Austrian Audio Hi-X50 Review

Austrian Audio Hi-X50 Review

At the beginning of the year, Austrian Audio celebrated the resurrection of Viennese headphone production with the Hi-X55. The impressive debut is now followed by a slightly smaller supra-aural model – at an even more attractive price. Nevertheless, like its big brother, the Hi-X50 is handcrafted in Vienna.

The Austrian Audio Hi-X50 is difficult to distinguish from the Hi-X55 in photos. The gray and black design is identical. Only the ear cups are a good deal smaller because they are not designed around the ears but rather supra-aural. This also has sonic consequences because the coupling to the ear is of crucial importance. Both models have in common: they work according to the closed principle, i.e., they emit only a little sound to the outside.

PROS:

  • Light and comfortable
  • Remarkable 5 Hz to 28 kHz frequency response
  • Replaceable cable

CONS:

  • Slight “bumps” around 500 Hz and 1.2 kHz

The Hi-X50 is delivered in a neat but not exaggeratedly styled box with interior padding. A transport bag made of black cloth is included in the scope of delivery. The straight headphone cable, 3 meters long, is detachable and is connected to the left ear cup using a lockable mini-jack connector. At the other end of the cable, there is a 3.5 mini jack plug and adapter to 6.3 mm jack.

The headphones themselves exude professional understatement. Instead of bling-bling, there is a solid manufacturing quality here. The gray components, including the headband and fork mounts, are made of metal. The black, less mechanically required components are made of plastic. The cushions on the shells and headband are made of soft foam material with shape memory (“memory foam”), which distributes the contact pressure evenly. The ear cups are rotatably mounted; they can be flattened or folded in for transport. Despite its solid construction, the Hi-X50 only weighs 285 g (excluding the cable).

The Hi-X50 uses the same high-efficiency 44mm, drivers, like its big brother, the Hi-X55. Presumably, they were tuned a little differently to take into account the supra-aural construction. While the memory foam forms a ring around the ear on the Hi-X55, it covers the entire inside of the ear cup on the Hi-X50. Likewise, the artificial leather cover of the ear cushions forms a ring, while an acoustically permeable fabric covers the inner oval above the drivers.

Practice

For supra-aural headphones, the comfort of the Austrian Audio Hi-X50 is amazing. While you still feel a little pressure when you put it on, it is evenly distributed in a short time so that you can carry the Hi-X50 effortlessly over a long period. Since the ears are not enclosed, the risk of heat build-up is low. The receiver automatically adapts to the individual head shape and thus ensures optimal acoustic coupling to the hearing.

In terms of sound, there is a strong family resemblance to the circumaural Hi-X55. Unfortunately, I did not have the latter available for a direct comparison, so I have to rely on my memory. Nevertheless, it seems to me that there are differences, mainly in the bass. I find the bass reproduction of the supra-aural Hi-X50 to be almost linear; the bass is less powerful than the Hi-X55. Nevertheless, the bass transmission is very deep.

Closed headphones rarely achieve such an effortless, airy, and even sound as open models. But the Austrian Audio Hi-X50 is pretty close! The mids are displayed quite neutrally and appear a bit fuller than in the sister model Hi-X55. The notorious tendency for “potty” mid-range resonances, which is notorious for closed models, is hardly noticeable in the Hi-X50. As I already noticed with the Hi-X55, the high mids are displayed a bit restrained and “good-natured.” This is pleasant but not necessarily effective if you detect sharp sibilants that may already be painful on other playback systems. The largely linear elevation display, which appears remarkably “open” for a closed model, scores points. The airband is also well lit.

Since the drivers of the Hi-X50 are identical to those of the Hi-X55, the technical data are also the same. The sound transducers based on the dynamic moving coil principle are highly efficient with a sensitivity of 118 dB-SPL / V. Their impedance is only 25 ohms. Such low-impedance drivers achieve more than sufficient volume at practically every headphone output. However, a disadvantage of the low impedance is that optimal electrical attenuation is not given at every headphone output. For this purpose, its output impedance should be at least eight times lower than the headphone impedance, i.e., in the present case, about 3 ohms. Many headphone outputs are more like ten times; my Drawmer MC 2.1 monitor controller even reaches over 100 ohms. A lack of electrical damping does not destroy the sound of the Hi-X50; basically, it sounds good even on the Drawmer MC 2.1. But you can hear that it plays more lively, airy, and balanced on very low-impedance headphone outputs. The Hi-X50 harmonizes perfectly with MacBooks and iPads, among others. Most mobile devices from other manufacturers also often have very low-resistance outputs.

As supra-aural headphones, the Hi-X50 has its strengths above all in monitoring. Its sound insulation is surprisingly high, although not quite as extreme as the legendary Sennheiser HD25, the frequency representation of the Hi-X50 is much more linear. This recommends the Hi-X50 for sound assessment in noisy environments, for example, when it comes to microphone positioning in the recording room. The Hi-X50 also cuts a fine figure for detecting interference; in this regard, I found it more suitable than the circumaural Hi-X55.

The Hi-X50 is also ideally suited for monitoring musicians and especially singers. This is because the ears on the ears can be easily moved, which singers like to do to hear their voice through headphones and acoustically. In this way, intonation problems often dissolve with pleasure.

Conclusion

With the Austrian Audio Hi-X50, Austrian Audio has succeeded in creating excellent supra-aural headphones. The frequency representation is extraordinarily balanced for a closed model – except for the somewhat restrained upper mid-range. As a result, the sound is pleasant and, together with the high level of wearing comfort, contributes to the fact that you can work with the Hi-X50 for a long time without getting tired. The Hi-X50 is particularly recommended for singers because your voice looks quite natural in these headphones, and the shells can be moved as required to completely or partially free an ear opening.

The Hi-X50 is not a mixing headphone, but it is by no means unsuitable for such applications. With a little listening experience, it can also be used for a critical sound assessment, especially since its highly efficient drivers work pleasantly with little distortion and cleanly resolve transients, given the very good sound performance and the high manufacturing quality “Made in Austria.”

Austrian Audio Hi-X50 Review
Austrian Audio Hi-X50 Review
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