Among the reasons Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50 headphones became popular was that these were type of the anti-Beats. Or, put another way, these were the headphones for “smart” listeners who looked down on persons who overpaid and got suckered in to the whole Beats marketing machine.

You can easily get huge discount offers deals in this black friday sales. At around half the cost of the initial $300 Beats by Dre Studio (since replaced by an updated Beats Studio ), they sounded drastically better and were also built better. There is just one single small problem. As the ATH-M50 headphones were studio-style — the “M” in the name means “monitor” — a whole lot of individuals were utilizing them on the run, so an inline remote/microphone could have been helpful.

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Initially, the new-for-2014 ATH-M50x headphones seem to be to be that more mobile-oriented version. Almost identical to the ATH-M50 model, they have improved padding on the earcups and a fresh detachable-cord design. The headphones can be purchased in black, white, and blue, and include three different cords in the box matching the chosen color.

You’d expect that one particular cords would have a built-in microphone and remote, but oddly, do not require do. Instead you get yourself a long 3-meter (9.8-foot) straight cable, a brief 1.2-m (3.9-foot) straight cable, and 1.2-meter – 3.0-meter (3.9-foot – 9.8-foot) coiled cable.

Audio-Technica’s explanation for the missing cord, within the Q&A portion of the headphone’s product page, is this:

“Unfortunately, the ATH-M50x headphones usually do not feature an in-line microphone or controller. That is true of all Audio-Technica M-Series Headphones. There happens to be no known adapter available that could accommodate either operation.”

So that it goes. The ATH-M50x model continues to be excellent, with enough extras to mostly justify the somewhat higher price — about $169 in america, £126 in the united kingdom, and AU$249 in Australia.

Before you spend money on the ATH-M50x, remember that it is among four updated models in the line. The step-down ATH-M40x ($99, £88, AU$149), ATH-M30x ($69, £59, AU$109), and ATH-M20x ($49, £45, AU$79) are also worth consideration.

Design and features
As we said inside our review of the prior model, the ATH-M50x headphones are well-built and also have a strong design that looks and feels as though it will endure more than time, with a thick single cord that terminates in a heavy-duty reinforced plug. The thick, padded earcups swivel on two axes, and the headphones fold flat for storage, though it’s worth noting that the easy soft case they include is essentially simply a bag.

As their model name indicates, they are monitor headphones plus they look and sound just like headphones you’d find in a recording studio (plus some folks use them for that purpose). Weighing just significantly less than 10 ounces (283 grams), they’re not light, nonetheless they fit nicely and so are comfortable to wear. Naturally, since they are over-the-ear headphones, with a closed-back design, they’ll make your ears pretty steamy on warmer days.

Although they don’t really have the active noise cancellation of the Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise-Cancelling Headphones or Beats Studio (2013) , they execute a good job of passively sealing out the sound from the exterior world. No, you do not get the same degree of noise reduction, but they’re an excellent option to the QuietComfort 15 headphones for folks who are sensitive to the slight pressure of active noise cancellation — plus they sound better.

Soundwise, the ATH-M50x headphones are hard to fault. The tonal balance is accurate, stereo imaging (for a closed-back design) is spacious, and dynamic impact is great.

While Audio-Technica claims there is no difference between your sound of the initial ATH-M50 and the updated version, we think the ATH-M50x model sounds clearer with an increase of detailed bass, midrange, and treble. Switching back again to the ATH-M50 headphones, the sound appears slightly veiled and cloudy. So we found sound virtually identical, but not identical.

The headphones include both a coiled cord and two straight ones. Sarah Tew/CNET
While we choose the ATH-M50x, we’re also sure some people might choose the ATH-M50 for the richer, more laid-back perspective. As always, in terms of audio, there’s some subjectivity involved.

Comparing the ATH-M50x with the V-Moda M-100 over-the-ear ‘phones showed clear differences. First, the M-100 headphones emphasized treble and had a leaner overall balance, as the ATH M50x headphones were fuller, with deeper bass went deeper, and we felt these were more accurate. Both models are winners, but if we’d to choose one over the other, we’d choose the ATH-M50x headphones because they sounded great with all music genres. The M-100s favor electric over acoustic-oriented music.

Although it’s a shame Audio-Technica doesn’t add a cable with a controller and microphone with the ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, that will most likely not bother audio tracks purists. You do need to pay more for than for the ATH-M50 model, however the ATH-M50x version includes a lot to provide, with excellent performance and a slightly convenient fit to go with the detachable-cord system and further cords.