Very nice find! Saved me $5 :P
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- productBose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphonestagged by System, 2/22/11
- productShure SRH 440 Professional Studio Headphonestagged by System, 6/18/10
- productSony MDR-XB700 50mm XB Diaphragm Driver Extra Bass Headphonestagged by System, 2/22/11
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Acknowledgment Thanks to @Tony-Hifi of HiFi headphones for making me review this desktop DAC/Amp as a favour. I love reviewing loaners, but it’s always sad to package and send them off...
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Shure SRH440 Impression - Page 14
Gear mentioned in this thread:
Great tip about the HD600 headband cushioning! I had already tried to hack up an old pair of AKGs and morph them together... FAIL. Now I'll be able to stand wearing them, which will save me from having to get an expensive portable headphone amp for my 600Ω closed-backs when I fly.
I don't think the srh440's are lacking bass, you just have to burn-in them properly. At first, it was a little disappointment for me, but after a month,i can tell that the burn-in was really useful for it. The bass amazingly got improved.
That'll be true for most listeners, but trust me when I say that for me (as in: my opinion, what my brain perceived, my own preferences, or however you may wish to think about it) the SRH440 were seriously lacking in bass quantity. On an objective level, the SRH440 could never put out as much undistorted bass as the XB700, but it wasn't designed to, so this isn't a fair statement to make. Likewise, the XB700 can never sound as open as the SRH440, but once again, it wasn't designed to. However, I did notice less sibilance over burn-in with the SRH440.
Wow audiotrolls really got mad at you on this review! Fot what it's worth, I think you were really objective. You didn't use all those euphemistic adjectives I usually find in reviews (like "laid-back treble" instead of "sucks at mids"). You gave your opinion in a way anyone could understand, you gave examples of the songs you used to understand how they performed in certain kinds of sound, and you gave your opinion on what kind of music they are destined to. Thanks, it really helped my choice =)
hmmm, yes... i don't really like the sound of these out of an ipod. on my sony walkman, if i equalise it (i know some people don't like equalising though) and turn the [clear] bass all the way up, these can sound very very nice ;)
I like this headphone for great vocal clarity and lively musical presentation. However with some music, instruments sound a little thin. (However, I am not so sure about this because I don't own high end headphones to verify.)
Comfort: I can only wear this for 1 hour before its hurts my head.
I really disagree on the fact that the SRH440 need equalization or amping. I use them straight out of a Sony MP3 player, with great result and without using any equalizer. They are very sensitive, so you really don't need an amplifier.
The Shure SRH440 sound like cheap earbuds when not equalized? This is a very biased basshead statement! I found them to have really enough bass.
The SRH440 is clear, yes (in a very good way). But for your Demonic Force who wants the clearest headphones to save the Planet, I would give them the Audio-Technica AD700 way before the SRH440. You don't seem to have a lot of experience in headphones besides the crappy sounding Sony MDR-XB700, don't you?
Your review of the SRH440 is totally inaccurate, since your reference is a Sony XB700, wich is a really bad headphone.
For bassheads, you should try these headphones, they have very good bass.
For gamers, buy them for their clean sound AND good bass.
For everyone else with decent audio equipment (most of Head-Fi I take it), try them.
For everyone else, buy them and you won't regret it.
Note: Skip to the end for the short version.
Thanks for your harsh criticisms, you really saved this thread from going dead. You're right, when I wrote this, I didn't have that much experience; it was actually my first step into the audiophile world, but that's not to say that I have considerably more experience now. I've tried 3 more cans since the SRH440 and I do have to say the SRH440 were very good headphones (with the two years that I haven't heard them. My only really clear memory of them is from the song "Passion -KINGDOM Orchestra Instrumental Version" in flac), which I don't think I highlighted that much in my initial impression, but my later postings should have made that clear. However, there are a few things which I will not yield on from my original impression:
1) These headphones are not for bassheads. If you honestly believe a basshead would enjoy these headphones as much as the MDR-XB700 (or the Audio-Technica A700 or Beyerdynamic DT770), then it's clear that you aren't a basshead, and you may not know any real bassheads. Sorry for the harsh tone, I truly mean nothing by it. To make my statement a bit more objective have a look at this graph:
I'll say this again, and for the last time, since you're not the first person to say something like this: these headphones are not for bassheads. They weren't engineered for bassheads, they're not marketed to bassheads, they don't sound like they're made for bassheads, they don't like they're made for bassheads (IMO), they're not for bassheads. Stealing this from Shure's website: the SRH440 is engineered to "reproduce accurate audio across an extended range." That, they do. I believe I even mentioned that these headphones can go as deep as the XB700, but nowhere near as much quantity. If they SRH440 did have as much quantity as the XB700, DT770, A700, and so on, then I could sue Shure for false advertising. A bassheads can is the antithesis of that statement.
2) Games in general don't have clean audio tracks; they're loaded with bass and brickwalled to kingdom come. For TV shows, the sound is biased towards cheap television speakers (but movies are okay). I like the MDR-XB700 since it's not very detailed and the crappy sound quality from games and shows doesn't make you cringe as it would coming from the SRH440 or DT770, which are both very detailed. Coupled with the fact that the SRH440 is bass light when unequalized, and you're in for a not enjoyable gaming session. I still recommend the MDR-XB700 over the SRH440 if you're going to buy cheap headphones for gaming and TV shows.
3) If you don't have a decent source (a laptop sound card and integrated desktop sound card qualifies as a not decent source, unless you spent your money on the good stuff), you should not get these headphones. These headphones sound very good for their price, which means you'll also have to spend a proportional amount of money on other audio equipment if you want these to sound even somewhat good. Portable MP3 players are pretty much mobile DAC/AMPs with a flash storage chip and an efficient CPU; more money goes into the audio components of an MP3 player than it's "computer" parts.
I have actually listened to the ATH-AD700, but it was only a brief time as the cans belonged to a friend of mine. They sound quite open, but it would be a shame if they didn't considering they're open headphones. As far as matters of reference go, using a different set of cans would not have changed my overall view of them. Consider this: voltage is a measure of potential difference, the difference part implying that it is a quantity measured between two points. If you have a source of charge, and you put it in contact with varying sources of charge with different characteristics, you will get different voltage potentials depending on whatever secondary source you put it against. However, this does not change the nature of the first source of charge. The same is true for headphone listening. If I had listened to the SRH440 now, compared against the ATH-A700 and DT770, I would have written a harsher review and I would have returned them immediately after writing the impression. That doesn't change the fact that for $90, the headphones are very good, or that they sound boxy unequalized, or that they have lots of sibilance unequalized (actually, the A700 and DT770 both have more sibilance unequalized. The DT770 so much so that it actually hurt my ears the first time I listened to them), or that they have great frequency extension, or any of that. So, if you think that I wrote an unfavorable review of these headphones because I used the MDR-XB700 as a reference, just consider how much more scathing it would have been had I used the DT770 or ATH-A700 as references (it wouldn't have been much different, considering that it is only $90).
And as far as the XB700 being "bad" headphones, I don't think they are. They have horribly recessed mids (compared to the DT770), lack any open quality (compared to the A700 and SRH440), and lack soundstage (which is a term I now understand thanks to the DT770). I would recommend the ATH-A700 over the XB700; they sound like the mix of the XB700 and SRH440 that I always wanted. In fact, the DT770 is a further improvement on that mixture by having a good amount of bass, comfort, and sound quality. However, the new street price for the DT770 is about 3 times as much as the XB700, and 2 times as the A700, so those aren't very fair statements. The XB700 doesn't sound considerably worse than the SRH440, and bass heavy instruments (guitars, cellos, drums and taikos, etc) sounded much better on the XB700 than SRH440 (I remember not enjoying "Chain," by Back-On, on the SRH440). So, it's really a matter of preference. If you're a basshead and want something cheap, get the XB700. If you're a budding audiophile, get the SRH440.
Short Version/Summary of this post:
1) The Shure SRH440 is not for bassheads. But then again, it wasn't designed for that purpose.
2) The XB700 aren't bad headphones; one should qualify what one means by "bad" at any rate.
3) Don't beat a dead horse.
I really appreciate your answer. Your arguments are clear and honest. If I've said that the Sony XB700 is bad it's because I've bought them and tried them for a few days. I was totally surprised and upset by their tonal unbalance and lack of any musical sense to me. There were only booming bass without any midrange presence, paired with an annoying high-pitched unnatural treble. That's why it's a bad headphone for me.
To be fair, I will just say that I don't like them.
Now on to the SRH440:
1 BASSHEAD - I've never said that the SRH440 is a basshead headphone, otherwise I wouldn't liked them. What I said is that a basshead should try them because they have a good bass reproduction. But you may be right on this : I think I don't really know what's a real basshead.
2 GAMES - Sorry to contradict you on this but the games I play on Xbox360 trought my Yamaha receiver are pretty clean sounding. No distortion, good depth and realism. When I play some Modern Warfare with my SRH440, I'm always surprised by the impact and depth of the explosions and other low frequency components. For me, the bass is strong with the SRH440 on games.
3 SOURCE - That's a fact that my Sony MP3 player sounds better than my PC's integrated audio chip. The SRH440 sounds perfectly balanced and loud enough right out of this Sony player.
I insist on the fact that the SRH440 really don't need equalization, they are already very well balanced. Maybe the mids are a little bit recessed and the bass is sometimes too strong with acoustic double-bass. But otherwise, they are accurate and equalizing them would deteriorate their good tonal balance.
The ATH-AD700 are even more transparent and accurate than the SRH440, but they really lack bass. I would like the accuracy of the AD700 with the bass of the SRH440.
You said this :
Consider this: voltage is a measure of potential difference, the difference part implying that it is a quantity measured between two points. If you have a source of charge, and you put it in contact with varying sources of charge with different characteristics, you will get different voltage potentials depending on whatever secondary source you put it against. However, this does not change the nature of the first source of charge. The same is true for headphone listening.
What the hell are you talking about, in terms of headphone listening?
Otherwise, it's a pleasure to share audiophile experience again.
I apologize for the bad analogy, I'm notorious for those. But here's what I mean; the ears perception of sound from person to person varies, and it also varies within the same person. For example, if you listen to a sound for long enough (assuming its of low enough intensity), you can begin to ignore it. Also, the brain is very good at making sense from a mess (or at least what it thinks to be a mess); that's the basis of optical illusions and also why you can read words at nomral speeds even if the intiroer order of wrods is wrong. My point is this: if you listen to a set of headphones for long enough, you begin to forget their faults because your ears have adjusted to them. For example, right now, I'm listening to "Warriors" by Yoko Kanno on the DT770 and I've pretty much forgotten that the song sounds slightly veiled, treble instruments appear to be at a lower sound level than other instruments (which may be a result of my equalizing out the ear shattering sibilance), and that the DT770 sounds less open than the ATH-A700, but these are minor issues. My brain has essentially made the DT770 the reference; so, let's say I put on my now nostalgic XB700 and listen to the same song. Now, my brain is saying; "This song sounds closed and there's absolutely no soundstage," "Where did the reverberation of the beating of the drums go," "Why does everything sound like a 156 KBps MP3 file," and other stuff like that. Then, I change the song to "Drive" by SEAMO, and everything is all right with the world again. Then, I listen to the same song on my DT770, and my brain says: "Holy crap the bass is gone," and "Oooo, this sounds nicer." A summation of my XB700 impression is that they're the greatest thing that happened to the world since buttered-toast. But I haven't listened to them once for pleasure every since I got the ATH-A700 and the Beyerdynamic DT-770 32 Ohm. Looking at the XB700 as the first source of charge, we have a considerably negative voltage when compared against the DT770, but compared against the SRH440, it's slightly positive. This is why my review of the XB700 was so favorable. However, as you can now see, my opinion of the XB700 is much lower, even though nothing about it has changed, only my reference. So, that was the analogy I was trying to make.
As far as the source goes, I think we are in agreement on the fact that the Sony MP3 player would be a better source than the integrated PC sound card, I apologize if I was unclear about that. And I'm also in agreement with the SRH440 not needing equalization. Other than the bass frequencies (I'm a basshead, remember ), none of the upper frequencies (above 220 Hz) were adjusted by more or less than 4 dB; they sounded much too boxy for me and were slightly sibilant. You also have to consider that different ears usually disagree about how something should be equalized. For me, the equalization curve on the XB700 is almost linear, with a noticeable, but modest, boost around 400-800 Hz (they're not a very open set of cans) and another around 77-150 Hz (they're not a very punchy set of cans). I actually lowered 55 Hz a bit (and added in a considerable amount of infrasonic frequencies using convolution), as I find those frequencies unfavorable (that is to say, the XB700 replicates them more than enough for my taste). And I've only used my headphones on PC games, so I can't comment on console games. But I have noticed that voices in games vary in intensity and frequency representation (for example, whether a voice sounds more open, closed, smooth, recessed, or upfront, and so on. This is of course, after accounting for the natural difference in voices), an effect that is unnoticeable when using speakers. Also, games tend to wind down the volume during an explosion; that is the bass of the explosion causes the sound output to reach 0 dB quickly, causing a generally lowering of all frequencies. It's actually quite annoying. But at any rate, we won't agree on this because we have different opinions on how much bass is enough bass.
As far as me saying that you said these cans are for bassheads, you didn't, and I did make it sound like that. My point is that the SRH440 is not a good recommendation for a basshead that knows that they're a basshead. For me, the DT770 are actually bass light, but consider that I have been listening to the XB700 for the past 2 years. Even then, I won't know how good the DT770 is (in terms of bass quantity)unless I can find a suitable amp; it has to be high-gain and high power output at 32 Ohms. So far, the amps I've looked at don't devulge enough specs for me to buy them. My current amp is +21 dB with a 400 mW output, which is more than enough for the XB700 and A700, since they have a higher sensitivity than the DT770 (even though the A700 has a higher impedance). The FiiO E9 would be perfect with it's 1.5 W into 32 ohms, but it only has a gain of +18 dB, so it apparently has a high floor, low gain design, but I need a medium-high floor and high-gain design. +21 dB and 400 mW is a good combination, and would be fine, if I wasn't trying to get my headphones to play infrasonic frequencies at levels comparable to "normal" frequencies. Oh, woe is me.
- Shure SRH440 Impression
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