Presonus HD9 vs. Status Audio CB-1 vs. Audio-Technica ATHM40x: And Our Winner Is…

Between the Presonus HD9, Status Audio CB-1, and Audio-Technica ATHM40x; Which is the better pair of headphones?

Here it is ladies and gentlemen. Three highly popular headphones side-by-side facing off. While each pair has its standard ups and downs, they also have their own unique benefits. Depending on what you’re looking for in a pair of headphones will determine which of these might be the best choice for you. After extensive research, personal experience, and reviews; We formulated an in-depth comparison between each one. May the battle commence!  

But first…

What Makes A Pair Of Headphones Good?

  • Sound Quality: How good the overall audio quality of music, phone calls, or video.
  • Comfort: The ability to remain comfortable for extended periods of time without itchiness, annoyance, or ear pain.
  • Build Quality: The overall durability and longevity. Able to withstand harsh conditions for extended periods of time.
  • Noise Isolation/ Active Noise Cancelling: If any at all, how well the active noise cancelling or noise isolating abilities are.
  • Battery Life: How long the battery life of the pair of headphones is at a full charge.
  • Added Features: A few examples of added features headphones offer can be Bluetooth capabilities, built-in AI assistant, headphone controls, built-in microphone for phone calls, flexibility, rotatable ear cups, etc.

We compared and contrasted each of these factors for the Presonus HD9, Status Audio CB-1, & Audio-Technica ATHM40x


Sound Quality

Especially for music listeners, the overall quality of sound is a massive factor in finding your perfect pair of headphones. There are various factors that impact a pair of headphones’ sound quality.

Presonus HD9
If you want a more bass-heavy sounding pair, these are a great choice. The sound quality is very good for the low-price. They precisely customized the frequency response to be from 10 Hz – 26 kHz covering the entire audible spectrum the human ear can pick up. To get excellent sound quality for the price, they use 45mm dynamic neodymium drivers. The sensitivity is at 96dB. The Presonus HD9 was picked as the top choice by Namm in 2018 for editing music! 

Status Audio CB-1
The Status Audio CB-1 isn’t one of the highest-rated and customer-reviewed affordable headphones for nothing. With their significant 50mm drivers, they produce studio-quality accurate, clear, and excellent sound quality. You wouldn’t believe the low price once you use them. In terms of sound quality, many audiophiles and music producers say these headphones can stand-toe-to-toe with $200 headphones. I happen to agree with those statements, as well. There is no harshness in any of the frequencies while maintaining a clear and detailed sound. We highly recommend these headphones for studio-use on a budget.  

Audio-Technica ATHM40x
With 40mm drivers, the headphones give off incredible sound quality for the low-price. The sound is flat, meaning there is no audio manipulation. You can hear each instrument and frequency accurately. In terms of overall sound quality, the Audio-Technica ATHM40x is astounding. In many cases, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if you compared them to headphone twice the price. I personally like the option for my headphones to get louder than usual, depending on the environment. Fortunately, while some headphones on the market are a bit more on the quiet side, this pair is naturally very loud.

Overall, the Status Audio CB-1 has the best sound quality.


The ability for headphones to remain comfortable for extended periods of time without itchiness, annoyance, pressure, or ear pain. Considering many people use headphones for commute, air travel, or work; Comfort is a vital factor.

Presonus HD9
For all head-sizes, these headphones are very comfortable. The clamping force is just right. It’s not to tight where it hurts, but tight enough to keep the solid noise-isolation abilities. You are easily able to wear them for extended periods without fatigue.

Status Audio CB-1
These headphones are also extremely comfortable. You are easily able to use them for extended periods without itchiness, hot hears, or fatigue.

Audio-Technica ATHM40x
Do these headphones look familiar? There’s a reason why many big-name podcasts and Youtubers use the Audio-Technica ATHM40x. Not only are they a great bang for the buck, but they are also extremely comfortable for hours of use. However, some of the bigger heads may struggle more than those with medium/small heads.

Overall, all of these headphones are tied for comfort. They are all very comfortable pairs.

Build Quality

What good are your amazingly sounding headphones if they break in a few months? The overall durability and longevity are crucial for any investment you make. Especially for those who need headphones for commute, it’s important they’re able to withstand vigorous traveling conditions consistently.

Presonus HD9
These headphones have a remarkable build quality for its low price. It’s solid, robust, and able to withstand harsh conditions. Both of the ear cups rotate at 180 degrees, and the elastic extendable ability definitely comes in handy. They are light and flexible, making it an excellent choice for DJs.

Status Audio CB-1
The build quality of these headphones is their only weakness. It’s not too bad, but its definitely on par with the price. The other two headphones have better build quality than their price. These headphones will certainly last a long time if you don’t often travel with them.

Audio-Technica ATHM40x
If you’re looking for a pair of headphones that aren’t too plain but don’t stand out too much either, the Audio-Technica ATHM40x may be the happy medium you need. The design is stylish and straightforward, with a great build quality. They are durable and built to last while maintaining decent flexibility. To be clear, flexibility is a much more critical factor for live DJ’s than you would first think. During a performance, the headphones are consistently being thrown on, off, and one ear in and out. For that matter, this pair of DJ headphones luckily is flexible while maintaining its decent durability. Even for non-DJs, the flexibility of these headphones may be a beneficial factor, as well. Not to forget, the 90-degree swiveling earcups come in handy, as well.

Overall, by an extremely slight margin, the Audio-Technica ATHM40x has the best build quality.

Noise Isolation/ Active Noise Cancelling

Don’t be confused between active noise cancelling and noise isolation headphones. They are both entirely different. Noise-cancelling technology is very unique. Unlike noise-isolating headphones, noise-cancelling headphones do not eradicate outside noise by physical insulation. Within the ear cups, they have a mini microphone that picks up the outside environmental noise. It then triggers a frequency entirely opposite to the outside ambient noise. Thus, canceling out most outside ambient sound.

Presonus HD9
The Presonus HD9 provides good noise-isolation for those with smaller to medium-sized ears. However, those with more prominent ears may need to look elsewhere, considering the cups are not as big as other headphones on this list. Other than that, the noise-isolation is solid for the price.

Status Audio CB-1
They cover the entire ear and provide decent noise-isolation. In my experience, these headphones offer good but not the best noise-isolation compared to the others. They do not provide active noise-cancelling.

Audio-Technica ATHM40x
They do not offer active noise-cancelling. However, they cover the entire ear producing great noise-isolation naturally. Another factor that helps boost the noise isolation is its Circumaural design which contours around the ears. Another thing worth noting is the little to no noise bleeding once the headphone is on. People around you, for the most part, will not hear what you’re listening to.

Overall, the Audio-Technica ATHM40x offers the best passive noise-isolation.

Battery Life

Battery life is an overlooked subject when speaking about over-ear headphones. Obviously, the only headphones that have a battery life are those which are wireless. Many headphones on the market do not have wireless capabilities. But for those who do, a more extended battery-life becomes a convenient factor.

Presonus HD9
These headphones do not have wireless capabilities. They must be plugged in via wire.

Status Audio CB-1
These headphones do not have wireless capabilities. They must be plugged in via wire.

Audio-Technica ATHM40x
Unless you get the Bluetooth adapter, these headphones do not have wireless capabilities. They must be plugged in via wire.

Added Features

Here we summarize each pair of headphones and talk about some of the added features.

Presonus HD9
If you’re looking for an affordable pair of headphones primarily to edit music, the Presonus HD9 was picked as the top choice by Namm in 2018! It comes with a 10-foot straight cable that may get annoying to those who prefer a coiled cable. However, most don’t mind. These headphones do not have wireless Bluetooth, a built-in mic, or any other special features.

Status Audio CB-1
Unfortunately, they do not offer any added features such as Bluetooth, a built-in microphone, voice-assistant, etc. The main selling point of the Status Audio CB-1 is its superb sound quality for the low-price. That, and their comfortable fit.

Audio-Technica ATHM40x
Unfortunately, they do not offer any added features such as Bluetooth, a built-in microphone, voice-assistant, etc. Besides that, the Audio-Technica ATHM40x is a near-flawless choice of noise isolation headphones for the low-price. It’s loud, produces great sound quality, relatively comfortable, offers excellent passive noise-isolation, and has excellent build quality and style.

Similarities Between The Presonus HD9, Status Audio CB-1, & Audio-Technica ATHM40x

  • All closed-back
  • All provide good noise-isolation
  • None have ANC capabilities

Our Winner

Keep in mind that our opinion is not the end all be all. Like mentioned earlier, everyone has different needs, requirements, and budgets for their headphones. However, the Status Audio CB-1 is the overall best bang for the buck by a small margin. It has the best sound quality and it’s very comfortable. In a very close second is the Audio-Technica ATHM40x.

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