Audio-Technica ATH-M30 review: Audio-Technica ATH-M30

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MSRP: $99.99

The Good The Audio-Technica ATH-M30 headphones offer good build quality and detailed, natural sound with good bass. They're also very comfortable and a bargain at around $60.

The Bad There's no integrated microphone for making cell phone calls; the extra-long cord makes the headphones less suitable for mobile use; don't fold-up like the ATH-M35; and the cord isn't detachable.

The Bottom Line While they're not in the same league as the step-up ATH-M50 headphones, the Audio-Technica ATH-M30 set costs a lot less and offers impressive performance and decent build quality for the money.

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8.0 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8
  • Value 9

Audio-Technica makes a few popular full-size headphones, including the ATH-M30 reviewed here, that perform very well and offer excellent performance bang for the buck. The ATH-M30, which retails for around $60 online, isn't as ruggedly built as the step up ATH-M50, nor does it sound as good. But hey, it's only $60, and at that price point, you're not going to do much better.

Like the M50, this model has a thick single cord that terminates in a heavy-duty, reinforced plug. The padded earcups swivel on only one axis (the M50 swivels on two), and the headphones don't fold flat for storage. Audio-Technica also makes the ATH-M35, which retails for around the same price. The only difference between the two models is that the ATH-M35 has a hinge that allows you to fold the earcups inward for storage in an included pouch. I prefer a fold-flat design, but many people will appreciate that the ATH-M35 has some sort of collapsible option, making that model the better choice.

As I said, the M30 doesn't feel as sturdy as the M50, and the headband isn't as thick, but they're well-built for their price. They're also quite comfortable and relatively lightweight, weighing in at 7 ounces compared with the M50's 10.1 ounces.

The ATH-M30 headphones have comfortable, nicely padded earcups. Sarah Tew/CNET

Naturally, since these are over-the-ear headphones, with a closed-back design, they will make your ears pretty steamy on warmer days.

Although they don't have the active noise-cancellation feature of the Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise-Canceling Headphones or Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Headphones, they do a pretty good job of passively sealing out the sound from the outside world. No, you don't get the same level of noise reduction, but again, they're only $60 and they're a reasonable alternative for people on a budget who also happen to be sensitive to the slight pressure of active noise cancellation.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M30 headphones are better suited to indoor, stationary listening (they come with a 1/4-inch adapter for plugging into a home receiver). They're technically "monitor" headphones and some people will use them in the studio for making recordings (or perhaps podcasting) or out in the field for video shoots. They also work fine on the go with smartphones/MP3 players and in size are on par with the aforementioned Monster Beats By Dr. Dre headphones (they're slightly smaller, in fact). However, the one big drawback of the headphones for mobile use is the length of the cord. It's 11 feet long and because it's so thick, it becomes a bit unwieldy.

Another thing missing for on-the-go listening is a built-in microphone and in-line remote for making cell phone calls. But like other monitor-style headphones, these cans are more for purists and don't have any extra bells and whistles.

The extra-long cord makes the headphones less desirable for mobile use. Sarah Tew/CNET

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