Audio-Technica’s All New ATH-M50xBT2 Bluetooth Studio Headphones Look Great
Audio-Technica’s original ATH-M50x studio headphones had a reputation for being a great pair of studio headphones with wonderfully neutral sound that made them perfect for professional audio work like recording, mixing or even diffusion. They were also great for listening to music for fun. A few years ago, Audio-Technica created a Bluetooth version of the classic ATH-M50x which was very well received at the time. Now the company has come up with an updated version that I was lucky enough to get my hands on to put them to the test.
Physically, the ATH-M50xBT2 closed-back wireless headphones appear to be virtually identical to their predecessors, except for a few subtle changes. First of all, these new headphones now have a USB-C port for charging lithium polymer batteries and the old in-line microphone has been removed and replaced with two new mics in the ear cups. The control buttons for doing things like turning on the power, pairing via bluetooth, adjusting the volume, skipping tracks, and handling phone calls have been changed very slightly and now include a mute button.
The comfort level of the new version of these headphones is the same except for a small change in the texture of the plastic used for the headband. If you’ve ever worn a pair of previous generation Audio-Technica M-series headphones, the new ATH-M50xBT2 will look very familiar to you – why change a winning design? Audio-Technica saved most of the upgrades for the interior of the headset with improved sound performance. As with the first version, Audio-Technica retained the easy-to-fold design, which means the ATH-M50xBT2 can be folded into a compact size that can easily fit into a messenger bag or backpack.
I tested the ATH-M50xBT2 using both wired and wireless connections to see how they stacked up. To be fair, they’re so good that you’d probably be hard pressed to spot them on a blind test. There’s the same high precision and dynamic sound that the original M50x owners loved. Much of this is due to Audio-Technica’s large aperture 45mm diameter drivers that deliver exceptional clarity along with precise, dynamic bass that is never sluggish.
To create wireless audio quality that approaches the same level as wired sound, Audio-Technica used an advanced AK4331 DAC and a dedicated headphone amp that does wonderful things about how sound is shaped. The result is Bluetooth performance that really shines. I think it’s very close to a pair of wired headphones and it makes the ATH-M50xBT2 ideal for working on audio projects without being tethered to a mixer or computer by a headphone cable.
In addition to basic SBC audio codec support, the M50xBT2 can also work with the AAC codec used by Apple on all of its iOS devices, as well as support for Sony’s premium LDAC wireless audio codec for audio High Definition. What you don’t get is support for Qualcomm’s apt-X HD or adaptive codecs which are becoming more and more popular.
The new ATH-M50xBT2 also has a low latency mode which reduces the audio lag that you may have encountered when watching videos and listening to the soundtrack through Bluetooth headphones. With the low latency feature enabled, audio and vision stay in sync, delivering a smoother streaming experience and more realistic game sound effects that match what you see on screen.
With the addition of two MEM microphones with beamforming technology, the M50xBT2 now sounds much more clearly during phone calls or live streaming. Another big improvement is the management of the local effect. This feature allows you to hear your own voice through the earphones when making a call or video chatting. If you’ve ever made calls using headphones without a sidetone (and this is most of them), you’ll know how frustrating it is when you can only hear your voice in the form of muffled sound while the other person is. who you are speaking can be heard perfectly clearly. Sidetone makes it easier to enjoy a more natural sounding phone call or video chat and makes the ATH-M50xBT2 a great headset.
The two new microphones of the ATH-M50xBT2 can also be used to give commands to the built-in Amazon Alexa function. Other voice assistants are supported so that you can use Google Assistant and Apple Siri, depending on your smartphone or computer. The headphones now have a dedicated mute button to briefly turn off the microphones during a conversation with a coworker. The mics are noise canceling, so they should be able to handle a bit of background noise that might otherwise spoil a conversation.
Audio-Technica has included multipoint pairing with the ATH-M50xBT2. This means that you can pair two Bluetooth devices with the headset at the same time. For example, you can pair the ATH-M50xBT2 with your digital music player or personal smartphone, as well as with your work phone. This way you can listen to music while still being able to take a work call. The music will stop, the headset will switch to your work phone to allow you to take the call. When the call is over, you will be returned to the exact point in the music where you left off. And when it comes to pairing, the ATH-M50xBT2 supports Google’s Fast Pair function, allowing you to quickly pair the ATH-M50xBT2 earphones with a compatible Android smartphone with just one click.
A full charge of the headset using the supplied USB-C cable can provide up to 50 hours of continuous playback. If the batteries are completely dead, a 10-minute burst charge will rejuvenate the headset with up to three hours of battery life. If the battery drains completely, a 1.2m (3.9 “) analog cable is included to connect the headset to a device with a headphone jack.
Audio-Technica has created the free AT Connect app for iOS and Android devices. This app can be used to activate the ATH-M50xBT2’s low latency mode and adjust its EQ settings to provide personalized sound. There are also in-app controls to adjust the balance between left and right channels, choose your preferred voice assistant, and even locate the headphones if you’ve forgotten where you left them. The app also lets you choose your favorite audio codec.
Verdict: This latest version of Audio-Technica’s popular M-series headphones fixes a few shortcomings of the original ATH-M50xBT wireless version. The improvements bring the new model up to date in terms of battery life, USB-C, and LDAC codec support. Additionally, the sound of the new version has been readjusted to produce a slightly wider soundstage and even more detailed and spacious sound but still without that brilliant neutral tone. Qualcomm’s lack of support for the apt-X HD codec may disappoint some people, but that’s about the only criticism I can make for such a superb pair of wireless headphones. Highly recommended.
Price and availability: The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 Bluetooth wireless headphones cost $ 199 / £ 199 / € 179.99.
More information: www.audio-technica.com
- Type: Dynamic closed
- Pilot diameter: 45 mm
- Frequency response: 15 – 28,000 Hz
- Sensitivity: 99 dB / mW
- Impedance: 38 Ω
- Battery: DC 3.7V lithium polymer
- Battery life: 50 hours of continuous use
- Charging time: 3.5 hours
- Weight: 307g
- Micro: MEMS type
- Microphone sensitivity: -38 dB (1V / Pa at 1 kHz)
- Microphone frequency response: 85 -15,000 Hz
- Microphone polar pattern: Omnidirectional
- Accessories: USB charging cable, audio cable (1.2m / φ3.5mm stereo), pouch