Audio-Technica ATH-M40x

General Information

Pure. Professional. Performance.Online reviewers, top audio professionals and cult followers have long agreed that the ATH-M50 is an unmatched combination of audio and build quality, whether in the studio or on the go. That award-winning formula is embodied in the newly remastered M-Series line, with a model perfectly suited for every discerning listener. Contoured earcups seal tight for excellent sound isolation, with minimal bleed. And the pro-grade materials are durable, yet comfortable. M-Series professional monitor headphones deliver accurate audio and outstanding comfort that gets the job done. Hour after hour, year after year.ATH-M20xATH-M30xATH-M40xATH-M50x15- 20,000 Hz15- 22,000 Hz15- 24,000 Hz15- 28,000 Hz40 mm40 mm40 mm45 mm96 dB96 dB98 dB98 dB700 mW1300 mW1600 mW1600 mW47473538NoNoYesYes15° Both Directions15° Both Directions15° In / 90° Out90° Both Directions9.8' straight9.8' straight3.9- 9.8' coiled, 9.8' straight9.8' straight, 3.9- 9.8' coiled, 3.9' straight6.7 oz7.8 oz8.5 oz10 oz

Latest reviews

I hadn't owned a closed-back pair of headphones in a decade, and these are awesome. I was looking for phones that fold flat and inward and didn't expect this much sonic awesomeness. I also didn't expect to enjoy them so much I'd be writing a review of them.

I much prefer them to the ATH-M50x model. And although the M40x has less booming/cloudy bass to my ears than the M50x, it's still a bit much for me, but that's to be expected w/ this type of headphones. I have EQ'd the bass down successfully.

I'm playing a Cayin N5ii into them, a mix of various genres (for example: Iggy Pop, Zombi, Cathedral, The Crystal Method), and they all sound great. Imaging and separation of elements in all these genres is better than I'd expect from an $80 pair (on sale) of closed, portable headphones. Very punchy, accurate bass.

They're very comfortable for long listens and fit in my backpack perfectly.

4.5 instead of 5.0 due to the 1.2m cable being an extra accessory--I'd rather have that than either of the included cables--one too long and one coiled.
Pros: For neutral studio monitoring.
Above average technicalities.
Foldable.
Quite cheap for the price.
Detachable cables.
Cons: Clamp/earpads very uncomfortable.
Can be boring for those who want more bass/more fun signature.
Average soundstage width.
Propetiary audiotechnica cable, so hard to find other aftermarket upgrade cables.
Disclaimer:
I bought this headphone at my own expense and am not affiliated with any company.


Hi this is my second review on this forum.

I have used about 15 pairs of IEMs/headphones so far in my fledging audio hobby journey, and by far, the M40x is the most neutral gear I have ever used.

It is quite cheap for its abilities and sound qualities, and is not as well known as its bigger brother, the M50x in audio circles. The M50x definitely boasts a more boosted bass, and is more for casual listening. The M40x on the other hand, is very neutral, and more for studio monitoring rather than leisure listening.


Specifications:
-
Driver Diameter: 40mm
- Magnet: Neodymium
- Voice Coil: CCAW (Copper-clad aluminum wire)
- Frequency Response: 15 - 24000Hz
- Sensitivity: 98dB
- Impedance: 35Ohms
- Weight: 240g (without cable or connector)

Build:
It is a set of closed headphones. Mostly plastic, but seems quite sturdy. I have read reports of the headband snapping, but these issues seem to stem from the first few batches of the M40x. It seems audiotechnica has reinforced the metal sheets on the headbands for newer batches and it seems to be less of an issue.

It comes with 2 detachable cables that are propetiary (one straight and one curvy). So it would be difficult to find aftermarket upgrade cables. The stock cables are very long and have minimal microphonics.

Isolation/comfort:
The pads are one of the more uncomfortable ones I have used. Especially if you use spectacles, the clamp is pretty uncomfortable, and the pads are too small for average ears. It limits my use of the cans to < 1 hr each time, YMMV.
I have read forums where people buy other ear pads which are more comfortable to be used on the M40x due to this discomfort. I have personally changed mine to angled Brainwavz leather pleated ones, but this totally changes the sound signature of the cans, so I had to revert to the stock pads as for me sound is more important than comfort.
The pads are very important in headphones in influencing the sound that is percieved by our ears, so definitely changing the pads will have an effect on the sound unfortunately.

Isolation is below average for a closed set of cans. I tried using them on stage for live monitoring, but the isolation doesn't cut it for me compared to IEMs or other headphones. The isolation is also below average when I used them on the subway.
So these set of cans are truly meant for home studio monitoring IMHO.

Sound:
As above, if you use the stock pads, this is one of the most neutral gear I have used so far. It is truly flat, and doesn't amplify any frequency. This is perfect if you want to hear what the artiste intended for us to hear when they recorded their songs. Hence, it is excellent for studio monitoring. It gets boring when I use if for recreational listening though.

It is easily drivable, and doesn't require external amps. Most smart phones should be able to run it.

Instrument separation resolution/timbre/details/clarity/imaging are all above average. I have heard better gear for microdetails/resolution/soundstage, but for the price point, I don't have much complaints. Soundstage width is average.

Conclusions:
If you do want to buy these set of cans, do know that they are very neutral, and meant for studio monitoring. I find it boring for casual music listening, but of course you can always EQ some frequencies and YMMV. The discomfort of the pads also limits my use of these cans, but for the price, it is not too bad. I use them now and again on recordings to get a sense of what the music artiste truly intended for us to hear, but when I need a fun sounding pair of IEMs/headphones, these ain't my cup of tea.
Pros: Very pleasant and listenable sound signature. Not bright or fatiguing. Comfortable. Killer for the price.
Cons: None - but if i had to pick, i hate the loose swivel cups and the headphones could be a bit less warm and detailed if you're looking for something more accurate
I debated 4 or 5 stars. But i really have no qualms with these at all. They check almost every box

PRESENTATION - Excellent. I believe they're pretty much the same as the M50x. Box feels very luxurious and high end and the headphones themselves are of excellent quality. Plastic but the subtle "clicks" when adjusting them and the clean style make these feel like a higher end product. I actually HATE the fact that the cups swivel so much. I get that they want to make them portable, but for me, these will never be portable. They're not big for an over-ear, but they are over ear, and the long cable makes it even more unlikely i'll be traveling much with these. But back to the swiveling - every single time i have to pick up and deal with these things, the earcups flop around and swivel like a dead animal. I always spend way too much time trying to "reset" them and get them back to the neutral position where i can simply put them on.

Cables are fine - it's nice that they included both coil and straight. I don't mind the length, for me it's fine since these pretty much stay at my computer, but some might prefer a shorter cable for mobile use. It is rather irritating that they chose to use both 2.5mm AND a proprietary locking cable. I would have preferred either simply a normal 2.5mm, or ideally a 3.5mm that can breakaway. But the cable quality seems to be excellent.

COMFORT - These are extremely comfortable to me. I edit video and i cant remember them ever really bothering me, even after long half day editing sessions. I guess some people advise changing the stock pads, but i have no issue with them.

SOUND

I'd say that these are flat and neutral *enough*. For light video editing they are fine, but if you're a serious musician and need something for pinpoint accuracy when recording or mixing, these might not be it. For the price, they're probably as close as you're going to get (i think i paid like $75 for mine), but these seem to have a slight coloration to them, and i actually love it. Sound signature reminds me of my Vmoda XS, which is a huge compliment. They are fun and warm without being super inaccurate. They add some fun and punch to the music while still remaining true to it, and are excellent for bass heavy stuff, and do everything else well too.

BASS - Definitely seem to have emphasized midbass but they do subbass well too. Seem to me to have a slight V-shape and the mids are underemphasized to me.

MIDS - This is not to say that they are bad, because they sound just fine, but i listen to a lot of really loud, distorted guitar, and for rock/metal i prefer a more aggressive mid-centric headphone like maybe a grado or certainly my Sennheiser HD25-1 ii. Even metallica guitar seems a bit more warm and not as biting. Certainly not bad, but doesn't grab you by the balls like a good metal can should. They definitely do the job.

I wouldn't say that "laidback " is the best word to use, but it's definitely not the last word i'd use. They have a very non-fatiguing sound to me and remain engaging without any crazy harshness. I've never used these and thought that there was anything harsh about them.

Stuff like Radiohead's In Rainbows, and Beck's Sea Change sound very nice on these.

TREBLE - Something about the treble i really like. It sounds very "smooth" and crisp without being bright. The song Never Meant by American Football is an amazing song with some of the best drums i've heard and these 40x's deliver the attack and punch of the drums very nicely.

They don't sound incredibly detailed to me, but aren't really lacking to me. I do think at least a small amp is almost required. They're not insanely hard to drive and get loud enough off my phone (but not off my PC headphone jack), but definitely don't sound nearly as full, warm or detailed as with an amp. Even a small, cheap Fiio should be a requirement.


Guys, keep in mind through all this that i'm comparing these beasts against $200+ headphones that hit well above their weight class. For the $70 that i paid for them, they sound incredible.

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