Aural

Audio Technica ATH 50 Bluetooth Monitor Headphones

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Bluetooth headphones that fold up to the size of a softball

I’ve been a photojournalist and audio field recorder, on the road, since the early 80s. I currently use the superb Sony PCM-100 for everything that does not require specialized external microphones. These audio recordings are treated as “musique concert” or “found sounds,” assembled and processed into compositions for museum installations and video works.

In order to go really compact, I’ve been using a pair of high-end custom-fitted earbuds for several years. The nature of how I record is very much like street photography: I’ll hear an owl or an ambulance and want to get those earbuds on quickly. But getting the earbuds in place became too cumbersome so I’ve changed back to over-ear headphones, which deploy more rapidly and isolate the listening more effectively. That’s a personal choice. Airpods would work for some people. For the record, my recorder does not have Bluetooth, so I’m using the headphones cabled to record, but wireless for mixing and general listening.

The new Audio Technica ATH 50 Bluetooth monitor headphones are super comfortable, pair immediately with my iPhone or Macbook Pro via Bluetooth, and work equally well for airplane listening. Bluetooth offers a smart and highly functional upgrade to an industry standard. In wired mode power is not required. They also fold up to the size of a softball, which is important when saving space.

The ATH 50 BT comes in at a very approachable price point. I can’t speak too much to comparable models or the cheaper variations — there are literally hundreds of possibilities. “If it sounds good it is good” as Duke Ellington famously said. These sound great — all at a price that encourages recording in any conditions.

-- Charles Lindsay 06/10/20