Up until recently, my main studio monitoring headphones have been a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-M40fs’s. I bought them in 2005 and have used them regularly ever since. However, headphone technology has improved a lot in 10 years, and the ATH-M40fs model has been discontinued anyway, so to find a credible alternative for new home studio users, or headphone upgraders, it was time for something new.
I’m a big fan of Audio-Technica gear, and I think the AT2020* is one of the best budget condenser microphones out there. It was only natural that I started looking for new headphones in the Audio-Technica range, but it turned out that my search was not very long.
Audio-Technica has updated their ATH-M studio headphone line in 2014, and there are now a total of five models, differing by price and features. The entry-level model ATH-M20X* is probably a good cheap pair for music listening, or for players and singers in the studio, if not critical studio mixing. At the other end of the spectrum there is the very serious and very expensive ATH-M70X* – at 299 € they were out of the question for this purpose.
The problem then becomes a decision between the more mid-range ATH-M30X*, ATH-M40X* and ATH-M50X*. Seriously, there are too many models in the range, but then again the 20-30 € respective price differences between them might matter for your budget.
After reading and watching a couple of reviews I came to the conclusion that the ATH-M50X is a little bit overkill, and the ATH-M30X is little more than the ATH-M20X. I figured that the sweet spot for me would be the Audio-Technica ATH-M40X*, so I plunged for a pair. There was a sale on, so I got them for 79 € (which really was a steal), but now the price is more like 115 €. Still, around or little over a hundred euros is a reasonable price for a quality pair of studio monitoring headphones. Other headphones in this price range include the AKG K-240 MKII* and the Sennheiser HD380 Pro*.
I have had my pair of ATH-M40X’s for about three months now, but due to all sorts of other activity, I’ve only gotten about three weeks worth of use from them so far. Still, I can comfortably say that as a music maker with both stationary and mobile requirements, I have made a good choice.