The ATH-M40fs from Audio-Technica are a great pair of phones. They are fairly inexpensive, in spite of being dubbed as precision studio headphones. And that’s pretty much what they are. Too bad they’re now discontinued. N00bs! Anyway. Let’s examine these closed-back dynamic headphones a bit closer.
Look ma, they rotate!
Yeah, so these ear pieces are the flippy-floppy kind, if you know what I mean. With the swivel cans, you can act like those big mouth vocalist (?) celebrities who pretend to know why they slide one of the cans off of their ears. In fact, you can not only slide these off, but turn ’em inside out! How fun! And the headphones stay on your head. Just don’t try to nod or tilt you head back and forth at an angle too high. These phones are on the heavy side with their 250 g (8.8 oz) weight. Also, the headband spring’s force are not strong enough to keep these on your head if you decide to move around too much. You can get used to it though, and less force on your ears and head means you can wear them longer without feeling any discomfort. And longer is better, right? Get out of the gutter already.
These drivers do what’s on the box
So let’s look at the drivers of the ATH-M40fs indeed. They are 40mm diameter, with neodymium magnets. The voice coils are made of copper-clad aluminum wire. The impedance is 60 ohms, and they can withstand 1.6W power (with an 1kHz sine test signal). The sensitivity of these headphones is 100dB. Audio-Technica has given us a nominal frequency response of 5 – 28,000 Hz. And man, they do their job real fine. By that, I mean, they are indeed as close to flat response as headphones can get. Can you mix on these? Well, I would never recommend anyone to try and mix music on headphones exclusively. Why? Because you can’t judge a couple of things well enough. Like the entire low end, or the right amount of ambience (reverb, delay, etc.) needed. That being said, in an emergency situation (your cat pee’d all over your monitor speakers), you can at least attempt to even mix on them. Once you’ve got to know them inside out. Certainly, the ATH-M40fs cans represent the treble, the midrange and the bass really accurately. Speaking of the bass. When you put these phones on the first time, you might be surprised to not hear too much bass. That, my friend, is the truth. Well, to be precise, the truth starts hitting your ears after a couple of hours, when the brand new membranes get to move and loosen a little.
Long cable, replaceable parts – good cans
It comes with a 3.4m cable (11 feet, OFC litz wire). That’s long enough for most scenarios you might stumble upon during recording in the studio. The cable comes out of the left side can. The other end has a big old metal 1/4” jack on it. The good thing is, you can replace these. I mean, the cable, the jack, even the drivers. And the ear pads. Too bad about the ear pads; they start wearing out with their covers flaking away after about a year. No big problem, just a little bit annoying. I’ve replaced my ones with sturdier Shure ear pads. They fit perfectly fine. Audio-Technica should carry these better quality ones as well, so people wouldn’t go for another brand.
Headphones for musicians and engineers
Listening to music on them is pure joy. Unless, of course, you’re one of those bass heads that can never have enough low end. If you’re that kind, get the M50s, and forget flat response. All in all, these ATH-M40fs headphones are ideal for people who are serious about accurately represented sound quality. Whether you’re a musician or an audio engineer, you’ll get that out of these phones. Even if it means less flattering towards the music. That’s going to inspire you to make better music.