By Matthew K.
How I validate the halfway point of “You couldn’t toss another $20 in” and “Do you really need to spend that much on headphones”
Being a Midwestern boy, it is rather hard to verify certain purchases with your peers. Especially when you’re used to making every cent count. So imagine you’re looking at the entire range of headphones for a specific series. You need to be wise in your choices and balance budget with need to make a perfect choice. Even though mine were a complete donation, I have to recommend this balance of budget and necessity to anyone. The Audio Technica ATH-M30x over ear headphones are what I would consider a comfortable middle. They provide exceptional studio quality through their 50mm drivers just as well as their big brother, the ATH-40x headphones. Slight differences are more seen as personal taste. While the M40x provide luxury features such as a detachable cable and slightly lower impedance, they’re basically one in the same. If you can’t seem to get up to the m50x just yet due to budget constraint, you really just need to decide if having a detachable cable is really worth all the trouble.
Running at 220grams, they’re a lovely middle ground between being heavy duty enough to stand common drops and slight wear and tear but not enough to weigh your head down too much. The plastic is a thick feeling strong composite and doesn’t show scratches much at all due to its mainly matte finish. The silver emblems are not real metal but rather just metallic paint over plastic, but that’s expected from sub $200 headphones. Not everything is glitz and glamour. The top head band is padded with a soft padding under nylon fabric. My only real issue is the “Noah’s Salon” effect you tend to receive when wearing these for long periods of time. They’ll leave a large part in your hair from ear to ear if you fit them on tight enough, but what headphones don’t do that? No, earbuds do not count.
The sound quality is rather superb after being used to consumer headphones. These are the closest I’ve come to true studio quality headphones and there’s a reason for that. You’ll receive 15hz-22kHz frequency range which means the lows are nice and thick without being too muddy and the highs don’t cut out. These are proper headphones to start off with as a hobbyist or enthusiast in studio production looking for some at home or on the go studio quality cans. A low sensitivity does mean you’ll need some power to run these through a proper amp or studio setup, but I run them through both my audio mixer with phantom power AND my computer’s on board sound card and they sound good either way. This does mean you might need a small amp with these if running to an MP3 player or your phone, but I’ve never needed one when I use them with my phone. But it’d be recommended to save the battery life on the already so-short-its-sad battery life your phone probably has. (*cough*Apple products*cough*)
Closed system does mean these are not recommended if you’re using these in an environment where you must be aware of your surroundings such as work, a studio with constant in booth contact, or dancing in a field over a mysteriously placed train track. But if you’re looking to drown out the world, these will do you just fine. I use a large Lasko fan on high for my room’s dreadful AC problems and I notice a huge drop in annoying fan buzz with the ATH-m30x cans over my ears. Will give notice that your ears might get a bit sweaty overtime due to the vinyl/pleather/nylon/whateverdaheck material the earpads are made from. So either get some of the ATH series velour pads on Amazon to upgrade your experience or steal some earpads off a pair of your brother’s Turtle Beach headphones like I did. He likely doesn’t use them anyhow.
Overall, I can’t say what how good the experience is from a studio professional with these headphones considering I’d never refer to myself as professional in most lights anyhow. But as a consumer who’s known only Turtle Beach, Skullcandy, and department store cheapies, I have to give major props for Audio Technica’s middle ground ATH headphones. The M30x give you a nice, quality sound for a very reasonable and balanced price. With just the change of adding the aforementioned velour pads, these are pretty much perfect headphones for those who prefer the bare necessities over flashy things like detachable cables. I don’t use these for jogging in the middle of the highway, I use them to watch videos and make a few drum beats time to time. These are great headphones for the money if you’re starting up your own in home studio and need a few reasonable breaks. If you can’t spare the extra cash for the higher end headphones starting at $99, then you shouldn’t be buying headphones to be honest. Take care of yourself first. But if you want some serious bang for your buck, then these will give you a great deal of studio quality audio and modest design choices. Save the $30 you’d be spending on the detachable cable and put it into the velour pads.
Audio Technica ATH-M30x headphones get 4 snug cables out of 5.