Review: Audio-Technica ATH-M20X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones
Published on May 2, 2023, 8:15 p.m.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20X are a pair of closed-back wired over-ear headphones designed for studio tracking, mixing and monitoring. With a price point of just $49, these headphones aim to deliver pro-level audio quality and performance at an accessible cost. I tested out a pair of the ATH-M20X headphones to see how they stack up for music listening, gaming, podcasts and more.
The ATH-M20X feature 40mm neodymium drivers tuned for enhanced low-frequency response. The circumaural cushions contour around the ears to provide sound isolation. The headphones have a lightweight and durable build with professional-grade materials. The 3 meter cable terminates in a gold-plated stereo mini plug.
- Tuned 40mm drivers for enhanced low-end
- Circumaural design contours around ears
- Professional-grade materials and build quality
- Excellent noise isolation
- Detachable 3m cable
The ATH-M20X have a simple and understated design. The all-black color scheme gives them a sleek, professional look. The headband is padded and adjustable, made of steel with a leatherette material over the foam. The earcups swivel and tilt for a customized fit. The earpads are covered in soft padding and the same leatherette as the headband. The cabling is permanently attached to the left earcup.
I found the ATH-M20X to be pretty comfortable for longer listening sessions. The headband has a decent clamping force to stay securely on your head without feeling too tight. The earpads are soft and fit nicely around my ears. I could wear them for a couple hours before needing a break. They aren’t as light as some headphones, but the 190 gram weight didn’t bother me.
The ATH-M20X deliver balanced sound with emphasized bass and clear mids/highs. The bass has noticeable boom and thump without drowning out the other frequencies. The mids sound smooth and accurate for vocals and instruments. Highs come through crisp and detailed without harshness. The soundstage feels intimate, lacking the spaciousness of open-back models. Noise isolation is excellent thanks to the closed-back design and seal of the earpads.
For the price, I was very impressed by the audio reproduction of the ATH-M20X. They provide clean, robust sound that makes music really enjoyable across various genres. The bass emphasis adds excitement for hip hop, EDM and rock music.
The ATH-M20X are versatile headphones suited for:
Music listening - Provides lively, robust sound for enjoying albums and playlists.
Podcast/audiobooks - Clear mids/highs make voices easy to hear and understand.
Gaming - Strong bass immerses you in action while clear highs pick up subtle audio details.
Amateur music production - Quality is good for tracking and mixing at a budget price point.
Office/library use - Closed-back design contains sound leakage to avoid disturbing others nearby.
The main downsides I noticed:
Non-removable 3m cable may be too long for portable use
Clamping force may cause discomfort over multi-hour sessions
Leatherette earpads may heat up ears during longer wear
Sound isolation cuts you off from surroundings (by design)
- Music listening
- Podcast listening
- Amateur music production
- General use in office/library
User Feedback Analysis
With over 21,000 customer reviews, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20X are one of the most popular budget headphones on Amazon. The vast majority of buyers are very satisfied with their purchase.
In their reviews, users widely praise the robust, high-quality sound of the M20X, especially considering the affordable price point. Many mention the headphones have strong, impactful bass that adds excitement to music and games without muddying the mids and highs. The clear reproduction of mids and crisp detailed highs receives positive feedback as well.
According to buyers, the M20X provide a comfortable listening experience thanks to the padded headband and plush earpads. Most are able to wear the headphones for hours without discomfort. However, some note the earpads are on the small side and can get hot during marathon listening sessions. A few mention the clamping force feels tight for those with larger heads.
The noise isolation of the closed-back design earns kudos from reviewers as it blocks out external sounds very effectively. Gamers especially appreciate this feature. However, some lament the lack of soundstage and space compared to open-back models.
One consistent criticism buyers point out is the permanently attached 3 meter cable, which many find too long and prone to tangling, especially for portable use. Some wish the cable was removable or offered in different lengths. A few reviewers report defects with the cable after months of use.
Overall, buyers overwhelmingly agree the Audio-Technica ATH-M20X provide tremendous value. The professional-level audio reproduction rivals headphones double the price or more. For audio quality on a tight budget, reviewers highly recommend the M20X.
- Great sound quality for the price
- Solid bass response
- Clear mids and highs
- Good noise isolation
- Durable and comfortable design
- Non-removable long cable
- Earpads may get hot during extended use
- Clamping force may be tight for some
- Bulky for portable use
At their retail price of $49, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20X present exceptional value for shoppers on a budget. Given their sturdy build quality using high-end materials, robust bass-forward sound with clean mids/highs, and sleek aesthetics, these headphones punch far above their weight class sonically and construction-wise.
The level of audio fidelity provided by the M20X competes with professional studio headphones costing upwards of $150 or more. The sound quality rivals or surpasses even some of the more expensive consumer/gaming headphones from brands like Sony and Sennheiser. While lacking premium metal accents, the M20X still feel solidly built and able to withstand years of use.
For shoppers who want great audio but lack the budget for expensive audiophile headphones, the ATH-M20X are widely considered one of the best values currently on the market. Their combination of pro-level sound, durable build, and ultra budget-friendly pricing make these headphones an easy recommend for all types of uses.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20X provide impressive audio reproduction and comfort at an accessible price. Their lively, robust sound works well for music, games, podcasts and casual music production. While the design isn’t flashy, the performance and quality are there. Overall, the ATH-M20X are easy to recommend for those seeking great sound on a budget.
- Driver: 40mm neodymium magnet
- Frequency Response: 15 - 20,000 Hz
- Sensitivity: 96 dB
- Impedance: 47 ohms
- Maximum Input Power: 700 mW
- Weight: 190 g (6.7 oz) without cable
- Cable: 3.0 m (9.8’) straight permanently attached
- Connector: Gold-plated 3.5mm stereo mini plug
- Adapter: 6.3mm (1/4”) snap-on adapter
- Earcups: Closed-back circumaural (over-ear)
- Earpads: Soft padded leatherette
- Headband: Adjustable padded leatherette
- Colors: Black
- Origin: Taiwan
- Warranty: 2 years
What’s in the Box
- ATH-M20X headphones
- 6.3mm snap-on adapter
- Carrying pouch
- User manual
How to Use
- Connect the 3.5mm plug to your audio source
- Adjust the headband for a secure yet comfortable fit
- Position the earcups so your ears fit nicely inside
- Play audio and adjust the volume as desired
- To store, fold the earcups inward and place in carrying pouch