Audio-Technica Australia | audio-technica.com.au | Expect to Pay: $379
In modern monitoring, the Audio-Technica M50 series has become as synonymous in the professional world as the famous Yamaha NS10 speaker. Similar to the iconic white speaker cone and black box, the sleek, black looks of the M50 have become a staple of professional audio for mixing, monitoring playback and enjoying balanced high-definition sound.
Their value for money has brought the range into a special league of headphone that is enjoyed by professionals and audiophiles alike. This is where the ATH-M50xBT, the Bluetooth version of the famed M50, really shines: the same great sound, same stylish looks, but without the inconvenience of a cable.
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To be brutally honest, my first question about the Bluetooth addition to an already brilliant headphone was “Why?” Most monitor controllers or audio interfaces don’t include a Bluetooth option without an adaptor and additional dongle or receiver. After using them for a little while, I changed my question – “Why not have a Bluetooth option for headphones?” In a market with an increasing amount of educational material for making, playing, recording, mixing and mastering music, these make sense.
The classy, felt-lined box that the ATH-M50xBTs arrive in includes a cable for wired monitoring to your interface or headphone amp. Alternatively, you can enjoy high-quality audio from your couch through the Bluetooth function. Pairing my phone to the closed-back dynamic headphones was easy, and a calming “Bluetooth connected” message confirmed my phone had successfully connected within seconds. Also included in the box is a handy pouch to safely travel with the headphones and a USB charging cable to re-charge once you exceed the maximum 35 hours of battery life. The headphones communicate via Bluetooth version 5.0 and rich sound is delivered via 45mm drivers.
The quality of sound from the M50 is still great. The ATH-M50xBTs reproduce a familiar controlled bottom-end and a clear, crisp high-end. The M50s are flattering without being overbearing, and are always a great option for referencing your own work against professional mixes and songs. A frequency graph for the M50s shows a fairly even response until about 5kHz, where it deviates and dips a little, but spikes in just the right spots for a comfortable listen.
Similar to its wired counterpart, the ATH-M50xBT’s foam pads are replaceable and the headphones are collapsible to save space. In addition to these features, the ATH-M50xBTs have Touch Control technology on the Audio-Technica logo for Voice Assist to be used with Siri or Google Assistant. The left headphone features controls to answer and end calls, play and pause your music, and you can also skip tracks and adjust the volume. There’s really no need to be hindered by cables ever again, as the ATH-M50xBTs will soon be your go-to.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT headphones are a home-run, mostly because they’re invaluable around the home, but also in a professional environment and on the go. The response of the drivers is as rich, dynamic and balanced as they are in the now classic M50s, but with the benefits and luxury of wireless connection to whatever source you’re listening through.
Not only is it a luxury at a consumer price point, but they offer workhorse quality in a robust, intuitive design. You can monitor, enjoy, record and listen to music in confidence, or watch films with all the nuance that sound designers work tirelessly toward, and that television speakers simply aren’t designed to reproduce. In an industry that is increasingly adapting tones and introducing new technologies, Audio-Technica are pushing the envelope. You can come along for the ride or be left in the dust.