Audio-Technica ATH-M30 Review

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Audio-Technica ATH-M30 Headphone
Brief: The low price and comfortable form-factor of the Audio-Technica ATH-M30 make them quite competitive as budget portables.

MSRP: $119 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $45 from amazon.com

Build Quality (8/10): Despite the low selling price, the M30 are built like proper studio monitors with a steel headband, sturdy plastic forks, and generous padding. The cable is also fit for a set of studio monitors – the thick 11ft-long single-sided cord terminates in a threaded 3.5mm plug with a steel strain relief. However, the cups are quite flat and theheadphones look unassuming, attracting no more attention when worn outside than the JVC M750 or other true portables. Though neither collapsible nor flat-folding, the ATH-M30 are sturdy enough to toss in a bag and forget about.

Comfort (8/10): While the M30 is a circumaural headphone, the cups are shallow, causing them to bottom out on my ears. Luckily, the padding is very soft all-around and clamping force is low, causing them to be very comfortable for prolonged listening sessions.

Isolation (6.5/10): The ATH-M30 are closed-back circumaurals. They don’t seal particularly well since the cups bottom out on my ears and clamping force is very low but isolation is still more than adequate for outside use.

Sound (6.5/10): The sound of the ATH-M30 is balanced and unaggressive, a very different signature from the Panasonic RP-HTX7 I’ve been using recently. The M30 has a bit of upper-bass emphasis but the bass is not overpowered in the conventional sense. Though the M30s are capable of delivering plenty of impact when prodded, the bass is usually heard more than it is felt. The punch of the bass is soft and controlled, often without a definite moment of impact. The mids are laid back, slightly warm, and very smooth, especially towards the top. Detail is good but the M30 won’t keep up with the Philips SHP5400 or Yuin G2A, mostly because the laid-back signature makes it harder to pick out fine nuances. The treble rolls of at the very top and holds no nasty surprises. In fact, the whole signature is quite neutral and balanced, as good as any closedheadphone I’ve heard in the price range. The soundstage is quite wide but lacks depth, resulting in a somewhat distant sound most of the time. Not a bad thing as it makes them sound less closed than, for example, the RP-HTX7 or HA-S700. Compared to the majority of headphones in this thread the M30s are also quite inefficient, taking about 4/5 of maximum volume from my Sansa Fuze, but at least they do a great job of stifling hiss, even with my home amp.

Value (8/10): I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed using the Audio-Technica ATH-M30 outside. Though not designed to be portable, they are no less suited than the Denon AH-D1001k or JVC HA-M750 as long as the extra cord length is tied up. The build quality and comfort make them a great all-rounder and I have no problems using them at home, either. At the current ~$50 price the M30s come highly recommended as a balanced and neutral all-rounder for those who don’t require an in-your-face presentation to enjoy music.

Manufacturer Specs:
Frequency Response:20-20,000 Hz
Impedance:65 Ω
Sensitivity:100 dB SPL/1mW
Cord:11ft (3.3m), single-sided; Straight Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism:N/A


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

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