Audio-Technica’s new wireless headphones are the choice of music connoisseurs (without the hefty price tag)

Hi-fi specialist Audio-Technica has announced its new ATH-M50xBT2 headphones, which are available now for £ 179 / $ 199, and are one of the most exciting audio releases of 2021.

The M50 line of headphones have been around since 2007 and quickly became the preferred choice for audio insiders and headphone reviewers alike because they sound great and don’t cost a lot. They’ve always given you crisp, studio-friendly sound, but don’t seem quite as flat – and have done so without costing the earth. Audio-Technica notes that they were used by the bloodlines of Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey and Drake.

Over time, the M50 evolved into the M50x, which later became the M50xBT once Bluetooth was added, and immediately crashed our list of the best wireless headphones. And now we have the M50xBT2, a helmet whose level of potential is only matched by the waterproof rating of the name if you don’t know the story.

This latest version of the headset retains a simple and very similar design (again, quite studio-like) with comfortable padding and light weight for long listening. It also contains the same 45mm driver design (it’s not broken…) – but there are big changes everywhere else in the interior.

Audio-Technica M50xBT2

(Image credit: Audio-Technica)

For Bluetooth listening, the drivers are powered by an AK4331 DAC (digital-to-analog converter) with built-in headphone amp, which should help keep the music clear and powerful. And you will get better quality music in this setup as they now support wireless transmission via SBC (regular bluetooth), AAC (perfect for iPhone fans as it means Apple Music tracks will not be transcoded) and even LDAC, which competes with Sony for high-resolution aptX streaming.

This is paired with a truly glorious 50-hour battery life, with a fast-charge option for three hours of listening from a 10-minute juice (using a high-powered USB-C connection).

You can use the Audio-Technica app to change the equalizer if you want, activate a special low latency mode for gaming or wireless music making, locate lost headphones and more.

There is also a dual mic system designed to make them better for voice calls, but also for the new built-in Alexa support (Siri and Google Assistant can be triggered by a button).

Thoughtfully, the M50xBT2 actually has a ‘Mute’ option built into the headset, which is a really nice touch. Multipoint pairing is also very useful, so you can connect to two devices at the same time for fast switching. Google Fast Pair for Android phones is also available.

You also get a hard-wired cable, of course. For under £ 200 / $ 200 these will be very hard to beat headphones based on previous models. The only real weakness is the lack of active noise cancellation, but there’s a good chance you’ll get much better audio quality than any of the best noise canceling headphones out there at the same price point. We look forward to receiving them for a good listening.

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