Audio-Technica ATH M40x vs M50x: Comparison (2024)

Odi Productions Apr 25, 2024
67 People Read
Audio Technica ATH M40x vs M50x side by side on desk

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. 

In this article, I'm going to share my HONEST Audio-Technica ATH M40x vs M50x comparison in detail, after personally owning both products. I have thoroughly tested each of these headphones for hundreds of hours, and aim to offer a critical opinion from the perspective of an audiophile and professional music producer.

I'll be comparing these two head to head on categories like price, comfort, features, battery life, noise cancelling, and sound quality.

I have also reviewed many Audio-Technica headphones individually including the ATH M30xATH M40x, M50x, and M70x.

Then at the end, I'll share which is the better overall value for the money, and my overall recommendation on which you should buy.


Watch Full Video Comparison Review on YouTube,

OR Keep Scrolling to Read Below...


Audio-Technica ATH M40x vs M50x Price Compared

Overall, the Audio-Technica ATH M40x is $50 cheaper than the M50x at current market prices for brand new. This translates to the M40x being 50% less expensive than the M50x.

Audio-Technica ATH M40x Prices

  • Retail: $99.00

  • New: $99

  • Used: $85 (save up to $14)

Audio-Technica ATH M50x Prices

  • Retail: $149.00

  • New: $149

  • Renewed: $125 (save up to $24)


Order HERE for the LOWEST PRICE AVAILABLE 

(Do NOT pay retail): 

Save up to $14 with Used below:

Save up to $24 with Renewed below:

Disclosure: These links may provide a discount and in return, give us a commission in order to run the website 🙂


Comfort

Let's start this head-to-head comparison with the comfort category.

The M40x weighs about 45 grams less than the M50x, a difference that equates to being 19% lighter. I suspect this is due to the M50x utilizing more metal material in the build, whereas the M40x is mostly plastic.

  • Audio-Technica ATH M40x Weight: 240 grams

  • Audio-Technica ATH M50x Weight: 285 grams

These two share some similarities, with a well-cushioned top headband on both. The M50x headband is slightly bigger. I don't have complaints about the top-of-head pressure.

The real issue with comfort on both of these headphones is the clamping force, which is far too strong from the factory.

Over time, it loosens up a bit, but never becomes truly comfortable like the plush headphones available today.

The closed-back design and strong clamping force generates warmth fairly quickly inside the earcups, in about 30 minutes to an hour.

Also, the earpad material can and should be upgraded on both.

Overall, I give the slight edge in the Comfort category to the M40x on account that it is noticeably lighter.

Audio-Technica ATH M40x Comfort: 3.0 out of 5

Audio-Technica ATH M50x Comfort: 2.5 out of 5

Winner: M40x


Features / Build Quality / Drivability

Holding headbands of Audio Technica ATH M50x vs M40x side by side

Features

Both the M40x and M50x are identical in features, being wired-only closed-back, over-ear headphones with a detachable cable.

There is a Bluetooth wireless version of the M50x that is now available called the "M50xBT" and newer "M50xBT2".

The headphones we are testing today are just the regular versions, so don't expect any modern features like Active Noise Cancelling, Spatial Audio, etc.

They were designed originally for studio use, so they aren't very practical for traveling.

Looks

These headphones look similar with the M50x sporting more metal components. There is a distinctive look to the M50x's design that can be seen from a mile away, with the metal band in the earcup.

Personally, I actually gravitate towards the more subtle look of the M40x, which is more understated.

Build Quality

The M50x has superior build quality to the M40x, with more metal components used such as in the headband. The usage of more premium materials versus the plastic of the M40x is most likely the reason why the M50x is 19% heavier overall.

I would vote for the M50x as a headphone that can last longer over time and be thrown around without much worry. There is a reason it is a studio staple in the industry all these years.

Drivability

I didn't find any issue driving either headphones without a headphone amp, on account that most smartphones and laptops these days can output plenty of power.

That said, both headphones can benefit from a dedicated headphone amp to bring out more powerful sound.

I don't think either of these really "scales up" in quality like true audiophile gear, so pairing is not that crucial.

M40x Features / Build Quality / Drivability: 2.5 out of 5

M50x Features / Build Quality / Drivability: 3.0 out of 5

Winner: M50x


Audio Technica ATH M40x vs M50x Sound Quality Comparison

Holding Audio Technica ATH M40x next to M50x

Now to answer the question which everybody wants to know, how is the Audio Technica ATH M40x compare to the M50x on sound quality...

Overall, the M40x has a more neutral and balanced sound compared to the M50x.

If you have a preference for accuracy and a more "natural" sound over the M50x's V-shaped response, then you would probably prefer the M40x.

For most consumers however, the M50x for casual music listening will likely be preferred.

The M50x has a "V-shaped" frequency response that emphasizes both the bass and the treble, with the mids being recessed.

This translates to the M50x simply being more "fun" and engaging to listen to than the M40x, especially for the more modern bass-heavy genres like Pop, Hip-Hop, EDM, etc.

To audiophile ears, the bass is overpowering and too unfocused, creating muddiness in the lower mids. Also, the forward treble is sibilant and gets quite harsh.

The critiques for the M40x are that it may be perceived as too "bass light" compared to the M50x, but I actually think it is an appropriate amount of bass.

Neither closed-back headphone has a particularly large soundstage, and both are above average on technicalities like resolution and detail.

I would guess that the audiophiles would actually prefer the M40x on average, as the M50x needs some refinement in the sound signature and tuning.

Audio Technica ATH M40x vs M50x for Mixing / Mastering

Due to having a more balanced sound, I'd rather use the M40x for any studio work involving mixing and mastering.

(Truth be told, I'd rather use studio monitors than any headphones, but I digress.)

But those who have worked in actual studios knows that the M50x is a studio workhorse, and the reason why I originally picked it up. In my experience, the M50x is used mainly for tracking and recording vocals/instrumentals, as opposed to mixing and mastering.

The closed-back design of both headphones helps to leak less sound in studio environments, where the playback can be picked up by extremely sensitive condenser mics.

Audio Technica ATH M40x Sound Quality: 7.5 out of 10

Audio Technica ATH M50x Sound Quality: 7.6 out of 10

Winner: M50x


Value

At under $100 total and $50 cheaper than the M50x, I think the M40x presents the slightly better value.

The current market price of $149 for the now 10-year-old wired-only M50x is too high, in my opinion.

Wireless headphones and now wireless earbuds like the AirPods Pro 2 sound even better while having many modern features like noise cancelling.

But I will say for most consumer listeners, that extra $50 would result in more enjoyable and "fun" sound over the M40x, so it may be worth it to splurge.

Audiophiles, on the other hand, would be happy to save $50 and enjoy the more neutral and balanced sound of the M40x.

Audio Technica ATH M40x Value: 3.5 out of 5

Audio Technica ATH M50x Value: 3.0 out of 5

Winner: M40x


Audio Technica ATH M40x Overall Rating: 6.6 / 10

  • Sound Quality: 7.5 / 10

  • Comfort: 3.0 / 5

  • Features / Build Quality / Drivability: 2.5 / 5

  • Value: 3.5 / 5

  • Total: 16.5 / 25


Audio Technica ATH M50x Overall Rating: 6.4 / 10

  • Sound Quality: 7.6 / 10

  • Comfort: 2.5 / 5

  • Features / Build Quality / Drivability: 3.0 / 5

  • Value: 3.0 / 5

  • Total: 16.1 / 25


Overall Winner: Audio-Technica ATH M40x

Audio-Technica ATH-M40x headphones on desk

The Audio-Technica ATH M40x narrowly edges out its big brother in this head-to-head comparison, the M50x.

Being from the same "ATH-M" line of headphones, these share way more similarities than differences as a whole.

Where they truly differ is in the sound signature, with the M40x's balanced sound being a preferred choice for studio use like mixing and mastering, along with pleasing audiophiles.

But if all you want is a "fun" enjoyable sound with plenty of bass, then the M50x will satisfy your needs better.

These wired headphones are starting to show their age, and for just $50 more than the M50x, wireless earbuds like the Apple AirPods Pro 2 offer even better sound quality, comfort, Active Noise Cancelling, Spatial Audio, and more.


Order HERE for the LOWEST PRICE AVAILABLE 

(Do NOT pay retail): 

Save up to $14 with Used below:

Save up to $24 with Renewed below:

Disclosure: These links may provide a discount and in return, give us a commission in order to run the website 🙂


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Audio-Technica ATH M40x and M50x?

Audio-Technica ATH M50x is made with more premium materials and is a higher build quality than M40x, along with a more "fun" and engaging sound signature that emphasis bass and treble. M40x is more neutral and balanced in sound quality, and made of much more plastic.

Are Audio-Technica ATH M40x and M50x earpads the same?

Although the ATH M40x and M50x factory earpads are not identical, most aftermarket earpads can fit either headphone actually due to being very similar in size.

Is Audio Technica ATH M40x good for listening to music?

The M40x is good for listening to music if you prefer a more neutral and balanced sound. Otherwise, you're better off listening to music with the M50x which has more bass emphasis and a more "fun" sound signature.


How We Tested and Our Methodology

RecordingNOW.com is a 100% independent publisher with over 10 years of experience testing and reviewing consumer electronics and headphones.

We currently purchase the products we test with our own money, and are not paid by any company or manufacturer to influence our opinions or decisions.

After purchasing the product, we conduct up to hundreds of hours of detailed hands-on testing in a controlled, acoustically-treated environment.

ODi Productions is our resident expert and author of this article, with 10 years of experience as a professional music producer, tech journalist, and audiophile.


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Disclosure:  Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase.