SRH-840, HD25-1, and ESW-9

The Sennheiser HD25-1 is quite the opposite of the ESW-9. If the ESW-9 is laid back, the HD25-1 is in your face. People have called it as the “Grado” Sennheiser due to its presentation. The HD25-1 can be considered neutral, when compared to the highly colored ESW-9. The HD25-1 delivers a lot of impact in the bass, and it still remains, even among full size cans, to have one of the strongest and most focused bass punch. Keep in mind that the HD25-1 is not a bassy headphone, it just happens to have a great bass punch. Its frequency response is slightly prominent in the upper midrange and lower treble frequencies, though the treble “attack” is not as strong as what you’d get from Grados.

The HD25-1 may have the smallest soundstage compared to the ESW-9 and the SRH-840, but it has the best instrument separation out of the three. And compared to the other two, the Sennheiser HD25-1 may look like the underdog, but in reality it has the biggest potential. Having removable connectors like the other Sennheiser HD series makes cable upgrades easy to perform on the HD25-1. We used the HD25-1 for the Sennheiser Cable Shootout, because it is more revealing to cable upgrades than the HD650 is. Moreover, while I’ve never heard a balanced SRH-840 or balanced ESW-9, the HD25-1 in balanced configuration is pretty awesome. Finally, the HD25-1 has a certain energy that makes it simply unbeatable for Rock and Rap music. It still plays other genres well, but it especially shines for music with fast paced music that prefers an in-your-face presentation.

The Shure SRH-840 can be seen roughly as a middle ground between the smooth tubey ESW-9 and the in-your-face and impactful HD25-1. The sound is mostly neutral. It doesn’t add a lot of coloration like the ESW-9, and like the HD25-1, it is quite honest and will show a sibilant recording to be sibilant. The SRH-840 doesn’t put an emphasis on any frequency range, but it seems to have enough of everything: good midbass punch, good mids, good sparkle on the treble, and overall it is a great all-rounder headphone.

4.5/5 - (2 votes)



  • Reply December 16, 2010


    BE the Pokemon Master… Collect All Three!!! HE HE HE!!!

  • Reply May 5, 2011


    Hi Mike, Really like your reviews. I’m looking for a pair of on ear phones to supplement my IE8’s. I have tried ATH M50’s and find they are too big for my small head….. I listen to a wide variety of music from Female Vocal, Jazz, Electronic, Classical & Rock and would like something for all genres? Would the HD25-1 be a good choice or something open backed like a HD600 / 650? Suggestions greatly appreciated.

    • Reply May 5, 2011


      If you think the M-50 are too big, then the HD600/650 would also be too

      The HD25-1 is a good one, but it’s a bit too forward and claustrophobic
      for classical. If you want to spend more money (~$500), the Sony Z1000
      ( is a very good
      all rounder, though not as good as the HD25-1 for Rock. If you want to
      look into cheaper options, the ATH SJ55
      has quite a wide genre bandwith as well, should be good for most of the
      music you listed, except perhaps Classical.

      Obviously the Sony at $500 will give the best level of refinement, but
      if talking about purely genre bandwith, I think the SJ55 is just as good.

      • Reply January 21, 2012

        Chris Allen

        I thought the ESW-9 would be suitable for Classical music?

        • Reply January 21, 2012


          It’s not bad, but not the best choice.

  • Reply October 23, 2011


    Mike, just curious but where would the Beyerdynamic 7/800s fit into this big headphone mess?

    • Reply October 24, 2011


      The DT770-880s you mean?

      Well technically the 770-880 are more capable than this trio, but in my opinion their voicing is best suited for monitoring and not music listening, though I know people who loves the 770-880 for music.

  • Reply January 28, 2013

    Eric Thompson

    SRH840’s don’t have enough bass for me, my DT 770’s and Denon D-5000’s sound like beats bass cannons compared to the SRH840’s but they have a detailed and flat mid-range and treble for monitoring, they would be really good for rock if they had a little more bass. I wouldn’t care so much if you could get more bass out of them but eq doesn’t do much either

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