Originally Posted by Merdril
So far, the SRH440 beat the XB700 in highs, as is expected. The XB700's highs are harsher (with more listening, the SRH440 are more clear than they are harsh). Cymbals sound grainy, alto saxophones sound muted when they hit high notes, but sibilance is much better controlled on the XB700 (probably because they can't extend as far into the highs). As far as it bass extension, I can't hear anything below 15 Hz (or the headphones may not be able to produce anything below 15 Hz, but the range of human hearing is supposed to be from 20 to 20,000 Hz on average. The headphones make a brief sound at the start and the end of a 10 Hz loop, but I'm not sure if that means the headphones are actually making a sound or if it just tried to reproduce 10 Hz and gave up). But for what I can hear, the XB700 delivers clearly and without distortion.
Well, I got the SRH440 and honestly, I think you're just a basshead. Not like that's a bad thing, it's just your personal preference. After less than 20 hours of burn-in, I think they sound great. My source is an unamped Samsung Z5, a player that sounds miles better than my iPod touch.
Treble is crisp and well-defined, probably in part due to the SRH440's 10kHz peak, but it sounds very natural and rarely is harsh. Mids are quite forward, but slight less 'smooth' sounding as my PX100s; the highs more than make up for it, though. Instrument separation is great too.
As for the 'lack of' bass, I have a feeling it might have a bit to do with the physical properties of the headphone itself. By pressing the earcups closer to my head, the bass becomes far more prominent and enveloping. However, Shure definitely didn't design them for this use, as what results is a wall of sound that becomes very fatiguing to listen to. More so than 'enveloping,' the bass becomes overpowering, with forceful response that overshadows the midrange.
Overall, I'm quite pleased with the SRH440s. I think they harbor a philosophy of 'quality over quantity' in terms of bass, but bass is definitely not the focus of this headphone. For me, though, who likes his Etymotic ER6s very much, they're a great headphone.
I've heard the XB700s before and remember being quite impressed by them, especially after I EQed up the treble and they delivered nonetheless. I think I like the 440s better, though, for their overall clarity. Also, the XB700s feel much frailer and don't collapse into a ball like the Shures do. But from the looks of it, you'll probably prefer the sound of the former.
I'll make sure to post again regarding how the SRH440s behave when connected to an amp/DAC, as my NuForce Icon Mobile will be arriving in the new year. Yes, it's an entry-level amp and the first that I'll have ever owned, but an amp nonetheless.