As an audiophile who lives on the "good sound doesn't have to be expensive" side of the world, I'm writing this quick post.
After hours of research into my first foray into the speaker world, I couldn't help but ignore the incredibly positive reviews of the M-Audio AV40 as what seemed to be a pair of excellent nearfield monitors. Furthermore, ixtlabs had some RMAA measurements that indicated that the AV40 is reasonably flat (within 2.1dB on average) between 100hz-20000hz. I picked up a pair yesterday, and plugged them into my EMU 0404.
What astounded me is how reminiscent they are of my DT880 and SRH440; what I would consider to be my 2 flattest / neutralish headphones both subjectively, and based on measurements. Indeed, the AV40 sounds remarkably similar to these 2 excellent headphones, and is consistent with what defines a "reference monitor".
The only downside I can see with the AV40 is the bass region. Set up properly, the bass of the AV40 is indeed very tight and rolls off sharply below 85hz unlike the DT880 / SRH440. But this region seems to apply mostly to electronic bass rumbles and explosions - most bass guitar that I've been hearing sounds great.
Anyone considering the AV40 should give them a try. At less than $200 I would consider them a steal considering this subjective comparison to the DT880 / SRH440.
A good analogy - what Grado SR60 is to headphones, AV40 is to speakers. For a small fraction of the price of more "high-end" models, you can enjoy great sound at an outstanding price.
Edited by Catharsis - 11/28/10 at 2:10pm