The Audio-Technica ATH-M30x professional studio monitor headphones are a true pair of professional monitoring headphones. Offered in the sub-$100 price point, these headphones are the perfect solution for anything from professional monitoring to home use. As part of Audio-Technica’s M-series line of headphones, the ATH-M30x is a beautifully designed successor to the ultra-popular Audio-Technica M30 headphones.
Thankfully Audio-Technica has kept the ATH-M30x headphones priced in the sub-$100 category, which has prompted many to call them “The Best Headphones for Under $100”. But do they truly live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
Audio-Technica ATH-M30x: Pros & Cons
- Priced under $100 (check prices)
- Neutral, balanced sound characteristic of professional monitoring headphones
- Snug yet comfortable fit
- Above average noise isolation
- Long cord allows you to move around your room without removing the headphones
- Ultra-portable and foldable design
- Nondetachable cord
- Uncomfortable around the neck without first loosening the band
When we first put the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x professional studio monitor headphones on, we instantly noticed how comfortable they were to wear. And when we say comfotable, we mean actually surprisingly comfortable.
While we’d describe the clamping force of the headphones to be medium to firm, they’re not anywhere near uncomfortable and get better after being worn for a while. In fact, we believe that anyone could wear the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x headphones for four or five hours at a time without experiencing any discomfort.
The ear cups on the ATH-M30x headphones are reasonably large, and the elongated design helps them to fit nicely over the ears. The cups do fit completely over the ear, so you shouldn’t experience any of the cramping discomfort that can come with using snug on-ear headphones for hours on end.
Since the ear cups compress so snugly to the head, the M30x headphones also offer a sufficient amount of sound isolation. We found that they did a good job of blocking out unwanted outside noise, and also prevented those around us from being able to hear our music (when listening at a above-average volume).
The headband on the Audio-Technica ATH-M30X headphones is also subtly padded, and adds to the comfort of the Audio-Technica M30x headphones.
On the other hand, since the ear cups do form a nice seal around the ears, the M30x headphones tend to build up a little bit of warmth when worn for multiple hours. We wouldn’t say that the headphones ever made our headphones sweaty or unbearably hot, but the warmth that comes with wearing these headphones is something to keep in mind when purchasing.
Since they offer a snug fit, the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x professional studio monitor headphones can be somewhat uncomfortable when bringing them down around the neck. If you bring them straight down to around your neck with no adjustments, they can feel a bit tight at first. Not so tight that they’ll be choking, but noticeably uncomfortable. We suggest loosening up the headphones just slightly before putting them around the neck so they don’t hug as firmly.
Another aspect to consider about the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x headphones is that the ear cups aren’t able to flatten against your chest, which is a feature found in the more expensive M40x and M50x headphones. If swiveling ear cups is an important headphone feature for you, you might want to consider investing a bit more money into one of the other M-series headphones.
While Audio-Technica clearly put in a lot of effort to making the ATH-M30x professional studio monitor headphones comfortable, neither did they skimp on the sound quality of these headphones either.
The M30x headphones are designed to be a balanced, neutral sounding headphone. That means you’ll experience a lot more clarity and detail in your music, and hear things in your favorite songs that you’d never be able to hear with lower quality headphones. In fact, with these headphones you can enjoy songs that aren’t even your favorite, because these headphones bring all music to life in such a balanced, beautiful, and clear way, you won’t want to stop listening.
The highs and mids on the Audio-Technica M30x headphones are nice and clear for the most part, with the mids pulling ahead only slightly in terms of clarity. The highs are still great and easy to make out, but can sometimes miss in terms of sound intensity.
The bass on the Audio-Technica M30x headphones is relatively tight, but don’t expect a very deep bass. We found it to have a good amount of emphasis and be a bit punchy, but anyone looking for a heavy bass sound might not be satisfied with what the M30x headphones provide.
It’s important to note that the M30x headphones are intended to be a neutral, professional studio monitoring headphone. So while a deeper bass sound might sound appealing to some, it would defeat the true purpose of these studio monitoring headphones.
While these headphones don’t provide active noise cancellation, they do provide some level of sound isolation due to the snug fit of the ear pads as previously mentioned. If you’re in a public space with other people, you can wear these headphones and listen to your music at an above-average volume without worry of anyone else hearing your tunes – and without you hearing them either. Noises louder than crowd chatter though, such as car engines or strong winds, won’t be fully blocked out by these headphones.
Overall, these headphones provide a clean, rich sound with decent bass. The highly detailed sound will help your music truly come alive, and you’ll want to keep listening to your songs over and over again.
Build & Design
Even though the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x professional studio monitor headphones are being sold in the sub-$100 price point, we’re happy to see Audio-Technica has still chosen to use some professional grade materials to build their M30x headphones.
The headband on the ATH-M30x headphones is bendable and resilient to movement, and lightly padded to rest comfortably on the top of the head.
The ear cups are covered in a very nice plush foam material, which help to create that snug, sound isolating seal. The headphones also allow a certain amount of movement – not a lot, but just enough to slightly pivot for a comfortable fit. The plush foam of the ear cups is covered in a pleather material that is soft to the touch, and we haven’t experienced any damage to the material so far with regular use.
The cable on the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x headphones is a subject of debate. While the cord is nice and thick with a flexible rubber covering, it’s also a longer than average cable for a pair of headphones. On the plus side, this allows you to maneuver around your entire room or office without needing to remove your headphones. On the other hand, some people have complained that the cable is far too long and can tangle quite easily. Of course this could be easily remedied with some cable braiding or a simple zip tie.
Another thing to consider is that the ATH-M30x headphone’s cable is not removable – a feature often found with more premium headphones. The non-detatchability is something to keep in mind with these headphones if you dislike longer cables, or were hoping to exchange it for a coiled cable. The provided cable does come with a 1/4” adapter however, allowing you to plug in to a wide range of audio peripherals.
As far as durability is concerned, these headphones can definitely take a beating and still hold up nicely. Although lightweight, the quality of materials used to build these headphones makes them more durable than others at this price point.
Aesthetically we find the the M30x headphones to have a very attractive design. The Audio-Technica logo is well displayed on the outside of the ear cups, so everyone else can know that you’re listening to quality. If we’re being super nit-picky about the design, our only gripe is that the “Left” and “Right” indicators on the inside of the headband are quite faint, and can sometimes be hard to see in dimly lit areas.
Finally, these Audio-Technica headphones are ultra-portable. The ear cups are collapsible and easy to store in the protective carrying pouch (included) and thrown in a backpack or bag for on-the-go use.
Overall, the ATH-M30x headphones are an unbelievable value at the sub-$100 price point. Their balanced sound will help bring your favorite music to new heights, and provide a level of clarity that just can’t be matched with lower quality headphones. The snug, comfortable fit of the large ear cups provides great sound isolation and drowns out the outside world.
If you’re looking for a new pair of headphones that are durable, portable, and provide a detailed and neutral sound, we’d really recommend the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x headphones.
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