The M40x’s big brother, the M50/x, has been reviewed in many a place on the internet. Information, reviews, etc. are scarce about the M40/x. I hope this post will help remedy this dearth of information.
I opted for the M40x over the M50x because I wanted a quality headphone with a more neutral balance. The lower price ($99 vs. $169) helped me easily rationalize purchasing the M40x. The M50x’s price is out of impulse buy territory for me.
First, as bias is in any review/description here are mine. I listen to many different genres, preferring, in no particular order, classical, JPop, jazz, classic rock, and electronic music. It is rare that I like a tune in the rap, hip-hop, R&B, death metal, or country genres.
All tunes were listened to on an iPhone 5 using Apple Lossless format. I tested some tunes on an iMac. Monitoring was done using a Yamaha THR and a Fender Blacktop Strat. Music I listened to for reviewing the M40x:
Defune Yo-Yo Ma
Nebula Tripshots featuring Miku Hatsune
Over the Mountatin Ozzy featuring Randy Rhoads
Stranglehold Ted Nugent
Pie Jesus Katherine Jenkins
Flamenco Sketches Miles Davis
Singin’ in the Rain Mint Royale
Yachyo No Kaze Rin’
1812 Overture Tchaikovsky
Overture (Metal Gear Solid 4) Henry Gregson-Williams
Princess Mononoke Theme Song (Inst) Joe Hisaihi
Always with Me Joe Hisaishi
Achille’s Last Stand Led Zeppelin (Mothership Re-mastered)
Flavor of Life Utada Hikaru
1 Mm Perfume
Dream Fighter Perfume
Milk & Honey Immi
Let’s Twist Again Chubby Checker
Clap Your Hands Sia
Called Out in the Dark Snow Patrol
I Can’t Give You Anything But Love Sophie Milman
Sussudio Phil Collins
En Aranjuez con Tu Amor Andrea Bocelli
Soft pouch, one straight cable and one coiled cable. The box the headphones came in was rather Spartan, but served its purpose.
This is a work in progress. At first the clamping force was quite painful. Now, after about 50 hours of use, the headphones are fairly tolerable on the ears for wearing one hour at a time. I wear glasses. FWIW, my head is shaped somewhat like Bert’s from Sesame Street, a skinny, tall head. All in all, not an impressive showing.
Out of the box, the phones sounded to have a somewhat v-shape, but this has smoothed out significantly with use. The M40x lacks that pseudo-reverb that some headphones have. Both treble and bass have impressive extension. The bass is detailed and tight with impact. The mids are rich and detailed. The treble is smooth and detailed. Notice a pattern? The treble brings out the silibance in some recordings (Sophie Milman), but is never harsh. Instrument timbre is exceptional, far superior to my other headphones. Woodwinds are a revelation. I never paid much attention to woodwinds until I listened to them with the M40x. Synths are stunning. Cue up Mint Royale’s Singin’ in the Rain and enjoy of the rush of the VCF slowly open from 0:38 on or Tripshot/Miku’s Nebula at about 0:45. The synth bass in Sussudio is wet and resonant. Percussion is amazing, literally amazing. Bells, bass drums, and everything in between are reproduced so well. Bowed strings are quite enjoyable. Plucked strings are wonderful. Electric guitar is merely good. All the details are there, but compared to the M40x’s abilities with other instruments, guitars do not stand out. Bass guitar comes out exceptionally well. Vocals are quite strong, especially for mezzo-sopranos (Katherine Jenkins) through tenors (Andrea Bocelli). Be warned, the M40x will expose less than impressive vocalists and recordings. The M40x can handle complex music passages without breaking a sweat. For monitoring purposes, the phones do the job and can take a fair amount of push without issue. I would never do a mixdown with any headphones, so I won’t comment on the M40x for mixing.
Compared to the similar-priced Sony 7506, with the M40x, the Sonys have more than met their match as monitors and also as headphones for using with a mobile device. The 40xs are far, far superior to the 7506s sonically. The M40xs are better than my beloved V-Moda M80s sonically. The M80s have a fun soundprint, but do not come close to the detail, range, and ability to handle complex musical passages the M40x is capable of. If you like vocals, classical, jazz, and electronic music, I think you will have a very, very hard time finding an equal or better sonically performing pair of headphones in the $100 price range. That said, the M40x is not a comfortable headphone until you wear them for about 50 hours. In my opinion, it is worth the pain. I plan on buying a second pair.