What is one of the most important components if you want to improve your abilities as a music producer?
Studio owners may invest a lot in speakers, MIDI equipment, and instruments—but let’s not forget the item you’ll probably wear constantly: a good quality set of professional studio monitor headphones.
After all, you won’t be able to produce music and listen to tracks on the move and in the studio without them!
Enter Audio Technica.
In this Audio Technica ATH-M40x review, I’ll break down if this piece of studio gear is something that should be on your shopping list.
A quick glance is often enough to gauge a component’s worth. So, do Audio Technica and the features it offers rank high on your priority list?
Audio Technica ATH-M40x Review
What sets the Audio Technica ATH-M40x headphones apart from all the other models you could select?
The Audio Technica set is specifically designed for studio use and audio monitoring. That’s what the 90° swivel of the earpieces and long cables are for.
This swivel effect on the ear cups allows the set to collapse in on itself for safe storage so nothing can damage the insides of the earpieces.
I like how the Audio Technica ATH-M40x is also VERSATILE because as a music producer, you’re bound to work with different sets of music equipment:
- Switch between 1/8” and 1/4” jacks easily using an adaptor
- Alternatively, you can simply plug out the detachable cable and plug in your friend’s cord since this isn’t permanently fixed to the set
It has a sturdy design that serves consumers well who use their equipment on a daily basis. When wearing it for long periods of time, I’m sure you’ll definitely appreciate the comfortable fit.
The audio quality is produced by 40mm drivers and distortion is countered with copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils & rare earth magnets.
I admit that these great-sounding headphones can’t directly compete with the bass response of bass-specific headphones.
However, they still produce above-average sound quality in a wider frequency range and has a fairly neutral sound signature.
I also like how they still work great as high-quality headphones for casual music listening or as audiophile headphones for those who are really particular with top-notch sounds.
In addition, the headband and ear pads are all covered in high-quality materials, so your comfort is ENHANCED. The pair will also isolate sound with the circumaural contours on the earpieces.
This makes the Audio Technica ATH-M40x mostly usable in unique, loud environments such as live gigs or for listening to your tracks while using public transport.
- Easily collapsible for portability
- Swiveling ear cups for one-ear mixing
- Durable fabric and excellent build quality
- Cable not fixed
- Great sound isolation and very low noise pollution
- Long cables included with purchase
- The perfect alternative to expensive studio monitors for new producers on a budget
- Detachable cable for shared listening
- Tight on large heads
- Over-ear headphones design can get hot
- Not the most stylish
- Ear cups only rotate 90° (not 180°)
I’ve broken down the review into some of the most important features your headphones should have.
What’s in the Box?
- One set of headphones
- 1x standard cable
- 1 x coiled cable
- 1 carrying pouch
- 1/4” / 1/8” adapter
Is this the perfect set of professional monitor headphones you’ve been looking for? Let’s dive deeper.
Here, the Audio Technica ATH-M40x scores pretty high since you can easily switch the connection between 1/4” and 1/8” types.
You can even disconnect your cable completely to plug in a new one or someone else’s instead of being limited to a fixed cable.
Unfortunately, I’m not happy that it’s NOT manufactured with Bluetooth connectivity which would have made me more mobile around the studio.
You could try and add Bluetooth with converters, but, in my experience, a Bluetooth adapter doesn’t always work 100%.
Does the Audio Technica brand provide you with comfort features? Definitely YES.
The headband and earpieces are all covered in soft fabric. The earpieces fit comfortably around the ears which is a way of shutting out the noise and also makes for more comfortable wearing.
However, your comfort will depend on the size of your head.
I feel like the clamping is quite tight, so someone with a large-sized head may feel too much pressure if the set is worn for a long period.
First off, the design and absence of a microphone mean it’s not really a gaming set. The reasonable price tag means you could consider this for home listening if you’re after excellent quality.
This Audio Technica headset is most definitely for the studio, but not only because they produce such clear audio.
For one, I found the swivel function of the ear pieces super easy to mix with one ear which many professionals prefer.
As a bonus, you can have a visiting client get an idea of the masterpiece you’re creating by having them listen while you carry on working.
They’re also made for taking your music on the road. You don’t want your gear to get damaged — luckily, neatly collapse to fit into a protective bag.
Thanks to that, I don’t experience any distortion because my gear was damaged during travel — I can simply pack the headphones and laptop and start creating amazing tracks while traveling on trains, planes, and automobiles!
However, I also found that they’re not ideal to go exercising with. That’s because they’re bound to slide down even if they feel tight on your ears at the start of your session.
They’re simply not made to stay in place while you move around a lot. They’re also not completely noise-canceling.
The Audio Technica brand also DOESN’T claim that they are, so this is your first clue that they definitely aren’t.
They will isolate some sound so you won’t hear everything around you, but you’ll have a sense of what’s going on around you.
This could be distracting if you’re working, but for studio work where you’re mostly alone, these will suffice.
I already mentioned that the ear cups swivel and they can collapse, and the brand provides you with a custom-made bag for storage purposes.
A case would have been an even better option in terms of protecting the set, but the padded bag is easy to fit into your luggage.
For optimal usage of any sound gear, you need cabling. I love that the cord isn’t permanently attached so you can remove it if you need to.
That means it won’t get damaged as easily during transportation or if you prefer a different one, you can use it easily.
Luckily, the cable is supplied so it’s not an additional expense —, but I’m even more impressed that the brand caters to musos or producers with different tastes.
You get one coiled cable that limits those irritating tangles with other cords in your system. However, a straight cable is also included.
Whichever your preference is, you’ll be glad to know that both are 3 meters long when stretched out.
Additionally, I’m surprised that the brand does seem to think of all scenarios because it even gives you a 1/4” screw-on adapter!
The one thing it DOESN’T come with is a standard mic. This makes it much more of a producing set of headphones than gaming equipment.
Headphones are used on a daily basis and often travel with musos or producers.
Purchasing a pair that will quickly break is a waste of money, and I can tell you that they’re BOUND to go through some rough handling no matter where you use them.
This pair should live up to high expectations thanks to the sturdy construction and also the fabric. Audio Technica used professional-grade material so it won’t easily crack or peel off.
In the headband, you’ll find steel reinforcement which gives the unit a longer lifespan. The construction will also survive many hours and earpiece swiveling.
Note that the joints do feel somewhat flimsy so I still suggest that you try and work with care as far as you can.
This is probably the most important thing, right?
What’s important is that you’ll get balanced audio with this set.
Mids, highs, and even bass frequencies will come through CLEARLY, even as low as 20Hz.
Some users complain about inconsistencies, but I think this could be attributed to the wearing of glasses which automatically alters the headphones’ capabilities.
Audio Technica ATH-M40x Alternatives
So, is the Audio Technica ATH-M40x the best pair of headphones for you?
If you’re looking for a way to listen to audio in a critical aspect, I’m sure you’ll enjoy these in the studio for mixing and tracking.
Depending on the setup, you could use them if you’re a DJ or a music producer of any style and genre.
As I’ve stated, their usefulness dwindles when you exercise with them or use them in loud environments. So, basically, these are really designed to produce music, DJ, or listen back to your tracks after they have been mixed down.
A similar unit you can consider is the Audio Technica ATH-M70x from the same brand has higher input power and better frequency response.
This could be what you need if you’re mastering a track, which calls for absolute accuracy and no distortion.
However, this one doesn’t collapse so you can’t really take it with you everywhere.
Moving on, if you’re looking for other headphones to consider, here are 2 alternatives I recommend that you can take a look at.
Cowin E7 Review
If noise canceling is what you’re after, you can look at the COWIN E7.
These over-ear headphones are battery-driven and Bluetooth enabled so you can take them on the road.
Will they be as dynamic for precise studio work? Not likely.
They can also become hot and should be taken off every two hours according to the manufacturer.
This isn’t very practical for a day in the studio, and I think this is more of a style statement for CASUAL listening.
AGK K240 Studio Review
If you’re shopping on a budget, I recommend the AKG K240STUDIO Semi-Open Studio Monitor Headphones
They offer many professional features but are slightly less expensive than the Audio Technica ATH-M40x.
However, you may have to sacrifice in terms of frequency response and quality of the structure.
MORE HEADPHONE REVIEWS:
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 250 Ohms: Full Review
The Complete Sennheiser HD 25 Review for Beginners
All in all, it really comes down to what’s featured on your priority list.
I assure you that this Audio Technica ATH-M40x will serve you well in the studio and is easy to take with you wherever you go.
Can it be improved?
Is it a sensible buy for a studio owner?
Also yes.But one thing is for sure: Audio Technica provides a reliable pair of studio headphones that will fit almost everyone’s budget!
READ MORE: How To Become A Music Producer: Hip Hop And DJ Tips
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