Today, we’ll be having ourselves a look at the ATH-M20x, the budget option in Audio-Technica’s most popular line of headphones.
Besides seeing if they’re worth the expense, we’ll also be comparing them to a few competitors.
Our verdict on the ATH-M20x
Overall, any harsh criticisms we may have with the ATH-M20x headphones is cancelled out by the fact that they’re only $50.
They don’t sound the best, nor are they that comfortable, but they’re better than most other budget options. Did we mention that they’re $50?Check availability and current price: SweetwaterAmazon
Power and frequency response
The ATH-M20xs have a reported frequency response of 15 Hz – 20 kHz, as well as an impedance of 47 ohms. They are a bit lacking in the low end, running flat down to 60 Hz, but not extending much lower.
You might experience some issues with the high bass bleeding into the lower mids, but this won’t be so noticeable to most users. However, the midrange is almost perfectly flat, much to our surprise.
The high end is a bit unruly, suffering a massive dip around 5 kHz before peaking at around 9 kHz.
The ATH-M20xs are not the cleanest sounding headphones by any stretch of the imagination, but the harmonic distortion present doesn’t present any jarring issues.
Overall, while their performance isn’t the greatest, it wasn’t designed to be. As a budget pair of headphones, they work just as well as anything else you could buy – if not better.
The build quality of the ATH-M20xs is fairly average. They’re durable enough to handle a few drops and some minor wear and tear, but they feel noticeably cheaper than their older siblings, the M40x and M50x.
The metal frame for the headband is much thinner and there is an audio cable left exposed running through the ear cups which leaves these vulnerable to breaking.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x headphones are quite comfortable considering their price.
They’re incredibly lightweight, the headband doesn’t apply much pressure, and the ear cups are big enough for most ears.
The ear cups are missing the swivel feature present in the M40x and M50x, which leaves the headphones feeling a bit stiff.
While these headphones will be stable enough for studio work, they were not designed for sport. Any high-intensity training and running will promptly cause them to slip off the head.
Noise cancellation and isolation
The noise cancellation present here is poor. The passive noise cancellation does virtually nothing in the bass region, and only kicks in by the low mids at around -10 dB.
They may block out the high end of nearby chit chat but not much more.
The ATH-M20x only comes with the headphones and a 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter. Otherwise, there’s nothing to mention – thanks for the adapter.
Compared to other headphones
Here are a handful of alternative options to consider before settling on the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x.
Audio-Technica ATH-M20x vs. Samson SR850
The SR850s are fairly spacious and detailed, but the high end is quite bright. The ATH-M20xs are the slightly more neutral option of the two.
Audio-Technica ATH-M20x vs. AKG K92
The ATH-M20x headphones sound better than the AKG K92 and are less expensive. They also look cooler.
Audio-Technica ATH-M20x vs. Samson SR950
The Samson SR950s have a great low end response at the expense of their soundstage and clarity.
You can’t go wrong with either set, but if you want decent bass go for the Samsons.
Audio-Technica ATH-M20x vs. ATH-M30x
Audio-Technica ATH-M30xs are slightly more expensive, slightly better built, and sound slightly better than the ATH-M20x.
It really just depends if you have an extra $20 you’re willing to spend.
For more options, see our recommendations for the best cheap studio headphones under $100 and $50.
Who are the ATH-M20x headphones best suited for?
These headphones are great for novice engineers on a tight budget, or people looking for a decent pair of headphones for casual listening.
Professional audio engineers might fare better considering more high-end options, but if your bank account is low, the ATH-M20xs are a worthy contender.
- Neutral mid range.
- Lacking bass.
- Not the most comfortable.