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Audio-Technica ATH-M20x review

In this review, I’ll be having 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, I’ll also be comparing them to a few competitors.

About the author

I’m a producer, audio engineer, and songwriter with a decade’s worth of experience with a wide range of gear and recording techniques. I have worked with and tested a huge variety of headphones, including Audio-Technica, Beyerdynamic, Shure, Sennheiser, AKG, and Sony, among others.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20x headphones review
Image: Higher Hz

Final verdict on the ATH-M20x 4.0

Overall, any harsh criticisms I 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 I mention that they’re $50?

What I like

  • Neutral midrange.
  • Lightweight and quite comfortable.
  • Affordable at under $50.

What I don’t like

  • Lacking bass.
Buy Audio-Technica ATH-M20x at: SweetwaterAmazon

Power and frequency response 4.0

The ATH-M20x 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 my surprise. The high end is a bit unruly, suffering a massive dip around 5 kHz before peaking at around 9 kHz.

The ATH-M20x are not the cleanest-sounding studio 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.

Build quality 3.0

The build quality of the ATH-M20x 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 ATH-M40x and ATH-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.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20x build quality
Image: Higher Hz

Comfortability 4.0

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 earcups are big enough for most ears.

Stability 3.0

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 2.0

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.

Accessories 3.0

The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x only comes with the headphones and an 1/8 to 1/4-inch adapter. Otherwise, there’s nothing to mention – thanks for the adapter.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20x headphones with accessories
Image: Higher Hz

Compared to other studio headphones

In my humble opinion, the ATH-M20x headphones are the best you can buy under $50 for studio purposes. But there’re a handful of alternative options to consider.

Audio-Technica ATH-M20x vs ATH-M40x

The ATH-M40x headphones are more expensive, slightly better built, and sound slightly better than the ATH-M20x. It really just depends if you have an extra $50 you’re willing to spend.

Read the full Audio-Technica ATH-M40x review

Audio-Technica ATH-M20x vs Samson SR850

The SR850 are fairly spacious and detailed, but the high end is quite bright. The ATH-M20x are the slightly more neutral option of the two.

Read the full Samson SR850 review

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.

Who are the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x headphones best suited for?

The ATH-M20x 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-M20x are a worthy contender.

Buy Audio-Technica ATH-M20x at: SweetwaterAmazon