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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