Mis à jour le 10 March 2023.
This week we reviewed the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headphones, the Bluetooth version of the famous Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones and successor to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT Bluetooth headphones released in 2018. This model features large, 1.8” proprietary transducers, SBC, AAC and LDAC compatibility, a control app with equalizers and a battery life of 50 hours. Available for €199, which improvements do the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headphones offer, and are they still one of the best pairs of Bluetooth headphones on the market at under €200?
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2: packaging & accessories
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headphones come in a cardboard box decorated with several photos of the headphones as well as the Bluetooth, Alexa Built-in and Fast Pair logos. The key characteristics of the headphones are also present on the sides and the back of the box.
Inside the box is a white cardboard sleeve adorned with the brand’s logo. This sleeve contains a stylish leatherette carrying pouch, inside of which there is a USB-A to USB-C charging cable, a 3.5mm mini-jack cable measuring 1.2m for wired listening, a small flyer with safety instructions and a quick start guide. Behind the white cardboard sleeve, the ATH-M50xBT2 headphones are laid flat inside a cardboard tray.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2: presentation
Design & comfort
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headphones’ origins are evident as soon as they are unboxed. The latter are almost identical to their predecessors, the wireless ATH-M50xBT and the wired M50x. Other than the newly redesigned volume, multifunction and Bluetooth buttons and microphone, the latest model has the same distinctive silhouette with large ear cups embellished with a silver band and the brand’s logo. We found this design to be both functional and appealing.
The PVC and metal structure of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headphones gives them a very reasonable weight of 307g while guaranteeing considerable robustness. The earpieces are large and comfortably surround your ears. They can be folded to facilitate storage and are adjustable to offer a perfect fit. They are also height adjustable thanks to the notched system of the headband.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 Bluetooth headphones’ earpads are generously padded and are covered with an elegant leatherette. The headband is also padded and covered with the same material. The latter is decorated with the name and logo of the brand in large white characters. The ATH-M50xBT2 headphones are very comfortable, even during long listening sessions, and their weight is very well balanced. However, if you wear glasses they may feel a little uncomfortable after a couple of hours. The ear cups breathe and do not tend to make your ears warm, but the passive isolation can be a bit hit-or-miss in very noisy places such as public transport, for example.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headphones, as well as their predecessors, impressed us with their great robustness and durability over time. We have owned the first generation of these Bluetooth headphones for over two years now and use them almost every day at home, in the office and on the go. Despite not taking the best care of them (we’ve dropped them a few times and carried them around in a tote bag and a backpack…), they are still in perfect condition except for a few barely visible scratches on the ear cups. Quite the achievement! Moreover, we’ve never needed to replace the pads, which are very easy to clean, or the cable.
Like their predecessors, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 Bluetooth headphones feature two 1.8” dynamic transducers capable of reproducing a frequency range of 15Hz to 28kHz. Listeners can therefore enjoy the same sound signature as the iconic Audio-Technica ATH-M50x studio headphones. With their nominal impedance of 38 ohms and high sensitivity of 99dB/mW, these headphones can be easily powered by the vast majority of smartphones and DAPs if you want to use them in wired mode.
A major new feature for this second iteration of the ATH-M50xBTs is the integrated DAC. While the previous model was equipped with a chip combining a DAC and a Bluetooth controller, the ATH-M50xBT2 has a dedicated Asahi Kasei AK4331 DAC.
Control interface & voice control
Just like the previous version, the control interface of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headphones is quite simple and includes a button to lower the volume and skip to the previous track, a button to increase the volume and skip to the next track, and a multi-function button to turn the headphones on/off, start or pause playback and answer phone calls. The touch-sensitive control of the first generation ATH-M50xBT headphones has been replaced by a circular button that allows you to use the smartphone’s voice assistant (Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri).
During our first listening sessions with the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2s, we found it difficult to differentiate the buttons. This problem quickly disappeared once we got used to the headphones.
Bluetooth and wireless connections
As they are primarily designed for wireless listening, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headphones are equipped with a Bluetooth controller that is compatible with the SBC, AAC and, new to this model, LDAC codecs. However, the aptX codec is absent from this iteration. Apple users can use AAC to enjoy the best performance, while owners of Android devices can choose the LDAC codec to enjoy music in higher resolution.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headphones also feature a low latency mode for videos, as well as a multipoint feature. Convenient if you want to connect to two sources simultaneously! Another new feature for this version of the ATH-M50xBT is Google Fast Pair, which allows you to pair the headphones with the nearest Android device more easily. This feature also ensures that the headphones are automatically configured on all other Android devices connected to the same Google account.
It is also possible to use the ATH-M50xBT2 headphones in wired mode. To this end, Audio-Technica has included a 3.5mm mini-jack cable that can be plugged into the dedicated connector on the left earpiece.
One of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 Bluetooth headphones’ main advantages is their impressive battery life. Their 3.7V lithium polymer battery provides up to 50 hours of listening time, 10 hours more than the ATH-M50xBTs, which were already very generous. It takes just over 3 hours to fully charge. The ATH-M50xBT2 headphones are also compatible with fast charging using the included USB-C to USB-A cable: 10 minutes of charging will provide 3 hours of battery life.
Unlike their predecessors, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 Bluetooth headphones have a mobile app, called Audio-Technica Connect. Available for both Android and iOS, the app boasts a very intuitive interface and provides access to a wide range of settings, including the Bluetooth codec used, volume control, low latency mode and voice assistant selection.
The Audio-Technica Connect app also lets the user customize the headphones’ frequency response thanks to the integrated presets, a band equalizer and a parametric equalizer. The latter is very efficient and allows you to fine-tune the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2s’ frequency curve. Moreover, because the settings are saved, the tonal balance will remain the same if you change the Bluetooth source.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2: key specifications
- 1.8” dynamic transducers
- Frequency response: 15Hz to 28,000Hz
- Sensitivity: 99 dB/mW
- AK4331 DAC
- Google Fast Pair
- Compatible with Google Assistant and Siri, Alexa Built-in
- Audio-Technica Connect app
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Codecs: SBC, AAC, LDAC
- Range: approximately 10m
- Sensitivity: -38 dB (1V/Pa at 1kHz)
- Frequency response: 85Hz to 15,000Hz
- Autonomy: 50h
- Quick charge: 10 minutes for 3 hours of autonomy
- Weight: 307g
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT vs ATH-M50xBT2
|Quick charge||no||yes (3h in 10 minutes)|
|Connectors||Micro USB, 3.5mm mini-jack||USB-C, 3.5mm mini-jack|
|Electronic components||integrated chip||Bluetooth chip and AK4331 DAC|
|Google Fast Pair||no||yes|
|Voice assistant||Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri||Alexa Built-In, Google Assistant, Siri|
|Low latency mode||no||yes|
|Codecs||SBC, aptX, AAC||SBC, AAC, LDAC|
|Cable||3.5mm mini-jack cable with microphone||standard 3.5mm mini-jack cable|
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2: listening conditions
For our review, we paired the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headphones to an LDAC compatible Samsung Galaxy 7 (Android 10) smartphone to listen to our playlists on Spotify and Qobuz. To pair the headphones with the source, simply press their multifunction button, then go into the smartphone’s Bluetooth settings and select ATH-M50xBT2 when it appears. You’ll then hear a voice message and a white LED will blink slowly to indicate that the pairing is complete. We also used the headphones in wired mode.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2: listening impressions
Swim to New York State – Tori Amos
From the very first notes, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headphones impressed us with their energetic and nuanced sound, with clear and expressive highs. The singer’s voice was centered and each intonation was clearly audible. The instruments were perfectly positioned and despite a soundstage that lacked a little width, we had no difficulty visualizing the singer and the musicians onstage in front of us. In addition, the ATH-M50xBT2s expertly handled the soaring choruses, which never became muddled.
Suffragette City (2012 Remaster) – David Bowie
The vocals were also excellent on this Bowie track. They had a lot of substance and gave the song plenty of momentum. Once again, the different instruments are well positioned. The spatialization was satisfactory, but could have been more extensive and we found that the guitars lacked some of the power and energy we love in this song. Using the equalizer in the Audio-Technica Control app, we were able to boost the midrange and upper bass to restore the balance and add a little more vitality.
A New Error – Moderat
Listening to this track, it was clear that the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headphones excel at reproducing electronic music. They offered a rhythmic and very lively reproduction with powerful lows and infra-bass that never became unbalanced or disjointed. We also appreciated their great responsiveness.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2: compared to…
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT: the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headphones are almost identical to their predecessors, regarding both the design and the sound. The new model’s revamped control interface is a bit more intuitive, and the equalizers in the Audio-Technica Control app are a real asset, allowing users to tailor the ATH-M50BT2’s response curve to their favorite musical style or preferences.
Dali IO-4: sold for €299, €100 more than the Audio-Technica headphones, the Dali IO-4 Bluetooth headphones offer a battery life of up to 60 hours, which is 10 hours greater than the ATH-M50xBT2s. They are equipped with 2” dynamic transducers, which allow them to go deeper than the Audio-Technicas (10Hz compared to 15Hz for the ATH-M50xBT2s). However, the Japanese headphones stand out at the upper end of the spectrum, with a frequency response of up to 28kHz that ensures a more detailed reproduction of high frequencies.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2: who are they for?
Comfortable, durable and boasting an impressive battery life of 50 hours, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 Bluetooth headphones will be the perfect companion for those wanting to enjoy the characteristic sound signature of the ATH-M50 studio model during their daily commute. These versatile headphones can also be used in wired mode at home to listen to your music library, and are even perfect for remote working. They are particularly well suited to electronic music as well as modern musical styles and recordings.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2: conclusion
With the ATH-M50xBT2s, the Japanese manufacturer offers a worthy heir to its famous ATH-M50 studio headphones. With its clear highs and powerful, well-controlled bass, these Bluetooth headphones offer an energetic reproduction that reveals its full potential with modern recordings, pop and electronic music. With their robustness and excellent battery life, the ATH-M50xBT2s are the ideal headphones for users who want to enjoy this versatile sound signature and are not bothered about noise cancelling. The Audio-Technica Connect mobile app and equalizers, as well as the improved autonomy of this latest iteration, are also significant assets. That said, these improvements don’t necessarily warrant an upgrade from the first ATH-M50xBTs (which we love) to this model.
- The design
- The durability
- The clear highs and powerful lows
- The sophisticated Audio-Technica Control app and its equalizers
We would have liked:
- Better passive isolation
- For the buttons to have been easier to identify