If you were to see these two sets of headphones side by side in the store or online, you’d be hard-pressed to determine what the differences are.
They look almost identical, and even on paper, many of the specs are close to the same.
However, the ATH-M50X is a good 50% more expensive than the M40X, so what gives?
There are a few subtle differences between these two sets of cans, and we’re going to detail them for you right here.
The question is:
Are the differences enough to justify the price difference?
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Audio-Technica ATH-M40X vs ATH-M50X comparison:
- Price & Value For Money
- Pros & Cons
Ready? Let’s get started…
1. Sound: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X vs Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
Sound: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X
The Audio-Technica ATH-M40X is an incredibly capable set of headphones, more than good enough for the average audio enthusiast.
They have a frequency range of 15Hz to 24kHz, which is more than the audible spectrum, so you can be sure that you’re not missing out on anything important.
Overall, the response is reasonably flat, and not too hyped. Bass heads may find themselves a little underwhelmed, but then again, these are no DJ cans.
Sound: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X headphones sound altogether quite similar (being in the same line as the M40s), but since they have slightly larger drivers (more on that soon), they offer a slightly stronger bass response.
The advertised frequency range of the M50s stretches up a little higher, right up to 28kHz, but considering humans can only really hear up to around 20kHz, this is kind of a non-issue.
If you put these on your dog, they might notice the difference, but then again you’ll have to be able to speak Labrador.
Despite being a bit heavier on the low end than the M40s, the ATH-M50X is still a refined set of headphones rather than a hyped one, and they don’t go as far as some consumer-focused cans do in pumping up the bass.
Sound: Bottom Line
Both sets of headphones sound fantastic, and you really can’t go wrong either way.
However, the bass response of the M50s is a bit stronger, which in most cases is desirable.
If you’re using these headphones to mix music at home, I’d gravitate toward the ATH-M50Xs. That’s because I’d also suggest that, unless you’ve got a really well-treated room, you lay off the low end and grab some smaller monitors.
So, the M50s can make up for some of that lack in low-end, and help you to mix kick and bass nicely.
Sound Winner: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
2. Comfort: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X vs Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
Comfort: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X
The Audio-Technica ATH-M40X is a fairly comfortable set of headphones, with leatherette ear cups and a padded headband.
They aren’t the lightest set of headphones, but weighing 8.8 ounces, they are hardly the heaviest either.
You’ll notice that out of the box, the M40s might feel a little bit tight around the head. This will ease over time, and after a decent bit of use, these headphones are actually comfortable enough to wear for hours.
Comfort: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
There’s not a huge difference between the M40s and M50s in terms of comfort.
That said, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X weighs 10.4 ounces compared to the 8.8 ounces of the M40X, so they do feel slightly heavier.
Comfort: Bottom Line
Despite the minor weight difference, both sets of cans are comfortable enough to wear for long sessions.
Honestly, you’ll really only notice the difference in weight if you try the two sets side by side, so this one’s a tie.
If you’ve had bad experiences with headphones that were too heavy over long periods, then grab the M40s.
But other than that, the difference is negligible.
Comfort Winner: Tie
3. Connectivity: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X vs Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
Connectivity: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X
The Audio-Technica ATH-M40X is an analog-only set of headphones (no Bluetooth) and comes with a removable headphone cable.
In fact, it ships with two different cables, a straight cable, and a coiled cable.
This is great news, not only because you can choose between the two styles, but if one ever breaks (because they just do over time), you can easily replace it.
Connectivity: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X is more or less than the same as the M40s, but with the addition of a shorter straight cable, which is ideal for plugging into your phone while it’s in your pocket.
Still, no Bluetooth, which to be fair isn’t the M.O. of these sets of headphones, but it would still be nice.
Connectivity: Bottom Line
The connectivity of these two sets of headphones is more or less the same. No Bluetooth, no USB, just good old-fashioned 3.5mm audio jacks.
The ATH-M50X cans do come with an extra cable, though, so they win this category, just.
Connectivity Winner: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
4. Earcups: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X vs Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
Earcups: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X
The earcups of the Audio-Technica ATH-M40X are comfortable, over-ear (circumaural) headphones, with a leatherette finish.
You’ll find that they might feel a little tight to begin with, but they break in over time.
The 90-degree rotation of these earcups means you can move around freely and the cans will adjust, plus you can fold them flat when you put them down on your desk.
Earcups: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X have more or less the same earcups, except they can swivel up to 180-degrees.
This makes them a good set of cans for anyone who wants to pick them up and put them to one ear, DJ-style.
Earcups: Bottom Line
The ATH-M50X are a little more flexible, considering the rotation on these guys is pretty much double.
However, both cans are comfortable, and reasonably soft.
Some might find that the leatherette ear cups can get a little hot and sticky after a few hours, but that’s pretty much the case with any headphones in this price range, so there’s not a lot you can do there!
Earcups Winner: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
5. Drivers: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X vs Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
Drivers: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X
The Audio-Technica ATH-M40X have 40mm drivers (hence the name), which use rare earth (neodymium) magnets to drive both of the speakers.
The speakers use copper-clad aluminum voice coils, for the best compromise between weight and conductivity.
Drivers: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
The more expensive units use slightly larger drivers (45mm), which implement the same technology, just taken up a notch.
The size difference essentially gives the ATH-M50X a stronger bass response, which you’ll notice on instruments like a kick drum really driving through.
Drivers: Bottom Line
Both sets of drivers are really well-designed, nicely tuned, and are reasonably light for their performance (weight is often a concern for headphones).
The ATH-M50X, though, with their slightly larger units, win this round.
Drivers Winner: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
6. Finish: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X vs Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
Finish: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X
The Audio-Technica ATH-M40X has a lovely black on black finish, which is shared by the entire range.
The Audio-Technica logo is about the only thing on this set of headphones that isn’t black, which is finished in a nice silver brushed-steel look.
Oh, and the AT name is branded on the top of the headband.
Finish: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X has much the same finish, except you’ll notice that the logo on the side of the ear cups is in black, with a brushed-steel ring around it.
You’ll also see some burnished steel at the top of each ear cup where they swivel, which is a nice touch and adds a little bit of sophistication to the ATH-M50Xs.
Finish: Bottom Line
The finish on both sets of headphones is remarkably similar, which is part of what makes it so challenging to understand what the difference is between the two.
Though, to a degree, it comes down to a matter of taste, the ATH-M50X does feel and look a little classier, so we are going to give this round to the 50s as well.
Finish Winner: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
7. Headband: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X vs Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
Headband: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X
The Audio-Technica ATH-M40X has a comfortable padded headband that is finished in the same leatherette material as the ear cups.
It doesn’t flex like some more expensive cans (a lot of AKG ones, for example), but the steel band inside does pull out if you have a taller head, so these M40s should fit pretty much any listener.
Headband: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
The headband in the ATH-M50X is exactly the same as the M40s: comfortable, flexible, practical.
Headband: Bottom Line
There’s no difference here, so you can take either set of headphones when it comes to headband performance.
Headband Winner: Tie
8. Price & Value For Money: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X vs Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
Price & Value For Money: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X
The Audio-Technica ATH-M40X is, compared to most relevant competitors, an incredibly affordable set of headphones.
They slide in nicely under the $100 mark, which isn’t a huge price-tag, all things considered.
Sure, there are cheaper sets of headphones, but you could also easily spend hundreds of dollars more.
We’d give these a 4.5 out of 5 for value for money, with the only thing that they could really improve upon is adding Bluetooth connectivity.
Price & Value For Money: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
The ATH-M50X is a good 50% more than the M40X, coming in at around $150.
Considering the only real difference that the M50s offer is larger drivers and a greater degree of ear cup rotation, they don’t really offer the same kind of value for money.
For sure, they are better headphones, but not a whole 50% better.
Price & Value For Money: Bottom Line
The bottom line is that while the ATH-M50X is a better set of headphones, the ATH-M40X is pretty close, and a fair bit cheaper, so they offer better value for money.
Price & Value For Money Winner: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X
9. Pros & Cons: Audio-Technica ATH-M40X vs Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
Audio-Technica ATH-M40X Pros & Cons
- Reasonably flat response
- Quite comfortable
- Super affordable
- Detachable cable is nice, because you can replace them
- Could have stronger bass response
- Bluetooth connectivity would be ideal
- Ear cups only rotate 90-degrees
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Pros & Cons
- Great bass response
- Quite comfortable
- Comes with three different cables
- Very stylish finsih
- Bluetooth connectivity would be ideal
- Leatherette ear cups can get a little hot
Conclusion & Takeaway
To summarize our findings in this Audio-Technica ATH-M40X vs Audio-Technica ATH-M50X comparison, here are the winners for each category:
- Sound – Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
- Comfort – Tie
- Connectivity – Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
- Earcups – Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
- Drivers – Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
- Finish – Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
- Headband – Tie
- Price & Value For Money – Audio-Technica ATH-M40X
Overall: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
On the whole, these are both very capable sets of headphones.
The ATH-M50X wins most categories, however, with a stronger bass response, better connectivity, more flexible earcups, larger drivers, and a more attractive finish.
The only place that the M40X really wins out is when you consider the price difference between these two sets of headphones.
The M50X is another $50 more than the M40X, which is quite a bit considering the M40s are only $100 or so anyway.
So, the final verdict?
The M50s are better headphones, but if cash is short, go with the M40s.
Products Comparison Table:
Spec / Feature
15 – 24,000 Hz
15 – 28,000 Hz
Maximum Input Power
1,600 mW at 1 kHz
1,600 mW at 1 kHz
Earcup swivel range