Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Studio Monitor Headphone - Recommended for Accurate Audio Monitoring
Published on May 30, 2023, 8:30 p.m.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x headphones are a popular set of closed-back studio monitor headphones known for their neutral sound reproduction and comfortable fit. As an upgrade from the previous ATH-M40 model, the ATH-M40x offers high-quality audio performance at an affordable price point.
In this detailed review, we will take an in-depth look at the ATH-M40x headphones, including their design, build quality, sound quality, comfort, accessories, and overall value. We’ll also summarize some of the key pros and cons of these headphones to help you determine if they are the right choice for your needs.
- Extremely balanced and neutral sound signature
- Ideal for studio monitoring and critical listening
- Very affordable price for performance
- Removable cables for convenience
- Metal reinforced headband for durability
Overview and Specifications
The ATH-M40x headphones have a simple yet robust design optimized for studio use. Key specifications include:
- Driver: 40mm neodymium drivers
- Frequency Response: 15 - 24,000 Hz
- Impedance: 35 ohms
- Sensitivity: 98 dB/mW
- Max Input Power: 1,600 mW
- Weight: 240g (without cable)
- Cable: Detachable 3m coiled and 3m straight
- Connector: 3.5mm (1/8”) with 6.3mm (1/4”) screw-on adapter
With a frequency range spanning the full audible spectrum, the M40x aims to reproduce sound with accuracy and precision. The low 35 ohm impedance allows them to be driven even from portable devices, while the high sensitivity provides loud volumes even from weaker audio sources.
Build Quality and Design
The ATH-M40x has a robust build quality featuring metal reinforced headband and swiveling earcups. The earcups can rotate 90 degrees for easy one-ear monitoring, and can also fold inward for portability.
The headphones are primarily constructed from plastic, with faux leather padding on the headband and earcups. While mainly plastic, the matte texture and metallic accents give them a nice premium appearance.
Build quality feels solid overall, with smooth swiveling motion and clicks when rotating the earcups. The headband is adjustable with numbered marking for consistent sizing.
Comfort-wise, the clamping force is moderate and the earpads are relatively soft. However, some may find the oval earpads too small and can cause discomfort after prolonged use. Aftermarket earpads may help in this regard.
As studio monitor headphones, the ATH-M40x aims for a balanced, neutral sound reproduction. The sonic profile is quite flat across the frequency range without emphasis on any particular frequencies.
The bass is accurate and punchy, with good extension down to 15Hz. However, bass heads may find it lacking in sub-bass rumble compared to more consumer/bass boosted headphones.
The mid-range is clear and transparent. Vocals sound natural without artificial boosts. Treble is also smooth without excessive sharpness or sibilance.
Soundstage has decent width for closed-back headphones. Imaging is good with the ability to pick out individual instruments cleanly. Overall detail retrieval is excellent, allowing you to hear nuances clearly.
For monitoring and critical listening, the ATH-M40x provides a honest representation of the source audio. The flat frequency response helps you mix and master audio precisely based on what is present in the actual recording.
The ATH-M40x comes with a decent selection of accessories:
Carrying pouch - Provides basic protection during transport.
Coiled 3m cable - Allows flexibility during studio use.
Straight 3m cable - For casual listening on the go.
6.3mm adapter - Allows connections to pro audio gear.
Earcups: Spare set included.
While a hardshell case would be better for travel, the included accessories cover the basics fairly well. Replacement earcups are handy to have as earpad material can deteriorate over time.
- Audio mixing and mastering
- Podcast and voice recording
- Field recording and sampling
- DJ monitoring
- Music analysis and critical listening
User Feedback Analysis
Looking deeper into reviews and user impressions, here are some common themes that emerge:
The neutral sound profile receives heavy praise, with most reviewers commenting on the clean and accurate audio reproduction. Many describe hearing details in songs they never noticed before.
However, some lament the lack of bass impact compared to more consumer/fun-sounding headphones. Electronic, hip-hop, and pop genres may sound dull to those seeking pumped up low end.
A common complaint is that the oval earpads are on the small side and put pressure on the ears. Those with larger ears especially find them uncomfortable for long sessions.
But some note the pads soften over time, and aftermarket pads like Brainwavz can also improve comfort.
An overwhelming majority agree these headphones are an incredible value. The performance is on par with models costing over $200 based on the natural sound and build quality.
Reviewers looking for specific features like Bluetooth or active noise cancellation note there are better options if those aspects are needed. But for pure wired studio use, the value is unmatched.
While mainly plastic, most mention the ATH-M40x feeling solidly built. The metal reinforced headband adds confidence in their longevity. However, the removable cables are proprietary and non-replaceable by standard parts.
Many reviewers highlight the good passive noise isolation, allowing them to focus on the audio. The closed-back design prevents sound leakage as well.
For studio and critical listening applications, reviewers overwhelmingly praise the ATH-M40x as a top choice for those on a budget. The accuracy and detail match more expensive models, cementing their reputation as a go-to affordable studio monitoring headphone.
Pros and Cons
- Neutral, honest sound signature
- Excellent clarity and detail
- Great price for performance
- Effective noise isolation
- Removable cables
- Bass light for casual listening
- Earpads may be uncomfortable
- No Bluetooth or other features
- Carrying pouch lacks protection
At around $100, the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x deliver tremendous value not found in other headphones at this price point:
Pro-level studio sound quality approaching headphones costing 2-3x more
Highly durable construction with metal reinforcing
Multiple detachable cables included
Accessories like carrying pouch and adapter
Swiveling earcups and excellent noise isolation
Considering the natural audio reproduction, build quality, accessories, and features, these headphones punch far above their weight class in terms of value.
While spending more can get you incremental improvements, the ATH-M40x get you around 95% of the performance of elite studio headphones for a fraction of the price. For budget-minded musicians, audio engineers, podcasters, and casual listeners, they are an easy recommendation.
Overall, the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x are an excellent pair of closed-back studio monitor headphones available at a very reasonable price. Their neutral and accurate sound makes them idea for audio engineers, podcasters, musicians and other content creators looking for a faithful representation of their audio mixes.
While more casual listeners may prefer headphones with more bass emphasis and excitement, the ATH-M40x focuses on reproducing audio as precisely as possible. If you want headphones with an honest and analytical sound for studio monitoring, these deserve strong consideration.
Driver Size: 40 mm
Frequency Response: 15 - 24,000 Hz
Max Input Power: 1,600 mW
Sensitivity: 98 dB/mW
Impedance: 35 ohms
Weight: 240g (without cable)
- Coiled: 3.0m
- Straight: 3.0m
Connector: 3.5mm with 6.3mm screw-on adapter
- Carrying pouch
- Coiled 3.0m cable
- Straight 3.0m cable
- 6.3mm adapter
- Spare earpads
Driver Technology: CCAW voice coils
Earcup Style: Closed-back, over-ear
Earpad Material: Professional grade padding
Foldable Design: Yes, flat folding
Swivel Design: 90° swiveling earcups
What’s in the Box
- ATH-M40x headphones
- 3m coiled cable
- 3m straight cable
- 6.3mm screw-on adapter
- Carrying pouch
- Spare earpads
How to Use
Connect the audio cable to your audio source - either the coiled or straight cable.
Wear the headphones so the headband sits comfortably on your head. Adjust the size slides for the best fit.
Rotate the earcups until they fit snugly around your ears to get a good seal.
Start playback from your audio device. Adjust volume as needed.
Take breaks every 1-2 hours to avoid ear fatigue during long sessions.
Unplug the cable and fold the headphones inward when not in use.
Replace earpads as needed if they deteriorate over time.
Clean with a soft dry cloth. Avoid moisture near drivers.