I am quite the happy camper. Yes I am. And that is for a good reason. Initially my works were for some of my audio toys, and that is something expected as I have yet to establish my reputation as a critic for personal audio gear. However, as my portfolio of works start to increase, I am now starting to enjoy that little perk wherein some people would be willing to loan me their toys to subject them to the test for the BRI. As of late, more and more offers are coming to the point that I get overwhelmed with the offers. Nowadays, I would normally receive one or two toys to review, and boy, as a personal audio enthusiast it feels like Christmas to me every week as I get to enjoy toys I know I can’t always get.
This time around, it was a double for Ryan who lent me his Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 of which I published just recently. It was fun, I rediscovered the reason why I loved that can before, and that left me wanting to have one. I probably would get one, but I will have a can in mind which I am hoping to get in the next month or so which I have been slobbering to get for the past couple of months.
Anyway, as I have said, it is a double for Ryan as he also lent me his Audio-Technica ATH-E40 alongside the MSR7 (boy did he love them ATHs). I used to have the ATH-IM70 so the E40 is quite curious for me as I loved the IM70 dearly (at this point I still get some impulse to get one again). However, let’s find out if the E40 will sate my cravings for the IM70.
With IM series’ proprietary terminations in the earpiece, one would think that they will keep the design in their future releases. However, it was not the case for the E40, E50 and E70. Instead of going for that inverted 2-pin termination of the IM series, Audio-Technica decided to go for what they call 1.6 m (5.2′) with A2DC connectors. One would be curious though, as the IM termination seems a heck lot more stable compared to that of the E-series.Maybe they designed it for better contacts, however if given a choice, I will still opt for the IM terminations.
Right smack in the middle of the earpiece you will find some sort of a dome that displays the circuitry of the E40. Kind of makes it look a bit fancier unlike the IM series that simply looks like some piece of shell with no accents on it. I just find the nozzle a bit too long for me, which is somewhat reminiscent of the IM50/IM70.
Audio-Technica stuck with the memory wire design for the cable, understandable as this made a mark with the IM series. I however am not really a big fan, but this is not an issue; a benefit even for those who would like to bring their IEMs for a jog. In any case, I saw that there are available cables in the market in case you break the cable. I am just waiting though for the terminators to finally be available to have a modification option ready in case one wants to venture with mods.
The IEM now comes with a hard shell case, a pleasant change from the IM50/IM70’s pleather pouch which easily gets worn out anyway. A bit on a big side though, but I am not really complaining.
Here’s the specs for those who are curious:
I used to have partiality with ATH-IM70 as it was my first serious IEM when I ventured into the hobby. I did try a few others back then (ATH-IM50, Shure SE215, Westone W2) and I easily fell in love with the IM70. Perhaps it was because of my preferences back then, but I must say that up to now I will still be willing to get one as my beater since I have been pretty much familiar with the sound and is easily enjoyable to listen to.
With the E40, one thing I notice is the airy highs around 2-4khz range. Mids seems forward enough but not overwhelming. Bass is a bit short for me; yes it is sufficient for my taste, but seems short in terms of punch.
Here’s an FR graph courtesy of http://www.reference-audio-analyzer.pro:
Let’s take this baby for a ride using some choice tracks. I used my Onkyo DP-X1 paired with Xduoo XD-05 op amp switched to Muses01:
Titanium (David Guetta feat. Sia, Nothing But The Beat)
Bass sounds tight with the track but is a bit short in terms of punch. Sia’s vocals are a bit forward and is very pleasing to listen to. Highs has a good, natural sparkle and is quite airy. Imaging is good at least.
Do I Need A Reason (D’Sound, Smooth Escapes: The Very Best Of D’Sound)
With this track, bass seems to be ample and is just right for the track. Simone Larsen’s vocals has excellent clarity and is not drowned in the track. Guitars have excellent shimmer which nicely accentuates the track without getting to the point of being unnatural. This has to be the best track that I have tried with the E40.
True Colors (Phil Collins, Hits)
As much as I have said that bass seems to lack punch with the E40, I particularly enjoyed it’s tight but mellow attack with the tracks I have tried. Nothing different with this track, as it seems to try to give body to the track and yet is still quite controlled. Phil Collins’ voice is nothing short of soothing. The track is quite very relaxing especially while using the E40.
So, is the ATH-E40 a good IEM that it can replace the IM70 as my choice beater? I would say not exactly, as the signature of E40 seems to cater to some people who would like it. I would, but in any case I will get a personal unit, I will still get an IM70. While IM70 for me seems to be a bit more aggressive, the E40 seems to cater to a more relaxed listening experience. And given the pricetag of $99 (Amazon.com), this is quire a good entry level IEM that can go together with IM70 if you want some options depending on what genre you will listen to. Still, a very good buy for me in my opinion.