Home Closed Back Headphone Reviews Audio Technica ATH-M40x Review – Lesson Learned

Audio Technica ATH-M40x Review – Lesson Learned

The M40x Sounds Great Initially, But How Does It Actually Fare Upon Closer Inspection?

by Stuart Charles Black
The Best Headphones for Rock Music

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Originally posted 11/5/16.

Updates:

  • 1/30/21. Article link/cleanup.
  • 4/2/22. Article revisit/updated impressions.
  • 4/27/22. Article revisit/more added impressions.
  • 5/4/22. Grammar/link cleanup.

Hi friend and Welcome!!

Before I get into the Audio Technica ATH M40x Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…

You’ve come to the right place!!

At A Glance

Preview
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Studio Monitor Headphone, Black, with Cutting Edge Engineering, 90 Degree Swiveling Earcups, Pro-grade Earpads/Headband, Detachable Cables Included
Title
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Studio Monitor Headphone, Black, with Cutting Edge Engineering, 90 Degree Swiveling Earcups, Pro-grade Earpads/Headband, Detachable Cables Included
Color
Black/Silver
Type
Closed back
Impedance
35 Ohms
Sensitivity
98dB/mW
Cables
2: 1 Coiled, 1 Straight
Weight
240g (8.5 Oz.)
Primary Use
Mixing, Mastering, Reference, Casual
Prime
Price
$99.00
Preview
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Studio Monitor Headphone, Black, with Cutting Edge Engineering, 90 Degree Swiveling Earcups, Pro-grade Earpads/Headband, Detachable Cables Included
Title
Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Studio Monitor Headphone, Black, with Cutting Edge Engineering, 90 Degree Swiveling Earcups, Pro-grade Earpads/Headband, Detachable Cables Included
Color
Black/Silver
Type
Closed back
Impedance
35 Ohms
Sensitivity
98dB/mW
Cables
2: 1 Coiled, 1 Straight
Weight
240g (8.5 Oz.)
Primary Use
Mixing, Mastering, Reference, Casual
Prime
Price
$99.00

In The Box

Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Closed-Back Monitor Headphones (Black)

Coiled Cable (3.9 to 9.8′)

Straight Cable (9.8′)

1/4″ Screw-On Adapter

Carrying Pouch

Limited 2-Year Warranty

Audio Technica ATH M40x Review

Audio Technica ATH M40x

Specifications

Introduction & Sound

Audio Technica ATH M40x Review

Little Brother.

After owning the M50s for quite a number of years, I decided to pick up a pair of 40xs and compare the 2.

I was curious about the sound signature and if it’s as neutral as everyone says it is.

In short, it’s not.

Even despite clearly being targeted at consumers, the bass on the 50x is done very tastefully; there’s a 5dB boost across 20 – 200Hz and it sounds excellent regardless of what some audiophile snobs tell you.

It’s a bass head sound and isn’t at all ashamed by it, but it also isn’t overdone like your mom’s meatloaf.

The 40x is a little insecure in how it comes across.

Its mid-bass by contrast may sound good at first but really starts to show its flaws over time. It ends up sounding too bloated and punchy but also takes away from the other frequencies where I feel as though the 50x did not.

Even with that said, I don’t feel like these are V-shaped, but I definitely wouldn’t rely on them for mixing as my primary headphones. The mid-range actually sounds pretty good and not recessed, so vocals and instruments have life to them.

The treble is another problem spot, however.

You’ll notice it starts to sound essy and metallic after a while, and there’s an air of artificiality that I can’t quite reconcile here.

Hi-hats tend to sound papery and thin, and the sound signature, while exciting in a sense, doesn’t feel genuine at the end of the day.

In other words, it feels like it’s trying too hard to impress you.

Overall, the 40x is somewhat of a wonky sound signature that only rears its ugly head over time and lots of hours of listening.

SOUND SCORE: C/C+

Build & Design

Audio Technica ATH M40x Review

Basking.

Audio Technica ATH M40x Review

The build on these is a bit of a mixed bag.

On one hand, they do fold and rotate similar to a 50x, but they are definitely cheaper and feel flimsier.

The main gripe in reading reviews over the years seems to be the hinge where the headphones are supposed to rotate.

With the 50x, they can move completely around. On the 40x, they kind of stop mid-way.

In other words, they twist and contort in many of the same ways as the 50x, but don’t actually rotate towards you. With the 50x, they rotated inwards and outwards.

It’s a bit odd that Audio Technica would neglect to include this range of motion, but I digress.

This can sometimes cause them to snap under pressure like Henry Hill in Goodfellas.

In my experience, they also just don’t seem to feel as durable in your hands.

Both headphones are made of mostly plastic, but the 50x feels more robust and took quite a bit of abuse from me for 5 years.

My 40x never broke, but I also wasn’t all that rough with it.

The 40x, like the 50x, utilizes metal for the headband adjustment which is a nice added touch at the price point.

The pads are made of the same faux leather and will crack, peel, and harden over time.

And no I’m not talking about James.

James Harden lol

I’ll see myself out.

The earpads deteriorating over time is another pretty serious issue but happens gradually, giving you time to plan on re-investing in new pads when the need arises.

The headband padding is ample enough I suppose and feels decent when you’re wearing them, but the same issues apply with regard to the material subtly cracking over many hours of use.

With that, let’s get into comfort.

BUILD SCORE: C+/B-

Comfort

As with build, comfort is hit and miss.

You’ll find that over time, the 40x is about average; maybe slightly below.

They tend to dig into the sides of your head more than I would like and cause you to want to rip them off at times. The pads will also get hot and sweaty after a while depending on how much you perspire.

In other words, they don’t breathe very well and the material is rather cheap even though it initially feels nice to the touch.

They don’t dig too hard into the top of your head, but you’ll still notice them after a while and will be itching to make some sort of adjustment, whether minor or otherwise.

The main problem I have with both the 50x and 40x is the force accrued over time on your ears.

Being that the pads are faux leather and somewhat cheap, they tend to get very hot and collect perspiration over extended sessions.

I don’t sweat very easily and I still found them to produce small droplets/beads on the pad – easily wiped away with your finger or a towel but EAR-itating nonetheless.

I’m sorry. xD

COMFORT SCORE: C/C-

Video Review

Keep in mind when this was recorded in relation to the updated article!

Click to see the M40x!

Audio Technica ATH M40x Review
Sunbathing.
Audio Technica ATH M40x Review
Headband.
Audio Technica ATH M40x Review
Metal.
Audio Technica ATH M40x Review
Cups.
Audio Technica ATH M40x Review
Basking.
Audio Technica ATH M40x Review
Utilitarian.
Audio Technica ATH M40x Review
Little Brother.
Audio Technica ATH M40x Review
Up close and personal.
Audio Technica ATH M40x Review
Hinge worthy.
Audio Technica ATH M40x Review
Hit the road jack.
Audio Technica ATH M40x Review
Folded like the Atlanta Braves.
Audio Technica ATH M40x Review
Soft and supple.
With a dash of green.

Amp/DAC requirements

Audio Technica ATH M40x Review

Hit the road, jack.

Again, the most important thing about the 40x is your sound source in my opinion and many others.

They sound lively with good sources, and rather dull without them. The sound seems to open up considerably with high-quality files.

These definitely aren’t going to need amplification. They will sound great right out of your phone, and you can use them with your audio interface as well.

The absolute most I would invest in with these is something like a FiiO E10K. Anything more than that and you’re wasting money.

Thoughts from Stu’s notepad

  • They come with 2 chords which are nice, one coiled and one straight. Both are pretty long (3m), so not the best for portable use.
  • Plugging in the proprietary removable cable was a bit of a challenge at first. To make it simple: You insert the cable, then half turn until the white marks line up. I did not notice them at first. I just kind of haphazardly plugged it in. Make sure it’s snug and in place. 🙂 Snug like a bug in a rug.

Consensus/Conclusion

The 40x is a sound that you’ll love at first but come to resent over time.

The bass bloat, artificial sounding treble, inconsistent comfort levels, and questionable build all combine to make for a painfully average to a below-average headphone in my mind.

Final Word

If you’re looking for this type of sound, I would just get a 50x or have a look at my best headphones for hip-hop guide which goes into some fantastic options (including the 50x).

If you’re after some sort of mixing headphones, also have a look at my complete guide:

 


Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Audio Technica ATH M40x Review.

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

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What are YOUR personal experiences with the 40x? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

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Save

Audio Technica ATH M40x

3

Sound

3.0/5

Comfort

2.5/5

Build Quality

3.5/5

Pros

  • Decent mid-range

Cons

  • Uncomfortable after a short time
  • Prone to break in certain areas
  • Treble a bit metallic/artificial sounding
  • Bass bloat

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