Current testing methodology is v1.2
January 23, 2014
11.4 x 10 x 4.1 in
Several months ago, my wife was asking me for a headphone replacement since her Mpow EG3 is already worn out.
She told me that her budget is around $50 – pretty much at the lower end of the budget spectrum so the options are limited.
Fortunately, Black Friday arrived and the Audio-Technica ATH-M20X was on sale for $49 with free shipping. I bit the bullet and got it for her. Of course, I asked her for permission that I would use it now and then for this review.
That said, I’ll be talking about my experience with the ATH-M20X. I’ll also do my best to answer the question, “is it worth it in 2023?” or if there are better options at this price point.
Let’s get to it!
The Audio Technica ATH M20X came out eight years ago and is still a contender in its segment. It has great sound quality but it has its shortcomings.
One reason I went with the M20X is its neutral sound signature – an important factor when choosing since it will be used for video editing and gaming. These headphones did well in those regards.
However, the M20X fell short when it comes to its build quality and comfort. These factors are personal and are a deal-breaker for me. But for my wife, they’re pretty acceptable and it may also be the case with you.
Give the ATH M20X a go if you can live with its flaws. Otherwise, save a little bit more since doubling your budget will give you better choices.
- Type: Closed-back dynamic headphones
- Connection: Wired
- Driver diameter: 40mm
- Frequency Response: 15 – 20,000 Hz
- Sensitivity: 96 dB
- Impedance: 47 ohms
- Magnet: Neodymium
- Microphone: No
- Control button: No
- Waterproof: No
- Active Noise-cancellation: No
- Voice Coil: Copper-clad aluminum wire
What’s in the Box?
- 1 x ATH M20X headphones
- 1 x User Manual
- 1 x 6.3 mm (1⁄4”) snap-on adapter
Stuff I like
- Decent sound quality
- Affordable price
- Adapter included
Stuff I like less
- Uncomfortable for long hours
- Build quality
Let’s kickstart this review with sound quality which can be summarized in one simple word – CLEAR.
The ATH-M20X provides a neutral sound stage that’s clear enough for a wide variety of music genres.
The 40mm drivers offer a wide frequency response and the closed-back design highlights the listening experience.
While playing my favorite music from Arctic Monkeys, Queen, and a little bit of EDM and K-pop, I can clearly hear the instruments being played.
Unfortunately, it’s not for bass heads since it’s lacking in that area. Sometimes I wish it has more power on the lower end but, it’s still satisfactory nonetheless.
Comfort and Fit
Comfort is not the strongest suit of the ATH-M20X. My ears hurt after an hour of listening since the cups are pressing on my ear too hard.
The headphones have an adjustable headband and it sits on my head comfortably. It’s the earcups that are giving me a problem despite its lightweight build.
I can also tell that the pads are of cheap quality. Yes, they provide enough cushion but it felt like it will wear down within a year of use.
Design and Build Quality
The Audio-Technica ATH-M20X looks like your typical ATH-series headphones. It has a plain black body with the Audio-Technica logo embossed on the side.
The silver adjustable metal band gives the needed contrast in an otherwise boring design. There’s no control wheel or other fancy tech. It’s as straightforward as it gets.
The build quality feels cheap overall which I immediately noticed when I first held the headphones. I wasn’t expecting top-notch quality for the price, but the headphones felt like a toy, so I was disappointed.
Also, the ear cups do not fold flat for easy storage. It’s pretty flexible but it’ll still take up a lot of space when stored in a bag.
I haven’t experienced any problems with these headphones so far even though I’ve dropped them thrice already. Despite the plastic build, it’s holding up really well.
Lastly, I appreciate the long cable and the included adapter. The cable allowed me to move freely while working or playing.
It would’ve been better if the cable was detachable but, again, at this price point I wouldn’t complain that much.
Audio-Technica ATH M20X for Gaming
I played a few games using the Audio-Technica ATH-M20X and for gaming, it’s alright. It works as expected and offers nothing special that my other headphones can’t do.
Footsteps are clear when playing Valorant and it also provided an immersive experience while playing Sniper Elite 5.
However, the sound felt muffled while I was playing Apex Legends. I tried to reconnect and disconnect the headphones hoping that it was just a connection problem but the issue didn’t go away.
Gaming for 30 minutes also felt uncomfortable due to the headphones clamping on my ear tightly. I had to remove it and switch to my IEMs to relieve the pain.
Again, I have no issue when it comes to its sound quality while gaming. It’s decent but the comfort and occasional muffled sounds hamper the overall experience.
Audio Technica ATH M20X for Editing
This is not my area of expertise so I will share with you what my wife had to say. I just want to iterate that her previous headphones are the cheap Mpow EG3.
According to her, editing videos are easier with the Audio-Technica ATH-M20X headphones since the audio is clearer. She can sync the clapper accurately and subtitling isn’t that challenging anymore.
The voices or audio are clear enough that she can hear every word clearly. Her EG3 has a very narrow soundstage hence the M20X is a huge improvement for her.
She also mentioned that she can now balance the audio levels properly since the M20X has a neutral sound.
All in all, these headphones are great for editing, especially for those who are on a tight budget. It has its drawbacks for music, but it’s a great buy for editing.
The Verdict: Is it Still Worth it in 2023?
Eight years after it came out, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20X is still a contender when it comes to headphones under $50.
It offers decent sound for music listening and balanced audio for editing. It may not have the best build quality but just for home use, it’s not that much of a concern.
To answer the question, is the ATH-M20X still worth it?
If you can purchase it for $49 or less, then it’s worth it. But for its original SRP of $69, there are other headphones you might want to look into.
The Samson SR850, Superlux HD 681, and the Philips SHP9500, if on sale, provide better performance at around the same price point.
Overall, I have no regrets about buying the Audio-Technica ATH-M20X since it serves its purpose for my wife – neutral editing headphones that do not break the bank.
Aim is a tech and gaming content writer who loves playing Apex Legends, Valorant, and Dota 2. He also plays casual games such as Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Pokemon titles on his Nintendo Switch too. He also builds gaming computers and does tech troubleshooting on the side.
This post was last updated on 2023-12-02 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.