Audio-Technica ATH-M20x vs Audio-Technica ATH-M30x

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Audio-Technica is known for producing audio equipment that offers a great value for money. 

The ATH-M20x and ATH-M30x headphones are peas in a pod with some notable differences, mainly price. 

I own the cheaper option, the ATH-M20x and while I’m happy with it, it has a weakness. The ear pads being the main fault. 


Let’s have a look at what makes both models stand out and then decide which you’d prefer.

Overall Value

The aspect that marks both headphones out is that they both offer you great value for money. The M30x is a little bit more expensive but that’s due to it being a later model. 

The M30x has a higher build quality and the ear cups seem to hold up better. 

Who’s the winner?
Price: M20x
Comfort: Draw

I also went ahead and charted the frequency response of three similar models of ATH headphones using this awesome site called reference audio analyzer. As you can see, all three models are extremely similar in these ranges. And even if they weren’t a higher frequency response doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better quality or sounds better. 

Where else are they the same?

They use a compression fit and many of the same materials. ATH is known for their build quality and that’s why these have been best sellers for so long. 

Both have an identical cable of 3 meters which is more than long enough for most users. Their sound quality performance is very similar but there are a few differences. 

Who’s the winner?
Adjustability: Draw
Build quality: Draw

Sound quality

Both headphones offer a good level of sound quality. With the M30x you do get a slightly more powerful frequency range of 15-22k Hz when compared to the M20x where you get a range of 15-20k Hz. We gave you a visual chart above with this. 

There is also a difference in power handling with 700 mW on the M20x compared to the 1300 mW on the M30x.

An area where both headphones don’t excel is in isolation. They are quite average in isolating the sound but this is to be expected with headphones at this price point. It’s definitely not the worst out there but it’s an important point to consider. 

Where both do excel is in the bass as this is punchy and offers great depth. You’ll love being able to listen to the rich depths of sound with bass-heavy music. The mid accuracy is also good but both can be a little lacking in the treble.

Who’s the winner?
Frequency range: M30x
Power handling: M30x
Isolation: None
Bass, Mid & Treble: Draw

How easy are they to use?

One specification where the M20x does beat the M30x is in the weight. At 190g, the M20x is a little bit lighter than the 220g you see with the later model. You’ll only feel a minimal difference when they are on your head and therefore that’s not a huge issue.

Perhaps the standout feature of the M30x is the fact they can be folded which the other model cannot be. This makes them a lot more portable for those who travel frequently with their headphones. The importance of this will depend on your needs. 

If you’re looking for the highest levels of connectivity then you won’t find that here. Neither model has audio controls on them or Bluetooth connectivity. With the long audio cable they both have, that’s not going to be seen as much of an issue.

Who’s the winner?
Weight: M20x
Storage: M30x
Connectivity: None

Which model is better?

Both of them are great headphones and are very similar. We hope that this guide started to drive home one point, and that’s they’re pretty similar overall. In fact, the most noticeble difference is portability. The M30x folds, and that can be a great feature.

I often find my M20’s cord and earphones getting in the way. Although I should just buy a headphone stand. 

I hope this guide helped you make a sound decision!

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Hey everyone 🙂 My name is Conor. I'm passionate about technology, zen, and improving the quality of life so many of us share at a desk!

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