Audio Technica ATH M40x vs. AKG K240 vs. Sony MDR-7506

Part III of a Reference Mini-Series on affordable studio headphones!

 

Updates:

  • 2/26/21. Article posted.

40x. K240. MDR-7506. Which is best for mixing? Which can be discarded? Which is best for casual listening?

All of these answers and more can be had for about Tree Fiddy…

PONY UP THAT CHANGE, HOMIE!

Greetings, comrade, Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music, all over again; so….

Last time we saw 3 closed backs go toe to toe (7506/50x/HD280) with the 7506 coming out on top easily, followed by 280 and then the 50x. Also in that shootout, I threw in the 40x and V6 because, why not? Lol.

Related: Sony MDR-7506 vs. Audio Technica ATH M50x vs. Sennheiser HD280 Pro

This time around, 40x again loses handily, but the semi-open-backed K240 vs. 7506?

That’s a tough call!

Let’s go over the main differences between the 3 for posterity, and then we’ll make a decision.

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
AKG Pro Audio K240 STUDIO Over-Ear, Semi-Open, Professional Studio Headphones
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone (International Model) No Warranty
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
AKG Pro Audio K240 STUDIO Over-Ear, Semi-Open, Professional Studio Headphones
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone (International Model) No Warranty
Color
Black/Silver
Black/Gold
Black, Silver, Red, Blue
Weight
8.5 oz / 240 g (without Cable)
8.5 oz / 240 g
7.8 Oz. (221g)
Fit
Circumaural
Circumaural
Circumaural
Type
Closed Back, Dynamic
Semi-Open Back, Dynamic
Closed Back, Dynamic
Materials
Plastic, Metal, Faux Leather
Plastic, Faux Leather
Plastic, Metal, Faux Leather
Connector
Detachable 2.5mm, 3.5mm termination
Detachable Mini-XLR, 3.5mm termination
Non-Detachable into cup, 3.5mm termination
Headband Style
Traditional
Hammock Style, Self-Adjusting
Traditional
Impedance
35 Ohm
55 Ohm
63 Ohm
Sensitivity
98dB/mW
Around 91dB/mW
104dB/mW
Frequency Response
15Hz to 24kHz
15Hz to 25kHz
10Hz to 20kHz
Primary Use
Heavier genres, casual listening
Mixing/Mastering/Reference, Older recorded Rock
Mixing/Mastering/Reference
Cable Length
9.8′
9.8 ft.
10' (3m)
Cable Detachable?
Folding?
Amplification Required?
Prime
-
-
Price
$99.00
$69.00
$109.09
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
Weight
8.5 oz / 240 g (without Cable)
Fit
Circumaural
Type
Closed Back, Dynamic
Materials
Plastic, Metal, Faux Leather
Connector
Detachable 2.5mm, 3.5mm termination
Headband Style
Traditional
Impedance
35 Ohm
Sensitivity
98dB/mW
Frequency Response
15Hz to 24kHz
Primary Use
Heavier genres, casual listening
Cable Length
9.8′
Cable Detachable?
Folding?
Amplification Required?
Prime
-
Price
$99.00
Details
Preview
AKG Pro Audio K240 STUDIO Over-Ear, Semi-Open, Professional Studio Headphones
Title
AKG Pro Audio K240 STUDIO Over-Ear, Semi-Open, Professional Studio Headphones
Color
Black/Gold
Weight
8.5 oz / 240 g
Fit
Circumaural
Type
Semi-Open Back, Dynamic
Materials
Plastic, Faux Leather
Connector
Detachable Mini-XLR, 3.5mm termination
Headband Style
Hammock Style, Self-Adjusting
Impedance
55 Ohm
Sensitivity
Around 91dB/mW
Frequency Response
15Hz to 25kHz
Primary Use
Mixing/Mastering/Reference, Older recorded Rock
Cable Length
9.8 ft.
Cable Detachable?
Folding?
Amplification Required?
Prime
Price
$69.00
Details
Preview
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone (International Model) No Warranty
Title
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone (International Model) No Warranty
Color
Black, Silver, Red, Blue
Weight
7.8 Oz. (221g)
Fit
Circumaural
Type
Closed Back, Dynamic
Materials
Plastic, Metal, Faux Leather
Connector
Non-Detachable into cup, 3.5mm termination
Headband Style
Traditional
Impedance
63 Ohm
Sensitivity
104dB/mW
Frequency Response
10Hz to 20kHz
Primary Use
Mixing/Mastering/Reference
Cable Length
10' (3m)
Cable Detachable?
Folding?
Amplification Required?
Prime
-
Price
$109.09
Details

Video Discussion

Coming Soon!

In The Box

Audio Technica ATH M40x

  • 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

AKG K240

  • AKG K240 Studio Professional Semi-Open Stereo Headphones
  • Gold-Plated 1/4″ Adapter
  • Detachable Cable
  • Limited 2-Year Warranty

Sony MDR-7506

  • Sony MDR-7506 Headphones
  • Soft Case
  • 1/4″ Adapter
  • Limited 90-Day Warranty

Specs/Graphs

Audio Technica ATH M40x

Shoutout to Crinacle for the graph! This is Crinacle’s graph. There are many like it, but this one is his. 😂

One look at that should indicate that it’s NOT meant for reference.

AKG K240

This is also Crinacle’s graph. Many like it. This one his. Good, you like!

Sony MDR-7506

Shoutout to RTINGS for the graph! This is RTINGS’ graph. There are many like it, but this one is theirs. 😂


First, we’ll talk about the 40x; a headphone marketed for reference without rhyme or reason. This is NOT a mixing/mastering headphone by any stretch of the imagination.

The Best Headphones for Rock Music
Leaf Not Included.

It’s a casual listening headphone with a couple of glaring flaws:

  1. The mid-bass is too punchy and ends up being overdone like your mom’s meatloaf.
  2. The treble is metallic and essy, and ends up sounding artificial like the ingredients list on Food Lion Brand Pound Cake.
  3. The mid-range is meh. Not much more needs to be said. It’s your typical rollercoaster ride for sissys; sucked out low mids followed by a slight rise in the presence area.

Outside of the sound, comfort is pretty bad and the cups tend to dig into your ears quite a bit. Everything about it screams NO from a reference standpoint, but yet it still bears that moniker and is sold as such.

Quite ridiculous if you ask me.

Overall, it’s too inconsistent of a sound signature to recommend for anything in particular – even general music listening becomes a chore after a while. You may like it at first (as I did), but you’ll soon outgrow it once you get more experience with better headphones. Related: Audio Technica ATH M40x Review | WORTHY!

Speaking of, both the K240 and 7506 perform markedly better than a 40x.

The main difference between these 2 headphones is where the presence peak lies, as well as the treble.

When you first put a K240 on your head, you’ll likely be taken aback at just how unique it sounds in comparison to most consumer low-grade dog food.

It will take your brain a bit of getting used to the rise at 5-7kHz, as well as the 3 1/2kHz (or thereabouts) dip, both of which will undoubtedly leave you a bit perplexed.

Bear with it though, as the K240 is incredibly natural and detailed if you give it some time. The Treble is non-fatiguing and you can listen for hours without getting annoyed in the slightest. I’d say it does a bit better than the 7506 for listening casually, as nothing about the sound signature really tries to make itself known. It’s a very smooth, relaxing type of sentiment.

The mid-range is well done, and the bass, while it does roll off, sounds articulate, clean, and detailed. The K240 is a real treat with older Rock, Soul, Oldies, and Motown recordings.

Its instrument timbre is most definitely the best out of these 3. What is Timbre? Attack, sustain, and decay of instruments and vocals are more fleshed out and apparent. At times it almost feels like instruments have a microscope over them. You’re able to distinguish how they sound in relation to one another, but also their true essence in and of themselves.

MDR-7506

The 7506 is a bit of a different animal, as its peaks are confined mostly to the treble area. The debate rages on whether this air and clarity is actual detail or artificially reproduced detail. When you’re mixing and mastering, that really doesn’t matter, as you’ll be able to pick out flaws in a recording regardless.

For casual listening, yes, it’s bright.

EQ it down a bit like Metal571 if you have to. For an easy way to do that, Get a Creative SoundBlasterX G6. It’s one of my top overall recommendations!

Still, I find the 7506 to be just about the best headphone for reference work. I mixed on one for a couple of years and then bought a V6 around 2017-2018. I found myself always reaching for it when I needed something almost dead neutral; this is what the V6/7506 provides for the most part, and your mixes will come out all the better for it.

Comfort

Comfort-wise, I’d rank them 7506, then 40x, then K240. You may be a bit surprised by this, but the K240 tends to get uncomfortable quite fast due to its incredibly shallow earcups and the propensity for your auricles to dig into the drivers.

I suppose it’s understandable as this is a headphone originating in the mid-’70s, but the flaw remains. The headband feels fine for the most part.

The 40x’s clamping force is pretty snug, but all in all, I don’t have many complaints aside from the small earcups and the less than stellar faux leather. These are cups that will crack, peel, and harden over time, and no, my name ain’t James.

Even so, The 7506’s pads do the exact same crap, only it’s worse, though from a comfort standpoint they’re a bit better.

You’ll find the little pieces of black earpad everywhere – in your hair, ears, on the floor, in your teeth, on your genitals, perhaps in your bum, etc. They really do show up in the strangest of places.

I also consider both the 7506 and 40x to be a hybrid On-Ear/Around-Ear even despite being labeled Circumaural (Around-Ear). Neither are quite that, yeah mate?

The other issue with the 7506 is its non-detachable cable, something both the 40x and K240 have. The K240’s is a mini-XLR variety while the 40x is a 2.5mm at the cup end IIRC. Do keep in mind my K240M (Austrian Model) does not have a detachable cable. The newer Chinese-made K240 Studios do have one.

Build

Build wise, I’d take the 7506, followed by the K240, and then the 40x. The 40x is infamous for cracking around the hinge area, something its older brother 50x, fortunately, circumvents by making the headphones almost completely collapsible and foldable. You can move them in virtually any way you want; something you couldn’t do with a 40x.

The 7506 is best from a robust standpoint, as it can take quite a bit of abuse like Mick Foley without wavering. The only issue is, again, the cups falling apart.

Still, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you don’t use them every single day. I was able to keep my V6 intact and in great shape for a few years before selling it. Related: Sony MDR V6 Review | Could’ve had a V6!

K240 seems like it would break rather easily, but I’ve owned 3 different models of this headphone and not one of them has given me a single problem. I owned a K240 Studio around 2016-2017, and 2 pairs of K240M. The previous model had a buzzing/static issue in the right channel that the eBayer conveniently forgot to mention, so I re-sold it making the next person AWARE.

About a year later, I acquired another K240M in perfect working condition per a friend of my mom. He just had one lying around and gave it to me! What luck praise God!

Do you need an amp?

For the K240, absolutely. The other 2, no.

The K240 is wildly inefficient and takes quite a bit of power from an amp to reach an acceptable listening level. The official number per the mW is around 91dB. The 600 Ohm version needs even more juice to get pumpin.’

  • Still, I wouldn’t call a K240S power-hungry; a term thrown around loosely by internet snobs since seemingly the dawn of time.

It does need some power, but don’t get crazy. A K5 Pro is my default recommendation for most cans that need a bit extra.

If you want to purchase something for a 7506 or 40x, I’d go with an E10K/K3 and stop there. Anything more is a waste of money. Related: FiiO K3 vs. E10K [The Definitive Guide]

Final Word

Well, my friend, the 7506 comes out on top yet again, but the K240 Studio is right there in the running. If you think the 7506’s treble is going to bother you, there’s nothing wrong with investing in a 240. It’s been around for decades and still remains relevant to this day. Honest, pure, neutral sound.

 

The 7506 is an industry-standard and has also been around for decades. In the past, I always found myself subconsciously reaching for one when I needed to hear what was going on in a song or mix, and that certainly is a  true testament to its staying power. I can also listen casually to music with it but be advised you may want to EQ the high treble down by a couple of dB.

 


Well, that’s about it for today my friend! Hope you enjoyed this Audio Technica ATH M40x vs. AKG K240 Studio vs. Sony MDR-7506 Shootout/Comparison. I also hope you have a better idea of the similarities and differences between each.

Which of these sound like you? Let me know down below!!

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If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to drop a comment in the box, or Contact me! I very much look forward to speaking with you…

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!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

 

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