Austrian Audio Hi-X55 or Hi-X50 headphones: Which is right for you?
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Austrian Audio Hi-X55 or Hi-X50 headphones: Which is right for you?

Microphones are the same as headphones, just backwards. Both have moving diaphragms, but whereas a mic’s diaphragm is moved by the air and generates voltage, a headphone receives voltage and then its diaphragm moves the air – simple!

Well, it’s obviously not quite as simple as that – I wouldn’t recommend strapping two mics to your head during the morning commute, however this transferrable knowledge is the reason that many microphone manufactures also develop headphones. You could also think of it this way; a company that makes exemplary microphones will more than likely make exemplary headphones. Austrian Audio certainly fit that bill.

In the same way as their ground-breaking OC18 and O818 microphones, Austrian Audio tasked themselves with resolving all the typical challenges that building a great pair of headphones means mechanically, ergonomically, and acoustically.

The range consists of two models’ the ON-ear Hi-X50's and the OVER-ear Hi-X55. Both models feature the same custom 44mm high-excursion driver; rugged metal hinges and foldable construction; as well as the same slow-retention memory foam ear pads. They also both look pretty similar. But depending on your use case, selecting the right model could be crucial for you.  

In this blog, we are going to look at both models in the Hi-X range and compare them to one another.

Completely designed, engineered, and manufactured in Austria, both models feature the same internal circuitry and mechanical design, including their drivers. Custom-designed for this new range of headphones, the new 44mm Hi-X (High Excursion) drivers strike the perfect balance between moving enough air and eliminating wobble/unwanted resonances. 

When we asked Austrian Audio why they settled on a 44mm for the driver for both sets of headphones, they told us:

“Bigger is better, but there is a limit to that. A membrane has to move like a piston and closed back design has an impact too. We have built a lot of drivers in the past, so we did not have to go trial and error with the design of the Hi-X driver...”

- proof that practise makes perfect and a small glimpse into the amount of knowledge and expertise that was poured into these headphones.  

So which model is right for you?

Hi-X55 | Closed Back | Over-ear 

Voiced For: Maximum transparency | Mixing, Mastering, Critical Monitoring 

The Over-ear design of the Hi-X55 is one that will appeal to purists as well as those looking for headphones during critical monitoring tasks such as mixing and producing. They encase your full ear for maximum comfort but with increased ear cup-page comes increased size.  

The neutral tuning combined with the unique “wobble-free”, high-excursion driver means that not only is the frequency response flat from 5Hz to 28kHz, but the distortion is kept to a minimum thanks to its considered 44mm diaphragm size - less distortion means more neutrality, and with the Hi-X55, that’s the aim of the game. 

Hi-X50 | Closed Back | On-ear 

Voiced For: Accentuated Low-end | Tracking, DJ, Live Sound 

The On-ear design of the Hi-X50 is one that will appeal to mobile musicians, gigging DJ’s, and live sound engineers - those who need a smaller, lighter, and more portable package. Due to its on-ear design, the ear cups are a bit smaller which saves weight and size during transport.  

The Hi-X50 has been tuned with slightly more emphasis on the low-end to satisfy users in less-than-ideal environments such as on stage, side stage, or at FOH – or users who prefer to enjoy music rather than analyse its tonal balance! 

The Hi-X50's are also 7% lighter than the Hi-X55’s and their on-ear design means that fit securely on the user’s head and ears - perfect for a jumping DJ, or an exuberant head-banging FOH engineer. The Hi-X50's are also great for tracking as the low-end response is a bit more inspiring. 


Hi-X65 | Open Back | Over Ear

Voiced For: High Resolution, Precise Aural Perspective | Pro Mixing, Mastering, Audiophile Listening

Austrian Audio have recently released the Hi-X65 open back, over ear headphones. We’ve added them into the mix to explain how they compare to the Hi-X55 and Hi-X50s.  

Hi-X65s have the same over ear fit as the Hi-X55s – creating a seal over the whole ear for maximum enclosure and comfort. They use premium memory foam ear pads which are comfortable for long listening sessions, even if you wear glasses.

They also use the same 44mm, high excursion driver, but with an open back enclosure. This makes them sound more natural and spacious, enhancing the stereo image and subtle nuances of the music when mixing and mastering at a professional level. They’re also perfect for those who enjoy listening to high fidelity audio in a proper setting.  

As they’re open-back, they rely on an optimised listening environment, as they don’t isolate you from external sounds. If you’re looking for headphones which give you can use outside of these ideal conditions, such as remote mixing or monitoring whilst tracking, you should refer back to the Hi-X55s for a similar level of performance with a closed-back design.

Irrespective of which headphone is for you, the Austrian Audio Hi-X50 and Hi-X55 are modern classics that will be at home in your studio, in your backpack, or on stage. With over 350 years of cumulative engineering experience between all members of the Austrian Audio team, whichever model you put on your head – you will hear what that level of experience sounds like.


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This new blog is presented by the team at Sound Technology Ltd, a leading distributor of musical instruments and pro audio equipment in the UK and ROI.