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Sennheiser M@H40

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Well I just got my Sennheiser M@H40 (the new version of the classic HD-40), and I've got to say that I don't really recommend them. Despite their "low impedance, easy to drive" claim, I find them extremely hard to drive! Portable audio devices simply don't have enough "oomph" to get them really going, and get any solidiy in the low end. Even my Total Airhead has trouble driving them. These lil' 'phones need a kick in the ass!

The headphone output of my Pioneer receiver begins to distort at an only moderately high level. And this receiver can drive high impedance 'phones such as the HD-580, HD-600, K-240M, and DT-990 pro with ease.

On a whim, I hooked them to the speaker output on an old amplifier. Now we're talkin'! But who the hell is going to do this? They CAN be driven by headphone amps in quality pro audio gear, such as the Mackie 1604vlz, or Yamaha MD-8. But so what? That makes no difference if I just want to listen to some music! A headphone this lightweight should have some ability to interface with portable gear (imho). Otherwise, why make headphones small and lightweight?

Driven properly the M@H 40 still has the same remarkable midrange and treble transparency, and lack of coloration as the original HD-40. But despite Sennheiser's claims, this IS NOT an easy to drive headphone. And it certainly isn't a good choice for mating with a computer's sound card (which it is marketed to do!). Neither sound card on either of my computers can drive it without some help!

Too bad. I really looked forward to these! I suppose my 7506s will remain my favorites in the under 100 US dolallar category!
post #2 of 19
Heck, I'm sorry to hear that, Mike. Mine are supposed to arrive today..... I too had high hopes!
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

Tell us what you think, Rick

I find the bass really M.I.A. without a real "kick in the ass" from the amplifier, something that portable electronics, even dedicated portable amplifiers can't provide. But when hooked up to my Yamaha MD-8 (connected to the output of my computer's sound card, and using Cool Edit 2000 as a tone generator), I get good, solid bass to the mid 30s, and still audible (without doubling) bass to 25hz or so. Not shabby at all for a lightweight, open aire design. But the requirement for "horsepower" to get 'em going makes these far less useful for general listening than I had hoped. Dammit!
post #4 of 19
Mike, is it possible that you received a defective pair? I'm now listenting straight out of my Sony MZ-900 Mini Disc player (at less then half volume) and the bottom end is blowing me away......
post #5 of 19

Is it a case of extension being missing or a case of solidity/firmness of the bass? My experience with the HD600 has been that the bass is really sloppy/loose with portables and that it tightens up with more power. The extension gets a little deeper too but it's most noticably the tightness that changes. Which is it with the M@40?
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

What I'm talking about

Kelly you're right. What I'm talking about that's missing is what Grado fans love to call "impact"...low end IMPACT is missing unless I drive them from the speaker terminals of one of my amplifiers!

As for Rick's question, I was so excited about a low-impedance "easy to drive" HD-40 that I bought two pair(s) of them. Both are identical. I do not have the Sony md portable you use, so I can't compare WITH THAT. It's entirely possible Rick that I just need more power "down there" (bass impact) than you do to be satisfied. This I get from the Sony 7506, Koss KSC-35/Sporta Pro, Sennheiser HD-580 (when properly driven), Grado Sr-80, Beyerdynamic DT-990 pro, but NOT from the M@H 40.

I would still use these for on-air use. My voice sounds great (and VERY natural) through them. But I also wanted to use them with my portables (Aiwa AM-F70 minidisc, Aiwa XP-R100 cd, Sony D-5 cd, Grundig eTraveller VII am/fm/shortwave, Archos Jukebox recorder 10 mp3, RaveMP 2100 mp3, etc.) The two (much larger) portables I own which can satisfactorily drive the M@H 40 are the Grundig Yacht Boy 400 am/fm stereo/shortwave and Sangean CC-Radio Plus am/fm stereo/weatherband/tv band. But these are large portables using many batteries...units which I primarily use on the sofa, not "on the go". By the way, connisseurs of fine portable audio will notice that I have excellent taste
post #7 of 19
Mike Walker: You do, indeed, have fine taste. I think I'll be picking up some of these Senns for portable use with my amp...it's small enough....and.......hehhe.....I don't mind a little missing bass impact portably.
post #8 of 19
is the m@h40 the same as the m@b40 without the boom mic (i'm pretty sure it is)? 'cos i've had the m@b40 for a long time, and i always thought they sounded like junk. better than your average junky can, but still junk.
post #9 of 19

post #10 of 19
Originally posted by skippy
is the m@h40 the same as the m@b40 without the boom mic (i'm pretty sure it is)? 'cos i've had the m@b40 for a long time, and i always thought they sounded like junk. better than your average junky can, but still junk.
Yeah, Skippy, the m@b40 is a computer headset version of the m@h40. I started looking at them when Mike mentioned them in another thread. Senns website has details on them.
post #11 of 19
i had no idea that they were supposed to be a new version of the hd-40. i bought them about 1-2 years ago, because they were only about $15 (since i bought them they've been lying in my drawer of cheap phones i use for testing homemade amps... wouldn't want to blow up nice cans). i'll have to agree with mike that it's not recommended.

i'll try to dig them out and try them on a power amp if i can get off my lazy ass.
post #12 of 19
Hmm, that's interesting Mike. Are you sure the old HD40s had the impact that you expected from the new ones? My old pair have a very neutral, impact-less bass. They remind me of the descriptions I've read of the AKG-501s, with a clear midrange and transparent treble as you mentioned.
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 

A good question, Serow!

Well Serow, as much as we discuss things here as if they were absolute, your question is a good one. And I've considered it myself. The truth is that human hearing is notoriously unreliable. And our preceptions of what sounds right to us are a moving target...they change with time. I used to adore the sound of the AKG K-240M. I used them on-air for years. Now I simply can't stand them (although the K-240M's sound was changed somewhat with modifications made to the product in the mid 90s. Still, it wasn't a major change...not enough to explain my changing perception of it).

I remember the HD-40 (high impedance, again never had the low impedance version) as having a very neutral, "hear-through" midrange and treble, and surprisingly extended bass for such a lightweight design, particularly in comparison to previous light-weight Sennheisers such as the ORIGINAL open-aire 'phone, the HD-414, and later models such as the (mid-late 70s) HD-400. In the late 70s I was a big fan of the HD-400 because, as I recall, the tonal balance was nearly identical to my (then favorite) DCM "Time Window" speakers. It was nice not to have to adjust to a completely different type of sound when switching from speakers to 'phones.

Blah, blah blah! To answer your question, Serow, I'm NOT infallable! My hearing, perception, and memory are merely mortal. I HAVE in the past returned to once-favorite audio products only to find that they didn't sound at all as I remembered them. So of course it's possible that the M@H-40 sounds IDENTICAL to my older HD-40s, and I just don't f@@@in' remember! Alright guys, who else here will 'fess up to having limitations on their long-term aural memory? Admit it or not, it's true of each and every one of us! "Our ears are not laboratory instruments". Who said that? Oh, I DID! On many occasions
post #14 of 19
If only we compared headphones and speakers to real life instead of to headphones and speakers, our memories would be less critical in rating them.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Sorry Kelly......

Sorry Kelly, but respectfully, that's nonsense. Why? Because it assumes that "real life" has one distinct "sound". It doesn't, of course. The same musical group on two different days in two different acoustic environments will sound just as different as any speakers and headphones from one another. And we, as humans, will be no better days, months, or years later at remembering the specifics of how this live music sounded than we are at remembering exactly how recorded music sounded through headphones, or speakers that we listened to years ago.

"Real life" has no defined, un-varying "sound". Ask a musician! His/her instrument sounds VASTLY different from day to day, and environment to environment. Even weather conditions (humidity or lack thereof, temperature, etc.) have a fairly large impact on how acoustic instruments sound. These things also (as well as health, mood, etc) affect how we perceive sound.

Nice try, Kelly. But, contrary to what HP may claim on the masthead of his magazine, there IS NO "Absolute Sound". Live music is just as variable in it's acoustic qualities as recorded! Ditto for our perception, and memory of it!
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