Looking for headphones with incredible sound? This Audio Technica M50xBT2 review is the right place to be. They're the best wireless headphones for audio enthusiasts.
Audio Technica is back and they’ve finally released their Audio Technica M50xBT2 over-ear headphones, seven years after the last pair were first launched.
What took them so long? Probably waiting for everyone else to catch up because they were, and still are, some of the best over-ear headphones you can buy for sound quality.
In fact, the sound was so good that they’ve not really changed it much when it came to the Audio Technica M50xBT2, and I don't blame them, because why would you mess with a winning formula? They’ve really just revived them for 2021, adding more modern features like app support, Amazon Alexa, USB-C charging and longer battery life.
If you’re an audiophile who wants studio-quality headphones for mixing music, producing music or just listening to music then these are just about as good at it gets for this price.
Audio Technica M50xBT2 review: price and what’s new
You can buy the Audio Technica M50xBT2 now for $199.99 in the US, £179.99 in the UK and AU$308.65 in Australia.
At first glance, the Audio Technica M50xBT2 headphones look almost identical to the Audio Technica M50xBT. But while the overall design and 45mm drivers might be the same, you’ll find a few big upgrades elsewhere.
Sound support has changed with new wireless transmission via SBC (regular Bluetooth), AAC and LDAC, Sony's version of high-res aptX streaming. There’s a new low latency mode as well to minimise sound delay.
To customise the sound to your preferences, the Audio-Technica Connect app lets you adjust the EQ settings and L/R balance as well.
There’s been a big boost in battery - the Audio Technica M50xBT2 will last 50 hours of music, up from 40 on the Audio Technica M50xBT. You’ll also now get a USB-C port which now has a quick charge feature.
New dual microphones boost call quality and can also be used to speak to your voice assistant. You could always summon your voice assistant using these headphones but they’ve gone a step further this time and built in the Amazon Alexa assistant. You'll still be able to summon your smartphone's assistant.
For Android phone users, you now get Google Fast Pairing, and multipoint pairing means you can now connect to more than one Bluetooth device at once.
Audio Technica M50xBT2 review: design and fit
Putting these on, you feel like you should be sat in a studio or behind some decks because they're so rugged and functional. You don’t get a choice of colours or a smooth, sleek design. Instead, these are largely made with a combination of synthetic leather and plastics. Don’t get me wrong, they look cool but they won’t wow you with elegant or luxurious design features.
The Audio Technica M50xBT2 only come in black, there's silver detailing surrounding the Audio Technica logo which is integrated discreetly onto the outside of the earcup. Because they're mostly made from plastic, you get the feeling they’ll survive being knocked or dropped a few times, and they come with a leather case in the box to protect them when you aren’t using them.
The earcups give you plenty of space so your ears don’t feel too confined, there’s plenty of soft cushioning on the pads and on the underside of the headband as well. I could wear these for hours on end, even though they weigh 307g which is quite a lot for headphones. In comparison, the Bose QuietComfort 45 weigh about 254g. You do get the feeling these are designed with men in mind, they look huge on me and move around quite a lot when I’m walking about.
You can fold these up to store them, rotate the ear cups to lay them flat and even reverse the earcups to face outwards, features that will please anyone who wants to use them in a more professional capacity because it makes it much more comfortable to listen through just one ear.
To control them, there are tactile switches on the left earcup. They’re small and clicky so they work every time you press them, unlike the touch controls you get on some headphones. You can use the buttons to power them on or off, pause or play the music, skip through tracks, answer phone calls, summon your voice assistant or adjust the volume.
By pressing the voice assistant button, you can ask Alexa anything, as you would with a smart speaker - control your smart lights, answer your questions or set a timer or alarm.
The battery lasts 50 hours of music which is tonnes, I rarely needed to charge them up. When they do run out of juice, a quick 10-minute charge will give you 3 hours of music, but to fully charge them, they’ll need to be plugged in for about 3.5 hours. The Audio Technica M50xBT2 also come with an audio cable so you can keep playing music when the battery is dead.
Audio Technica M50xBT2 review: performance and features
The Audio Technica M50xBT2 have people-pleasing sound. The 45mm large-aperture drivers are backed by an AK4331 DAC (digital-to-analogue converter) with a built-in headphone amp.
What that means is the sound is powerful, crisp and clear without focusing too much on the bass performance as the Audio Technica M50xBT did. The sound is energetic without being unrealistic. The midrange comes through just as much as the highs and lows. Vocals sound natural and you can very clearly hear every inch of the track, you don’t lose a single beat or instrument. Long story short, these sound phenomenal whether you’re listening to music or watching videos.
You can personalise the sound using the detailed EQ settings in the app, although it will mean limiting the maximum sample rate to 48kHz. It’s great to be able to make those adjustments though.
As well as that, you can choose your own connection codec, or leave it set to Auto which goes by your phone’s system settings. There’s also a low latency mode that switches the codec to AAC and reduces sound delay when you’re watching videos or playing mobile games. You can turn it on in the app.
One quite major downfall at this price point is the lack of any noise-cancelling, but you’re paying for exceptional sound, not more features and actually, these headphones do a good job at cutting out distracting sounds without it.
Google Fast Pair meant that when I went to hook them up to my Android phone, it connected to them almost immediately, all I had to do was turn them on. The Bluetooth connection didn’t drop out during use either, I could stroll into another room leaving my phone behind without the music stopping.
When it came to the call quality, the dual microphones were okay. I made a couple of calls and the general consensus was that I sounded a little muffled and quiet. They don't isolate your voice completely either, the person on the other end could hear some background noise. It wasn't so bad that they couldn't understand me but it was enough for it to be noticeable.
Audio Technica M50xBT2 review: verdict
Anyone who cares about audio will love the Audio Technica M50xBT2 - they don’t overcomplicate things with loads of extra features, everything is completely and utterly focused on the audio.
The features these headphones do have work to improve your listening experience whether that’s the low latency mode, the equaliser settings or even the boosted battery life. Then there's the extra bonus of having Amazon Alexa built-in.
These aren’t the best looking pair of headphones and they will drown some people because they’re just so chunky, but good looks isn’t what these are about anyway.
You can’t deny the Audio Technica M50xBT2 are an improvement on what came before them, yet these still stick to the exact same recipe for success, letting the sound quality do all the talking.
Audio Technica M50xBT2 review: also consider
If you think noise-cancelling is a must-have then the best noise-cancelling headphones you can buy are the Sony WH-1000XM4. They are more expensive than the Audio Technica M50xBT2 but they offer literally everything you could need including a lively detailed sound, incredible noise-cancelling and a full suite of cutting-edge features. They’re not quite studio-quality but they’re not far off either.
If you’re wincing at the price of both of these pairs of headphones, then the JBL 660NC might be more suited to you. They’re a fraction of the price yet deliver solid sound and excellent noise-cancelling so you can stay focused on the music. I hope you like a party though, because these headphones are very focused on the thumping bass.
- These are the best true wireless earbuds you can buy