Open Back Shures: SRH1440 and SRH1840

shure_srh1440-1840_10

First of all, there is no mistaking that Shure tuned their new open-back headphones for the music listening crowd. Vastly different than the closed-back SRH840 and SRH940, the open-backs takes a more musical stance, something that reminds me of Sennheiser’s HD600/650’s sound. It’s funny because I had a totally different expectation of how the Shures would sound, that it would be an open-back version of either the SRH840 or SR940’s sound. Yet the Shure SRH1440 and SRH1840 resemble almost nothing I know of the SRH840 and SRH940’s sound.

The SRH1440 compared to the SRH1840

Both the SRH1440 and the SRH1840 are relatively well-balanced headphones. There are little differences here and there that separate the two, but I really don’t have any strong complaints with either headphone. As you can see in the picture of the drivers below, they are based on different drivers, which also translates to easier drivability of the SRH1440 (the SRH1440 is only 37Ω and 101 dB SPL/mW, the 1840 65 Ω and 96 dB SPL/mW). Both headphones come on identical sized boxes, hardcase, a pair of extra pads (velour) and removable cables.

On my first day of listening to the headphones, there are areas that I thought I liked better on the SRH1440, and some other on the SRH1840. On the second day, while I still notice the differences, I am beginning to appreciate the 1840’s balance and refinement more. After the third day, however, my conclusion is certain that I’d be a fool not to pick the SRH1840 for almost any music and it has absolutely nothing to do with the superior build quality of the SRH1840.

The SRH1440, costing almost half the price of the SRH1840, is quite enjoyable at first, but longer listening time next to the big brother makes me go to the 1840 every single time. Here is where the differences are: Most noticeable is in the bass section where the 1840 is a lot more complete down to the low lows giving a more proper weight in the sound.

The second biggest difference between the two is the better sense of clarity throughout the frequencies, top-to-bottom, that you get with the SRH1840. Not only better clarity but also a smoother sound, less grain, and better three dimensionality. It wasn’t apparent to me on my first day of listening but as time went, I definitely couldn’t ignore the difference. It wasn’t a huge gap in technicalities say HD650-HD800, but definitely a larger gap between say a HD600 to a HD650.

The SRH1440 is the more forward sounding headphone, where the SRH1840 is the more laid back. The forward aspect of the SRH1440 is very noticeable on the frequency response measurement chart from HeadRoom where from 1K up to 10K the SRH1440 records a higher amplitude. During most of my listening time, I think the combination of the frequency response and the less-refined sound of the SRH1440 makes for a slightly glaring and honky presentation of the treble, while vocals are also less natural on the SRH1440. These little differences with the two headphones are not likely to pop out during one day meet listening sessions (at least not with me), but by the third day they were very evident to me, and it keeps pulling me back to the SRH1840 every single time. Needless to say by the end of this review, the SRH1840 was the star of the two.

 

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Open Back Shures: SRH1440 and SRH1840
4.27 (85.33%) 15 votes

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155 Comments

  • Reply April 20, 2012

    Austin Morrow

    Interesting, looks like I won’t be getting a SRH-1840 as I originally thought. Not worth it.

    • Reply April 20, 2012

      Mike

      Why?

      • Reply April 20, 2012

        Nick Tam

        I guess you mentioned that they were similar to the HD600/650 abeit higher cost and slightly better clarity, but that’s where the amps kicks in right? What equipment did you use to drive the Shures? It would be interesting to find out how these two scales with amping if they’re similar to the Senns

        • Reply April 20, 2012

          Mike

          I tried them with anything from portables like the C421, National and Continental, to desktops like Asgard and RSA Darkstar. The Shures scale up perhaps just as good as the HD650.

    • Reply April 20, 2012

      Austin Morrow

      I’ve heard people say they are a pretty detailed headphone, but from what I’m hearing from you, not worth much of an upgrade if you already have a really good setup on the HD650. Might as well just go for the HD800 or LCD-2.

      • Reply April 20, 2012

        Mike

        True. I think the point here is making for an easier upgrade path at $699, rather than $1500 (the current HD800 price).

    • Reply April 20, 2012

      Brent Uptain

      please, austin.  don’t drop the shures from your want list just based on mike’s review.
      i personally have stopped believing half the crap i read on these sites.  head-fi, innerfidelity, headfonia. 
      they all are folks just like you and me, who hear things and bring their own perceptions to the table.
      i personally find the SRH1840 the best headphone i’ve heard under $1000.
      but, who am i, right?  ; )

  • Reply April 20, 2012

    Austin Morrow

    Oh, and I’d love to see a SRH-1840 wallpaper, if you can. 🙂

    • Reply April 20, 2012

      Mike

      I should be able to make one from the photo stock. 🙂

      • Reply April 20, 2012

        Austin Morrow

        That would be very cool, the black photos look mighty fine, in my opinion.

  • Reply April 20, 2012

    Derpy Mcderpinson

    Love the looks of the 1840, doubt I’ll get it though.

  • Reply April 20, 2012

    Gorboman

    What amp & DAC do you suggest to match the 1440 and the 1840?

    • Reply April 20, 2012

      Mike

      I enjoyed them with the C421, the National, and the Dark Star. As for DACs, I tend to like less grainy sources like the Dacport LX, Kingrex UD384, the CLAS and the Tera-Player.

      • Reply April 20, 2012

        Gorboman

        Thanks. Not too demanding, yes? 🙂

    • Reply April 20, 2012

      Mike

      I want to add that the Shures have a grainy sound, so that’s why I prefer less grainy DACs.

  • Reply April 20, 2012

    Angel Melendez

    Initial impressions: (straight from my post at hf…)

     

    – Extremely comfortable earpads!! (after trying the NIGHTMARE that was the Audio Technicas A900X, these are heaven!!)

    – Similar pressure on top (headband) as the SRH940 (please note though, I’m getting balder everyday!! lol!!)

    – Definitely “treble-happy” or “bass-light” (whatever term you like…)

    – Even though they lack QUANTITY on the lower region, the sound still sounds kind of “full”,… it’s a bit weird actually…

    Listening to Kaskade – Room for Happiness, it sounds extremely well. Vocals up-front as expected, sound-stage is quite great, effects are full of life and, again, even though they are bass-lite I love how songs are reproduced.

    – Same track on the D5000s, sound way more fuller, more bass quantity
    and impact, vocals A BIT recessed but not by a lot actually (yep, the D5000s are still my favorite it seems… :-p)

    – Same track on the HD600s, less highs, less sharp, similar
    soundstage, a bit more bass quantity and presence… and to be honest, I’m liking sound reproduction on the SRH a bit more than the HDs… but just by a hair…
     
    BUT, just like the 940s, it seems they will be destined to be genre specific headphones and not all-rounders…

    • Reply April 23, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks for sharing your impressions.

  • Reply April 20, 2012

    Don Vittorio Sierra

    Nice Review. But at $800 I think I still have to listen for myself to really know if I will think the 1840 will be worth the money.

  • Reply April 20, 2012

    Jeff Kong

    The 1840 does fit into a nice bracket…they also look awfully comfy :3
    this review was a nice read, but there was a lot more of the comparing going on compared to the usual. 

  • Reply April 20, 2012

    Brent Uptain

    oh well.  a “meh” review, just like i figured.
    i guess i’m the only person so far who has picked up on the Shure’s superior imaging and tracking ability when compared to other headphones in its price class.
    somewhere between 50 and 75 hours of burn-in brought about a very impressive instrument separation that i simply don’t get from other headphones under $1000.
    so, my brief relationship with the SRH1840 has been pretty far from “meh”.
    in fact, each time i listen to these cans, i say “kudos to shure!”

    • Reply April 20, 2012

      L.

       75 hours? you sure it wasn’t you geting used to the Shure? No offence ment

      • Reply April 21, 2012

        JackyM

         Im interested in what you think about the Shure 1×40 line up, L. Since you enjoy the HD 650, HiFiman HE-500 and Audeze LCD. Mainly in HE-500 vs the Shure since apparently the HE-500 is basically superior to the HD 650.

        • Reply April 21, 2012

          L.

           I’m sorry but I haven’t listened to the Shures, Mike has them

        • Reply April 23, 2012

          Mike

          The HE-500 versus the Shure 1840:

          HE-500: better overall clarity, transients, cleaner sound
          Shure 1840: More laid back, more relaxed, better soundstage image

  • Reply April 20, 2012

    Shahrose Malik

    I prefer the stock 1840 over my T1s and HD650s (both recabled).  The Shures needed a healthy amount of burn-in to settle. I gave them a 100 hours, after which I definitely noticed no changes.

    In terms of technical performance, the T1s are slightly better. It’s not a huge difference.  If you replace the T1 with the HD800, then yes, it’s a significant difference.

    Another thing Mike, I feel the 1840 are very forgiving. Yes, they scale up well, but they manage to sound good from lower-end gear too (moreso than other flagships). I guess it’s because of their slightly slow/rounded, smooth sound.

    • Reply April 23, 2012

      Mike

      Yes the 1840 is more forgiving than the T1 and the HD800.

  • Reply April 21, 2012

    dalethorn

    If you insert two more foams into each earpiece of the rather bright 1440, it then sounds very much like the 1840, and the 1440 bass is then better also. Foams are the backing on the extra earpads. I used the spare foams from my 1440 and 1840.

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  • Reply April 21, 2012

    Fabio_Rocks

    I am really impressed by the pictures! WOW! The best pics I have ever seen on HFN! Anyway I just ordered the Sennheiser hd 650, I found a screaming deal for 289 Eur. Shure must be happy anyway because the Shure se 215 just reserved some money on my wallet:D
    I was really torn between the HD 650 and The Hifiman he 500, but for half the price I must be happy with the hd 650. (best price for he500 was 599 Eur)
    The comment was totally out of topic, I know, I am sorry! Nice review Mike.

    • Reply April 22, 2012

      spkrs01

      I just bought the HE500 to compliment the HD650 and also have the Shure SRH 1840 coming in later this month. I am using a 3rd party cable on the HD650 which I find improves the bass immensely in terms of eliminating the bass overhang which is very prominent on the HD650. It brings the performance of the two headphones a lot closer driven by the DX100.

      Using the Triad L3, the performance widens again!

      • Reply April 22, 2012

        Fabio_Rocks

        Nice to hear that! Can you tell which is the cable
        You use with the hd 650? It will be my next buy then. Just one question, between the hd 650 and hee-500 which one you like the most? Thanks

        • Reply April 22, 2012

          spkrs01

          I prefer the HE500, it is more balanced and coherent sounding. Images are more palpable! However, it is very heavy not not as comfortable as the HD650.

          I am using a silver plated copper on the HD650. 

        • Reply April 23, 2012

          Mike

          Fabio,
          ALO is a sponsor of our site so take this advice with a grain of salt, but I personally find the ALO cable to be the best cable for the HD800 and HD650/600. It’s very very expensive though.

          • Reply April 23, 2012

            Fabio_Rocks

            Thanks Mike!

      • Reply April 23, 2012

        Mike

        Yes actually even using a HD600 cable would help with the bass overhang. I’m now using a steel-core cable from the HD25SP which I also like better than the HD600/650 cable. Weird, huh? 😉

        • Reply April 27, 2012

          spkrs01

          I have just bought a Violectric HPA V200 and the HD650 really scales up incredibly well. I have changed to using a high purity OCC copper, as I am am sending the silver plated to a Head-Fi er to try.

          The HD650 has to be one of the few bargains left in this hobby. The sound is very sophisticated and dare I say, extremely high end! It will be definitely worthwhile to try a good silver cable on it………….

          • Reply April 27, 2012

            Mike

            I’ve tried many many different cables on the HD650 😉

            Don’t like silver. They always add some harshness to the sound. I think silver-plated copper is best for those looking to bright up the HD650.

        • Reply May 28, 2012

          tre54321

          Hey Mike, the steel cable you were mentioning, is it the 150cm or 300cm variant? What improvements did you find it to bring on the HD650?

          • Reply May 28, 2012

            Mike

            It’s the 300cm one. The sound is more spacious, the bass clearer though slightly less thick.

    • Reply April 23, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks, Fabio and hope you enjoy the HD650. 🙂

  • Reply April 22, 2012

    Eugen

    …. and the price of good headphones continues to shoot up like a rocket. I blame the Beats. 

  • Reply April 22, 2012

    Eugen

    …. and the price of good headphones continues to shoot up like a rocket. I blame the Beats. 

    • Reply April 23, 2012

      Mike

      Blame Senn for the HD800. 😉

  • Reply April 22, 2012

    Eugen

    Is it possible to exchange the back side mesh between headphones?

    Do the foam pads in front of the driver have different thickness?

    Because the slight difference between them sounds like a little more open back and a little thicker foam pad. 🙂

    There’s some experimenting to be done Mike.

    • Reply April 23, 2012

      dalethorn

      I pulled the foams from both. I don’t see any differences.

    • Reply April 23, 2012

      Mike

      Eugen,
      The foam pads are the same thickness and material, and I don’t think you can replace the back mesh.

  • Reply April 23, 2012

    Mike

    🙂 

  • Reply April 23, 2012

    Brian Fu

    I just tried the 1840 over the weekend and am pretty impressed. To me it sounds like a less-refined  HD800 but with a more forward, more intimate midrange. The fact that it sounds good even out from lesser upstream components (unlike the extremely picky HD800) and costs half of the HD800 makes for a nice alternative. 

  • Reply April 23, 2012

    Austin Morrow

    Did I miss something? How’s the build quality compared to the HD650, HD800, LCD-2, and T1?

  • Reply April 24, 2012

    dalethorn

    The build quality of the 1440 and 1840 are very similar, with a slight edge to the 1840 for the extra metal connecting the headband to the earcups. I haven’t had the 600 and 650 for 2 years now, but as best I remember they would be about like the 1440 but not as good as the 1840. The build of the HD800 is good, but no better than the 1840 — it’s just the HD800 is massive which makes it look like an extra good build since all of that extra material is good quality. The HD800 comfort is way better than the 600/650 which are claustrophobic by comparison. The 1840, even though the earcups are similar to the 600/650, is much more comfortable and less claustrophobic – almost as good as the HD800. I say almost because the HD800 pads don’t really touch the ears. Since the 1440’s clamping force is much higher than the 1840, it doesn’t have near the comfort level, although it’s still better than the 600/650. LCD2 I don’t know, but from what I’ve heard it would be in the same class of earcup comfort as the 1840 or HD800, but much heavier on the head. T1 I also don’t know. Does the T1 have round earcups?

  • Reply April 24, 2012

    dalethorn

    I recently ordered a CD called The Power Of The Organ played by Rachel Laurin, which has many very deep fundamentals good for testing deep bass response. When the 1440 and 1840 play those notes, it feels to me like I’m in the cathedral and those big pipes have enough power to split the foundation. That’s some amazing bass.

  • Reply April 30, 2012

    Mike

    Thanks for sharing, Michael.

  • Reply April 30, 2012

    NGUYEN

    Hi Mike, I have one question have you tried to put your hd 580 or hd 650 in the case of 1840/1440 I ‘m  interested in the case even more than the headphone itself 😀

  • Reply May 1, 2012

    Tom Haryono

    Hello Mike, your comparison make me interested with hifiman he-500
    unfortunately, cannot find hifiman he-500 in Indonesia

    maybe gonna buy shure 1840 first and compare it when there is opportunity

    Thx Mike for the review
     

  • Reply May 2, 2012

    dalethorn

    At the Stereophile headphone forum (which has view statistics) the SRH1440 review in 16 days has now gotten as many views as the 1840 review got in 39 days. It shure looks like the bargain hunters are taking a longer harder look at the SRH1440.

    • Reply May 2, 2012

      L.

       ” It shure looks like… “. Nice job sneaking that in there 😉

    • Reply May 3, 2012

      Mike

      Interesting.

    • Reply May 4, 2012

      Michael See

      I took all 3 headphones (SRH-940/1440/1840) to a Head-fi meet a couple of weeks ago and was pretty surprised when the majority of the people at the meet prefered the 1440 over the 1840. I think part of this is likely because a meet like this is pretty noisy so the more forward mids of the 1440 and it’s more aggressive sound was easier to hear. But the majority just thought it was a funner headphone to listen to. Those same listeners often owned very expensive and “higher end” gear. So I do think the 1440 deserves serious consideration from bargain hunters and audiophiles of all levels. It really does boil down to preference as much as anything.

      • Reply May 4, 2012

        Mike

        Interesting.. thanks for sharing, Michael.

      • Reply May 4, 2012

        Mike

        What about your personal take on the three headphones?

        • Reply May 4, 2012

          Michael See

          The 1840 is the most neutral of the 3 but to neutral for my tastes. The 940 is the most easily revealing.  The 1440 is somewhere right between both and consequently offers the best of both for my tastes.

      • Reply May 4, 2012

        dalethorn

        I did read your original stuff on head-fi — much appreciated. I did the 1440 double-foam mod you can see in my video on youtube, and although I haven’t completely made my mind up about it, I hear a much better sound that way. Less brightness, more like the 1840. Still more forward, probably not as “refined” as the 1840 or whatever the most severe critics might find about the difference. But I think anyone who finds the 940 somewhat bright and the 1440 possibly marginal – not so bright but not perfect either – they might find the mod makes the sound unbelievably good. I am enjoying the modded 1440 more than anything I’ve heard so far (1440, 1840, Senn 800/600/650, Philips L1, Grado PS500, a few others).

        • Reply May 4, 2012

          Michael See

          That was an interesting video on the mod, not sure I will take the foams out of my spare pads or not  but I will see if I have some paterial I can use to try that and if not will look at how much replacement pads costs just so I know how much it ould costs to replace the pads if I decide to sacrifice a set.

          I like the 1440 alot but like you find they are just a touch to hot or bright at times so am  interested in what this can do.

          • Reply May 4, 2012

            dalethorn

            I’m not so sure that cutting out the foams is actually destructive. Since the foams tuck into the earcups so well on the 1440 now, I’m going to assume that you could put the de-foamed earpads onto a headphone later on and then just tuck the foams into the earcups. They are stable that way. I did try some different materials with the 940 about 6 months ago, and didn’t like the results. I can’t try now with the foams since I sent the 940 off to someone in the Philippines.

            Edit: I did get better results with 2 sets of foams in each earcup. One foam only has surprisingly little effect.

  • Reply May 13, 2012

    spkrs01

    Received my pair of SRH 1840, last Sunday, After listening for a few days, it has gone back into the box. I found the 1840 rather bleached and brash sounding and somewhat fatiguing. It has huge potential and I am sure I will grow to love it once a new cable comes through.

    There are many qualities for it to be an excellent pair of cans, like the clarity in how music is portrayed through them, the amount of detail and the soundstaging is remarkable.

    I have a new silver/gold cable for the HE-500 and bought the LCD-2 Bamboo yesterday. At the moment the HE-500 with a 3rd party cable rules the roost by quite a fair margin.

  • Reply May 15, 2012

    Mark Ma

    Help,
    940 vs 1440 without amp??

    • Reply May 15, 2012

      Mike

      Mark,
      Both be okay without an amp, and okay without an amp. What’s important is to choose the one that suits your preferences. Perhaps read the SRH940 review also.

    • Reply May 15, 2012

      dalethorn

      The specs for the 1440 indicate it’s about 5 db more efficient than the 1840, but in my experience it’s much less than that. So although I get satisfactory results with the unamped 1440 in most cases, it’s still marginal for volume sometimes. I can’t compare directly now to the 940, but I think the 940 will play louder. As far as the sound goes, the 940 is very good for soundstage for a closed headphone, but the 1440 still sounds better in that respect. When I did have them in-house together, I got the impression of better bass with the 940 – better than either the 1440 or 1840.

      • Reply May 16, 2012

        Mike

        Yes I agree on the impressions. The bass punch on the 940 is very nice.

  • Reply May 19, 2012

    nightfly

    Having purchased the Grado PS 500 last winter, I am just wondering how the Shure SRH 1840 compare since they are in the same price range? Always been a big fan of Shure IEM.

    • Reply May 19, 2012

      Mike

      Technicalities wise, the SRH1840 is better than the PS500. But headphones aren’t always about technicalities and different headphones suit different music better. What else can I say? Both the 1840 and the PS500 are fine headphones.

    • Reply May 20, 2012

      dalethorn

      I gave my PS500 away, but for lack of space, not lack of interest. I think it has better musical tone somehow than the 1840, but the 1840 is more accurate for whatever that’s worth. It would be great to have a topic on accurate -vs- musical somewhere.

      • Reply May 22, 2012

        Mike

        I think the PS500 is very musical too, but i find that the presentation is not something I can live with for a long time. I don’t know, I just find the presentation to get old very quickly.

        • Reply May 22, 2012

          dalethorn

          That must have been it. Anyway I hope my PS500 is happy in its new home in Singapore. It is/was a marvel of hand tooling in an age of automation.

  • Reply May 19, 2012

    Michael See

    OK, today I picked up a cheapy little tube headphone amp from a friend and it has transformed the SRH-1840 from something I found somewhat lifeless into a headphone with vitality. I have not tried the 1440 yet as I am just enjoying the 1840 to much at this point in time. But if you own the 1840 and are feeling frustrated that it’s not lively enough in the mids and to some degree the treble, heck actually even the bass. Then I suggest you think about investing in a small tube amp (if you don’t have one) as the $50-100 investment mighht just shock you. I will see what happens with the 1440 and 940 as I have time. I am actually a bit scared it might make the 1440 in particular a bit to edgy and aggressive. I am starting to wonder if the issue of some finding the 1440 to aggressive and the 1840 much better coming down to the synergy of the source and amp with the headphones.

    • Reply May 24, 2012

      Ken Stuart

      What amp were you using for the SRH-1840 before changing to the tube amp?

      • Reply May 26, 2012

        Michael See

        I have a small solid state amp locally manufactured from RWAudio http://rwaudio.com/ which is a neutral to almost cold sounding solid state amp. The owner is actually the one who loaned me the tube amp. I like his amp and the tube amp with the SRH-1440 but the tube amp just completely changes the SRH-1840 for me.

  • Reply May 25, 2012

    Ken Stuart

    Mike – can you comment on SRH-1840 vs HD700 (with the understanding that we are talking about “the HD700 preview version that may not be the same as the production version” ? What was better/preferable on the HD700, and what was better/preferable on the SRH-1840 ? Thanks !

    • Reply May 25, 2012

      dalethorn

      I see that TTVJ is selling the HD700 now – he filled his backorders and has new stock available too. So, has anyone auditioned the final version?

    • Reply May 25, 2012

      Mike

      Ken,
      I think the HD700 was far more impressive technically, but the 1840’s signature would be easier to enjoy for a wider range of music.

  • Reply May 26, 2012

    jonathan meader

    Hi Mike ,
    Would you say the $699 SRH1840 are worth nearly twice the price of the HD650 ?
    Also can you please briefly comment on their differences ?
    Much appreciated

    • Reply May 27, 2012

      dalethorn

      If you pay $300 more for the 1840 the law of diminishing returns is really in effect there. But a 1440 with the earpad foam mod would be $300 cheaper and very, very close to the 1840. That would be a good one to compare to the 650, if you could.

  • Reply May 27, 2012

    Ken Stuart

    Mike – Assuming you still have them available, can you talk some about the “fit” of the SRH-1840 (as opposed to the “comfort” or the “build quality”) ?
    This seems to be the one odd aspect of the SRH-1840 (or perhaps Shures in general ?) as Senns and AKGs have design that allow the ear pieces to adjust in two or three dimensions, so that the pads are flat on your head regardless of the shape of your head.
    Instead, the SRH-1840 ear pieces pull up and down from the head band in the usual fashion, and then the ear pieces pivot in the same up and down direction. What is missing is front and back direction pivoting. If you don’t have the same head shape as the Shure R&D mannequin head, you are likely to encounter less bass and overall worse sound quality, since the drivers won’t be positioned properly. The customer will just conclude “I don’t like the sound of these headphones” and return them – these days customers don’t make inquiries, they just return things that don’t work (even when a bad battery was the only problem).
    I have yet to see this factor mentioned, although I see some similar discussions regarding the SRH-940s…

    • Reply May 27, 2012

      dalethorn

      I have a hard time with some headphones that don’t rotate because my ears are slanted forward somewhat. The V-MODA M80 is one case, and fortunately there was an easy fix bending the headband forward. In the case of the 1840, sure enough when I start to put them on they feel a bit awkward like the earcups are not fitting right, yet they do somehow – the pads seal all the way around, and the least contact area, the back sides about halfway between the center and bottom of the pads, still seals OK. But I’m going to guess that they may not seal all the way around (at or near the bottom of the pads) on all heads – small heads maybe. I would also expect them to feel like there is more pressure on the back side of the pads due to the shape of my head, yet I don’t feel that at all when they’re on my head. So I guess the very soft and spongy earpads make the adjustment without conveying any sense of pressure difference between front and back.

      • Reply May 29, 2012

        Ken Stuart

        Thanks for the feedback.
        I’m still interested in Mike’s take on this issue – I just saw someone mention the same issue in a Fidelio L1 customer review, but I never see it in “pro” reviews.
        When buying $99 headphones, there is an assumption that everything, including the “fit” of the headband and ear pieces, is a compromise. In a $699 flagship, that should not be a factor.

        • Reply May 29, 2012

          dalethorn

          I hope Mike has some insight. But fit is not the same as sound, and the best sound experts might not get a good fit, while the worst judges of sound could get a good fit. So I offer you 3 thoughts: One, my wife was not able to get a good fit on two of my closed headphones, due to some overhang at the bottom of the earcups which left a gap at the bottom and the bass was mostly lost. My second thought: The earcups on my 1840 are slanted slightly toward the rear, the opposite of how my ears are slanted on my head. I confirmed this (if I had any prior doubt) with the v-moda M80. But in spite of the reverse slant, I have no fit problem. Third thought: I don’t know if a gap in the earpad “seal” of the 1840 would make a difference in the sound or not, being an open design. So there are a few thoughts.

          • Reply May 29, 2012

            Ken Stuart

            In my case, I found that the bass on the SRH-1840 was not in balance with the rest of the spectrum – until – I found a suggestion for the SRH-940 that said to move the ear pieces lower on the headband until the top of the ear was close to the top of the ear cup (rather than being centered, as is intuitively done). That helped significantly.

        • Reply May 29, 2012

          dalethorn

          BTW, the Philips L1 fit *will* be critical for several reasons: One, it’s closed and requires a proper bass seal. Two, the earcups of the L1 are smaller inside than the 1840 and barely fit my ears. Maybe those are the only important differences, but they are certainly important.

        • Reply May 29, 2012

          Mike

          Sorry for my late response.

          I think that with a lot of full size headphones, you’d find that a lot of them doesn’t have a dedicated hinge that allow the cups to rotate outside/inside freely the way Grados, the Fidelia L1, and the AKG K550 do.

          A lot of common headphones like the Beyer DT770-880-990, Senn’s HD600/650, AKG’s K701 doesn’t come with a rotating hinge like that, but they allow sufficient play that gives a few degrees of rotation so that they can fit different heads. The Shures also follow this design. They don’t rotate fully in and out, but there is enough play to fit different head shapes.

          Personally I find the Shures to be just as comfortable as the K550 and the Fidelio L1 (which you can rotate fully in/out). I didn’t feel that they were pressuring some part of the head more than the other, and I have a pretty large head myself (I wear an XL size helmet).

          The comfort on the Fidelio was a little less than the K550 and the Shure, but this is mostly due to the stronger clamping force from the headband — which is required for strong bass.

          Let me know if I miss anything in answering your question.

  • Reply May 31, 2012

    Ken Stuart

    So, I’ve been auditioning the SRH-1840 during the process of burn-in.
    One problem I’ve had is that the headband/earpiece fit was not
    particularly good for me (as I’ve mentioned in other comments). I tried
    one suggestion I found elsewhere on putting my ears up relative to the ear
    cups and it helped, but did not seem to be a long-term solution.

    Meanwhile, I finally ended up with about 100 hours of break-in and I
    have to say that it sounds to me that it made a difference all the way
    through the process. The bass quality and quantity are both significantly improved,
    all shrillness and edginess to the treble vanished, and everything is
    quite smooth now.

    But, I’ve found that I can move the ear cups around on my ears with my
    hands and sporadically heard sound improvement, confirming my impression
    that there is something not quite right with the “fit” – i.e. placement
    of drivers for sound quality (as opposed to comfort).

    Then, I found this thread on the big headphone forum of a mod for the
    SRH-940, and since it was easy and non-destructive, I tried it on the
    SRH-1840 (using a paper towel aince I am out of cotton balls):

    http://www.head-fi.org/t/591325/how-to-hi-end-ify-your-srh940

    All I can say is – OMG – all of my “disadvantages of the SRH-1840”
    vanished. The bass quantity is now certainly at least equal to that of
    other high end phones. The already impressive imaging improved further,
    and the audibility of hall sound and ambience improved as well.

    The original strong points of excellent timbre accuracy and even balance of all frequencies are yet better now.

    I can say that if I were making a purchase decision based on
    out-of-the-box (before break-in), I would make the wrong decision, so I
    think that Shure (and other makers) should consider in-house break-in
    for this price range of product.

    So, I strongly recommend:

    – 100 hours of break-in (with about 20 hours a absolute minimum)

    – Apply the mod in the thread linked above (the material used should be to your preference, I don’t think it matters)

    • Reply May 31, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks, Ken.

      I’ve always found that modding a headphone always comes in a plus-minus package. That an improvement somewhere would be accompanied with a step backwards in another area. The problem is, most people posting about a headphone mod only focuses on the plus and never the minus.

      But it all comes down to you enjoying the sound. 🙂

      • Reply May 31, 2012

        Ken Stuart

        I think in this case – aside from the fact that the “mod” is totally non-destructive and reversible (just stuffing some cotton in the ear pad) – the effect is mainly to correct the aforementioned “fit” issue.
        And, in fact, that is discussed in the thread.
        Given that the same “mod” works for the SRH-940 and the SRH-1840 in the same way, it seems likely that Shure uses the same ear pad design for all their high end models, and that the ear pads are too “thin” for some ears.
        And yes, it is true that every sound change affects other aspects of the sound – for example, increasing bass level reduces treble level automatically.
        But in this case, I think that the “mod” (unlike, for example, the HD555 mod) merely corrects a problem that some users may encounter – it is comparable to bending the headband to increase or decrease the clamping force.
        The mod makes the ear cups seal better if you have ears that stick out more than the average.

        • Reply May 31, 2012

          Mike

          Yes I have yet to try out the mod myself. 🙂

  • Reply June 3, 2012

    Jonah_Chao

    Hey Mike,

    How do you think the SRH1440’s compare to the HE400’s?

    Thanks,

    Jonah

    • Reply July 13, 2012

      SoundEskimoo

      I also curious about this

    • Reply July 13, 2012

      Mike

      Jonah,
      The HE400 has a more aggressive signature, a bit darker, stronger bass, more forward, strong PRaT.
      The SRH1440 more relaxed, better ambiance, moderate PRaT.

  • Reply July 13, 2012

    SoundEskimoo

    SRH1440 or HD600?

    • Reply July 13, 2012

      Mike

      Didn’t I say that the two are quite similar in character?

      • Reply July 14, 2012

        SoundEskimoo

        Yes. between those similarities which still have most technologicals & results supremacy?
        Sennheiser still rule the world?

  • Reply August 7, 2012

    Eyal Sade

    how is the comfort of the 1440, compared to the one of HE-400, for long listening sessions (ear fatigue + clamp force) ?

    • Reply August 7, 2012

      Mike

      I think the SRH1440 is more comfortable, probably primarily due to the weight.

  • Reply September 8, 2012

    ryan

    Hi Mike….currently i have the shure 535 red with govibe vestamp+. I would like to add a full size can. Budget < $500. Would my current amp sufficient for full size Shure? How would you compare with the Senn HD650, Beyer Dt880? Thanks

    • Reply September 10, 2012

      Mike

      The vestamp probably has enough power for the Shure, but the quality of the amp is very important for the Shure and you’ll get better results with big desktop amps.
      Comparison with the Senn and the Beyer, it would be good if you can read the Senn HD650 and DT880 comparison article as the answer to your question would be a pretty long one. I believe I have made some comparisons of the Shure to the Senn HD650. http://www.headfonia.com/old-school-trio-akg-k701-beyer-dt880-sennheiser-hd650/

  • Reply September 8, 2012

    ryan

    Hi Mike, currently i have the shure 535 red with govibe vestamp+. I am planning to add a full size can. Budget < $500. Would my current amp sufficient to drive full size can? How does the Shure 1440 compare to Senn hd650 or beyer dt880. Thanks

  • Reply September 18, 2012

    ryan

    finally took the plunge and purchased the srh 1840…now waiting patiently for it to arrive from Singapore on Sunday….:)

    • Reply September 18, 2012

      Mike

      From Singapore? Where are you based?

  • Reply September 18, 2012

    ryan

    i am base in surabaya…..my sis in law just fly to singapore today and will be back this Sunday…bought it in stereo singapore

    • Reply September 19, 2012

      Mike

      I see.. better price there than local?

      • Reply September 19, 2012

        ryan

        more or less the same price depending on the exchange rates

        • Reply September 19, 2012

          Nick Tam

          come to hong kong… $620 and no taxes…

          • Reply September 19, 2012

            George Lai

            Hi Nick. Slightly off-topic but there’s a HK website gimmedigi. Supposed to be JV between HP and Hutchison. Any experience with them or knowledge of them? Thanks.

            • Reply September 19, 2012

              Nick Tam

              Nope. Usually I don’t buy online unless they’re authorized distributors of their products and I couldn’t get them anywhere else or if they are a online store which also have local retails. And usually for a local buyer like me, street prices are still lower for headphones. If you really want to buy audio stuff, come to Hong Kong and go on a audio shopping spree or something. Just to give you an idea on the ridiculously low prices of some of the more popular cans and IEMs…

              HD600: $270~
              HD650: $330~
              DT880: $300~
              UM3XRC: $300~
              TF10: $150~
              IE80: $330
              DT990 Pro: $260~
              ATH-PRO700MKIIANV: $200~
              ATH-ES10: $330~
              AKG K550: $250 Local MSRP

              Shures not cheap though… they’ve become a consumer level brand so they keep their high prices

              • Reply September 19, 2012

                George Lai

                For a tourist, can you recommend some of these retailers for my next visit there?

              • Reply September 19, 2012

                Jack Knight

                how come those things so cheap there?

                • Reply September 20, 2012

                  Nick Tam

                  quite simply, 0 taxes and massive audiophile community and most audio specialist stores would be concentrated in places with cheap rent to push their already competitive prices lower. If you bought at any consumer electrics store you may as well find the prices higher than MSRP.

                  • Reply September 20, 2012

                    Mike

                    A bit late to the discussion but Nick is right, Hong Kong is cheapest for electronics and that include headphones too.

                    Here are a few:
                    http://www.mingo-hmw.com/home/

                    http://www.headphone.com.hk/

                    http://www.jaben.com.hk/

                    I’m not affiliated with those stores, but friends have said good things about them before.

                    • September 20, 2012

                      Nick Tam

                      The other local stores that have better prices often don’t have websites however, you really have to go down and get yourself lost in audiophile district around here. For the ultra high-end stuff, you have to hunt for the speakerphile stores.

                      Mingo is borderline MSRP, and in some cases higher for example they sell the LF339 for $610 when it is $550 direct from Yuking. But rest assured, they have the largest variety and is the most complete retail store around.

                      Headphone.com.hk (Kingsound Audio) have good prices. However, the ALO stuff is not significantly cheaper and in some cases, higher priced.

                      Jaben is actually a Singapore originated store, and sells mostly imported source and amps. Again good prices on the cans and more variety.

                      I’ve looked around in Hong Kong for source and amps but those aren’t cheap unfortunately. The problem in Hong Kong is that people buy high end cans but don’t seem to care about the source components so there isn’t really a large market for that, resulting in higher prices since not many audio stores sell those. Amps like the Schiit, Woo Audio and Graham Slees have higher MSRPs in Hong Kong.

                    • September 20, 2012

                      Mike

                      Thanks for the in depth information, Nick.

  • Reply September 23, 2012

    ryan

    No shure 1840 for me…tested the one and only pair and found out it was faulty…went to another branch and found out customer bringing back a pair of 1840 and complaining it was faulty…need to send to service center for repair and takes about a month…
    In the end, took the senn hd650…hahaha…

    • Reply September 24, 2012

      Mike

      Ouch that’s really bad.

      Thanks for sharing your experience Ryan.

      • Reply September 24, 2012

        ryan

        not bad at all….didn’t purchase after first test with the one and only faulty unit….went to another branch and heard another customer complaining about the faulty issue on the 1840….in the end I decided on purchasing the hd650 instead….

    • Reply September 24, 2012

      Nick Tam

      wait I thought you already got someone else to buy it for you? or did you refund it?

      And make sure you can drive the HD650 too, big diff in driveability between those 2 cans :

      • Reply September 24, 2012

        ryan

        Didn’t buy the 1840…went for the HD650 🙂

  • Reply October 12, 2012

    Eyal Sade

    Hi Mike,
    I am thinking of upgrading my HE-400(v2) to the HE-500.
    I have a problem with the 400’s midrange (vocals especially)..i am using the Fiio E10 as my DAC/AMP. I am also looking for better Imaging.
    What will sound better with my current setup: the 1840, or the HE-500 , for indie-rock/pop / ambient?

    Thanks!

    • Reply October 12, 2012

      L.

      With the E10? You should forget about Hifiman (except for the 300 and 400) in any case.

      • Reply October 14, 2012

        Eyal Sade

        there is some amount of clipping with the E10 and the HE-400 during complex passages.. darn it (

        • Reply October 14, 2012

          L.

          I have not experienced that with the E10 so far.

        • Reply October 15, 2012

          Mike

          Yea definitely, and even without the clipping usually the dynamics would be compressed when under-amped.

    • Reply October 12, 2012

      Mike

      What L said. Also I think the HE-500 without a powerful amplifier tend to be light on the bottom. Not sure if it’s a good idea.

      The SRH1840 is nice, but I don’t see it being ideal if you play fast-paced rock and pop.

      • Reply October 13, 2012

        Eyal Sade

        if i upgrade to the Odac+O2 combo. (JDS-Labs), is there any difference in the conlusion ?

        • Reply October 13, 2012

          Mike

          Need something more powerful for the HE-500 IMO.

  • Reply October 16, 2012

    Adli Hakim

    Hi, Mike.

    Awesome review as always. I’m also impressed with Shure new SRH1440, since before this they are detail monster. I’ve got question though, what do you think better for me if I’m listening mainly JPop (such as YUI, Alice Nine, Vocaloid, etc)? Currently planning to upgrade from my MS1000, I’m looking at Shure SRH1440 and Hifiman HE300, though never tried the HE300 properly. I’m using laptop as primary source with iBasso D12 as DAC and amp with AD8066 opamp.

    • Reply October 16, 2012

      Mike

      Adli,
      I’m not familiar with the Jpop bands you mentioned but I probably would try something with a darker, faster transients planar sound for Jpop. Something like the HE-400 (new version is fantastic!) or the Mad Dog headphone.

      • Reply October 16, 2012

        Adli Hakim

        I couldn’t demo the HE-400, since Jaben didn’t carry them and I never heard any planar headphone, so any headphone you think that could give me rough idea on how HE-400 sound like?

        • Reply October 17, 2012

          Mike

          Tough..

          • Reply October 24, 2012

            Adli Hakim

            Hi, Mike, sorry about the late reply, but do you think Grado RS1 or Beyerdynamic DT880 (250 ohm) is suitable for JPop? I prefer to get it from Jaben, since I’m in Malaysia, and Jaben is quite near. Any warranty issue also easier to deal with them.

            • Reply October 24, 2012

              Mike

              I don’t know, the RS1 may be worth trying. The DT880 I wouldn’t recommend for Jpop as the recordings tend to be very hot on the treble.

              • Reply October 24, 2012

                Adli Hakim

                BTW, Mike, does my iBasso D12 sufficient to drive HD600? I wouldn’t consider HD650 since I would need to build desktop setup to make it practical, and I heard HD600 is easier to amp. HD600 should be able to keep up with the trance and electronics. My music mostly electronics, vocals and acoustic.

  • Reply November 24, 2012

    Eyal Sade

    how are the 1840 vs dt880 600ohm ?

    is there a winner? and if not: what are each positive and negatives ?

    • Reply November 29, 2012

      Mike

      1840: More refined, smoother, more laid back.
      DT880 600Ω: More apparent detail, more spacious, cleaner sound, better articulation.

      • Reply December 1, 2012

        Eyal Sade

        is “more refined” means better clarity ?

  • Reply March 8, 2013

    Damián Bonadonna

    Hi Mike, how are you?

    I’ve just purchased the SRH1840 at a very good price, about 495 USD :).

    I guess it is a nice upgrade from the HD598, I can notice the difference, and it seems to scale better too. The LX + C421 improvement over the notebook sound card seem more evident. I’m using it in low + bass.

    Maybe what I notice is much more clarity and instrument separation, somehow is less muddy.Less warm too. There is a touch less slam.

    What do you think?

  • Reply July 29, 2013

    Stefan Peterson

    I have had the 1840 for a year now. Agree that they have a sound that gets to you, no immediate wow-factor. A couple of months ago I recabled them to balanced contacts and using a Rudistor SR-100 they really opened up. Less grain, “blacker” and more controlled bass response. Quite astonishing improvements.

    Cheers
    /Stefan

    • Reply July 29, 2013

      Mike

      Thank you Stefan.

      Good amp pairing does improve sound a great deal. I have no experience with the Rudistor SR-100 though.

  • Reply June 24, 2014

    yozz

    Hi Mike, I am already owned 1840 for 4 months and feel happy with it. I am usually pair it with centrance DACport to my computer (tried to combine with martini amp but become too warm and boomy).
    Now, I want it to be slightly more smooth and a bit warm (without being boomy), which DAC or amp should I use ?
    Thank you Mike

    • Reply June 25, 2014

      dalethorn

      I get good results with the HRT Microstreamer or Audioengine D3.

      • Reply June 26, 2014

        yozz

        Wow..thanks for suggestion, Dale..
        Though I found difficulties to test those 2 since it’s not available in 4 big audio stores in my country,Indonesia.
        Do you have any other suggestion,Dale?
        Oh, forget to mention that I am mostly listening to Jpop (Yui, Utada Hikaru, Maaya Sakamoto,etc)..

        Thanks 🙂

        • Reply June 27, 2014

          dalethorn

          The ALO Island is very good, and I think that was reviewed here. I only had it a short time, but it compared very well.

          • Reply July 11, 2014

            yozz

            Ok Dale, would try it then..
            Thanks 🙂

            • Reply June 11, 2015

              J-G_Teheux

              One easy and inexpensive trick you could try before swapping DACs would be the “cotton ball” mod as explained here : http://www.head-fi.org/t/591325/how-to-hi-end-ify-your-srh940
              I tried it on both my SRH940 & SRH1840 and it produces exactly the effect you seem to be looking for : bass is slightly warmer and ample and treble is slightly smoother, giving it a more “pleasing”/”hi-fi” signature than their very analytical default presentation (which I, as an audio engineer, favor, but I would probably favor the sound with the “cotton ball” mod if I was just the regular music enthusiast type). All the best, JG

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