Few audio companies are as respected as Audio-Technica. When it comes to studio monitors, audio engineers and enthusiasts alike are bound to sing their praises for the German company. The fandom is well-earned, too, as Audio-Technica puts performance and dependability first time and time again with its premium audio products, drawing professionals to the brand like a band of cats to tuna.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on January 20th, 2019 to add new models wo the list.
Related: Best studio headphones
The best Audio-Technica headphones are the ATH-M50xBT
If you’re familiar with the audio community, then you’ve heard of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT as the wireless version of the headphones are some of the most recognizable studio cans around. They’ve earned their keep by proving time and time again that they can withstand studio usage. Swivel earcups may be rotated left, right, and even flipped up. This lets you hear your surroundings during live mixing.
Housed within each ear cup is a 45mm dynamic driver that reproduces exceptional audio quality for professional use. If you’re looking for a pair of consumer cans with markedly exaggerated highs and lows, the ATH-M50xBT isn’t it. While the bass response is a bit more emphasized than its little sibling the ATH-M40x, its main purpose is for studio mixing so audio engineers can accurately create a sound.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT has earned its place as a studio staple.
The synthetic ear cup material may not be the most comfortable seeing as it heats up fairly quickly, it isolates the listener from external noise which is all that matters for professional use. When it comes to reliability, it’s nearly impossible to beat these cans.
What you should know about Audio-Technica headphones
- Even though Audio-Technica headphones can be used by anyone, they may not produce the most pleasant sound for general consumers. Bass response isn’t as emphasized as with Beats, but certain models do retain a strong low-end like the ATH-M50x.
- Audio-Technica made their name on versatile, utilitarian products at a reasonable price. They keep their value on resale well.
- Fortunately, none of these headsets require an amp or DAC, keeping things reasonably priced.
- That said, when it comes to the wireless options, keep an eye out for high-quality Bluetooth codecs. As it stands, wireless cans can’t compete with the quality of wired alternatives. Getting a set with aptX compatibility for Android users or AAC support for iPhones will mitigate any perceptible audio-visual lag.
Get studio sound on a budget with the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x
There’s no point in fixing what isn’t broken, and Audio-Technica embraced that sentiment when it released the ATH-M40x. This pair of headphones retains the same 45mm drivers found in the original version, and offers very respectable sound for such a low price. For $99 there’s not a ton of competition here, outside of the Sony MDR-V6.
Unfortunately the headphone jack is disapearing from phones, so this may be an at-home-only type deal if you have an iPhone or Note 10. If you like these headphones and want to find a phone that fits them, be sure to check out our picks for best handsets.
For open-back cans, it’s hard to beat the ATH-AD900X
If you’re on the prowl for the most realistic sound possible, open-back headphones should be a top consideration. The company made its name off its open-back headphones and have maintained a respected reputation throughout the years. The ATH-AD900X manage to maintain an affordable price around $120 while delivering a clear and, well, open sound. Beneath each grill is a huge 53mm dynamic driver and CCAW voice coils for clear audio reproduction.
The winged headband is designed to mitigate any vibrations that may degrade audio quality. Unfortunately, listeners have mentioned that, while effective, it isn’t the most comfortable mechanism. If you want comfortable open-back headphones, Sennheiser may be a better—albeit more expensive—option.
Gamers and audiophiles alike will benefit from the open-back design of the AD900x.
This isn’t just a great option for audiophiles, though. No, the open-back design bodes well for gaming too, since it provides a more natural representation of sound. Due to the open nature of the cans, you’re able to more realistically register what direction enemy footsteps are approaching from.
Need noise cancelling? Get the ATH-ANC700BT
While it’s true that the Sony WH-1000XM3 is king of noise cancelling headphones , the ATH-ANC700BT puts up a fight. These can combat lower rumbles and include touch controls for music playback and wireless calls. The minimal design is appealing and will likely complement any outfit, or at least not clash with it.
Battery life is on-par for over-ear headphones at a posited 25 hours of playback with ANC on. While you’ll get the best audio quality by using the included 3.5mm plug, aptX support is good enough for on-the-go scenarios.
Speaking of which, the flat-folding design makes the ATH-ANC900BT an excellent travel companion, while the memory foam ear pads are plush and ease any pain that may arise from extended listening sessions. If you want fine active noise cancelling without shelling out $300-plus for it, these cans are a splendid compromise.
The best bang for your buck is the ATH-CLR100iSBK
If you’re looking for a no-nonsense pair of in-ears that get the job done for cheap, the Audio-Technica ATH-CLR100iSBK is it. Jutting out from the housings are angled nozzles which create a comfortable, secure fit. The stress relievers transitioning from the housings to the cable seem substantial enough to hold up against normal wear and tear.
Despite the compact size of these wired earbuds, relatively large 8.5mm drivers are used to pump out a clear sound. What’s more, the company includes an integrated one-button mic and remote module for hands-free calling and basic playback controls. For less than $20, it’s a solid deal for people who just want a basic headset.
How we chose the best Audio-Technica headphones
Seeing as Audio-Technica has a legacy of studio headphones and various accoutrements, it’s hard to narrow it down to just five picks. That said, we tried to account for a wide variety of listeners from the traveling audio enthusiasts to the casual listener who just wants an easy pair of earbuds to listen with. If we omitted your favorite pair of headphones, be sure to shoot us a line in the comments, since we maintain these best lists as living documents.
You may find that you want another set of headphones, or that Audio-Technica only offers certain models near you, and that’s fine! The company doesn’t really put out bad headphones, so you should give the others a whirl if you’re able. At CES 2020, the company also debuted a bunch of new models that are coming available later in 2020, so be on a lookout for:
- The ATH-ANC300TW is a set of $250 true wireless earphones that offer hybrid ANC and Bluetooth 5 connectivity
- The ATH-SPORT90BT is a set of Bluetooth in-ears that come with 4GB of storage, and IPX5 “waterproof” design
- The ATH-AWKT, ATH-AWAS and ATH-WP900 are all high-end headphones, but you may be able to give them a demo at your local hi-fi shop once they come out in March
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