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Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet review: A superb headset for streamers and home workers

Our Rating :
$169.00 from
£199.00 from
Price when reviewed : £199
inc VAT

You don't have to be a streamer to appreciate the audio and microphone quality the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet offers


  • Excellent mic quality
  • Audio quality is impressive, too
  • Professional, understated design


  • Fit will be too snug for some
  • Limited control options
  • Quite pricey

The ATH-M50xSTS streaming headset is the latest entry into a series that has brought Audio-Technica a great deal of success over the past decade.

The original ATH-M50x headphones launched in 2014 and have since seen a number of iterations, including not one but two Bluetooth models: the ATH-M50xBT and ATH-M50xBT2. The series is so popular that public votes were held to decide the colours of limited edition models for 2022 and 2023, with Deep Sea and Ice Blue coming out on top.

It’s no wonder, then, that the Japanese manufacturer is seeking to capitalise on the growing number of streamers and content creators by producing a version of the M50x with an external microphone. The mic works extremely well and, alongside the inherent strengths of the M50x package, makes the headset a great choice not just for streamers but for those working from home in more traditional occupations, too.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet review: What do you get for the money?

There are two variants of the M50xSTS. The digital version reviewed here costs £199 and its 2m non-removable cable terminates in a USB-A connector, with a USB-A to USB-C adapter also included in the box. The analogue version, meanwhile, is cheaper at £169 and offers a choice of 3.5mm or 1/4in headphone inputs and an XLR mic output.

In comparison, the standard ATH-M50x wired headphones have a list price of £145 but are currently available for £129, while the wireless Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 can be picked up for £170 in either black or Deep Sea colourways. The former are purely for audio listening unless you have the ATGM2 detachable gaming boom mic (£70), while the latter use dual beamforming mics to capture your voice and isolate it from external sound.

There are a couple of other differences between the digital and analogue versions of the Audio-Technica M50xSTS. Most notable is the incorporation of monitor circuitry in the USB model, which enables you to hear your own voice through the headset. You can turn the monitor on or off by pushing in a small dial on the outside of the left earcup and adjusting the monitor volume by nudging the dial up or down. That’s it in terms of earcup controls: there’s no need for a power button as the M50xSTS is powered via USB and Audio-Technica has chosen to omit any form of volume controls. As this is a headset primarily designed for streaming, there’s no Teams or Zoom certification and you won’t find a button for answering calls, either.

Otherwise, this is the M50x many of you will already know and love with a cardioid condenser microphone attached to it. The earcups house 45mm dynamic drivers with a stated frequency response of 15Hz to 28KHz, while the mic is based on Audio-Technica’s wired 20-Series studio microphones and sits at the end of a boom arm. The arm can be flipped up to mute the headset and has a flexible section that allows you to move the mic closer to or further away from your mouth as required.

Two different pairs of earpads are included: the pre-installed pads are lined with a breathable mesh and designed to deliver a more comfortable wearing experience, while the other pair is lined with synthetic leather that isn’t as permeable and isolates sound slightly more effectively. Audio-Technica sells replacement leatherette pads separately for around £10 but these were out of stock at the time of writing.

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Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS StreamSet review: What did we like about it?

The M50xSTS is a well-made headset. It’s primarily constructed from black plastic and, while this means it doesn’t feel particularly luxurious, the aesthetic is understated and suitable for professional use. The headset is unlikely to appeal to video game streamers looking for something eye-catching but you’ll certainly be taken seriously when wearing it.

There’s plenty of give in the headband, which is lined with a thin layer of padding that distributes weight well enough to avoid creating any uncomfortable pressure points on the dome of your skull. The hinges, hangers and joints are all very secure, which is encouraging from a durability point of view, and the headband slider can be adjusted very easily. Handily, the earcups can be folded into the inner side of the headband for easier transportation: sadly there’s no carrying pouch included, although you can buy one for £7.50 if necessary.

The headset weighs around 300g without the connection cable and never felt unwieldy to wear during testing. The inclusion of two pairs of earpads is a nice touch and the mesh option proved comfortable when wearing the headset for extended periods. I wasn’t as keen on the leatherette option, however, and will discuss this in greater detail below.

The star of the show is the microphone. It’s engaged by flipping the boom arm down and muted by flipping it back up again – a far simpler and smoother process than having to locate a mute button on the earcups. As mentioned above, the arm can be adjusted freely with minimal fuss.

As far as microphone quality is concerned, the M50xSTS scores very highly. “Crystal clear” was the description used by a number of my colleagues when asked how I sounded on calls, and my voice was successfully isolated from background noises such as a vacuum cleaner, washing machine, planes flying by and a lawnmower.

Recording quality proved extremely impressive, with the headset reproducing my voice in a warm, well-rounded manner that was significantly clearer than recordings made using my iPhone’s microphone. Compared to various gaming headsets I had lying around the house, including the Razer Kaira Pro and HyperX Cloud Orbit S, the M50xSTS did a better job isolating my voice and my speech was a lot crisper.

The monitoring functionality worked well, too, and is a welcome addition that gives you a clear idea of how you’re sounding to your thousands of viewers or, in my case, the 20-strong Expert Reviews editorial team.

Sound quality is the M50xSTS’s other big strength. The USB model supports up to 24-bit/96KHz audio and music sounded great when streaming tracks via Tidal and Spotify. Audio-Technica describes the M50x as “professional monitor headphones” and, while the M50xSTS’s sound isn’t entirely neutral, it’s well balanced and has a pleasingly wide soundstage.

I picked up on a little bit of boosting towards the low and upper ends of the frequency spectrum but nothing untoward and certainly not to the extent that mid-range reproduction suffered. The high-pitched vocals on Loreen’s Eurovision banger “Euphoria” were delivered with startling clarity and the dynamic shifts between verse and chorus were handled very capably.

The infectious, toe-tapping bassline on Gustaph’s “Because of You” had real bounce and energy but didn’t detract from the more melodic elements of the tune, while relentless rollers such as High Contrast’s “The Basement Track” had plenty of low-end impact. The breadth of the soundstage allowed for clear instrument separation and the M50xSTS was able to hit high volume levels without a hint of distortion.

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Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS review: What could be better?

While I applaud the inclusion of two sets of earpads, I found the leatherette-lined pair a lot less comfortable than the mesh fabric pair. The pads felt slightly too snug around my ears and pinched them a little, which meant I found myself regularly adjusting the headset to relieve pressure.

The less spacious fit also meant my ears got hot quickly, which is far from ideal during lengthy streaming sessions. I don’t have particularly large ears, so this is likely to be something that affects others, too, which is a shame as the leatherette pads definitely dampen external distractions more effectively than their mesh counterparts.

One could also grumble about how fiddly changing the pads is but the process does become a lot quicker once you’ve got the hang of it. Still, it’s not something you’re going to want to do mid-stream or during a meeting.

My only other real criticism is the lack of volume control. This isn’t a huge deal as most of the time you’re going to be within easy reach of the controls on your computer, but I’d have liked to have seen a dial incorporated into one of the earcups or a small remote built into the cable. A bag or pouch for storage and transportation would have been nice, too, but as mentioned above, you can pick one of these up pretty cheaply.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS review: Should you buy it?

The number of bedroom content creators and streamers is rising rapidly and the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xSTS caters to that growing market extremely well. Crucially, the microphone is excellent. It’s a level above the mics you’ll find on most gaming headsets and the quality of the sound delivered by the headset is both detailed and well balanced.

It looks the part, too, and the fact it’s wired means you’ll never have to worry about your stream being cut short because its battery has run flat. The wireless ATH-M50xBT2 is a better choice if you want greater freedom and flexibility and has built-in mics of its own, but these are unlikely to reproduce your voice as effectively as the ATH-M50xSTS’ dedicated boom microphone.

The £199 price tag makes the ATH-M50xSTS a serious investment, but it feels durable and the option to buy replacement earpads means it should last you a number of years. That’s more than enough time to become an internet sensation, although the M50xSTS will serve you equally well if your working-from-home routine simply involves the use of Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet.

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