When Audio-Technica launched their ATH-M50 headphones in 2007 they became an immediate hit. Originally intended as professional studio monitors, they quickly became the go-to headphones for just about anyone looking for studio-quality sound, great build quality, and excellent looks.
Since that time the iconic M50s have undergone a number of evolutions. 2014 saw the upgraded M50x, followed by a wireless version (the M50xBT) in 2018.
Today, we have the second-generation wireless ATH-M50xBT2s. This latest generation of M50 headphones promise the same excellent sound quality as their iconic predecessors, but with upgraded and updated wireless features to bring them into the modern age, all for an RRP of $379 AU.
Build quality-wise the M50xBT2s are great for their price, with a sturdy (albeit largely plastic) construction and well thought out hinges and swivel points. Audio-Technica have been producing headphones for decades now, and that experience shines through in the build and ergonomics of these headphones.
As one would expect of headphones from Audio-Technica, the sound quality is excellent. The 45 mm large-aperture drivers – carried over from previous generations of M50 – exhibit an excellent and relatively level frequency response across the range — as one would hope from professional studio monitor derived equipment.
There’s also ample headroom across the spectrum, meaning those who like to throw subtlety to the wind and boost specific frequencies into oblivion (looking at you, bass boosters) can crank EQ’s to their ears’ content without worry of any major distortion.
For those who do enjoy tweaking their sound, the M50xBT2 headphones are compatible with Audio-Technica’s excellent “Connect” app. With the app, users can select from a range of EQ presets, set their own custom EQ (with either a Graphic or Parametric equalizer) or even select which connection codec the headphones use, offering a choice between AAC, SBC, LDAC, and a Low-latency mode. Those in search of true lossless playback cab of course make use of the optional 3.5mm headphone jack and cable.
I found no need to use the included audio cable, however, as the Bluetooth sound quality and user experience of the headphones is excellent. In my time using the headphones I never experienced a loss of connection or syncing issue, and couldn’t notice any difference in sound quality between using the headphones passively or with Bluetooth.
Multipoint pairing (new to the BT2s) also allows the headphones to connect to two devices simultaneously. Gone are the days of awkwardly swapping connections from your laptop to your phone in a busy office just to watch a Tik Tok a friend sent you, now you can have both devices connected at once.
Battery performance is also exceptional, with a whopping 50 hours of battery life stated. Pair that massive battery with USB-C quick charging and the aforementioned option of passive playback, and any worry of being left stranded with a pair of dead headphones completely disappears.
One feature lacking from the ATH-M50xBT2s that can be found in competing devices is active noise cancelling. However the passive noise isolation from the over-ear design of the headphones was such that I never truly missed the feature, even while in a noisy office or contending with renovations nextdoor.
All in all the M50xBT2 headphones make a worthy and valuable addition to the M50 lineup, providing just about everything the modern tech enthusiast could ask for while still staying true to what made the original M50s so beloved. In the sub $400 wireless headphones market they stand out as excellent all-rounders for enthusiasts and casual listeners alike.