Today, we’ll be reviewing some of the most popular headphones available, the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x. Owned and loved by many, these are respectable headphones for beginners and professionals alike.
Our verdict on the ATH-M40x
While these aren’t the best headphones by any stretch of the imagination, for those of you on a budget the ATH-M40x are capable of most everything you need out of a pair of headphones.
Their comfortability, detailed sound, and portable design make them a great first step towards serious production.Check availability and current price: SweetwaterAmazon
Power and frequency response
These headphones have a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz, which is standard fare for most of the cans out on the market. The highs are clean, the mids are fairly detailed, and the low end is slightly enhanced.
It seems that Audio-Technica was trying to rope in a bit of the EDM crowd with these, but they’re still workable. While the low end still isn’t as deep as the ATH-M50x, it’s more than enough to help you get an accurate sounding mix.
In our opinion, there are smoother headphones in the world, but for $100 it’s pretty hard to complain.
The build overall is rather nice, the collapsing headband and swiveling ear cups make them extremely portable and space-saving. They do feel a bit dainty, as if any mishandling could snap them, but we have yet to experience any issues with this ourselves.
These headphones are quite comfortable, and can easily be adjusted to your needs. This makes them great for long running sessions when fatigue might pose an issue. However, you won’t have to worry about that with these.
One gripe we do have is with the padding, which is a bit rigid – if the weather is hot you might feel the sweat behind your ears feeling a bit nasty. Besides that, these are just shy of perfect.
It should be noted that these headphones were not made for sport, so they’ll slip off while running and the like. However, for simple monitoring they’re perfectly stable.
Noise cancellation and isolation
The ATH-M40x don’t have the best isolation, and at levels above 90 dB you’ll begin to experience significant amounts of bleed.
These are headphones meant for studio monitoring. If you plan on wearing these on the train, be prepared for the noise of the outside world to obliterate any peaceful listening.
Likewise, you should hope that the passengers next to you enjoy your taste in music because they’ll certainly hear it.
This becomes a problem when it comes to tracking, as you may experience a significant amount of headphone bleed leaking into what would’ve otherwise been a perfect take.
So just to reiterate, these are best for studio monitoring, preferably in a quiet confined space.
The ATH-M40x comes with two 3.5 mm cables, a carrying pouch, as well as an 1/8″-1/4″ adapter. This is everything you need to get started and we have no complaints here.
Compared to other studio headphones
Here are a few alternatives to consider in comparison to the ATH-M40x.
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x vs. ATH-M50x
The M50x is the slightly more expensive, older sibling to the M40x. Wider frequency response, deeper bass, and far more isolation make these a great option if you have the means.
However, all of this comes at a price as the M50x suffer more coloration than the M40x. For production, the M40x is the winner.
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x vs. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
The trade-off here is that the Sennheisers are objectively better sounding headphones, but they’re far less comfortable.
This can be a nuisance for longer sessions, but is a trade-off only you can decide upon. For us, the 280s are still the clear winner.
Audio-Technica ATH-M40 vs. Shure SRH440
In our opinion, the Shures are the more comfortable and flatter-sounding headphones in comparison to the M40xs.
However, the M40x has far more to offer in the low bass region. Still, we would go for the Shures.
- Detailed imaging and fairly flat response.
- Enhanced bass can be slightly muddy.