Audio Technica ATH-M60X Review

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Audio Technica ATH-M60X Review

Today I came in to work and pushed all the headphones off of my review desk and into a mountainous heap on the floor.  Because today I finally got a hold of the Audio Technica M60X.  This headphone has been jamming up my radar since April, when Audio Technica put out a press release confirming an August release.  As a newcomer to the much-lauded M-Series, how does it fit into the Audio Technica lineup?  And at $199, is the sound worth the simoleons?

Audio Technica ATH-M60X Review

The Audio Technica ATH-M60X comes in a standard-grade cardboard box.  Inside, you will find three removable cables, a 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm adapter plug, and a soft carrying pouch.

Comprised of plastic and sporting some deep pleather padding, the headband is more narrow than that of the M50X, but seems more comfortable than other Audio Techncia models like the M70X and the MSR7.  The headband also remains fairly sturdy-feeling, as two metal extenders add an air of rigidity to an otherwise fluid fit.

And speaking of fit, this headphone uses an on-ear design, but it’s nowhere near as uncomfortable as some other on-ear models.  Really, it’s a cross between on-ear and over-ear, as the soft pleather padding has a tendency to flatten against the ears, forming a better seal than an on-ear headphone, but also providing a lower-profile than over-ear headphones.  Even with my giant Dumbo ears, I can listen to the M60X for hours.  Hell, I actually did listen to this thing for hours – because in addition to feeling incredibly comfortable, the sound is amazing.

According to the good folks over at Audio Technica, this headphone uses the same driver as the M50X, though the M60X sounds a bit different in a good way (it sounds better!).

Specifications

Frequency Range:  15-28,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance:  38 ohms
Sound Pressure Level:  102 dB

On paper, the M60X might seem a little boring and little safe.  The frequency range appears fairly standard, but with a little room in the lows and highs.  That nominal impedance of just 38 ohms will work just fine with most devices, though it could also benefit from some slight amplification.  Volume shouldn’t be an option either, though that sound pressure level of just 102 dB may be a little weak for fans of MAX VOLUME.

Low End

Natural with good detail, the Audio Technica ATH-M60X offers a organic low end with little emphasis.  Bass impact lands clean and precise, but never waxes too muddy or overblown.  Clean and precise, this low end is an impressive mix of high resolution and control that keeps things sounding sharp and defined without adding any coloration to the sound.

Midrange

Slightly forward (but in a good way), here the M60X sounds like a monitor should – clean, clear, and extra crispy.  This distinct midrange allows a serious listener to really see a give track for what it is – with every little nuance on full display.  And while tthey can sound a bit too clean for older, lower-quality recordings, these mids are definitely professional-level stuff.

High End

Highly resolving, the highs are marked by a slightly rolled-off upper limits, allowing these headphones to avoid ever feeling too harsh or piercing.  And yet, the sheer level of detail on display here means the sound can seem almost sparkling at times.  For those who only listen to music for enjoyment, this may not be the most attractive high end, but for serious professionals or diehard critical listeners, it’s a perfect match for the overall no-nonsense approach of the M60X.

Soundstage

Thanks to good depth and amazing placement, the ATH-M60X packs an unrivaled amount of soundstage.  The sound is roomier and more immersive that the M50X, or any other headphone at this price.  Nothing from Sennheiser or Sony or any other professional brand can touch this level of headroom, and it gives me a similar feeling to wearing a mid-range open-back headphone.

Audio Technica ATH-M60X ReviewOther Observations

Holy comfort, Batman.  The Audio Technica ATH-M60X might be an on-ear design, but the comfort remains on-point.  Even with my bigger ears, I can wear these things for ages.  And I don’t want to take them off, either, because they sound so phenomenal.

The sound!  I have always hesitated to recommend the M-Series to professionals who aren’t on a shoestring budget.  Even the M70X has always sounded just a bit too flat and lifeless to me.  However, the M60X delivers a rousing performance with tons of detail and a purely uncompromising sound.  This is now my go-to recommendation for the best sound under $200, period.  Want detail?  M60X.  Want to hear music the way it was actually recorded?  M60X.  Want isolating on/over-ear headphones?  M60X.  Want something better than Beats by Dre?  M60X.  Professional listening needs?  M.  60.  X.

Durability is another hallmark.  Thanks to the same cable jack used on the M50X, you can use the same accessories, including nicer third party cables or Bluetooth adapters.  And every part seems to be replaceable; on the inside of the headband, there are a TON of scews.  And my inner nerd is just dying to get a pair of these to take apart and put back together again…

If I have one misgiving, it is that I think the M60X should be cheaper.  Despite the fact that this headphone is worth every cent of its $199 price tag, I still want it to be more accessible.  At $199, this headphone is the same price as the Sennheiser HD 25 Plus.  Yet it is light years above and beyond the HD 25 Plus when it comes to sound or build quality.  At $179 or $169, this thing would KILL the competition.  As it stands now, it still does a good job of wiping the figurative floor with any competitor –  including Sennheiser’s decidedly less-impressive pro models.  But that slight reduction in price would truly make these some of the best damn headphones to ever exist.

Recommendations

If you need detail and accuracy in a colorful package and don’t mind a little extra bass, the original ATH-M50X is a better option for you.  However, for serious critical listening, professional applications, and just plain old-fashion folks who like to hear everything, the M60X is a better deal.  Even stacked up against staples like the Sennheiser HD 25 Plus, 25-IIs and  others, the M60X still sound better and feels more durable.  It’s definitely the headphone you need.

Really, the only way I wouldn’t recommend the M60X is if (a.) you wanted a more colored sound, or (b.) you have tons of money to spend and could sink much more into a higher-end pair of headphones.  Because even if you had tons of money to spend, you still might not get a better sound with a different pair of cans.  Instead, I would say, get the M60X and consider a good DAC or a high-res DAP for FLAC or WAV files.  Then kick back and kiss the sky.

Analysis

At $199, this Audio Technica ATH-M60X offers a rare listening experience rife with detail and space.  Excellent build quality and Audio Technica’s rock-solid reputation only sweeten the deal.  But once you put these babies on and give them a listen, there’s no going back; this really is an impressive headphone that sounds nothing short of miraculous.

 

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