For Audiophiles on a Budget
Audio-Technica has spent years building an astounding reputation for manufacturing some of the best monitoring headsets on the market. Usually, quality audio monitoring headsets come at a pretty penny, but with the ATH-M20X, Audio-Technica seems to have done the impossible.
These monitoring headsets cost less than most earbuds on the market. This presents bedroom artists the option of owning a pair of best studio monitor headphones without breaking the bank. They can be used to help mix and produce music better, with flat frequency response, unlike commercial headphones, which do not reproduce flat frequencies.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20X is a slight, newer variant of the original M20 that comes with only a few minor changes. If you haven’t thought about getting one of these, read on further to find out why these should be on your radar.
Design-wise, these are very reminiscent of most Audio-Technica headsets. Meaning a simple, risk-free, somewhat bulky design. The headset is covered in a matte-black coating, which looks and feels nice and modern.
The headset weighs around 190g, which isn’t too heavy that it might become uncomfortable. We had these on for a long five-hour gaming session and had no issues whatsoever.
Good comfort levels…
The lightweight design is mainly because the headset is mostly made of plastic, which does make it less sturdy. Likewise, we had no creaking, and the headset build quality felt good overall.
The earcups are oval-shaped, packed with soft, Rexine-covered earpads. Rexine is a synthetic leather manufacturer based in the UK. The headband is also wrapped in the same leather and has a decent amount of flex. The headphones can swivel in towards the headband, making them easy to store in a bag with the rest of your stuff.
Packed in with the headset, you will find a 3m long cable and gold plated 3.5mm audio jack. They also include a 6.3mm audio adapter to plug these into your amplifier, soundcard, or audio interface.
Because these are marketed as professional monitoring headphones, one should expect proper specifications inside the headset.
These headphones come packed with large 40mm drivers that have an excellent frequency response of 15Hz to 20kHz. This goes well above the frequencies humans can hear. The headset also has an impedance rating of 46 ohms, which will keep a lot of the signal buzzing to a minimum.
The biggest problem with these headphones is that they require a decent amount of power to sound good. This means that using them with a phone or tablet might result in weak-sounding drivers or even no sound.
As mentioned beforehand, plugging these into a smartphone produced mediocre results. This is because smartphones don’t have enough power to adequately push the drivers to their full potential unless your smartphone has a built-in DAC like the LG G8 ThinQ.
We got rid of our smartphones and plugged into our Midiplus Studio 2, which was connected to our PC, and the audio was miles ahead. Using an audio interface allows the right amount of power to give the drivers all they need to produce a clear, full sound.
Natural listening experience…
If you like a bit of spice added to your music, these definitely aren’t for you. The low-end frequencies, as well as the rest of the frequency range, remain untouched. The audio is crystal clear with very little distortion, no matter the volume.
Listening to Kings of Leon’s Crawl from their album “Only by the night,” the opening guitar riff is crunchy and clear. When the bass line starts rumbling before the vocals, also distorted, the bass is present, warm, and well defined.
Once Caleb’s vocals enter the scene, they are easily distinguishable among all the other instrumentation, even as the drums bash away during the chorus.
Decent sound stage…
It is the only part that left us wanting a bit more. Stereo separation is good but is not as wide as we’d like. This can easily be heard in a song like Three Sacred Soul’s “Will I See You Again.”
The organ and guitar float around the same area to the left and right of the mix. When the chorus kicks in, a lot of the guitar is drowned out by the organ due to a narrower sound stage.
ATH-M20X – Pros and Cons
- Flat frequency response.
- Excellent noise isolation.
- The sound stage is average at best.
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Also, have a look at our comprehensive Sony MDR-7506 Review, our Sennheiser PXC 550-II Review, our AKG K240 Studio Review, our AKG Perception 220 Review, and our Monolith M1060 Headphone Review for more superb items currently available.
Audio-Technica ATH-M20X – Final Thoughts
Considering the price, there is no doubt that these are some excellent headphones, especially for bedroom artists or music enthusiasts who like to listen to music the way it was meant to be.
If you have just started, a pair of these and a decent audio-interface will be more than enough to get you started on your audio production journey. However, if you do crave a bit of extra bass in your life, check out Sony’s MDR XB 550 AP headphones. They are some of the best budget headphones with that extra oomph.
Until next time, happy listening.