Driver: 2 x Dynamic
Impedance: 12 ohms
Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
Sensitivity: 107 dB
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated to Audio Technica in any way and do not benefit monetarily or in any other form for writing this review. I purchased this in-ear monitor with my own resources and I am simply giving my honest review of the product!
Review by: “Charlie” from The Little Audiophile
Audio Technica ATH-E40 Retail Price (at time of writing): S$138
Ease of Wearing: 5/10
Noise Isolation: 9/10
Value for Money: 8/10
Sound Stage: 8/10
Separation & Imaging: 6/10
Source Matchability: 9/10
I purchased the Audio Technica ATH-E40 during an IT and audio fair held at the Singapore EXPO for slightly under S$130 after having a brief listen to my friend’s well burnt in ATH-E40. My initial impressions were rather positive, so I decided to pick a pair up for myself. From the day of writing this review, I have owned these IEM for just slightly under a year and I am able to give my opinions on the product…
The ATH-E40 comes in a small pudgy box which is what Audio Technica usually uses for it’s mid to high-end line of in-ear monitors. Nothing fancy, but it does serve its purpose. Inside the box, you will find the ATH-E40 with size M tips installed, 3 pairs of silicone ear tips (XS, S, L), a 3.5 mm to 1/4 inch adapter, a black hard carrying case and other relevant paperwork with a warranty card.
BUILD AND DESIGN
The ATH-E40’s housing is made entirely out of high-quality plastic which feels fairly hard and durable. The main body has a matte finish with a translucent circular cap that shows the guts and drivers of the IEM. Cool in my opinion – It adds a unique character to the design language.
The audio jack on the ATH-E40 is a 3.5 mm gold plated TRS plug which is enclosed by what appears to be hard vulcanized rubber with a properly decent strain relief. Upwards, the wiring is made of a thick and durable cable that is separated into 2 individual strands to supposedly reduce signal interference and in turn, provide a cleaner sound to the listener. The wire then separates at the Y-split. Duh…right?
The wire is 1.6 m long which is plenty good if you are using this IEM at home but a hassle when you are out and about. I stand at 1.85 m tall and I realize that the wire gets caught on my knee a lot when I am climbing a flight of stairs or just lifting my legs to step onto higher ground. NOT A GOOD FEELING WHEN YOU ACCIDENTALLY YANK AT YOUR EARPHONE WIRES. Going all the way up, the ear hooks are made of a memory wire which I personally like. I like to contour the hook tightly to my ear shape and therefore the housing stays in my ear securely. The memory wire is also good for listening to music while lying down as the ear hooks remain contoured to your ear shape. Non-memory wire ear hooks will tend to flop out of its place with the slightest movement when lying down, simply due to gravity.
The ATH-E40 utilizes Audio Technica’s latest proprietary removable connection mechanism, which is the Audio Designed Detachable Coaxial (A2DC) connector. It functions somewhat like an MMCX connector, except it does not rotate as freely around the connection and in my opinion, has a more secure locking mechanism.
This is where the ATH-E40 falls short (for some people). To start, the housing is not heavy and that the ear hooks help dissipate the weight of the housing more evenly. The issue for some lies in the stem and bore of the housing. The stem is substantially long for an in-ear monitor such that it sits deep in the inner ear canal. The bore is not particularly thin either and it will press against the inner ear. With this two factors combined, some users feel a painful sensation in the inner ear when wearing for prolonged sessions. I personally do encounter this problem where the stem presses against the back of my right ear canal and after about 30 minutes of wearing it, pain starts to set in and it can get really uncomfortable for me. Even after taking the earphones out, my inner ear will remain feeling sore for the next 10 minutes or so. Bummer. However, when installed with Comply T400 isolation tips, the discomfort has all but disappeared.
The E40 just has a bit more sub-bass than mid-bass, the upper-mids are more forward and the trebles are rolled off slightly early. The soundstage is wideeeee and instrumental positioning and separation is good. For the price, the E40 carries good detail and clarity.
Of all the earphones I own, I find that the E40 responds the best to EQ-ing. The sound signature can be EQ-ed to your liking without it sounding too unnatural or weird, provided you EQ responsibly. *wink* When pairing with the AK Jr and Fiio A3 Amplifier with Bass Boost on, the E40 sounds pretty damn good, especially in the bass department.
The bass on the E40 is bang on. Not weak such that it does makes music unexciting and not immersive, yet not over the top such that all you hear is something like explosions going on in an action movie. It feels controlled and authoritative and hardly bleeds into the midrange so mids are not muddied. The bass is damn near perfect.
As mentioned, the upper-mids are forward and are really rich. As such, guitars and vocals sound clean and authoritative with a decent amount of detail in them. John Mayer’s “In The Blood” sounds absolutely wonderful with this earphone. The lower-mids blends nicely with the Bass
Trebles are where the E40 lacks a little. It is slightly overshadowed by the forward mids, although its presence can still be heard. Yet, I find the treble to be perfect for this earphone. Why? Because there is little to no sibilance displayed in the treble region and is not so bright in such a way that cymbals sound harsh and abrasive to listen to which can quickly destroy the listening experience. It’s slightly early roll-off might not be for everyone though.
The ATH-E40 pairs well with slightly warm or neutral sounding sources. A bright or V-shaped source might add too much prowess to the upper-mids or trebles as the upper mids on the E40 are already lifted.
Adding an amp into the setup (for some reason) really does help to bring out the best in the E40, despite its low impedance and high sensitivity. The sub-bass and mids really come alive when this earphone is amped up!
Alternative Ear Tips
Apart from using the stock Audio Technica silicon tips, I have trickled down to a couple of other ear tips that has a positive impact on the sound signature, depending on your preferences.
Sony hybrid tips:
I use M-sized Sony hybrid ear tips for improved comfort and to slightly reduce the forwardness of the mids. The trebles become slightly more pronounced as well, for these tips create a bit more distance between your eardrums and the IEM’s driver than having stock tips on.
Samsung stock tips:
Samsung tips? Seriously? Yea. Samsung tips have a larger opening than the Sony hybrids and stock Audio Technica ear tips. As such, Bass has more kick to it and without really drowning out the mids or trebles. If you are in the mood for dem BASS or if you are just a bass-head in general, these tips fit well.
Comply T400 isolation foam tips (without wax guard):
The T400 helps make the sound signature more neutral in my listen. It takes away some kick to the bass and adds a tad bit of treble. I also find the T400 to be the least fatiguing to wear over a longer listening session. However, Comply foam tips has a very short service life and purchasing new foam tips are not cheap at all.
I feel that the earphones could have been designed to be more ergonomic and fit better. But if you can look past that, the E40 is an impressive earphone for under S$150. It performs well with most genres of music and responds well to EQ-ing to suit your preference. It sounds good and is well built, I highly recommend getting yourself a pair of these earphones as they are a good bang for your buck, again, provided you can get the right, comfortable fit.
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