The M40x’s build is fairly robust, although a bit less so than its M50x brother.
It’s fairly small and compact and is mostly made of plastic. It does sport metal for the headband adjustment which is a nice added touch of durability.
In your hand, these feel pretty much exactly as they should. Lightweight but still substantial. It fits the profile of a $100 headphone almost to the T.
There is some padding for the headband, and the ear cups are made of faux leather. Unfortunately, after a couple of years of heavy use, the cups will start to harden and crack. In fact, I ended up completely peeling the entirety of them off of my old ATH M50, and eventually had to replace the pads (Both models have the same padding).
The good news is that with the 40x, the pads are entirely replaceable. If you don’t end up using these every single day, you’ll be afforded more time before the cups need a refresh.
CB-1 & 7506
Both the CB-1 and M40x have a detachable cable, but the cable on the 40x is much, much easier to pull out and push in. Both require you to turn and then pull, but the CB-1 is much harder to turn and kind of fights you coming out.
The 40x has a nice white line indicator on both the 2.5mm termination as well as the insertion on the ear cup. Align the white indicator on the 2.5mm end so it’s slightly below the white line on the cup. Then, push in and turn it a half measure. Both will line up and you’ll feel it when it’s in properly. It doesn’t make any clicking sound but you’ll know it when you feel it.
Both the 40x and CB-1 come with 2 cables – a coiled and straight version for each. This is a welcome addition and adds a ton of value to both headphones.
By contrast, the 7506 only comes with a coiled, non-detachable cable and it tends to tangle in on itself A LOT. The other 2 cables are better about this. It seems as though these companies took note of how bad the issue is with the 7506 as well as the MDR V6, and made the coiled versions of their cable more stiff and robust. Because the 7506’s is more flimsy and pliable, it tends to love tangling and generally being a huge pain in the ass.
The CB-1’s have a little more padding on the headband as well as for the cups. It feels like a higher quality protein leather, a step up from the faux leather of the M40x. It feels fantastic to the touch and very plush, and also doesn’t seem prone to cracking or peeling over time.
The overall build of the CB-1 is indeed heavier than a 40x but feels a tad cheaper and lighter by contrast. This is pretty strange until you consider that the plastic is a bit bulkier, the pads are fatter, and the headphone overall looks and functions in a way that simply takes up more space.
The CB-1 actually borrows many elements from the M50 and M50x – The 3.5mm jack termination is almost identical, and the headband adjustment that attaches both cups hearkens back to the interesting shapes present on the M50 as well. The jack on the M50 was and still is the most robust I’ve ever experienced. The fact that Status Audio noticed that and implemented it into their own headphone is admirable.
Like the M40x, the 7506 has a small amount of headband padding, but this time it’s stitched inside the faux leather. You can press it with your thumb and you’ll feel some, but there’s not a whole lot of it.
The ear cups on the 7506 are infamous for also breaking down over time, but they do so in a different way from the M40x. Instead of cracking and hardening, the 7506’s pads flake and peel after about 1-2 years of heavy use.
Back when I was mixing every single day on the 7506, the pieces on the cups started getting everywhere – on the floor, in your ears, etc. It’s really quite an annoying issue and I wish Sony would update the headphone to reflect that. Get with the times, man! The other issue is that the pads will simply come loose from the headphone and fall out!
The ear pad material basically wraps around the plastic piece of the ear cup and is only really held in through a small crack that traces around the entirety of the cup. You can put them back in, but it takes some elbow grease and also is a fairly irritating problem.
Fortunately like the other 2 headphones, the pads are replaceable. If you don’t use the headphone every day, you’ll be able to get away with not replacing them or worrying about them for a while. Why not buy all 3 of these and just rotate them out?
A good example of this is my own current situation. I have quite a few headphones. Because of that, I don’t really have to worry about the V6’s pads flaking out on me anytime soon. I bought them in 2017 and they are still completely intact.
Out of the 3, the cups on the 7506 are the most shallow, followed by the 40x being less shallow and the CB-1 having the deepest.
Form Factor: M40x vs. CB-1
Another interesting similarity between these is that they both rotate and fold identically. The small difference here is that when the CB-1 folds, it’s a bit wider than that of the 40x. The 40x is simply more compact all around. It’s a slight difference, but still should be noted.
Both sets of ear cups rotate inwards 90 degrees, and both cannot rotate back out 180 degrees. Each stops back in the neutral position and cannot be rotated towards you when holding each headphone out in front.
Both cups also rotate downward and can be propped up on a desk with the cups resting (facing down on the surface).
In addition to that, the CB-1 seems ultra-flexible, and stretches from that position to where the cups are kind of semi-facing outwards!
The M40x can do this too but is less flexible at the headband. I don’t feel as uncomfortable twisting and contorting the CB-1 as I do with the M40x.
The CB-1’s headband adjustment is all plastic, while the M40x’s have that hint of metal that we discussed earlier.
Both have lines for the adjustments, but the CB-1’s also come equipped with numbers while the 40x does not. Also, the adjustment on the CB-1 seems too loose. It kind of slides up and down with no click stops, while with the 40x it’s a bit easier to stop on a dime and get that perfect OCD adjustment. 😛
Lastly, there are Right and Left indicators on both, but for the CB-1 they are on the outside while with the 40x they are on the inside.
Now you may be wondering about the 7506. It also collapses in and is the MOST compact out of the 3. The only difference here is that the 7506’s cups can only fold DOWN. They cannot rotate inward or outwards more than a tiny bit. Also note that the 7506 has this weird tendency of halfway folding sometimes, and kind of snapping in weird ways. It’s hard to describe, but you’ll know what I’m talking about when it’s in your hands. Sometimes you’ll pick it up and have to sort of unfold it. Not really a big deal to me, but it’s worth mentioning.
The 7506 is also mostly plastic but does have metal for the headband adjustment like the M40x, also with numbered indicators. I feel like out of the 3, the M40x’s headband clicks the best when you’re adjusting for the head. It’s got just the right amount of give and stops on a dime better. A little better than the 7506 in this case, but it’s awfully close.
Rank for adjustments:
I don’t really prefer one over the other as far as looks, but the M40x utilizes a much more utilitarian appearance vs. the slightly geeky-looking CB-1. This is especially true when it’s on your head; you kind of look like a giant nerd to be honest.
From the side, the CB-1’s have circular cups with black and a hint of Gold. The 40x’s sport a more oval shape for the outer portion and a circular inner shape with the Audio Technica logo embossed inside.
The 7506 is even more compact but resembles that of a sound engineer’s headphone rather than someone mixing down a hip-hop track or flying on a bicycle.
The 7506’s cups are similar to the 40x’s in that there’s an oval type shape for the outside and a more circular inner shape, again with branding present. On the 7506, you’ve got the Sony lettering/logo, and below that it says Dynamic Stereo Headphones, and “Professional” below that. Steve Buscemi would love these.
It’s always been interesting to me and many others that the CB-1 doesn’t have any branding anywhere on the entire headphone, but I digress…
With that out of the way, let’s talk a bit about comfort!
The M40x is not a terribly comfortable headphone, to be honest. The clamping force isn’t bad, but the padding tends to dig into your ears after a while.
The fit is classified as Circumaural (Around-Ear), but it just barely makes that cut. Like the Sony MDR V6 and the 7506, I kind of look at it as a cross between a Supra-Aural (On-Ear) and Circumaural.
The top of the headphone also has a tendency to kind of dig after some time.
This is a pretty average headphone comfort-wise. You’ll need to make some slight adjustments from time to time – anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.
You won’t get the urge to rip them off of your head, but they’re a little irritating for sure.
The CB-1’s comfort levels are better because of the padding and the fact that they clamp a bit less. I find the CB-1 to be a little above average comfort-wise.
I’m not making as many adjustments as a 40x, and in fact, there’s really no contest here. The fit and comfort of the CB-1 are pretty good.
Just as I said that I had to make a slight adjustment. I’m finding that they’re also digging into my ears a bit more than I would like. Another issue that’s popped up as I’m writing this review and listening to music is indeed the headband. It’s starting to dig into the top of my head, right in front of where the scalp is located.
Even still, the headphone just feels lighter on your noggin’ and makes a pretty good Gaming option for those long sessions. The Best Headphones for Gaming!
Overall, the CB-1 is the clear winner. Just remember that you’re going to look like E.T. while your mashing buttons on the controller. This isn’t a headphone that I’m going to be wearing outside like, ever. Unless you want to get beat up or something like Dee-Dee from My Brother and Me, just stay indoors. Lol.
I’d say the 7506 is a bit more comfortable than a 40x, as it’s a bit lighter and doesn’t have a terribly tight clamp force.
Even so, like the others, you will still be making some adjustments from time to time. It’s just unavoidable really and should be expected given the price points here.
Fortunately, the clamping force is pretty much perfect and the headband doesn’t seem to dig into the top of my skull like it was doing with the CB-1.
I think the sound of the 40x is more predictable than the CB-1. It’s got some nice mid-bass presence but is a tad overdone at times like your mom’s meatloaf. Still, that’s a relatively minor nitpick. This is what a bass head’s headphone should sound like: A nice amount of thump and impact, but it’s not overbearing and doesn’t drown out the mid-range or treble. I do think the mid-bass can get a tad bloaty and unnatural though.
The mids are a bit pushed back, but I still don’t find it to be too much of a problem. Vocals and instruments are still crystal clear, with a surprisingly nice Timbre for such a cheap headphone. What is Timbre? They just simply sound a bit more distant than a true audiophile headphone. Related:The Best Audiophile Headphones!
The treble is really the only problem area for me with the 40x and always has been. Keep in mind this is also a fairly minor issue but does rear its ugly head on certain songs.
For instance, on “So Cruel” from Young Empires, you can clearly hear that metallic, artificial sizzle pretty much the entire time. Also, I’ve owned the 40x for quite a while and you can hear that on most tracks in some form or fashion. With some, it won’t be as problematic or glaring, and with others, it will be. It just depends on the song.
By contrast, the CB-1’s treble is definitely more toned back. Good Great Fine OK’s “Without You” just sounds so incredibly natural and organic with the CB-1. There’s nothing forced here. There’s a nice bounce to the track and I’m not finding any part of the sound signature overbearing, muddy, or overly flamboyant.
Bass & Mid-Range
There’s some bass roll-off, but it’s really the perfect amount. You still hear the kick drum’s impact unlike a K240, but it also has some nice texture and nuance.
The CB-1 admittedly has a somewhat strange sound signature. The lower mid-range takes a dip around 500Hz, which I haven’t really experienced in many headphones. There’s some presence around 1k, it dips again at 2k, and then comes back up at 3k.
Still, on some tracks, it sounds a bit light and feathery, like there’s some sense of sparkle and lushness missing. It’s hard to explain. There’s this ever so subtle sense of an artificial character, but without sounding essy or metallic. I guess a good word to describe the sensation that I’m currently feeling is “dry.” As if it’s lacking body or trueness.
Yeah, that’s not even a word. Oh well, deal with it.
Out of the 3, I think this one is the purest sounding. I think it’s the most resolving. It has this crisp, lively, and snappy character that’s kind of missing in the others.
I feel like the 7506 sounds more professional if that makes sense. It sounds more refined and clean. It’s definitely more sterile and clinical than either of the others.
Like the others, there’s some bass roll-off here but I would liken the impact of the bass to the CB-1 more so than the M40x. The 7506 doesn’t have as large of a bump in the mid-bass and sounds a bit more natural than the 40x.
The mid-range on the 7506 is probably the best out of the 3 as well. It’s fairly flat and the most intimate out of the bunch. I owned the 7506 for a couple of years and it really changed my life. It was the first time I heard music in it’s purest and most raw form.
Yes, the treble can be bright on the 7506, but I would classify it as “hot” and not as metallic sounding as the 40x’s treble. To me, there’s a difference between hot and sibilant. Hot is a tad overly bright. Sibilant is piercing and essy. I don’t really find the 7506 to be that.
The treble on the 7506 will definitely be brighter than a CB-1 though.
Imaging & Soundstage
The CB-1 is known for being more open and airy than most cheap closed-back headphones, so perhaps that’s what my brain is perceiving. It does indeed possess pretty great Soundstage width, which will fare very well with Gaming and Movies. What is Soundstage?
You’ll start to hear subtle details way off in the distance at times, but I wouldn’t really call this an out of your head feeling. I haven’t quite experienced that yet with the CB-1. It’s the feeling you get when you whip your head around to make sure Jason Voorhees isn’t about to go ham on your a**.
By contrast, the 40x will sound more boxed in but still has nice instrument separation and clarity.
I thought about it some while I was taking the photos for the CB-1 and 40x. I think out of the 3, the CB-1 would work best for mixing as it sounds the most neutral, has the right amount of bass, and possesses a more open sound with a bit better clarity than the 40x.
Though the 40x is marketed as a reference headphone, I don’t think it fits that moniker much at all. It should be considered a casual headphone first and used as a 2nd or 3rd option for mixing duties.
What sets the CB-1 apart from even a 7506 is clarity. You can hear pretty much everything going on with it, and that’s the main takeaway here. I was pretty surprised to find out that I was able to make out a lot of small details in the mix that I wasn’t previously aware of in the 40x or 7506. There are artifacts in music that the artist may not have even intended for you to hear, and those perceived imperfections will manifest with the CB-1 in one way or another. Fortunately for us, it mostly adds to the enjoyment of the song rather than become a hindrance.
The Status Audio at 35 Ohm Impedance and 98dB Sensitivity will not resist power and also doesn’t require much. Likewise, the 40x is in the same boat at 32 Ohm and 97dB.
The 7506 is also in a similar position at 63 Ohm and 106dB/mW. What is Headphone Impedance? At 63 Ohm, the 7506 will resist power a bit more than the others, but it’s nothing to get up in arms about.
Still, I personally always like to have an amp around because it seems to enhance sound quality vs. just listening out of your phone or laptop (depending on the phone or laptop of course). What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
Some phones (iPhones in particular), have pretty good built-in DACs. You may not even notice a difference between it and something like an E10K or even my favorite: The DragonFly Red.
Here’s a cool Shootout with 3 of my favorite Amp DACs! Leave me some love if you found any of this helpful!
I’m kind of an amp nerd. I like to have a bunch on hand for whatever reason. Some companies send me them and I just like them. They are my favorite. They make me feel good. They make me feel important. Related:How to Choose a Headphone Amp!
Anyways, let’s take a look at genre before we wrap this thing up!
All of these will do well with similar genres: Rap, Hip-Hop, EDM, R&B, Rock, Indie, etc. The CB-1’s do much better with Jazz and Classical as they have a more open sound with the right amount of bass.
The CB-1 to me sounds fairly neutral and will do well with just about anything. I find it pretty relaxed sounding, with no frequency really overpowering another. There will be times when you say to yourself: “This just sounds right” and it’s true. The CB-1 for the most part is a great all-around headphone. Young Galaxy’s “Ready to Shine” is a perfect example of this. It just makes you want to kick back and smile. The way the music occupies space is really quite incredible and one of the reasons I still have the CB-1 in my Budget Kings Series.
The M40x is a little more genre-specific, but not by an incredibly wide margin or anything. It will still do well with most, but I’d probably steer clear of Jazz and Classical. It will be too boxed in sounding and bass-heavy.
Lastly, the 7506 is similar to the CB-1 as far as being more all-purpose. It works for just about everything and that’s why I still have one. Sorta. I actually have the 7506’s older brother, the V6 and it sounds pretty similar with a bit less bass. Build and comfort wise they are identical.
If I were stranded on a desert island and could only pick one of these, I’d go with the 7506 or CB-1. And if I had to choose between those 2, I’d probably have to give it to the CB-1 which I really didn’t think I would say.
It’s a bit more versatile because of the wider image and better Soundstage, and you’re not going to experience that bite in the treble like you will with the other two. It’s also a bit more comfortable over long periods and comes with 2 detachable cables vs. only one coiled, a non-detachable cable that tangles quite easily (7506).
This is an interesting decision. I think the CB-1 sounds more natural, with less treble sizzle, a great Soundstage for a closed-back, and an overall airy, open character. Comfort isn’t bad, but you will be making adjustments from time to time. Still, the CB-1 is a great entry-level option for someone who’s looking to discover what the audiophile sound is like. I personally think they are practically giving this one away.
Likewise, the M40x is a great headphone in its own right but does suffer from some more glaring comfort issues and that artificial-sounding, somewhat metallic treble. I think if you are looking for a good portable headphone that sounds great with Hip-Hop and most bass heavier stuff, the 40x could work.
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.