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Shure SRH840 Headphones *Review*

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi everybody, this is my review of the Shure SRH 840's.

Intro: The Shure SRH840's are a closed ear, studio monitor pair of headphones. They've been out for quite some time now, but in no way are they old. They can be had for $200 which IMO is a steal for what is being offered. The frequency range is 5 Hz - 25 kHz and they have a low impedance of 44 ohms.
Now, on to the review..

First Impressions: WHOA, these babies are heavy. They are coming in at a solid 1.75lbs. To those interested in comfort, this could prove to be a problem, but we'll delve further into that later.
I personally think that these are some fantastic looking headphones. They have a sleek black leather head band with "Shure" engraved into the top. The drivers are a matte black with a silver trim. Very sharp looking. The ear pads are an uber-comfy black leather, but if you are the kind of person that sweats a lot, these could end up getting smelly. The indicators for Left and Right are colour coded, but tastefully so.
The cable is easily interchangeable which is very handy. You just turn it 90 degrees to unlock it, and it comes out easily. This is great for traveling, but even better if you plan on upgrading the cable itself.
The headphones come with two extra earpads, a leather carrying case, and a standard gold 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter. Though the carrying case is nice, the drawstring on mine broke after a few months of use.

 

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post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 

Sound:
I used these headphones straight from my iPod using high quality (320 bit mostly) mp3's. The setup is pretty vanilla, but thats simply what I have to work with. Luckily, I've gotten to hear the Shure SRH840's hooked up to some very high quality amps and cd players, so I can use that for reference.
First off, these headphones are not hard to drive at all. My iPod can push them to uncomfortably loud volumes fairly easily. If you really insist on amping these, I wouldn't recommend a SS amp. They have a fairly low impedance, so an SS amp won't do to much for them. In fact, I got to hear these headphones hooked up to a top of the line Bryston SS amp, and to be fully honest, I could hardly hear the difference. The lower end had slightly more depth but thats about as far as it went in terms of improvements. I would, however, recommend a nice tube amp. It could add some nice warmth to the headphones and it would really help extend those lower frequencies. Not that the 840's really need that at all.
I'll start off with the low end performance of the Shure SRH 840's. I would describe the 840's low ends as just right. At a slightly louder volume, its all you could ask for. The bass is certainly present, but in no way is it overpowering. You really get the sense that the bass is exactly as it was meant to sound. The lower ends aren't dull in any way, but they're not exactly rich either. The low ends seem balanced to me. When listening to black metal which consists of machine gun heavy riffs, the 840's keep up perfectly. I think that the low end fills out quite nicely when listening to classical music as well. The only time I feel like they start to struggle and roll off is when listening to the song Paradise by Mickey Factz, but thats the only time I've ever noticed it. If I had to complain, I would say that the 840's lack a bit of volume. I listened to the Sennheiser HD 650's in comparison, and it was only then that I noticed that the 840's lower ends weren't as full, and that they were slightly lacking in depth. But then again, the comparison isn't necessarily fair, seeing as the 650's will run you $300-$400 more than the 840's.

The mids are where these headphones shine. The mid range on the 840's soar high and above most other headphones I've listened too, and thats saying something. To be honest, I would have to say that the mids on these headphones have a slightly warmer inclination, but its something that I'm definitely a fan of. Female vocals sound gorgeous. In no way are these mids airy or thin. The 840's have a mid range that invites you into its home, sits you down in a comfy chair, and serves you a glass of wine while overlooking the sunset on a lake.
The same is not to be said upon first listen. Though I wouldn't say that the 840's have the most drastic burn in I've ever heard, the difference is definitely noticeable, and I would recommend 100+ hours of burn in for these headphones to reach their full potential.

Sadly, the highs of the 840's are a bit lackluster. They are too ordinary. They are in no way bad, but they kind of bottlneck the performance of the headphones. They are simply not on par with its lows, and definitely not with its mids. When listening to high hats being hit, or violins extending to their higher ranges, you start to feel like the highs are a bit thin.
The upper treble is too much for me. It sounds thick and crowded, and if I had to pick one place where these headphones fall short, it would be here.

The 840's are decent when it comes to precision. Its not anything extraordinary, but in no way is it lacking. When talking about how precise headphones are, its really a matter of good, or ordinary. Precision is either there, or it isn't. If a headphone isn't precise, it won't take anything away from the experience, its just that something that is precise will bring something new to the table.

I find that the 840's have great positioning. The headphones are definitely more forward in their presentation, but not overly so. The sound really feels like its coming from multiple different directions.

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Comfort: Ahh, and here we finally arrive at the Shure SRH 840's main downfall. Its weight. When I first got it, my head was hurting after 20 minutes. Within a few days you get used to it, but even now, after having had the 840's for a number of months, I can only have the headphones on for an hour at a time. After an hour, I have to take them off to give my head a break.
The headband is just so heavy that it weighs down on your head and it can really get uncomfortable.
On the other hand, I do like the feel of the ear pads, so its not all bad.

Portability: These headphones fold up into a nice small package, and the included carrying case is a nice bonus (though again, the drawstring on mine broke within a few months). They are heavy so they can weigh a backpack down, but IMO they are fine.

Durability: These headphones are pretty tough. I'll admit that there has been times when I haven't been so careful with them. They've been sat on, dropped from 3 feet up, and though I wouldn't recommend doing any of this on purpose, there isn't a scratch on them and they still sound beautiful.

Noise Control: In no way are these isolating headphones, but they actually do quite well in blocking out background noise. In terms of noise leakage, they aren't too too bad. At over half volume on my ipod, the music is definitely audible to people around me if I'm in a quiet room, but its not until I turn the headphones up really loud (uncomfortably so) that they start becoming a nuisance.

Conclusion: These headphones are great. The 840's have their quirks, but there is so much to like about them that it doesn't really matter. They are unquestionably the best in their price range ($200) and provide an unreal value.
Sound - Exiting lows, unreal mids, and ok highs land these headphones a solid 9/10. Whats great is that in no way do these headphones need to be amped (an iPod can drive them to volumes that are more than loud enough), but they can benefit from it (a nice tube amp will add some warm coloration and help add some depth to the lows). I listened to these in comparison to the Sennheiser HD 650's and I personally think that the 840's gave them a decent run for their money. In the end, they lost out because the lows were just that much more full, the highs were just that much more crisp, and the soundstage was just that much more involving. The extra $400 was also just that much more money.
Comfort - Unfortunately, this is where the 840's really lose out. 5/10. They are too heavy, almost to the point that you've got to wonder what the engineers were thinking when they designed it.
Value - 10/10. For that price, the headphones can't come close to being beat.
I'm not going to bother rating portability and durability because they are kind of irrelevant when it comes to Hi-fi headphones. It is easier to say that they are good enough.

Anyways, thanks for reading my review!

post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ckaz View Post


First Impressions: WHOA, these babies are heavy. They are coming in at a solid 1.75lbs. To those interested in comfort, this could prove to be a problem, but we'll delve further into that later.
I personally think that these are some fantastic looking headphones. They have a sleek black leather head band with "Shure" engraved into the top. The drivers are a matte black with a silver trim. Very sharp looking. The ear pads are an uber-comfy black leather, but if you are the kind of person that sweats a lot, these could end up getting smelly. The indicators for Left and Right are colour coded, but tastefully so.
The cable is easily interchangeable which is very handy. You just turn it 90 degrees to unlock it, and it comes out easily. This is great for traveling, but even better if you plan on upgrading the cable itself.
The headphones come with two extra earpads, a leather carrying case, and a standard gold 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter. Though the carrying case is nice, the drawstring on mine broke after a few months of use.

 


Just nitpick, I don't think anything is actual leather, not even the bag.

 

Otherwise, great review.

post #5 of 18

It's pleather. And price 200 = USD200?

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kingtz View Post




Just nitpick, I don't think anything is actual leather, not even the bag.

 

Otherwise, great review.


Yea I think you're right actually. Whatever haha, and thanks!

As for the price, I'm talking 200 Canadian

post #7 of 18

i cant say i find these heavy at all

post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark2410 View Post

i cant say i find these heavy at all


Really? They are are the heaviest headphones I've tried to date.

But if you don't notice it, then all the more power to ya. I wish I had the same problem!

post #9 of 18

I don't think they're heavy either. Especially not for their size, and I would say that their weight distribution is designed well enough that they sit comfortably and I don't really notice the weight. I mean, they certainly have mass, just not heavy to the point where they're a burden on my neck muscles.

 

But then again, I have a melon of a head and they don't really look that big on me either. In contrast, I found the HD650s to be ridiculously light.

post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by mark2410 View Post

i cant say i find these heavy at all


x2, the comfort issues I have with them do not stem from the weight.

post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caphead78 View Post




x2, the comfort issues I have with them do not stem from the weight.


yeah they can be a little pinchy on the ears at times

post #12 of 18

I bought a pair of these recently and tested them extensively with high-quality mp3's from my iPod. The vocals sound fantastic. The guitars sound great. Songs that were recorded with heavy bass in mind sound bassy like they should. The problem -- the one that saw me reluctantly return the headphones with a defeated frown -- is that the drums do not sound like drums are supposed to sound, i.e. have a sound at all. The drum track seemed like it was pushed back in the mix a bit and was simply too quiet and unspecific. If you can't hear every beat of the kick drum and toms on a pair of $250 headphones something is wrong. I'm used to hearing music through a pair $35 in-ear headphones by Philips, on which music sounds like it's supposed to. How can a pair of relatively expensive cans sound like shit?

 

Examples for anyone who shares similar musical tastes:

 

During the slide guitar solo in Led Zeppelin's In My Time Of Dying the drummer, John Bonham, beats the shit out of his kick drum pedal. It makes the song. With the 840's it sounds quiet and dull. No sharpness whatsoever.

 

Led Zeppelin again: The live version of The Immigrant Song on How The West Was Won is so well-recorded and powerful that you sit stunned the first time you hear it. You're stunned for a different reason with the 840's. Nothing jumps out at you, nothing comes to life.

 

Hands Up by Big Business: If this song sounds dull on anything there is an issue at hand.

 

Anyway, I desperately wanted to love the 840's but my ears are the judge and they threw them in jail for contempt. Are there other headphones in a similar price range that appeal to picky people who love drums? I'm going to try out some Grado's this weekend if I get the chance but I'm open to any suggestions whatsoever. Thanks for listening to my rant.

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ckaz View Post


 


Yea I think you're right actually. Whatever haha, and thanks!

As for the price, I'm talking 200 Canadian


Man, i always found headphones expensive in Canada...this is a good price for them. 

Good review BTW..

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eggnog View Post

I bought a pair of these recently and tested them extensively with high-quality mp3's from my iPod. The vocals sound fantastic. The guitars sound great. Songs that were recorded with heavy bass in mind sound bassy like they should. The problem -- the one that saw me reluctantly return the headphones with a defeated frown -- is that the drums do not sound like drums are supposed to sound, i.e. have a sound at all. The drum track seemed like it was pushed back in the mix a bit and was simply too quiet and unspecific. If you can't hear every beat of the kick drum and toms on a pair of $250 headphones something is wrong. I'm used to hearing music through a pair $35 in-ear headphones by Philips, on which music sounds like it's supposed to. How can a pair of relatively expensive cans sound like shit?

 

Examples for anyone who shares similar musical tastes:

 

During the slide guitar solo in Led Zeppelin's In My Time Of Dying the drummer, John Bonham, beats the shit out of his kick drum pedal. It makes the song. With the 840's it sounds quiet and dull. No sharpness whatsoever.

 

Led Zeppelin again: The live version of The Immigrant Song on How The West Was Won is so well-recorded and powerful that you sit stunned the first time you hear it. You're stunned for a different reason with the 840's. Nothing jumps out at you, nothing comes to life.

 

Hands Up by Big Business: If this song sounds dull on anything there is an issue at hand.

 

Anyway, I desperately wanted to love the 840's but my ears are the judge and they threw them in jail for contempt. Are there other headphones in a similar price range that appeal to picky people who love drums? I'm going to try out some Grado's this weekend if I get the chance but I'm open to any suggestions whatsoever. Thanks for listening to my rant.



Your descriptions aren't something that I've personally noticed before, though i have always noticed that hi hat cymbals tend to sound thin and harsh.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by winma View Post




Man, i always found headphones expensive in Canada...this is a good price for them. 

Good review BTW..


Ya they tend to be, it takes persistence but eventually you'll find a website that has them on sale, or has them for cheap. You need to be careful though because many of the websites aren't authorized retailers. You can usually tell if the website looks sketchy, or if the price is abnormally low in contrast to everything else you've seen.

And thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it

post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ckaz View Post




Really? They are are the heaviest headphones I've tried to date.

But if you don't notice it, then all the more power to ya. I wish I had the same problem!


On your head, both cans adjusted perfectly and as good a fit as possible the SRH840's are heavier than the SR325i, which is mostly metal. They are exceptionally heavy and I'd say they're overly bulky to a point that shure didn't need to go to. Just look at one of the standards for monitors, the MDR-V6. Also, don't wear them perfectly tight. They sit better and even sound better a click or two looser than you might normally go for.They're practically bullet proof and are nowhere near as heavy. Also, I will say, with proper fitting they seal themselves off really well. As an example, close off the cups (press them together) while playing music, you might hear the highs slightly, but that should be about it.

 

My experiences with the cans are almost all tube, but i will say that the presentation is forward, but only if you compare them to ATH-AD700. The sound stage is only slightly worse, though percieved sound-stage is better if you're not focusing because there's no background noise. They isolate wonderful. As an example, I can't hear my Das Keyboard Pro which is a mechanical keyboard, made specifically to make noise (cherry blue key switches, which are engineered to make more noise than a typical modern day mechanical would). While I agree bass is good, it's probably what I'd call accurate if not a bit shy. For example, put on Korn's "Twisted Transistor" and the bass is just head filling. Now, it very well may be that the tubes are making my experiences so different, but I will definitely say few things on this can are lacking, even the highs. In fact, to me they're a bit sharp, but then again my tubes aren't really... bright I guess you could say. On 4 seperate cans I don't have much issue with treble. If you push 'em right (being low impedance an OTL amp won't do it, only an SS or hybrid will) they really stand out. if you're driving these, only two amps come to mind as being truly sufficient (that I know of):

 

The Little Dot I+

The HifiMan EF5


Edited by Aynjell - 9/18/10 at 9:39pm
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