Lady Gaga part-organised the amazing One World Concert. The event raised around €118 million for Covid-19 causes. It was an incredible event. I also noticed that I have become a bit of a headphone nerd while watching it. As all of these superstars from around the world played their well-known tunes, Lady Gaga came on the screen. I blurted out, “gas, I have those headphones”. Here’s what I think of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT. The first thing I’ll say is Lady Gaga uses them. That’s probably enough.
Why Is Lady Gaga Using Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT Headphones?
I asked this. One of the world’s best-known songwriters, singers and generally famous people is happy using these headphones while singing to a global audience. So, they got something.
@IsaacKLee SOUNDAY Question: What do you think of Lady Gaga’s headphone choice? I’ve been using the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x for many years and was happy to see her rocking them. pic.twitter.com/xsl4YMNCjB
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) April 19, 2020
The ATH-M50x headphones are studio-grade monitor headphones. I do some recording at home, but I’m no Lady Gaga. If they’re good enough for her, they’re good enough for me. One thing worth pointing out is that I can’t be sure whether she wore the ATH-M50x or the ATH-M50xBT. The latter is newer and has can operate wirelessly.
Now back to the bits I can comment on.
I’ve been testing a lot of headphones lately. While I’ve tried the ultra-premium Sennheiser Momentum 3 headphones, I personally prefer the Bose QC35 II or the Sony WH-1000XM3 which Jon tested out. From all of the headphones I’ve tried on, I think the ATH-M50xBT from Audio-Technica might very well be right up there with some of the best designed.
While there’s plenty of plastic on show, these headphones demonstrate that doesn’t need to be a bad thing. The plastic used right is a great material for sound quality and comfort. None of the plastic here makes these feel cheap. In fact, any doubts about these being top of the range headphones go out the window once you pick them up.
The thicker profile of the headband coupled with generous padding, perfect tightness on the head and leather cups left me forgetting I was wearing headphones at all. The multi-directional joints mean the cups can bend and twist in almost any possible combination. Also, if you want to pop them into your bag, they fold up nice and tight.
Most of the flagship headphones I’ve tested hang their hats on noise-cancellation. These headphones don’t bother with that. Now, the cups offer natural noise suppression, but if you are really investing in headphones to knock out the rumble of jet-engines, you might want to focus on the noise-cancelling headphones out there.
Wired Or Wireless
But the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT offers plenty. First up, the original wired ATH-M50x were absolute fan favourites. They had everything. But then people phone makers started to drop the headphone jack. While this wasn’t for everyone and definitely didn’t go down well with audiophiles. But Audio-Technica needed to react regardless and made the ATH-M50xBT. They come with a cable in the box but you can also go wireless if you like.
Not only can you go wireless, but you can enjoy AptX if your phone, like the P30 Pro, supports it. There’s no Bluetooth 5.1, instead, you just get Bluetooth 5.0.
Without noise cancelling, you get to drop the weight and increase the battery life per gram. Advertising 40 hours, the ATH-M50xBT don’t fall far short of that stat. The big drawback is that you only have a micro-USB port. That means these headphones will likely be the only reason you have to carry that cable around with you again.
I always think it’s hilarious that something gets fairly close to perfection and someone includes something awful. The regular buttons and controls are great, but then Audio-Technica decided all headphone must have a button to activate your phone’s assistant. The ATH-M50xBT don’t seem to be able to do this if your phone is locked. Unlocking your phone, you must hold your fingers on the left can for what honestly feels like an eternity. Classic inclusion of features without a second thought for actual users.
While it’s hard to fault these headphones, man oh man did that stand out.
All that’s great unless they sound horrible. The reason I started with Gaga is that, let’s face it, if they are good enough for her they’re going to be good enough for most. The quick and dirty reason for musicians choosing headphones like these is because they’re good quality but also neutral. Nothing worse than a pair of Beats by Dre that just pump your head full of fake bass.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT: The Verdict
These are a great pair of headphones. I have a small arsenal of headphones at my disposal and these are right up there. If I’m jumping on a flight, these probably get left at home. But sitting at the desk, going for a walk or something similar, these are just something special. Arguably, some of the best headphones on the market which leave noise cancelling.