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Shure SRH440 Impression - Page 5

post #61 of 393
i like my will and ignited too lol
post #62 of 393
Dude, i am not sure where to even begin... i will try.

320k mp3 is ok as long as they were properly ripped and compressed with the latest LAME encoder using -b 320. This os the new "insane" that turns on every possible feature that LAME can offer without regard for HD space. I respect it because it actually lets me do certain things with my decoder and output plugins in Winamp, but more on THAT later.

YOU NEED AN AMP for these. To anyone that wants to go out ad buy a pair of these remember, they are professional headphones. They are designed to spread the freq. spectrum ion a mostly even way, to be durable (more on that too) and.... they are designed to be plugged into a console or some other amped quarter inch plug. Probably by JA(or is it JR?)5xxx opamps because they are the most widely used in pro equipment. These are the most widely used because they can put out a lot of power. I said power because I want to point out there are two factors at play here, voltage and current. A lot of the opamps in crappy sound cards can't give enough power. Spec wize you might ok on voltage or current, but ohms law is at work here and what these phones need is power. I do not have the equipment to figure out which one more, but I have a good feeling these are more current headphones than voltage. This is just a guess.

The passive attenuation is good, as you noted, and you also should note that in a pro enfironment stuff gets knocked around. Trust me, these can take it.
i have other pro phones and even the XB700s, also the v700s that were the source for the drivers in the XB700s, The v700dj phones fall apart after a year, and trust me, these Shures won't. Sony has a nice driver in the v700, it is efficient, and something the Shures aren't, so this is why I said they need an amp. The XB700s are great cans, and insanely efficient and natural, but not designed for a pro. They could be used by one as they are generally tonally accurate, but the short cord and no 1/4" screw adapter is a detractor.

You will like the XBs.

Back to the Shure 440s. In a pro environment something else is important, which is the ability to reveal what normal headphones will not. Every part of your chain is going to be cut apart by these, first you are using lossy files, 320k and possibly LAME but still lossy, and it is the job of headphones like these when monitoring from them to be able to tell the difference between a really good mp3 and a 24/96 uncompressed mix. If not, they would not be used by any pro. Your source is an integrated sound card, where power is lacking, but what is worse is unless you were using ASIO or Kernel Streaming to bypass the kmixer, if you are on XP, or just ASIO in general, you are going to get the song plus everything else that is supposed to be mixed in from the other digital sources on the card's chipset. Mute doesn't mean mute. This brings me to your attenuation and EQ. This must be passive. That is, you need to have the best signal form your card you can get, sent to a pre, or line stage, to be passively attenuated (turned down.) That is right. Full power from your card at all times and adjusted with an analog knob. Digital gain adjutment is actually BITRATE adjustment. Lowering the volume lowers the dynamic range and birate, and with 16/44.1 digital volume contol can tear up a good mix. WEven if you had thee songs in uncompressed 24/96, your internal card will probably (badly) resample it to 48khz before resampling AGAIN to whatever you ultimately chose. This is because these cheap cards have DSP chips that can only work on 48khz signals. It is actually better to use a quality software resampler on your output to get it to 48khz before it hits your card, as the chips used by the card usually have horrible artifacting and truncating. In Winamp, also Foobar, you can get plugins that will allow you to adjust the decoder and output, even using ASIO, which can dop a very nice job of resampling before sending to the soundcard, this will do wonders for any soundcard that is doing hardware resampling. Creative only stopped doing it in their consumer cards with the X-Fi, and one model of the Audigy 2. Both must be manipulated by someone that knows what they are doing to ensure bit-perfect output from the card, or to it's own built-in DAC.

A bit-perfect output with an external DAC made for quality of sound can transform many mp3s from 320k down to v0, even v2, into a nice signal to send to your headphone amp, or whatever you are using as one, when you have things setup right. Even then you must be careful because technically an mp3 is a 32bit float file, and can be decoded into a 32bit signal. This will ive a lot of headroom to use digital volume adjustment, but it takes a nice pro card, or nice external interface to accept this, plus, you must decide what kind of dither, if any, you want to use when manipulating all this 16bit stuff for resampling, if you choose to do so. The best mp3 decoders will decode at higher than 16bit and must dither down to 16 for output, so you need to know ab out rectangular, triangular, gaussian dither, as well as noise shaping, all this is related to trunbcation and would take along time to explain but some choose to use a lot some a little, and in certain cases, it may not be needed. It all depends on how your mp3 is being decoded. External s/pdif and usb DAC's can take this signal and send it once it is analogue, to your source, which is where you plug the phones into. It can be an ipod to a mixing console and all manor of in betweens such as tubed head amps and SS head amps that have the power, along with proper opamps, to truly take that signal and send it to the phones.

When done properly, the Shures sound great. They need power, and they are built to reveal, so 320k LAME through a good decoder and output to a good DAC then amplified, would sound not bad, but FLAC or .wav, really any lossless way of storing the file is truly the way to go. You want bit perfect reproduction, and it can only be done if you know what you are doing. These phones were not made for windows media player, internal sound cards, no thought to your decoding>output chain, or trying line-out w/ analog attenuation.

So since these phones, on a properly amped system, with the right setup hardware and software, can reproduce incredible detail and throw a quite large soundstage around your head where individual instruments can be noted from one to the other. This is what they were designed to do, as they are built for the pro market. Not everyone is going to have the best setup, but as long as they have power, like most consoles, or mixing boards, Pro soundcards and interfaces, and DJ setups. These are a wonderful value in the audio world if you have the stuff to back them up with. A DJ is going to love them, as would someone needing something to knock around with in a studio, or an Audiophile that knows what they are doing and posesses the equipment that can drive these, not to mention the source materal (music) to play through them.

Sony liked themn so much they copied their design in their MDR-v600s, which are really bad phones, not to be confused with the V6s. The Shures offer a better earcup and headband material than Sony typically uses at this level, so the flaking of aging foam probably will not be an issue.

My friend. Too many people think it's all about the phones, and in a way your review is, but to be perfectly honest, at the leve, you were using them, we are reading a review of your associated equipment and not the phones. You did not have anything that could really push these the way they were meant to. This is why the XBs will sound so much better, they are forgiving and efficient, also not designed to show every weakness in your chain.

I hate when a good headphone gets a bad rap because it is thought it should work on an ipod or some integrated soundcard and media player. If you wish to call yourself an audiophile, you need more than just audiophile headphones! You obviously like music, but you need to research proper PC audio setups and then try them again when you have some basic associated equipment designed for the demands of a set of fine headphones like these. These are the real deal. They are durable, as the MDR-V600 (v700 only good phone in the consumer dj line for sony) won't break after abuse, the phones Sony copied the design from certainly won't.

Sorry to sound harsh, I just wanted to clear a few isconceptions I see always in PC Audio.
I suggest keeping the XB700s and getting a USB E-MU 0202. This is a DAC and headphone pre that can take on efficient phones very well, but it has a native ASIO driver, so you can begin learning how to get proper sound out of a PC.
post #63 of 393
Thread Starter 
I'll revise this impression shortly, because 1) It's no longer truly reflective of how I see these headphones thanks to comparative listening and helpful comments on this impression and 2) it's generating too much controversy than I would like.
post #64 of 393
Sorry for "intruding" here, but I have to comment on this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yashu View Post
YOU NEED AN AMP for these. To anyone that wants to go out ad buy a pair of these remember, they are professional headphones.
...
Spec wize you might ok on voltage or current, but ohms law is at work here and what these phones need is power. I do not have the equipment to figure out which one more, but I have a good feeling these are more current headphones than voltage.
"professional" is just a tag and doesn't really mean anything here.
See, most studio headphones either have high impedance (e.g. like beyerdynamics) or lower sensitivity (like the AKG's) and sometimes increased max. input power compared to "consumer" products.

When I look at the Shure specs I see this:
Impedance: 44 ohms (= low)
Sensitivity: 105 dB/mW (= very high)

Compare this to the specs of e.g. the DT990 and you'll see that those are more "consumer" than "professional".

You also talk about the ohm's law and that they need lots of power, but they don't need more power than any other headphone. More of the opposite is the case (see sensitivity).
And since they have a low impedance even most portable devices should power them just fine.

Quote:
In a pro environment something else is important, which is the ability to reveal what normal headphones will not.
You're right that those will help to reveal details other headphones will not, but I think that that is mostly due to the fact that they're slim on the bass and have a peak at 10 kHz. This is what gives you the (false) impression of greater detail and not because they are "better", imo.

Quote:
Your source is an integrated sound card, where power is lacking...
Afaik, most integrated sound cards can deliver plenty of power (looking at the specs) but some of them have volume limits on the headphone-out (like on my notebook) to protect you from damaging your hearing.



Quote:
This is why the XBs will sound so much better, they are forgiving and efficient, also not designed to show every weakness in your chain.
Headphones cannot really show weaknesses, they only present what you give them. They also cannot really be forgiving, they just can fail at presenting what you give them (e.g. distortion at high volume).
I know that you probably mean just that, but want to give a different view on this (like on "revealing details", see on top)

<pedantic>The lower XB models have lower sensitivity (~efficency) than the SRH440.</pedantic>


Quote:
Sorry to sound harsh, I just wanted to clear a few isconceptions I see always in PC Audio.
Me too, sorry.
post #65 of 393
Quote:
Originally Posted by Merdril View Post
I'll revise this impression shortly, because 1) It's no longer truly reflective of how I see these headphones thanks to comparative listening and helpful comments on this impression and 2) it's generating too much controversy than I would like.
Welcome to head-fi, where everything you say (and a lot that you actually don't) can and will be used against you by folks who eat their young. LOL
post #66 of 393
The SRH440s sound great straight out of my Samsung P3, yashu. I looked at the specs before purchasing them - I'm extremely meticulous in purchasing things. I must have done a dozen hours of poking around these forums and the rest of the Internet.
You have a point. Bitrate matters, encoding matters and format matters. Digital audio control is not the best way of regulating things. But xnor has a point too. Shure calls their headphones 'professional,' but they were doubtless going for average consumers as well. It's represented in the inclusion of the 240s and 840s. But let's wave that away. This is an SRH440 thread.
Compare the 440s' 44 Ohm, 105db/sPL to my ER6s. 48 Ohm, 97db/SPL IEMs. Not to mention many ER4S owners happily use them straight out of portable devices; those earphones are 100 Ohm, 90db/SPL. No, they're not getting the full potential out of them. Nor am I, when I plug my 440s and ER6s into my Samsung.
But I think for $100, they sound pretty good with 192kbps WMA rips. No doubt they have lots of potential - I can tell every time I listen to them. I'm waiting to receive my first amp (NuForce Icon Mobile) in the mail, so I can see just what more there is. I guess it really comes down to how much potential a headphone has, and just how much equipment and preparation is deemed necessary to unlock it.

Oh - I might be wrong, but I think the V600s were released before Shure's headphones. Or was it the V500s?
post #67 of 393
To clarify a little:

Regarding the professional moniker, it *does* mean something, though it is a moving target as to what that is. For example, Sony V6 can be had at any Guatar Center, but Best Buy and Fry's pimp MDR-V600DJs as if they were the same phone, and as we know, they certainly are not. I come from a "speakers" area of adiophilia, and I used to obsess about nearfield monitors. I use passive monitors for my speaker listening, but it is hard to find a good set of passive nearfield bookshelves. On the pro market, many companies that have a consumer and pro division will keep their prodcucts aimed at musicians far and away from their products aimed at consumers. The most obvious example that most people would know is Wilson Audio. They build audiophile studio monitoring speakers, but they also are one of the most recognized ultra-hifi speakers for a consumer auddiophile. Wilson is very clear, actually about what they do, which is add a slight coloration to consumer models to improve upon their musicality. There is a debate in the audio world about this, and generally a professional monitoring set of speakers of phones have a goal aimed more toward a flat response. This does not mean they have a flat response, of course, and anyone that has done production work knows that a colored pair of monitors can lend a helping hand to mix for wider number of consumers. I have a very neutral set of bookshelves, but compared to something more lively they are dark, even cold, and set back, somewhat like what people hear in Senn 650s even when driven properly.

Professional is somewhat a way to identify a certain expected level of neutrality and ruggedness, I suppose. A subjective term for sure, but in the case of these phones, they are fairly neutral, they have a nice weight and feel to them, and the pads are made from a material that isn't going to flake after heavy use. They also do a good job of passively attenuating noise, so they also provide that isolation factor. I would certainly place them in the pro market.

Yes I speak of power. I own these phones and when plugged into a little media player, they sound extremely thin for anything beyond chamber music, or acoustic jazz. They have a top end that lends to the female voice quite well, so some acousti folk could probably be enjoyed, but other genres are going to sound extremely thin. Harsh and thin. Now, if we are using lossless, the extent to which they are harsh is entirely how well the album was recorded, and some media players with less than optimal headphone outputs are going to show through because these guys were designed to pass along the music to the listener with as little blurring as possible at this price point. I understand some laptops and I think a certain Zune model have a fair amount of power and quality to be able to drive these, as long as the software is setup properly in the case of the laptop. In any case, I would never have these on any integrated sound, sound card, or whatever using the kmixer, or, if it did automatically resample to 48khz, there are ways to get this done well with software and sent out to the card so that the card's DSP chips don't have to mangle it. This can be done with ASIO and Kernel Streaming, and in th case of KS, if you resample up to something with enough headroom, the digital volume control can be used without really any loss in quality of sound. I mean, almost anything can be done if one is willing to really take a look at the Phones and get an idea for how they sound in various types of output configurations.

Still, the Shure 440s are going to sound very thin next to other headphones with a similar sensitivity level, on a portable. They do need power. The reason for this is not immediately obvious, but while headroom gives a freq. response graph, it does not do what many passive Pro speakers supply, which is an impedance spectrum graph. I have an idea of what it might look like, so that it can have the specs it has but perform the way it does. They do need power. To bring about the bass they need power, as these won't give flabby bass without it, just less bass, it is all about control, and the same is with the HF, drawing power from a device that cannot supply enough of it is going to have an effect on how the headphones perform in the trebel. They may begin to sound shrill and not just their usual very revealing.

I have a headphone amp that can drive speakers, actually, and do it somewhat well. As in, it can handle loads down to 8 ohms. The Shures take on a new character here. Bass is extremely well produced, and the midrange is neutral as expected, with the highs very accurate and dare I say, even a tad cold or dark. The reproduction of music is extremely tonally accurate, so there aren't that many perceived bumps in response, and on a well recorded track guitars from acoustic to electric do come alive because the HF component to accompany the accurate midrange. Although, I enjoy them most with electronic music. The reason for this is that a lot of modern electronic IDM contains an element of glitch, as well as other synthetic sounds that require a very fast response from the highs down to the bass. They shine the most to me, this way, in my collection. I can enjoy IDM on other headphones, actually the Sony XB700s simply because their comfort and very non-fatiging sound, as well as the ability to accomplish far more than the Shures on the typical power and quality of a portable player, or even files like LAME 320k or V0.

At home where I can give the Shures the power to keep everything in control, they really are agood set of phones for electronic. I enjoy them far more than, say, Grado 325s, even though there is nothing about the 325s that would make them less applicable to electronic music (they are fast too), but the darker neutral sound of the Shures make for really good listening if I want to break out some IDM, or Industrial Dance, and they are simply wonderful for Russian minimal or more tech house/electro. This is not to say they cannot reproduce the other end, the human end, but again, it is an aquired taste, like my nearfield monitors, many feel they are too dark, or without color, but I enjoy them this way, as the tubed DAC provides just the right amount of texture to the overall sound.

If you can manage to get the Shures to sound a bit laid back, then you probably have them setup just right. The soundstage is there, it will just be a bit dim, and back a bit. If this is not the sound you are looking for, there are plenty of phones priced similar that sound very forward. The Denon 1001ks are extremely revealing like the Shures, however their foward nature gives an air and space that is quite fun for a closed headphone. Actually, the OP would probably love them, if he did not already get the XBs.

All in all, if you are prepared for them, these 440s can provide extremely accurate music reproduction, meaning anything lower than a V0 LAME mp3 is going to be ear shreading (I think LAME has an LP filter that changes with the quality settings, but there is still a difference in range/congestion) . They are very well built, having a good weight, as well as ear cups that are made out of a material that will last much longer than what Sony uses in phones on the market for direct competition. All heqadphones have a sound signature and I would put these at a darker and more laid back "headstage", but with a good amp or headphone output, they will come to live in a very controlled manor. Precise and clear midrange, accurate bass that comes to life given more power, and lastly, an extremely detailed top end that can make for a thin sound if running on too weak of an output source. The HF are such that details that some phones miss willl be translated to the listener, which can be good or bad.
post #68 of 393
Quote:
Originally Posted by yashu View Post
They do need power. The reason for this is not immediately obvious, but while headroom gives a freq. response graph, it does not do what many passive Pro speakers supply, which is an impedance spectrum graph. I have an idea of what it might look like, so that it can have the specs it has but perform the way it does.
Headroom does supply such graphs:


Really don't know what you're seeing there. :s


I don't have the time to comment on the other stuff right now.
post #69 of 393
Thread Starter 
Well, I happen to be a mechanical engineer (with a lot of knowledge in computers) and I can say that citing ohm's law does not detail the whole picture of how power is supplied to headphones (or any electronic device). For example, if some power supply (PS) supplies x Volts and some component requires x+1 Volts, that power supply will supply x+1 volts to the best of its ability. The PS is not just going to say "Oh, I'm rated for x V, sorry but Ohm's law says I can't supply any more." Now, in the case that this PS is in a computer supplying those computer components, what will happen is random shut downs (this is a safety mechanism of the PS and not actually a function of ohm's law), some components may not function as intended, or some components may even be damaged due to voltage fluctuation of the PS.

In the case of headphones, the sound card will give the headphone (or to be accurate, generate enough current to overcome the resistance of the headphone driver and cord) the power it needs to the best of its ability. This does not mean the sound card will be able to give all the power the headphone needs, and probably accounts for why some sound cards are better than others. The weak sound card will probably deliver poor and/or distorted sound. And there are many internal components in sound cards that are responsible for regulating current that comes into it and goes out of it that can all affect sound and I could keep going on like this but I won't. I'm not saying my integrated sound card delivers enough power, it certainly doesn't, but Ohm's law isn't the end all be all to why headphones sound bad on certain sound cards.
post #70 of 393
^^^^Yes well said. I wasn't trying to say that ohms law was some sort of headphone gravity in relation to power draw, but some phones, I think are "voltage" phones and some phones I think are "current" phones... as for the Shures, I would saythey are the latter. Just like with speakers, you generally can't have an amp that is too powerful, it is the weaker amps that cause distortion on these loads, or with speakers, a weak amp can easily fry a driver due to clipping. I have experienced clipping once with an integrated sound card, but it was a long time ago. Some sound cards have an output for digital gain to be used and also a straight line out that can be hooked by software and it will deliver full power, via it's opamp, out to a line source. This is ideal, because the less links in the chain the better, as well, analog attenuation is going to sound much more clear.
post #71 of 393
The only thing Shure SRH440's benefit from is a DAC. During my session with them, i noticed a significant increase in sound quality when i went from onboard pc audio to a asus soundcard. Everything just tightened up. However, in both cases, i did not find the bass to be lacking or anything, in fact, when i heard it through the asus card, i found the bass to be too much for my taste. To be honest, most on board pc audio chips are really bad quality, if you are using a decent cd player, that is more than enough for the 440's.
post #72 of 393
I just got my Shure SRH440s, i have only been using them for about 4 hours but i can say that this is the clearest natural sounding pair of headphones i have owned and i still need to let them burn in will post more impressions later...BTW does anyone know where could i buy the 840's ear pads for these? thanks.
post #73 of 393
post #74 of 393
Merdril, that is a very utopistic scenario. Random computer shut downs because of the power requirements of a sound card, or headphones? C'mon ..

yashu, I know what you're trying to say but if you look at the pic you'll see that it's low impedance and has high sensitivity, just like all the cans made for portable devices. I'm not trying to talk them down or something, but just stating the "facts" - these are certainly nice headphones.

If you look at the specs of such an onboard card like realtek's "cheapest" alc260, you'll see that THD+N is below -90 dB, crosstalk -80 dB, output impedance < 1 ohm and can deliver ~60 mA (typical).
Now fire up a calculator and you'll see that those cans need only ~6 mA for a 105 dB loud 1 kHz sine wave.

Of course, these specs don't look good in comparison with all the dedicated stuff, but for normal listening I personally don't see why those would need something dedicated, ymmv.

Again, these are nice headphones but were not my cup of tea, neither from a soundcard nor a mini3.
post #75 of 393
840 pads here also. Just Google them and there are others to be found.
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