headphones as a whole.
Both the headphones are available only in black color which we think is a neutral choice as it can pair well with any costume.
Most companies do not prefer to try flashy and they prefer to stick to tested ones like black or white. In this case though, the headphones are in black completely, except for the silver ring on the sides on the ear cup and the name of the company which is imprinted in white.
Going on to the differences, the ear cups on M40X swivel 90 degrees whereas the ear cups on M50x swivels 180 degrees. What this essentially means is that the ear cups on M50x are more flexible and can give you a more comfortable fit, regardless of your ear shape and size. In addition, they will not hug your ears tightly and at the same time, will give a comfortable fit.
if you're looking for a pair of headphones for everyday listening, M50x is a better choice. It has a fun and engaging side that slightly adds some colour to your song.
Another difference between the two is in their looks. When you keep the headphones side by side, you'll be able to notice that M50x is a little bit more classy than M40x. Just below the extenders on both the left and right side, you'll be able to see bits of burnished steel that adds a little bit of robustness to M50x.
One more difference you'll be able to spot is on the outer rings of the ear cups that will have a silver lining on M50x and this ring is bigger than the one present in M40x. Though a little hard to spot the difference, you'll still be able to identify on close inspection.
As a result, there is a slight difference in build quality too. The M40xs snap around the ear cups, but M50xs have a different mechanism, and this makes them slightly more durable than the M40x. Also, you'll notice that M50xs are slightly heavier, and that's because they weigh at 285 grams when compared to the 240 grams of M40x.
Not much of a difference really, but it could have an impact when you wear it for long periods of time. The additional weight will seem to sit on your head, especially if you tend to switch between the two (if at all that's what you want to do!).
One more noticeable difference is that the M40x's have clear indicators for right and left ear and this makes it so much more easier to identify which ear cup should go on which side. Though M40x does have “L” and “R” markings, they are located on the inner side of the headband, and hence they are not as visible as they should be.
When it comes to comfort, both headphones are quite similar too. The ear cups are large and fit well on most ears. There is a good gap between your ears and the inner side of the ear cups, so your ears don't touch anything. This depth gives a more comfortable feeling than filling the ear cups with padding.
One aspect to watch out for is the clamping down feeling. You get the feeling of your headphones clamping down on you as soon as you wear them right out of the box. It takes a few times of wear for the headphones to “break in” and to make you feel comfortable wearing them.
So, it is best you are a little patient here and wait for the headphones to loosen out a bit before deciding if they are a good fit for you or not.
Now, time for the verdict. Which of the two headphones is better in terms of design? It is a close call because both headphones are similar in many ways. In fact, you may not be able to identify the differences with a quick glance. Likewise, you'll not be able to distinguish one from the other when it comes to comfort too.
So, both the headphones are winners here because their design is simple and elegant, and they are super comfortable to wear.
Now that we have seen the design, what is going on under the hood?
A quick glance shows that M40x is a little less impressive in terms of specifications when compared to m50x.
M40x has a rather low impedance at just 35ohms and the frequency range is around 15,000 to 24,000 hertz. M50x, on the other hand, is meatier as it comes with a larger impedance and range. Its impedance is about 38ohms while the range extends from 15,000 to 28,000 hertz. Though you may think the difference is not much, in the world of headphones, this is good enough to make a difference in sound output.
Another nice feature to have in both the headphones is that they have detachable cables. This is surely a good thing to have as you no longer have to worry about messy cables that keep dangling out of your ear cups. Also, both the headphones are closed back and circumaural.
However, there is a difference in cable. M40x comes with only two cables – one straight and the other coiled. Both these cables are extremely long, which you may think is a positive feature. But in reality, it is so long that it makes it difficult to manage the cables. Also, there is no need for such a long cable. We are surprised as to why Audio Technica decided to go with such a long cable.
The cables of M50x, on the other hand, has a decent size. There are three cables that come with M50x, out of which one is coiled and the other two are straight. The straight cables come in varying sizes as well, one is 1.2 meters while the other is three meters. These cables give you plenty of flexibility to choose the right size you want.
Both the cables are proprietary, which means, you can replace them with any generic cable. Rather, you should buy only other Audio Technica cables to replace the cables that come with the headphones.
One things to note here. Both these headphones do not come with a hard case for portability. This means, you'll have to buy a hard case separately if you plan to travel with it often. The carrying bag that comes with these headphones looks flimsy and is not expected to offer protection for your headphones.
Now it is time to decide which of these headphones are better in their set of features. Again, it is a close call because they are so similar. But in this category, we will go with M50x because there is more flexibility in its cables. Sadly, the cables of M40x is unwieldy and can pose problems.
Though the design between the two models is fairly the same, the sound output is wholly a different story altogether. The difference in sound quality is big and this even makes you wonder how in the world did Audio Technica pull it off with similar looking headphones.
The sound of M40x is a little relaxed and has a more neutral sound. It is ideal to listen to all genres and makes for a decent amount of critical listening as well. Though the sound quality is not perfect enough for a critical analysis, it still gives you an output that is not colored or sculpted in any way.
So, you listen to what is played in the original sound track, nothing more, nothing less.
The mid notes, high and bass – all three seem to get the same amount of attention in M40x. This is great because many companies prefer to give Bass that extra push to make it sound fun and engaging.
On the contrary, such models distort the sound so much that you forget what the original sound track was.
Also, such headphones that place too much emphasis on bass are geared only for bass heads and sound nice only for certain genres. Imagine playing a hip-hop or jazz track on headphones that amplify bass. It would just stop you from listening to music ever again. It's really that bad.
When compared to such headphones, the balanced and neutral tone of M40x makes for a refreshing experience, to say the least.
The sound of M40x is a little relaxed and has a more neutral sound. It is ideal to listen to all genres and makes for a decent amount of critical listening as well.
What about M50x?
These headphones sound much different. They are not neutral, but at the same time, they do not focus overly on the bass aspect alone. These headphones fall somewhere between the two. The low-end notes are definitely more substantial than what you can hear in M40x, but they are not overpowering. Rather, they just have a little more “oomph” factor to it, and that is attributed to the slightly larger driver they have.
Otherwise, the highs and mid notes are good and audible and there is a nice balance to the overall sound.
So, which of these two is better? Well, the answer depends on you, what you like to hear and how you'd like to hear it.
If you prefer soft music and want to listen to the original soundtrack as it is, M40x is your choice. It can also be ideal for critical listening though we don't think it offers a 100% crisp and clear tone to help you identify the smallest of mistakes.
It is an overall okay headphone for critical listening where you just want to know the overall sound instead of going deep into the changes and problems.
But if you're looking for a pair of headphones for everyday listening, M50x is a better choice. It has a fun and engaging side that slightly adds some colour to your song. So, it doesn't sound dull or boring and feels a little bright.
Overall, we think both headphones are winners because they are excellent in their own way. Depending on your expectations and preferences, make a choice.
Cost is an important determinant of your headphones because you want to get the best value for your money. If you're reading this review, it surely means you're not looking for the cheapest one, but the one that is reasonably priced and has a good feature set for the amount you want to pay.
Well, the good news is both these headphones are reasonably priced and offer good quality sound. While M40x is priced lower, M50x is a little expensive.
Now, you might wonder if this price difference is worth it. As per our testing and opinion, this difference is not worth it. M40x offers everything that M50x, so there is not really much of a difference.
The sound quality is definitely better in M50x, but that does not justify the $60 difference in price tag. Also, M40x is not a bad pair of headphones either. They offer good value for your money and have a good set of features.
The winner in cost is ATH-M40x because it well-priced for what it offers, giving you a big bang for your money.
Advantages and Disadvantages
In this part, we will give you a quick bird's eye view of the pros and cons of each headphone, so you can choose to make a quick decision within just a few minutes.
ATH-M40X Advantages and Disadvantages
The M40x is a great product which works well and has sufficient sound quality. Let's find out more about these headphones:
Clear sound, in fact, one of the best you will get at this price
Very comfortable, thanks to the soft padding on the headband and ear cups
Highly durable since they are made from pro-grade materials
Since they come with swivelling cups, they are ideal for one-ear monitoring
Highly portable, as you can fold these headphones
Not the best choice for bass heads
The carrying case that comes with the headphones feels a little flimsy. It is best you buy a separate case
Cables are proprietary and you cannot use cables other than those made by Audio-Technica
Ear cups swivel only 90 degrees
Impedance is slightly low
Cables are long and can get unwieldy at times
These are the pros and cons of the ATH-M40x. We hope this chart provides a broad understanding on what to expect form this set of headphones.
ATH-M50X Advantages and Disadvantages
The Audio-Technica M50x is a powerful device which has a lot of strong sides and a few shortcomings, too. Let's dive in:
Good stereo imaging
Comes with three cables
Not good for neutral tones
Too much emphasis on bass
Largely made of plastic
Isolation could be better
So, here are the pros and cons of both headphones and we hope it helped to understand what to expect from the Audio-Technica M40x and M50x.
The Bottom Line
Now it is time to decide which of the two headphones is better. After comparing these two headphones across different parameters, we can conclude that there is not much difference between Audio Technica's M40x and M50x.
They are similar in many ways and have only a few differences. The differences are also not substantial enough to warrant an upgrade.
The price difference and minimal updates in ATH-M50x make this a tough call to make. If you're on a budget, we advise you to get the M40x because it offers the best value for your money.
If you can pay a little extra and want to explore the capabilities of a newer model, Audio Technica M50x is the way to go. The second-generation model doesn't offer much worth than M40x. Go for the latter if you want the best value for your money.