Podcasting has had a recent rise in popularity within the last few years, and companies have become more competitive in producing quality equipment to meet podcasters' expectations and needs. No matter how you start out — whether it is with your tablet and a headset, or a MacBook Pro and a full set of gear — you will need to make adjustments and upgrades as your podcast grows. With the expanding market, that can be a long process. That's where we come in. In this article we will focus on headphones for podcasting; specifically, Audio Technica Ath-M40x vs M50x.
What Makes Quality Podcast Headphones?
Beyond what you would think of for quality headphones for music, podcasting headphones need a little more meat in them to be broadcast-ready. Your goal is to create quality sound, after all — it would be a shame if you could not tell if that is the level you are producing. In order to make sure your headphones are leveling with your sound program and your listeners' expectations, here are some things to consider:
This is the headphone set's accuracy in reproducing sound, and while it may not mean much when you are just listening to music, it makes a huge difference in producing audio. You need to know that what you are hearing is actually what it sounds like so your audience doesn't end up with unbalanced audio. What you're looking for is a headset with flat frequency response — often labeled as "studio" or "monitor."
You will likely be wearing these headphones for hours at a time while you record and edit, so definitely do not downplay the importance of comfort. It is best to try on headphones to know how they will feel for you, as there is no "one size fits all" deal when it comes to comfort. Some basics to look for, though, are whether the headband squeezes your head (even a little can cause headaches after a long period of time) and whether the ear muffs fit completely over your ears (this is the preferred style for podcasters, though yours may differ).
How big of an issue this is will depend on your recording style. If you have a small leak, you may be able to hear it playing back in your recording — which will make for some extended editing hours. A major leak can obviously double this issue and can be a problem if you are recording with other people around (a co-host for example).
A noise gate can help here, as well as looking for headphones that have closed sound. Both will lessen or completely reduce sound leakage and keep you from spending much more time editing every episode.
This may be a given, but we wanted it on this list, regardless. Noise cancellation is very important for recording and editing audio. Unlike listening to normal music, it is crucial that you hear every second of audio the best you can so you know what and where to edit as well as how your audio sounds together and overall. Everything needs to match and be balanced, and that is hard to discern if you are catching outside noise mixed in with your audio.
However, what you are looking for is not simple noise cancellation, as that can sometimes play with what you hear, as well. Instead, find a headphone set that features sound isolation. While this will not bounce all unwanted sound away, it will make it incredibly easy to determine what is your audio and what isn't.
This is only something you will need to consider if you are going to use the same headphones for editing and recording your podcast. If you are, know that the better leak and noise isolation you have, the more bone conduction you have — meaning the harder it is to hear yourself naturally. The resulting "bone" conducting audio can give you headaches. It will be a tradeoff either way — better sound quality but less comfortable, or vice versa.
Quality Headphone Specs
We have brushed over some important features to think about and look for in headphones; now let's talk about extra features that, while maybe not necessary, are super nice to have. We are comparing Audio Technica Ath-M40x vs M50x for a reason: they give a lot of extras. So, beyond what we have already discussed, let's see some of the fun features these two models can offer us.
First off, they aren't heavy — which is something users tend to think of as quality until they have to wear those heavy, metal-framed headphones for 6+ hours editing audio. These are both made of durable plastic, so you can have a lightweight fit without compromising durability. They also both feature swiveling ear muffs, so you can adjust your fit as you need to without messing with the whole headphone set.
Both headphones fit over the ear and focus on making this aspect of their models comfortable by deepening the inner ear pad. This means your ears shouldn't be pushing up against the ear pad — very useful when you are wearing them for long periods of time.
We also looked at cords when comparing Audio Technica Ath-M40x vs M50x and found that they both anticipated users' needs here as well. Both headphones come with at least two cords — one coiled and one straight — so you can decide whether you want a slack and flexible, or slack and convenient cord (to each their own, and there is a surprisingly passionate fan club for each style). Both cords are long enough to not confine you to your computer, as most podcasters enjoy moving around a little and need access to notes or other parts of their recording room as well.
When buying podcasting headphones, you can expect to spend a pretty penny. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of low-cost options that will give you the quality you need long term. Prices are always changing, though, and good deals are out there for those who look for them. Between the Audio Technica Ath-M40x vs M50x models, though, you can expect to spend between $100 and $150 — which in all honesty is not a bad price range.
Audio Technica Ath-M40x vs M50x Comparison Review
We evaluated the Adio Technica Ath-M40x vs M50x, two great headphones, as it turned out, so you can decide which would be a better fit for you. In order to make this comparison as non-biased and straightforward as possible, we used these criteria: price, accuracy, comfort, quality, portability, and their warranty. We found that these criteria brought out the differences between the two models as well as highlighted important features needed to make a decision between them.
Starting with the older option between Audio Technica Ath-M40x vs M50x, the M40x features a similar build to the M50x (as we mentioned above). Made of durable lightweight plastic, this model offers over-the-ear padded muffs with a 90-degree swivel so you can adjust your fit as you need to. This model also comes with 2 detachable cords — one coiled, one straight, both 3m long. This model is closed circuit and a studio set, meaning no sound leakage to edit over. The headphones will also collapse so you can save some space if you are on the go.
The frequency range for the M40x is 15000 to 24000 hertz, which will get you good music quality as well as help you discern more detail in your audio. However, this is not the widest range out there (which is to be expected with a slightly more dated model). We would say that this will still work for podcasting — especially for the price — but you may occasionally need to strain to hear the nuances of audio levels.
The impedance of the M40x is also a little low with just 35 ohms, though this is higher than the "low range" impedance headphones (25 or fewer ohms). Because these sit happily in a mid-range, you shouldn't need to worry about your audio demands blowing out the headphones.
This model also sports a 40mm driver — which is towards the high end of the range without being unnecessarily high. A maxed out driver will not give you the best sound, but a driver that is balanced with the rest of the headphones' ability can. With the range the M40x sits in now, it is focused on level sound that does not highlight any bass, mids, or highs — which is a great range for podcasting. With 40mm, it is also not high enough to struggle with the highs either.
We have glanced over the build and design of both the Audio Technica Ath-m40x vs M50x headphones, as they are fairly similar. With a padded, lightweight headband, and padded over-the-ear muffs that will not push on your ears, this is a pretty comfortable build. Of course, it will all depend on your personal preferences as to whether these are more comfortable than another model or brand.
One note to add is the lack of ability to change out the ear pads. While the design means you are not likely to sweat in them, they will still wear out (and likely get a little warm) and being able to just replace those worn pieces can be a money-saver. The 90-degree swivel is also slightly limiting compared to what is typically offered now, but you may or may not notice the difference there. They also have a break-in period, meaning that they will feel very tight on your head until they adjust to the fit and loosen up.
Due to the build and the specs we have given, we feel that this set of headphones fares pretty well in this department. With the exception of non-replaceable ear pads, these headphones hold up pretty well in spite of their older age. Overall, users have loved this model and have been happy with the quality of the build and the sound.
With detachable cables and a collapsible build, this model utilizes its swivel ear muffs to the best of its ability to make a portable headphone set. While the range of the swivel may impede some users when packing up, overall they are fairly portable.
Audio Technica includes a 2-year limited warranty that covers normal manufacturer issues, and most users have not needed to use the warranty, which speaks to the quality of the headphones.
The M50x is the model Audio-Technica came out with after users' critiques with the M40x. The end result is a similar design and build because both of those fared well with users. There is an extra cord included with this model of a different length to give more options, and the earmuff swivel has been increased to 180-degrees. Beyond those specs, there are plenty of details that Audio Technica used to beef up this model and present it as the new and improved headphone model for podcaster while still keeping a closed circuit, stereo sound headphone set.
The frequency has been improved slightly from that of the M40x. The range is 15000 to 28000, which is not a huge leap but enough to get a little more focus on the bass when listening. It isn't over-emphasized, but there is a kick. You will be able to hear detail and nuances easier with this model, too, with that wider range.
The impedance also makes a slight jump to 38 ohms — again, not huge, but enough to increase quality without overreaching or causing problems with blowout.
Finally, the 40mm driver jumps to 45mm; you still sit without a mid-range — just with a little something extra for the bass as we mentioned. If bass is not important to you for your podcasting needs, this updated set of headphones may not have a lot to offer you in terms of new or improved features.
The only real comfort difference in the Audio Technica Ath-m40x vs M50x is the 180-degree swivel that the M50x offers, which may help some users out in terms of comfort. Beyond that, though, you still get the padded, lightweight headband, and padded over-the-ear muffs. The break-in period remains as well, as this period helps the headphones adjust to your specific needs while still being closed circuit.
One addition that we would have liked to see but didn't are replacement pads — you won't find them in this model either.
In this area, there is little to report in terms of upgrades. The quality is still durable and likely to get you through years of podcasting — the only downfall being the lack of replaceable ear muffs.
Portability is slightly changed due to the added swivel ability, as it does make them easier to collapse and pack — or stow quickly if you are on the go. Generally, both sets do well here and pack up similarly.
Again, we have a two-year warranty that many users will never need to utilize. Overall, users are happy with this model and applaud the changes made to it — as well as the parallel quality that makes them last.
Conclusion: Audio Technica Ath-M40x vs M50x
Between Audio Technica Ath-M40x vs M50x, there may be a clear winner in your mind, all depending on your needs. If not, we have some suggestions:
If you need to focus on a budget but also need quality audio that your current headphones cannot offer you, between Audio Technica Ath-M40x vs M50x, we would definitely suggest the M40x. They are more budget friendly but you still end up with the specs you need to produce quality sound — and they should last long enough to be worth the price.
If you do have a bigger budget or need a clearer focus on bass in particular, we would recommend the M50x. Their specs are slightly better and will give you an edge on sound for not that much more — all while keeping durability and quality.
Between Audio Technica Ath-M40x vs M50x, you really can't go wrong either way. They both offer similar specs and fill nearly identical needs, so whichever direction you end up going in, know that thousands have gone before and have given them both their seal of approval.
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