Headquartered in Singapore, Akai is a consumer electronics brand founded in 1929 in Tokyo, Japan. The name of the company comes from Japanese and means “red,” which is reflected in the color of the company logo. The Akai Professional 50X are exclusive to Amazon, but the company sells several other models with similar specs outside Amazon. What the Amazon exclusive model offers is a refined design coupled with a pair of 50mm dynamic transducers—all for less than $100.
Build and Design
When designing the 50X, Akai wanted to create studio monitor headphones that could be easily packed into a small bag and used on-the-go. This alone has created several design constraints, forcing the company to use only the most durable materials while simultaneously keeping an eye on the weight of the headphones.
The result is an unassuming pair of all-black headphones with red mesh filters. The design is functional and elegantly blends with professional studio equipment. No shiny parts mean no nasty fingerprints, and even if you get a few smudges on the headphones, the included soft carrying case will remove them without you even asking.
Headphones hinges can either be a blessing or a curse. While the ability to fold the headphones flat for easier storage and added portability is neat, the hinges often become the weakest part of the headphones. Akai has reinforced the hinges on the Akai Professional Project 50X headphones, and they really feel tough as a nail.
Long-term comfort when wearing any circumaural headphones, such as the 50X, is a result of sufficient padding and optimal clamping force. The 50X have no problem with the latter, but they do struggle with the former. The earpads are approximately 1” thick, which is, unfortunately, not enough to keep the hard plastic away from your head. It takes about 45 minutes before you start feeling a slight discomfort and another 45 minutes before the fatigue forces you to take the headphones off for a couple of minutes.
The portable nature of the Akai Professional Project 50X requires us to judge the headphones in two different ways: as studio monitors and as portable headphones. For monitoring purposes, the 50X offer astonishingly clear audio reproduction, wide dynamic range, and excellent passive noise isolation. Their sound signature is quite flat, but it does slightly emphasize the lower end, helping you experience the music closer to how the average listener would hear it.
For portable use, the headphones, again, surprise with their noise isolation, rivaling even many in-ear headphones. But it’s the ability to replace the original cable with a shorter one and fold the headphones flat into the included soft carrying case that really sells them.
What’s in the Box?
The headphones come with two sets of 6-foot, detachable cables, a soft carrying pouch, and a 1/8″-to-1/4″ adapter for portable listening.