March 27, 2017

Professional-grade monitor headphones are engineered to produce flat sounds. In fact, they are used as reference headphones in order to judge the sound quality of other headphones and earphones. Today, we have, two audio delivering companies who aim to do just that, but on a budget.

The ATH-M20X from the Japanese corporation Audio-Technica, designs and manufactures professional microphones, headphones, phonographic magnetic cartridges, and other audio equipment. The other one being K52 from AKG,  an Austrian manufacturer of microphones, headphones, wireless audio systems and related accessories for professional and consumer markets. Both these earphones are highly acclaimed among music enthusiasts for their detailed audio.
 
CUTTING THE LONG STORY SHORT

"Both the headphones are over ears and are great entry level studio monitoring. You might want to consider an upgrade if an in-line Remote+Mic is your priority.

Both of them are high in impedance, but if you don't aim to invest in an amp then AKG-K52 should be your pick. "

-Raghav Somani

Audio-Technica ATH-M20X


Headphone-Zone-audio-technica-ath-m20x
FROM THE HIGHLY-ACCLAIMED M-SERIES

AKG-K52

Headphone-Zone-akg-k52
PERFECT COMBINATION OF GREAT AUDIO AND COMFORT

 


DESIGN: Audio-Technica ATH-M20X vs AKG-K52

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Headphone-Zone-akg-k52-Product

The ATH-M20X is an upgrade to the ATH-M20 and thus sports a slightly upgraded design as well. The black ATH-M20X is mostly made of plastic and has oval shaped earcups unlike its predecessor, the ATH-M20, which had a distinctly round shape.The M20X has all that can grab the attention of budding audio enthusiasts in a budget. 

On the design end, the ATh-M20X features a stern design true to its aspects and does not aim on turning any heads. We couldn't help but love the placement of Audio-Technica's logos on each Ear-Cups though. A rather large Audio-Technica logo runs along the headband which is quite off-putting.

The rexine cushions on the earcups are soft and cover the ears completely. Even the flexible headband has the same rexine material. Making them wearable on hours to go.

FOLDABLE ON-EAR DESIGN VS COMFORTABLE OVER-EAR DESIGN?

AKG is a well-known brand in the audio circle owned by Harman Kardon, now owned by Samsung. Although AKG is predominantly known for its premium offerings,the company does not shy away from the more affordable end of the market.

The AKG K52 headphones have been designed with comfort in mind, with an around-ear fit that completely surrounds your ears. Additionally, the headphones also feature a self-adjusting fitting mechanism which ensures an ideal fit and holds the headset firmly but comfortably in place.

Unlike most headphones which come with a hard strap, AKG K52 has a much better-designed head strap made of unique malleable leatherette strap that easily conforms to the shape of the head while securing the headphones well.


USABILITY: Audio-Technica ATH-M20X vs AKG-K52

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We need to considering that the ATH-M20X is being sold as professional monitor headphones and hence have a high impedance rating. While such high impedance rating can help increase clarity, it is not easily derivable with low-end devices like your smartphones and ipods. Thus, you will be needing a suitable Amp to power it in full capacity.

Their are two cables which are bundled with the headphones. One of which is t
he 3 m long cable which has a thick outer covering for the copper-clad aluminium wire, making it quite sturdy. The other one is the 3.5 mm gold-plated audio jack. Audio-Technica also bundles a 6.3 mm adapter which snaps on to the 3.5 mm jack making the  ATH-M20X work with a wide range of audio equipments.

RELATIVELY TANGLE FREE VS AN OVERLONG CORD OPTION? 

The AGK-K52 has an impedance lower than the ATH-M20X and hence is easily derivable with smartphones and other low-end devices. Although, this doesn't deter it from making them good at studio-monitoring.  

The AKG also comes along with a 2.5 m cable that ends in a 3.5 mm plug and can be changed into a 6.3 mm adapter, so that you are not restricted to using the headphones with your laptop or smartphones only.

When talked about warranty, Audio-Technica ATH-M20X comes with a 1-year warranty whereas AKG-K52  is enveloped with a 2-year warranty.


SOUND: Audio-Technica ATH-M20X vs AKG-K52

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Headphone-Zone-akg-k52-Product

When it comes to the sound, the ATH-M20X sounds very soft and muffled when not used with an Amp or any other high-end device. Amp it up and you will immediately notice a stark difference.

Considering that they are made with studio monitoring in mind, ATH-M20X is not meant for folks who like drama in their sound definition. In fact, it produces a flat sound with absolutely no distortion. When used perfectly, the headphones get really loud and produce crystal clear sounds. They are also able to handle bass and treble perfectly.

The sound staging is good but not great. We've noticed that this is the case with other low-end professional-grade studio headphones as well. Owing to the fit, the passive noise isolation is enough to suppress most ambient sounds with ease.

FLAT, DISTORTION FREE AUDIO VS A LARGE SOUND STAGE

When it comes to sound, the presentation and sonic signature of the AKG-K52 is extremely open and clean, offering an excellent sense of space and a wide soundstage. Imaging is fantastic as well, with the headphones managing to separate and position various elements accurately within the virtual soundstage. The headphones are also incredibly loud and manage to maintain the same level of detail at varying volumes without sounding too muddled or confusing.

The headphones are so evenly balanced that you could listen to them for hours without ever getting tired. There are no bright edges or booming bass-lines either.

 


Summary


Audio-Technica ATH-M20X

  • Will Need an Amp or High-End devices
  • 1 Year Warranty
  • No Mic & Remote
  • 1.2 mm Long Cord Cable
  • Good Sound-Stage but not very impressive
AKG-K52

  • Easily Driveable
  • 2 Year Warranty
  • No Remote & Mic
  • 3 mm Long Cord Cable
  • Airy Sound-Stage giving an Open-Back like feel


Conclusion


If you are a budding DJ and need something to start with your studio monitoring, then the ATH-M20X is the best entry-level model you can get hands on. There is no Mic and Remote in both the models and you might want to consider an upgrade if that's your utmost priority. 

If you are an Open-Back guy and love airy soundstages, then K52 does just that in your budget. What might also impress you is the warranty, which is 1 year in the case of Audio-Technica, whereas 2 for AKG.

 if you like this article you may also like:

 What is going to be your pick? Let us know in the comments section below.

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