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[Accessory Review Challenge] Audio-Technica ATH-M20x

  1. Lavin A.
    Ice Cream Sandwich Sep 11, 2020

    Lavin A. , Sep 11, 2020 :
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    Hey, I’m Lavin Amarnani. A Graphic Designer and somewhat of a Musician. A lot of my work involves audio on a daily basis, either syncing it with videos, or just distracting myself while working, and I’ve wanted something that could give me accurate sound without breaking the bank.

    Entering the world of studio monitors and IEMs, there’s a wide range of products from some you’ve never heard of (but they’re actually cheap and great?) to branding that speaks loudly but doesn’t sound that way. Let’s look at something that’s a good middle ground.

    The Packaging
    The first impression, that matters to many, a huge box box with minimalistic text and product images, just what you need, nothing more, it speaks on behalf of the product.

    Here's what you get:
    • The ATH M20x Headphones
    • 2.5mm to 6.3mm Adapter (Quarter-inch Jack)
    • Safety & Warranty Information
    • Instructions
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    The headphones come well protected in a cardboard box (wrapped in plastic before I took it off)


    The Specifications
    Let's get numbers out of the way, although they tell you what to expect, the sound can vary greatly depending on your equipment and music.
    • Type Closed-back dynamic
    • Driver Diameter 40 mm
    • Frequency Response 15 - 20,000 Hz
    • Maximum Input Power 700 mW at 1 kHz
    • Sensitivity 96 dB
    • Impedance 47 ohms
    • Weight 190 g (6.7 oz), without cable and connector
    • Cable 3.0 m (9.8'), straight, left-side exit
    • Magnet Neodymium
    • Voice Coil Copper-clad aluminum wire
    • Accessories Included 6.3 mm (1/4") snap-on adapter
    The Aesthetics
    Aesthetics matter to some people, even though sound speaks for itself. Here's a short clip I had some fun shooting. (link if it has issues playing on the app)


    The headphones have a minimalistic matte black plastic build, with an embossed glossy logo.


    The Good Stuff
    Usability

    Coming to actual usability, the headphones have a light weight, and decent amount of headband adjustability.

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    The headband and earpads are made of faux leather and have a moderate amount of padding, which isn't the most comfortable, but it does the job keeping them bearable for a few hours of use. The light weight of the M20x certainly helps in that aspect. To note, the headphones get heavier as you go up the range, the M30x to the M50x.

    Sound
    Ah, the most important part. These headphones, or rather studio monitors have a mostly flat or neutral frequency response, but with emphasis on mid-bass.

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    Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Frequency Response (source: rtings.com)

    What does this mean? It'll please most entry-level audiophiles who like a bit of exaggerated bass. It's certainly bass that you'll enjoy, and not muddy as seen in more general-consumer-oriented headphones. The treble can be somewhat ear-piercing at max volume, but it's reproduced quite well for clear highs and vocals.

    I loaded up a bunch of FLAC files to test them, and could hear clear instrument separation, vocals, and basslines.

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    What does it take to drive them?
    I personally use a VE Odyssey HD with my Dell XPS 13 when I'm working, or with my OnePlus 8 Pro. They're certainly not rated for the 47 ohm impedance the headphones require, but get the job well done until I invest in a serious AMP and DAC.

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    Venture Electronics Odyssey HD USB-C DAC
    Otherwise, I also use them as a direct output from my guitar processor, guitar amp, or keyboard using the included 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter.

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    My music has never sounded better! These headphones even make up for my subpar skills! Kidding ofcourse. But what they do is bring a more accurate representation of what I produce, to what it'll sound in post, but also what it might sound like to people in general who might have more traditional headphones with a v-shaped frequency response (enhanced bass and treble).

    The Price
    At around $60 what I paid for them in my region, they're certainly budget-oriented, giving you not much to complain about, not to say there's nothing to complain about, though.

    The Not-So-Good Stuff
    A long non-detachable Cable

    The headphones come included with a non-detachable 3 meter (10-foot) cable.

    Not denying that it would be useful in some situations where your equipment is further off on the ground, or you'd just like to move around in your spinning chair while banging the tunes, but skipping out on a detachable connector with audiophile equipment, even though it's one of the lower end models is quite frustrating.

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    Maybe you'd like a shorter cable sometimes, maybe you'd like to have a fancy braided cable down the line, it's just a point of inconvenience.

    There are certain mods you could do to add an aux jack, but that involves soldering, cutting into the exterior, purchasing parts, and voiding your warranty which not everyone is comfortable with.

    The Mid-Frequency Response
    As with any lower end product, there's some weaker functionality. Here the mids aren't as clear as they could be, which means that relatively lower pitched vocals won't be as detailed as the highs. Although, some sources claim this gets better as you upgrade to the M30x. I wouldn't call it anywhere close to a deal-breaker though.

    No Microphone
    I've experienced situations myself that would involve quick recordings, or speaking in video calls that would have been really convenient with a simple microphone embedded on one side, but there is none. Again, there's stuff like the ModMic which you could add later on, but at this budget, I'm not sure anyone's willing to spend way more on an external mic.

    The Exposed Cables
    The exposed cables near the headband adjustment are a factory of worry. They're thin cables floating around when the headband isn't fully extended, and might be the weakest point of the headphones.
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    So far, I see no sign of damage, but they're easy to accidentally pull on.

    The Wireless Evolution
    Afterall, no matter how good your product is, there's always the fact that the consumer will go where the market leads them. We've all been spoiled by Bluetooth headphones and true wireless earbuds, like the shiny blue OnePlus Buds eh? Bluetooth has had its advancements in cutting down latency, and upping the bitrate as much as possible, and not to mention the added convenience. So why would someone even look for headphones with a long wire permanently attached to it?

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    The answer, well, is on you. If you need something that'll give you accurate sound, works with all your instruments and legacy gear, has almost zero latency, wired is the way to go, for now.

    Conclusion

    To conclude, these are one of the best wired studio monitors or headphones you could get for this price. They're backed by a 1-year warranty and I've got an extension upto 3 years for registering my product. If a neutral sound is what you're looking for, but still not willing to let go of the bass-y nature, that's what you'll get with these. While there's some stuff to complain about, there are no deal-breakers. They're great for audio and video production, and even your casual music listening and YouTube sessions, you can't go wrong.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020

    #1
  2. AbhilashSaikia
    The Lab - OnePlus 8 Pro Reviewer Sep 11, 2020


    #2
  3. Swatiranjan
    Jelly Bean Sep 11, 2020


    #3
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  4. Priyanshu Sharma
    Jelly Bean Sep 11, 2020


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  5. Atul Menon
    Gingerbread Sep 12, 2020


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  6. H1577345925419
    Cupcake Sep 15, 2020

  7. Shubham_Ag.
    Ice Cream Sandwich Sep 16, 2020


    #7
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  8. Lavin A.
    Ice Cream Sandwich Sep 16, 2020

    Lavin A. , Sep 16, 2020 :
    Thank you so much everyone!

    I'll definitely try to post some in my free time!
     

    #8