Shure SRH440A & SRH840A review: Two headphones that punch well above their weight
At just £84 and £135, Shure’s new headphones bring an incredibly enjoyable listening experience for a seriously reasonable price
⊕ Smoothly detailed and extended treble
⊕ Non-fatiguing presentation
⊕ Relaxed hi-fi character
⊕ Excellent build quality
⊕ Soft, comfortable headband and ear pads
⊖ Not as ruthlessly revealing as some others
Two new sets of headphones from Shure supplant the old SRH440 and SRH840 models, with revisions earning them the ‘A’ suffix. They are closed back, circumaural designs, each set featuring 40mm dynamic neodymium drivers.
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These new models are almost identical to each other in appearance, the dimensions are the same and it’s only the gold lettering and trim that differentiates the SRH840A from the less expensive SRH840 visually. The headband and ear pads also appear to be of the same high quality, though the material covering the drivers is of a higher quality on the 840As; the 440A’s is more flimsy and stocking-like.
Both sets come with a detachable, locking straight cable and a threaded, gold plated 6.3mm adapter. In addition, the more expensive model is packaged with its own Shure logo embossed faux leather carrying case. This is available as an optional extra, if you want one to house the SRH440A, retailing at £9.90.
Sonically, the two models share the same basic voicing, so much so that a quick comparison can barely differentiate between them; only upon critical listening does the more costly set reveal its superiority. Shure has voiced these headphones for musicality rather than warts-and-all accuracy, so a degree of upper bass warmth prevents them from sounding thin and over analytical. The bass quality is superb, sounding rich and weighty, with the SRH840A digging a little deeper to create a firmer foundation on which the mid and high frequencies can develop. The transition between bass, mid and treble ranges is seamlessly smooth on both models though, again, the costlier set goes slightly further in the top-end to deliver an extended sense of air and space.
Common to both sets is the broad mid-range performance, expressing excellent vocal intelligibility and fine treble detail. This presentation is unforced though so, rather than pushing out a torrent of explicit in-your-face treble detail, they produce a hear-through quality, inviting you to look deep within your mix.
It’s an extremely different sonic soundscape to that of the recently reviewed Austrian Audio Hi-X15, for example. Those take a far more ruthless approach with trip-hammer treble and a more dynamic delivery, while the new Shure ‘phones offer a smoother, more relaxed sound.
This is evident when listening to recently completed mixes of some densely layered synth-pop. While the Hi-X15s give a more finely delineated account of the various synth parts, Shure’s SRH models both sound more cohesive from top to bottom.
We find these new headphones from Shure to be a highly enjoyable listen, not as transparent as some other designs yet warmly inviting. Comfort is outstanding, too, and build quality is top-drawer with no nasty creeks or squeaks when you move your head.
If you prefer your headphones to possess a more relaxed hi-fi sound, rather than the stark presentation of a more studio monitor-like set of cans, audition both SRH440As and SRH880As. Only then can you decide if the extension at both low and high frequency extremes is worth the extra money to suit your critical monitoring or content-creating needs.