AT-M40x, AMP/DAC Questions

Hello everyone, this is my first time on this site. I’m looking for some advice and I expect to sound highly uneducated around the topic of audio, so please bear with me.

I’m looking for a wired pair of headphones, main uses are for gaming and music. My current and currently dying headset is the Logitech G533; random crackling & sound cutout are part of the reason why I’ve spent all day looking up a new pair of headphones.

I stumbled across this video from Z Review and am highly interested in giving this a try with the extra parts recommended in said video.

However, I have no idea if I’m going to need an AMP or DAC. Why? I’ve never owned/used one before. My first headset was a terrible Plantronics headset, then I moved to Logitech Gaming headsets from there until today. Still don’t have a good idea on why an AMP or DAC is needed, I’ll probably need hands-on experience to actually get it.

Am I going to need an AMP or DAC for this? I play games like CSGO, Modern Warfare 2019, Battlefield 4, Doom 2016/Eternal and various music. If so, anybody got any tutorial links on understanding which one is right for my uses?

Thanks.

Welcome! Hope you have a good time here. There’s lots of really good people on here and you can find tons of information on here.

I recently started my journey and here’s what I started with that totally changed my world and the way I hear everything from music, to games, movies and everything in between.

I have been a fan of Sennheiser for a long time. I own a pair of their Bluetooth earbuds and have listened to Sennheiser for years. I started with a pair of HD650s. You can’t really go wrong in the HD600 line. I have not heard the 600s or 660S but everyone I know, and a bunch of people on here love those as well. I started with those and an IFI Zen Dac. This is a DAC\Amp combo and it’s amazingly good for the price. If you choose to go this route you can find these on Amazon (links below). Also you will want to run a balanced cable to really bring out the 650s and make them sing on that Zen DAC. You’ll want to run a balanced cable that terminates in a 4.4mm balanced connection to use with the Zen DAC. This combination has completely changed the way I listen to anything now.

I hope you have a blast whatever way you decide to go. Myself or anyone else will be glad to answer any questions to the best of our ability.

**Note on the balanced cable. I link Hart Audio here because I love their interconnect system and I think it’s an excellent way to get started with their interconnect system. Be aware due to COVID it takes about three weeks right now to get the stuff in the mail. Totally worth it though in my opinion. You’ll want the HC-5 cable and the IC-6 interconnect.

Check Z-reviews on YouTube for all the aforementioned stuff.

Sennheiser HD650 Open Back Headphones

IFI Zen DAC\Amp Combo

Hart Audio Cables

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Hey there welcome to Hifiguides.

M40x doesn’t generally need an amp but it will depend on your audio codec… if anything you could get away with like a cheapo $20 sound card usb and be fine.

I would ask what is your budget for your setup though. plenty of alternatives to the m40x on the gaming genre

Right now my budget is about $300 up front, but I wouldn’t mind slowly buying more parts for a better setup.

So, I don’t have a whole lot of time to drop a ton of recommendations but heres some guide that should definitely help you out

alright now I have some more time @Sacrificing lol. So it will definitely depend on your sound preferences… M40x is more along the lines of a V signature if anything nice bass pretty close to neutral mids and raised highs… it’s not real bad honestly and is portable too as well as has a bluetooth adapter for it to make it wireless plus the fact it can make use of a 2.5mm boom microphone. I will post some recommendations below the guides I listed.

Depends on the headphone.

Alright so heres some recommendations from me.

Tygr300R: Warm, Bassy, slightly elevated highs, very large soundstage, somewhat aggressive and intimate, extremely comfortable and light, great all rounder, doesn’t need an amp and if you can’t drive it loud enough can use like a $20 sound card or something to get it loud. Alternative Fidelio X2HR from philips this is bassier and has more elevated highs though perhaps a bit too bassy for competitive gaming either way it’s compatible with V-moda boom pro due to the detachable cable and can make use of a 3.5mm bluetooth dongle adapter to turn it wireless if you think the bass is an issue the neutral bright shp9500 has the same compatabilities and is nice too. Doesn’t particularly need amp here but again the sound card or something works fine if you wanna budget

Planars in your budget that sound great: For more bass definitely 100% the T50RP this is the base form of the Dekoni Blue( V signature ) and the Argons and is extremely moddable very changeable sound overall and really nice. The alternative here in my opinion would definitely be the Hifiman Sundara relatively bass light but amazing detail clarity and sparkle on those highs with quite a good amount of timbre imo. Definitely need a powerful amp

Unique Sounding headphone: Nighthawks/Nightowls(semi open/closed) these are more dark and warm sounding so may not be the best for competitives in my opinion but still awesome with great detail and great bass especially in the low and mids. Discontinued but can be found here and there. Another unique one to list here would definitely be the Verum 1 mk2’s absolutely gorgeous headphone with a good sized soundstage nice bass great detail but relatively dark sounding. Need an amp

Super basshead lover headphones( these may go outside of budget but good to know for future eh?): ostex TR-x00(purple heart, Mahogany, Ebony. Discontinued but can be still found more linear soundstaging though), Emu Teak(V signature). these need amp

Balanced sounding: This would be your sennheisers. You can grab the HD 558/559 if you prefer a little more bass and a larger soundstage, HD 598 for a more balanced sound with that large soundstage, HD 599 for a little more bright with again more balanced sound and large soundstage these are all compatible with a 2.5mm boom mic and maybe a wireless dongle if you can find one. Step up from there definitely the 58x Jubilee very well rounded a lot of detail wonderful vocals though can’t make use of the 2.5mm boom mic this is a duel sided detachable headphone as such you can purchase the extra accessory that makes this headphone balanced which really makes them sound great. These generally don’t need an amp but it can help

Bright Headphones: Definitely more towards the Beyerdynamic brand here. DT 770: bassy somewhat recessed mids and bright closed back quite nice not for everyone though. DT 880: One of the competitive gaming gods of headphones bass light neutral mids raised highs quite a lot of detail and sparkle. DT 990: only take this one if your okay with a ton of treble this is extremely bassy recessed mids and extremely sharp treble requires an amp that can settle that treble down. These headphones sound their best in their highest ohm requirement and are much more refined therefore you definitely want an amp around the $100 range to power them. 250 ohms for 770 and 600 ohms for 880 and 990. Lastly here I would bring up the HarmonicDyne Helios. This is pretty new has a very nice natural bass and treble with a good punch in the treble but not real heavy bass… vocals are decent enough with a fairly deep sound to it and fairly moderate soundstage. Very pretty looking headphone and a good alternative to something like the Sundara or DT 880

$100 amp recommendations. Monoprice Liquid Spark, Schiit Magni 3+ / Heresy, JDS Atom, Topping A30. Spark pairs best with brighter headphones.

just general Dac recommendations: to cut costs and still have a great dac I would recommend just grabbing the Topping D10 or the slightly more expensive E30

Amp/dac Combo units: IFI Zen Dac(this has a balanced port good if you want to go for that sennheiser 58x jubilee too), Schiit Fulla(low power so not great for very demanding headphones, Schiit Hel(can power practically anything and sound good, If you prefer a more chatmix or gamer type amp/dac soundblaster x3 or g6

Welcome to the rabbit hole!

Everything I write below assumes you are on PC/Linux/Mac.
Important question as you come from a headset: Do you need a mic?


Problem with the M40x is comfort (the headband padding especially), and keep in mind they do not have a mic.

Take a look at the AudioTechnica ATH-G1 (don’t have hands on experience, looks like it fixed the earpad/headpad problem compared to the M40x).
The wireless version is “meh” though.

The Beyerdynamic Custom Game is another nice pair to consider. I like them because they do not sound like a beyerdynamic headphone, comfort is 10/10.


As for DAC, Amp, etc.
This depends if you need a Mic. If you have one of the better Logitech webcams just use that for a mic.

On the “barely better than onboard” level, there are dongles like the Soundblaster Play 3

Combo units like the Schiit Fulla (according to reviews, more of a 6/10 device), Mayflower Electronics Objective2 or the Fiio K5 Pro which is recommended often.

A bit on the unusual side, however the Yamaha AG03 works pretty good for headphone/gaming use cases. Main advantage of going with this is the control you get over volume (or running onboard into it aswell to have seperate knobs for voicechat/music and the game).

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Welcome to the forums!

Is a mic necessary to your gaming? Going from headset to headphones means no built in mic. Another expense to consider.

Thank you for the links Falenkor! I’ll be looking over the links and recommendations today but I have another question:

When you say the M40x is more V-shaped, you mean in terms of equalizer settings right?
This is the settings I use for pretty much anything: games and music. It pretty much makes everything sound better: thicker explosions, snappy/crisp gunfire, focused sounds, heck I can hear footsteps easier this way.

Also is the M40x good for soundstage/being able to identify which direction sounds are coming from? Like if I hear footsteps to my right, can I focus exactly where to my right?


@MazeFrame

Yes I’ll need a mic, but I plan to buy a standalone mic. It’s not set in stone though, if a headset has amazing sound and mic quality then it’s not a problem.


@joshua_g

I heard having mics embedded in the headphones usually means less quality in terms of sound and/or mic quality, so I plan to buy a standalone mic or get one of those mic plugins as seen in Z Review’s video.

Sorry, I just found out how to mention everyone so I’ll stop making multiple posts ^^;

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Usually. But the last few years, some great companies have made pretty great for the money headsets. Sennheiser has a few and so does Beyer. Mic quality sucks compared to non headset mics, but sound quality is there.

You can always use the Logitech mic for now. Not the most comfortable set up, but hanging your old headset from your neck with mic pointed up to still use it works. I have done it in the past myself. Gets ya by.

There are also decent USB mics for 50$

Alternately, you can get a focusrite solo down the road and a much better mic then any gaming mic for about 200$ total.

As owner of a USB mic and the XLR mic that is sitting unused because I am lazy, go XLR now :stuck_out_tongue:
Cheap or used dynamic mics do not break the bank.

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Dekoni blue + magni3+ . Under 300$ v shaped massive and precise soundstage.

not particularly an equalizer. More on the lines of the actual headphones sound signature itself without the use of other hardware or software keep in mind that just because some equalizer settings make one headphone sound great doesn’t mean it will work the same for another headphone.

Not the best but fairly decent in my opinon.

if you are comparing this to the standalones generally speaking yeah they have some of the worst quality. V-moda and modmics are a bit of an exception but standalone mics are generally the best for quality. To help you out a bit there it may not be a good idea to grab the ever popular condensor microphone unless you have a soundproofed room because condensor mics are designed exactly for that in studios. Dynamic mics are designed for more live performances and have better noise isolation. Though you can get usb or xlr and still be alright it’s just that xlr will require an audio interface.

Okay, I’ve done a lot of research, watched a ton of Z Review videos and judged my options. I’d still like some input if you guys don’t mind.

  • Audio Technica ATH-M40x: Still a lot of people praising this headset. Based on Z’s recommendation, this entry level headphone needs cow-leather earmuffs and a different cable. Fairly cheap and I see a few used listings on Ebay for ~$50, and on Amazon $100 new. Would it be wise to buy a used pair if it appears to be in like-new condition, or always stick with new?

  • Audio Technica ATH-M60x: Z Review was quite surprised by this, seems to be good out of the box, but literally twice as expensive as the M40x.

  • Yamaha HPH-MT5: An M40x killer according to Z, and it’s the same price. Can anyone else confirm if this is indeed better than the M40x?

  • Sennheiser HD280PRO: Apparently legendary, and $20 cheaper a new M40x. Seems like the cable is permanently attached though.

  • BeyerDynamic DT770 PRO: Another good set according to Z, but almost $50 more than a new M40x.

  • BeyerDynamic Custom Game: Sold out based on the link MazeFrame gave earlier.

  • Dekoni Audio Blue Fostex: Multiple mentions from you guys. Cable seems like a slight problem, being proprietary.


My thoughts: all of these sound like good options. I don’t have an issue with any of these, and that’s kind of my problem. I have no idea what to expect jumping from a Logitech G533 to any of these (is it a MASSIVE jump in quality?) Do I just pick one and hope for the best?

And I’m still wondering, am I going to need a DAC & AMP for any of these? I understand that a DAC is basically an external sound card and splits left/right audio, and an AMP will literally amplify the sound coming from the headphones/speakers. But what about adjusting the sound via an equalizer like with the Logitech app as shown in my third post? Is there a generic app that can do that for all headsets? And how will I know if a pair is going to need a DAC/AMP?

My primary uses will be for PC games: Battlefield 4, CSGO, Cod:MW(2019), Doom 2016/Eternal, and I know I only listed FPS games but I’ll also be playing pretty much anything.

I’d say that’s up to you. I like buying used amps and DACs but I’m kind of weird about buying used headphones so I always look for new ones but maybe at a good price.

Yeah. It’s going to depend which ones you end up going with, but for example the Dekoni Blues are a great headphone but they’re a modified Fostex T50RP which is notoriously hard to drive, so you would also need to budget for a DAC/amp. I can’t comment on the ATH-M40x but you may be able to get away without amplifying them but I’ll let someone else speak to that as I don’t have a pair.

There are some free programs out there to handle equalization - Peace Equalizer is very popular. You could also buy an analog equalizer like the Schiit Loki. But equalization is not always required, you may really enjoy the sound signature of the headphone you’re using. One reason a lot of us acquire so many headphones is that a lot of headphones sound so drastically different from each other and sometimes you’d prefer to listen to metal on one but classical on another, etc.

Tough to beat.

I might also go Schiit Fulla/Hel and the DT 770 Pro 80Ω.

But the Dekoni’s earpads alone might be worth it lol - so comfortable.

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From my limited experience, you got no obvious bad choice on your list. Two notes from personal experience:

M60x are on-ear, for me as a glasses wearing person, that can be a comfort issue.

HD-280 Pros have relatively strong clamp, but isolate very well.


From your EQ settings, I’d say you will like the Beyers. Get a nice amp with them (for example: Schiit Magni Heresy) and run it off your mainboard using a splitter cable like this for now.


Can still get a dedicated DAC later.

recommended skipping this one… Custom one pro plus and custom studio sound better in my opinion but that’s only if you cannot afford and drive the dt 770 250 ohms. Alternative to these all is the mmx300 gamers headset which gives a rather wide soundstage a better bass more refined highs and just sounds much better in my opinion.

Bassy, bright, slightly recessed mids. Quite a bit of sparkle on the highs and some really nice bass extensions and details. Good for someone wanting this kind of signature in a closed back. Decently large soundstage for a closed back, aggressive and intimate, good imaging and seperation.

Can’t really speak on this one since they released a new variation to it slightly under neutral bass, neutral mids, and dark sounding treble according to it’s frequencies and reviews. Personally, I like the 500 series more in the frequencies, looks, and I am more knowledgable on those and prefer them.

a bit different in the frequencies here to the m40x bass is more neutral, mids have some dark recessed tones to it, and treble has some dark tones but pretty much more neutral. Decently detailed not real bad. M40x is more of a V signature. Both are portable, both use 2.5mm jacks and can be made wireless through a dongle or use a 2.5 mm boom mic. Both are fairly decent and well rounded.

Don’t like the cable. love the rest. Great V signature large soundstage demands a strong amp.

Ever so slightly bumped in the bass, neutral mids, and ever so slightly bumped in the treble making a small peak. Not bad. don’t like the pads. not a big fan honestly but I wouldn’t say it’s bad Tried these quite a long time ago so hard to remember but I definitely wasn’t all too impressed.

More of a slight U signature on this one slightly raised bass and a bit peaked on the treble with fairly neutral mids this ones pretty decently well rounded. The issue with gamer headsets though is they lack an absolute ton of quality in sound like 98% of the time. This is a cheaper headset too you will stand to gain quite a bit on the sound overall depending on your choice.

Fostex and 770s(needs to be in 250 ohms) most definitely the rest. Not so much a requirement and will depend on your audio codec. If it doesn’t get loud enough you can buy a cheap sound card or something to get it a bit louder or use PEACE APO which is free software and install it to your headphones hardware it’s using for sound and bump the preamp a little which should help it out.



yep you need both downloaded to make it work and will have to choose the devices you want the equalizer installed to, requires a restart to the pc when installing to devices good to just choose generally all your sound devices.

Some other helpful programs is Hesuvi and Dolby Atmos since those give you 7.1 surround sound software for damn near no money cost(atmos costs a few bucks but its one time purchase)

If you plug a headphone into your computer unit and you hear some form of distortion, buzzing, humming, etc this is when you need a Dac as the inside of the unit you are using is causing some interferance in the lines of your headphone. Dacs can always dramatically increase sound quality depending on the dac. Just in generally a dac will be better though for cleaning up the sound, bringing out details, etc. As for an amp, if you plug the headphone in and you need to crank your volume to 100% and it still doesn’t get completely loud you need an amp.

Alright. So I haven’t made a choice yet, but I have a general idea of what I should look for. And I’ll be honest, I’m probably going to get two headsets: M40x’s, and something higher quality. Seriously something about Z’s review and the near 6k reviews & 4.5/5 ratings on Amazon feel really alluring. I just want to try putting the cowhides on them and giving it a try. I know I said the $300 range, but I’ll make an exception and work more on a side job to afford both (I have a FT job, but do Doordash/Grubhub on the side to afford hobby-purchases).

So I’ll figure out the other headset later. Now for an AMP/DAC know that I know what they basically are (thanks @Falenkor !), are there things I should watch out for? For example, how about the Schiit Fulla 2? It’s a “Gaming DAC/AMP” but like headsets, is it worse quality compared to standalone “Headphone Amps” and Regular Amps? (I’m looking at the Schiit website for reference).

Is it possible to give any recommendations, despite only having M40x’s to go on and an unknown but higher quality headset later?

It’s because they are by no means a bad headphone( I own these myself actually and was sitting here swapping some pads before I wrote this just to make sure I wasn’t a little crazy as it’s been a while they are one of my more portable headphones for when I go on a train or something). They do however need a set of pads for them… pick the wrong pads and the headphone will definitely let you know, especially if your like me who tried velours and ended up with ear screeching treble and a horrific flat bass with like zero sub bass. They really need a set of sheepskin cowhide or something just some sort of good leather based pads that are thicker and relatively larger to bring out their best sound. Zeos’s recommendation is good its just those pads are definitely the more expensive kind. I have tried velour, suede, and peforated on the m40x it just doesn’t sound anywhere near as good as the leather based cushions. The thicker pads though widen the soundstage as your ears are further form the curved driver makes them nice

Assuming your looking into this amp/dac for your future headphone then?

Some headphones synergize better with certain amps. For example, I wouldn’t recommend something like a Topping A30 for a dt 990 when the liquid spark over there exists and can reign in that extremely bright treble while making the headphone sound fantastic. So it will boil down to what your headphone preferences are sound wise and what can compliment the headphone the best. Keep in mind like I said though. m40x doesn’t need an amp it can help it sure but definitely doesn’t need any major source of power… I plug mine into my onboard audios and they work if I wanted more power I can just go buy like a Ugreen usb adapter sound card for like $20 and it brings them up just fine. Does it sound the greatest? nah but its still fine and respectable to save you money.

Ignore the gaming logo on that stuff… Schiit fulla 2 was the old version youd want to probably look at the 3 as it has better sound and quality overall. Schiit fulla 3 is a good well rounded little dac/amp for a good price for those who aren’t really wanting to really delve into the huge world of audiophile as a hobby but still want that great sound to their favorite headphone and use it for gaming. The schiit Hel is a big step up from here as that thing can practically drive any headphone ou throw at it. Seperate dedicated units will sound better but they of course are generally much more expensive than a combined unit. Some good combo units are IFI Zen Dac this has a balanced port and a unbalanced port making it good for those headphones with balanced cabling to sound better, Schiit fulla 3 and hel I did just explain these, FX Audio Dac x6 not the most powerful but a good budget option, syba sonic the most budget option about the strength of an average onboard audio good if your audio codec is awful and you just want to drive a very basic ohm headphone. Lastly are the more gaming based amp/dacs soundblaster x3 and g6 which had that chat mix stuff and recon mode for gamers. Some good seperate amps would be Fiio E10k this is a budget option not the best sounding but its fairly nice for a cheaper price. $100 ranges though are some of the better options those are Magni 3+ / Heresy, Liquid Spark, Topping A30, and JDS Atom. Better dacs would be simply just Topping D10, Topping E30, JDS Dac, and the Modi from schiit. Step ups from there I would just point to the Asgard 3 + E30 or Modius dacs

It’s possible but would be more reasonable to narrow down what your sound preference for headphones is this would give a general idea as to which amp would suit you best.

Yes, let’s say the following for headphone examples:

  • Dekoni Audio Blue Fostex (only if the cable can be replaced despite being proprietary)

  • BeyerDynamic DT770 PRO

And since it’s a given, the M40x. Let’s go based on your recommendation for a DAC/AMP combo: the Schiit Hel. How would that combination of DAC/AMP and Headphones work?

Sorry for asking so many questions, but I really appreciate the insight cause I have next to no idea what’ll work or not :cold_sweat: Wanna make sure this big purchase goes in the right direction or I’m going to regret wasting hundreds of dollars and hours worked.

One last thing, I was thinking about using the M40x’s for listening to music on my phone. Does that need a portable DAC or something?

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