Audio Technica ATH M40x vs. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro | A LOT TO COVER!

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Audio Technica ATH M40x vs. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

Audio Technica ATH M40x vs. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

What I will bring you in this review

Today I will outline the ATH M40x, compare it to the 280 pro, and then give a recommendation in the Final Word!

  1. Specifications
  2. Summary
  3. Pros
  4. Cons
  5. Video Review
  6. Who this mic benefits?
  7. What you will need?
  8. Thoughts from Stu’s notepad
  9. Consensus/Conclusion
  10. Similarities & Differences
  11. Final Word

Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!

Audio Technica M40x

Audio Technica ATH M40x

Audio Technica ATH M40x


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  • Type: Closed back. Closed back vs. Open back headphones.
  • Driver Size: 40mm
  • Frequency Response: 15Hz – 24kHz
  • Impedance: 35 Ohms
  • Cable Type: Straight & Coiled.
  • Cable Length: 9.8′
  • Plug Size: 1/8″ (1/4″ adapter included).
  • Weight: 0.53 lbs. (without cable & connector)
  • Manufacturer Part Number: ATH-M40x


The Audio Technica ATH M40x’s often get overlooked because of their 50x brother. They have a similar sound signature to that of the 50x, but are more neutral overall. The bass is a bit more subdued, but many appreciate the fact that it’s tighter and more controlled this time around.

It’s mid-range is somewhat improved as well, and overall the sound is very clear and articulate.

It’s build and comfort however were consistent gripes among reviewers, and cannot be overlooked.


  • Balanced, neutral sound. Very clear and articulate.
  • Crisp, clear treble.
  • Controlled and balanced bass, but still tight. Compare a Mike Tyson punch with a Muhammad Ali punch. The 40x’s have the precise, strong Ali punches, while other headphones have a raw, brutal, wild, and uncontrolled Tyson punch. Heh.
  • Collapsible/fold-able.
  • Mid-range is great. It’s very neutral and realistic.
  • Voices sound natural.
  • Replaceable cables, and 2 chords included + a leather case.
  • Good instrument Timbre. What is Timbre?


  • Not travel friendly.
  • Do not come with a 1.2m cable like the 50x. You have to wear the 3m one which is a bit lame. The two chords that come with it are way too long for portable use. If you want a shorter cable, you have to buy it separate. It’s about $20.
  • They don’t seal out background noise as well. Not as effective in loud spaces for listening.
  • They may slip off easily because of all the padding. A bit small for some peoples heads.
  • May need frequent adjustments over a long listening session. Many reviewers complained that they aren’t very comfortable. Clamp force is a bit tight, and the ear-cups are a little small for some.
  • Not very durable? The high stress areas of the headphone are reportedly made of cheap plastic. Not good.

Video Review

Amp/DAC requirements

I wouldn’t really bother purchasing an amp with this set. Just make sure that your source files are of a good quality. More on that later. Also, a bit of EQ helps to get the desired sound. They aren’t perfect by any means, but can be tweaked rather easily according to many reviewers.

Who these headphones benefit?

Endorsed for all of the following:

  • Gaming
  • Editing
  • Monitoring church broadcasts
  • Mixing/monitoring music
  • Metal
  • Rock
  • EDM
  • Hip-Hop. Don’t buy them strictly for hip-hop however. You may do better with the 50x’s in this regard.
  • Classical
  • Jazz

Thoughts from Stu’s Notepad

  • The headphones are extremely light. A lot lighter than the Audio Technica ATH M50’s. The 40x’s don’t feel cheap in all respects, but the way the cups swivel does feel a bit underwhelming (as in cheap, lol).
  • There is a break in period. The high end harshness will go away within a week, and overall they warm up quite a bit. I can attest to this with the M50’s, as they went through the same process.
  • Make sure that your source files have a bit-rate of at least 320 kbps. You’ll also want to EQ just a tad and your experience should be good. If you’re listening to tunes with a bit-rate of 128, you’re probably going to be in for a world of pain (Like Smokey from Big Lebowski). That said, these are studio headphones, so adjust accordingly.
  • These aren’t really reference headphones as the moniker would suggest. The clarity, coupled with a bit too much bass renders them unworthy to mix with according to some. Others loved them for mixing however.
  • A lot of people complained of discomfort with the ear cups. If you do plan to get these, aftermarket ear pieces can be purchased. I’m not sure if it’s worth it to pour a bunch of extra money into these though, especially when you can find something better. I mean yeah, you can upgrade the cups, and add a 1.2m cable, but it’s going to cost you.
  • The proprietary chord mechanism makes it so you can only use Audio Technica cables with this set. You could buy an adapter, but it will run you an extra $35 bucks or so. Again, not really worth all the trouble in my opinion.
  • Saw some people who said that if you wear glasses, these may become a bit uncomfortable as well due to the issue of clamping force.
  • I can’t really come to a clear consensus about the bass either way; some say it’s overpowering, while others claim there’s not enough. Still others say the response is tight and balanced.
  • The Soundstage here isn’t out of this world, but it’s tighter than that of the M50/50x. What is Soundstage?
  • The treble on the 40x’s may be a bit bright/sibilant to some. What does sibilant mean?


A great sounding set of headphones that suffer from a lack of comfort and some build quality issues – namely the plastic around the bottom of the headband (the swivel area that connects to the ear-cup) is rather cheap. The headphones come with 2 cables, but both are much too long for portable use.

Similarities & Differences


  • Both are pretty flat and neutral across the frequency spectrum.
  • Both have a tight clamping force at first. The 280’s do loosen up a bit over time.
  • Both are meant for in studio, and don’t do well on the go.
  • Both are closed back and circumaural, at around the same price.
  • Both include a 1/4″ adapter.


  • The 40x’s have less sound isolation.
  • The 40x’s aren’t as comfortable.
  • The 40x’s have more bass than the 280’s. I had owned a pair of 280’s for awhile, and to me the bass was almost non-existent. Definitely a good pair of mixing cans though.
  • The 280’s are much more durable than the 40x’s. The plastic used is heavy duty, and doesn’t feel like it’s going to snap like the 40x’s.
  • The 40x’s come with a coiled & straight cable, while the 280’s only come with a coiled.
  • The HD280’s have better sound isolation. I remember wearing them. You cannot hear a thing outside of the headphones.
  • The 40x’s cables can be removed, while the 280’s one cable cannot.
  • The mid-range of the 40x is superior to that of the 280.
  • The 280 pro’s sound muddy in contrast to the M40x’s.
  • The 280’s are a bit heavier (10 oz. vs. 8.5 oz.)

Final Word

Honestly I would consider other options before these 2. I’ve had experience with the 280 Pro’s, and they can be a bit underwhelming. Think of the 280 like eating a piece of tofu. You just kind of get this feeling of indifference. They don’t do anything magnificent, but also don’t do anything that makes you rip them off in disgust. They kind of just, are. Two things they do have going for them however are isolation and build quality. They do make my top 5 for closed back mixing cans in this price range, but I have them at #5. That means they are definitely worth consideration, but there are better options.

That said, my top recommendation in this price range comes in the form of the Sony MDR V6’s. They are definitely top dog for around $100, and do exceptionally well in mixing/reference applications. They’ve been around for decades too, and their longevity factor is extremely solid.

Learn more about the V6’s below!

  1. The best headphones for mixing under $100
  2. The best closed back studio headphones
  3. Sony MDR V6 studio monitor series headphones

This article went over 2 headphones that happened to be flat/neutral. Are you looking for a headphone with more power? A sound signature that hits hard but still isn’t overly muddy or boomy?


Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this article on the Audio Technica ATH M40x vs. Sennheiser HD 280 Pro.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

What are your thoughts on the V6? What about the 40x? I would love to hear from you.

Until next time..

All the best and God bless,

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  1. Which is best for studio monitoring hip-hop, ath m50x or sennheiser hd 380 pro?

    • Definitely the 380’s for mixing. I have used the M50x’s in studio, but they are more for the casual consumer looking for audiophile type quality at a decent price. The bass is what makes them, but it’s also what prevents them from being neutral and honest. They definitely color the sound, but aren’t bloated like say Beats by Dre. Putting them on for the first time is a real treat, but I wouldn’t buy them to mix.

      Hope that helps! Any other questions just ask or Contact me!


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