img_20160119_152708.jpgI did a lot of research before deciding to try out the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x and wow… that sound quality is like nothing I’ve heard before. Vanessa Carlton’s “Carousel” was the first song I listened to and it was like hearing it for the first time! She sounded like she was a couple feet away from me, on a piano that sings like smooth wine. It had me laughing and grinning like an idiot at my computer. I listened to a few more songs, enraptured by the experience. Like someone had ripped off a layer of film between me and the music, and it was magical.

The build quality is great. It’s made of durable plastic that doesn’t look like it’ll break anytime soon from daily use. The ear cups swivel every way you’d possibly want them to. The band and ear cups do make clicking noises when you swivel and stretch them, but it seems to be normal and nothing feels or looks like it’ll snap. I love the silver accents and engraved AT logo on the ear cups. They look classy and subtle, both things that I prefer.

The audio cables are removable! But there’s a twist-to-lock mechanism that forces you to use specific Audio-Technica cables with the headphones.

The cable quality is great, with thicker rubberized cables that won’t tangle (as far as I can tell), terminating I’m gold-plated connectors. The headband is padded and the earpads are pleather and thick enough to be fairly comfortable.

The packaging is decent. It’s cardboard but shaped to fit around the headphones without damaging or deforming them. It comes with a bunch of accessories: a short audio cable, a long one, and one that can stretch. There’s also a twistable attachment that can turn the 3.5mm plug into… whatever that bigger one is. You can fit the headphones (and maybe a cable or two) into a little pleather pouch. There is only an audio cable connection (no USB plug) because the’s headphones can run without an amp or DAC.

Complaints? They aren’t as comfortable as I had imagined (a bit too much clamp around my jaw), but are still quite comfy compared to other headphones. I’m picky with comfort because I wear glasses with thick plastic frames, and for long (8+ hour) gaming sessions the last thing I want are headphones that make my head want to explode after under an hour of use. The size is dangerously close to being too big for my head even at the smallest fit. Ideally I would tighten the headband at least one or two more notches. Comfort-wise, the M50x is similar to my HyperX Cloud headset by Kingston, but the Cloud fits my head size better (it can be tightened/extended further than I need) and has thicker, cushier earpads. After a few days of wearing them, the earpads seem to have softened a little, but the Cloud is still more comfortable.

I would also appreciate a design that allows a universal fit for 3.5mm audio cables instead of the locking mechanism that requires an Audio-Technica cable. This means I can’t just buy, say, a V-Moda BoomPro mic and have a single cable for mic/audio if I want to record or chat online. As a gamer, this is of some importance to me.

Overall, these are fantastic headphones for sound quality, and great build quality, but comfort could (and should) be improved – especially considering the price. I’m buying Brainwavz replacement earpads for them. Additionally, I’d like to be able to plug any 3.5mm audio cable in.

Are they worth the over-$200 CAD that I paid for them? That depends on how much value you put on sound quality. It’s certainly an ear-opening experience, even to an audio novice like me. If you plan on using these for more than just gaming (eg. As studio monitors, or listening to music), you won’t regret the purchase. If you’re solely going to use them for gaming, I’m inclined to recommend a different headset. The HyperX Cloud is more comfortable out of the box, comes with a detachable mic, has good sound and build, and comes with an array of accessories – for less than half the M50x price.