New from Audio-Technica’s studio headphone line, the ATH-M40X over-ear headphones is a new-and-improved version of their popular monitor headphones. We’ve done a little overview and provide you with some likes and dislikes of ours.
As we’ve seen in our best Audio-Technica Headphones article, the 40x took the cake over the 50x (since they’re 50$ cheaper and have pretty much the same tech). We think these make the Beats by Dre headphone series look way over-priced and over-hyped. Let’s take a look.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x is a pair of professional monitor headphones that are ideal for audio monitoring. The headphones are tuned flat, offering incredibly accurate monitoring across a wider frequency range. They are ideal for studio use, as they offer an enhanced experience with the help of better sound isolation. The swiveling ear cups make one-ear monitoring more convenient and allow for a more compact traveling arrangement. They have been made with the help of pro-grade materials and by following robust construction techniques similar to most studio headphones out there in the market. These are by no means cheaply made headphones people — the builds of their monitor headphones are outstanding.
The M40x series of headphones can be very helpful in DJ monitoring, professional sound mixing and studio tracking as recommended by Audio-Technica; however, we recommend using these in merely any setting imaginable. I personally have two pairs — an M40x for my gym and traveling uses (I had a girl come up and ask what they were on the bus last week!) and a pair of the M50x for my studio at home.
Not only have we ranked these as the best overall Audio-Technica headphones, but have included them 1st in our best Audio-Technica headphones for under $100. You just can’t beat a studio monitor headphone that’s under 100$ retail yet still offers a lot of the same features as it’s competitors, especially with these so-called ‘best headphones’ Beats by Dre claims (just sold for 3 billion!) that are literally double the price of the M40x. If you have a few more dollars and want the best of the best, also check out our ATH-M50x headphones review. Or go even higher with their latest model, the ATH-M70x!
Our rating of the new ATH-M40X by Audio Technica
Other versions available:
Pros and Cons of the Audio-Technica ATH-M40X studio monitor headphones
1. Clear sound – These headphones offer very clear sound, some of the best we’ve had it terms of headphones at their price. They are ideal for ‘sound monitoring in the studio’, but as we’ve said before: why can’t you use it anywhere else as well? Why we call their sound as so ‘clear’ is because of the even emphasis put into all frequencies – the lows, mids and highs. In contrast, some popular headphones put more effort into lower frequencies to the low pass frequencies, such as putting two tubes into the lower channels (examples include the Beats by Dre that are specially called ‘bass’). The 40x has even frequencies throughout.
2. Very comfortable – The headband and ear pads are very soft (a bit softer than the previous M40). You won’t feel that typical prolonged-headphone pain that sometimes occurs (one of the worst feelings ever). They fit very well and the headphones are neither too light nor too firm. We’ve worn our pair for 4-5 hours at a time in the studio and haven’t felt pain like we have with other headphones in the market.
3. Highly durable – The M40x series have been made from pro-grade materials that are highly durable, thus making the headphones last longer than other monitoring headphones. Not that it has anything to do with it, but they are made in Japan and aren’t those flimsy knockoffs you sometimes find on eBay or Alibaba.
4. Ideal for monitoring – They come with swiveling ear cups that make one-ear monitoring more convenient. They can be used in all kinds of professional monitoring or even daily use activities as we’ve said. The reason monitoring is mentioned so frequently with these is because of the even frequency span as we’ve spoken about before.
5. Affordable – The headphones are priced ~$100, making them highly affordable compared to other monitoring headphones available in the market. Some of the competitors in the studio headphone realm go up to $300!
6. Traveling – The swivel and folding capabilities of the ATH-M40x make them ideal for traveling, not to mention the interchangeable cables to avoid tangling as well. They are also 40 grams lighter than the M50x.
1. Not bass-heavy – Some have complained about their ‘lack of bass’, but we don’t think this is evident unless you’re comparing the bass frequencies of their bass-specific headphones (we highlight the best Audio-Technica headphones for bass here). As we’ve said, these are ‘studio monitor’ headphones so you’re getting a more even sound throughout the board, hearing each note the artist intended on the mixing board.
2. You should probably buy a separate case – The headphones come with a carrying bag, but it’s merely cloth and isn’t too stable if you’re doing some heavy traveling (particularly putting them in a bag and it may get thrown around). You don’t want to risk it. We recommend the Slappa SL-HP-01 Headphone Case (~$26).
3. You can’t use the interchangeable cables from other brands – You can only use Audio-Technica’s cables with the interchangeable feature. So any cooler ones you’ve bought before (maybe for color or other brands of headphones) aren’t going to work here.
4. Earcups only swivel at 90 degrees while the M50/M50x are 180 – This isn’t too important to us, but some claim this is as a con. Not too big of a deal.
Difference between the M40x and M50x
To be honest, there are barely any major differences between the M40x and M50x — Just a few specs. We’ll spell it out for you:
- The driver of the 50x is 45mm while the 40x is 40mm
- The 50x allows for 5,000 more maximum Hz
- 1 more dB of sensitivity in the 50x
- 3 more ohms of impedance in the 50x
- The 40x weighs 45 grams less
- The 50x comes with one more detachable cable (detachable 1.2 m\3.9′ straight cable)
The bottom line on the ATH-M40X
The user reviews of these headphones have been very positive. The ratings on Amazon have praised the fact that the M40x series headphones offer excellent isolation of sound in loud or noisy environments, thus allowing better sound monitoring. I compared these to some of my other studio monitor headphones that have been priced as much as $300 and it gives them a run for their money. If you want some other options that are around the same price, check out our top 10 best studio headphones article.
Some of the reviewers have also motioned that the headphones are very easy to use and highly portable. The durability and affordability of the headphones are repeatedly spoken about. These headphones are basically legit and do what they advertise. If you want a cheaper alternative, you can check out our reviews of the ATH-M30x or ATH-M20x. However, remember that these lower models obviously have lesser quality in terms of sound and also do not provide the interchanging cables. Check them out if you’re looking to save money.
We’ve seen the best prices of the M40x on Amazon and you can also scour eBay to see if there are floating around for under the MSRP. They usually average around $99.
Main features of the ATH-M40X headphones
- Robust construction and cutting-edge engineering
- Drivers (40 mm) equipped with rare earth magnets
- Voice coil made of high quality aluminium wire (copper-clad)
- Around-the-ear design that offer excellent isolation of sound in loud or noisy environments
- Offer enhanced one-ear monitoring with swiveling ear cups (90°)
- Headband and ear pad made from professional grade materials offering higher comfort and durability
- Collapsible, space-saving and highly portable
- Comes with detachable cables
- Idea for DJ monitoring, professional sound mixing and studio tracking
Specs of the ATH-M40x headphones
- Type – Dynamic closed-back
- Magnet – Neodymium
- Driver Diameter – 40 mm
- Frequency Response – 15 to 24,000 Hz
- Sensitivity – 98 dB
- Voice Coil – (CCAW) Copper-clad Aluminium Wire
- Impedance – 35 ohms
- Input Power (Maximum) – 1,600 MW (at 1 kHz)
- Cable – Comes with 2 cables which are interchangeable; detachable coiled cable (1.2 m to 3.0 m or 3.9 inches to 9.8 inches) and detachable straight cable (3 m or 9.8 inches)
- Accessories – Carrying pouch (cloth-like) and screw-on adapter (6.3 mm or 0.25 inches)
- Weight – 240 g or 8.5 oz (without the connector and cable)
Compare prices of the ATH M40x