Review: Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT

Great-sounding phones that you can monitor with in certain mixing scenarios, but which also double up as fantastic wire-free listening phones with a great vibe.

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Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT

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Price £176/$199
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The general rule about Bluetooth headphones is they’re very handy for music listening, but not always the best for studio monitoring. There may be latency issues and the whole Bluetooth ‘thing’ surely brings in some kind of degradation in signal quality? Well, maybe… 

The truth is that Bluetooth headphones are getting better; in fact, we probably get more models sent to us than regular phones now and they each have their pluses and minuses, many with gimmicks such as self-setup or active attempts at noise cancellation.

These, though, are Bluetooth headphones from respected manufacturers Audio-Technica. And they are also the Bluetooth version of headphones that were very much our studio favourites, when released some four years ago, the ATH-M50s. 

In fact, of the original M50s, we said: “They’re accurate, practical, sound excellent and will have you fixing bits of your mix that you thought didn’t need fixing.” So, no gimmicks, just hopefully good quality – and we have high hopes for these, Bluetooth or not. Specs-wise, they certainly deliver, with a good response which is borne out in listening. 

Bluetooth setup is as easy as it always is: just switch the headphones on and they match to your computer/playback device. Sound quality is vibey and very pleasant indeed – perhaps not as accurate as some we recall, but we’re lining them up against far more expensive, four-figure-accurate phones. Next to those, they sound better for playback but perhaps not as accurate for precision mixing. Sound isolation is very good, too, which is a plus for monitoring, as you won’t get too much sonic interference from the outside world. 

Sadly, latency was always going to be an issue – something approaching a quarter of a second with Logic, That’s not to say you couldn’t monitor with them – you just wouldn’t want to play parts in with any accuracy. However, for the benefits of having Bluetooth – easy setup and wire-free listening – these are about as good as we’ve heard. Nothing fancy, just great-sounding phones and wire-free. 

Key features

  • Bluetooth headphones
  • 45mm large-aperture drivers
  • Over-ear design for sound isolation
  • Mic and button controls built into the earcup
  • Freq. response: 15Hz–28kHz
  • Sensitivity: 99dB/mW
  • Impedance: 38 ohms
  • Up to 40 hours of continuous use on a full charge

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