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Shure SRH 840 post-burn-in review

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

(Still very much an amateur, and this is my first review, but I'll give it my best.)

So I grabbed the Shure SRH840 after a long trial and error process at Guitar Center back in December, and I've listened to them nearly every day since, for several hours at a time--so it's safe to say they're pretty burned in by now. Some background on my own biases: I like big closed cans, around the ear or on the ear, and listen to mostly rock music with them. After breaking my Audio Technicas, I needed to find a new pair of headphones that could work with rock music while giving a little bit of flavor. Basically, I wanted a pair of phones that wasn't  "precise," but more "fun."

 

Comfort: 4.5 out of 5

They're definitely on the heavy side, but other than that, amazing in terms of comfort. I usually have my phones on for hours at a time--these are one of two pairs I own that don't hurt after a marathon. They have good enough clamp to let me move my head without them falling off (I have a very small head), but not so much that I get a headache. The ear pads are squishy pleather--padded and soft enough to not hurt the ears. The cord is long, but coiled, so it doesn't get in the way, but with enough length to let me move around. There's some moisture wicking fabric in the headband, which I imagine is a plus--but my head never really gets hot with headphones, so I can't attest to it.

 

Durability: 5 out of 5

Okay, this might be one of the coolest things about the 840. It comes with replacement ear pads, and a replacement cord. The cord itself is double-ended, and you have to plug it into the left-side ear (it locks into place, so it's not like you could yank it out by accident). I was really excited about this since, because of their weight, I was worried about the strain it would put on the cord. Although the cord itself is pretty tough--on the thicker side and coiled, which means it's less likely to feel stress to begin with. The actual cans themselves feel very durable because of their weight, and the band is some kind of flexible plastic surrounded by a thick, padded layer. And the ears fold up into the band, making them relatively easy to transport despite the size. Honestly, I put most of my things through hell, and I feel like I'd have to run these suckers over if I wanted to destroy them.

 

Isolation: 5 out of 5

What I'd expect out of a closed can, honestly. I can't hear much of what's going on around me, so there's not much ambient noise leaking through. As for noise leaking--I can pull these off my head, jack up the volume, and press the cups together (recreating the seal that's around my head, ideally) I can't hear a thing.

 

Sound: 3 out of 5

For full disclosure--when I test new headphones, I always use these three songs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj6UNM8WANU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSYZmTguXP8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yry2X-oObds

 

Okay, there's a few areas these cans really deliver in terms of sound. These phones really drive the mid-range--which is one of the things that makes them a fun listen, in my opinion. There's a lot of vibrancy and life in the sound, without being punchy. The mid- to low-bass is also crisp and well-developed without being rumbly or distorted; although I imagine these would leave something desired for a bass-fanatic. The sad part, and I think this is perhaps their biggest downfall, is that the high-bass range is really weak--perhaps the weakest part of the entire sound. I've heard others complain that these can become obnoxious with the high-range as well, and I didn't notice this until after they'd been burned in. The high-range is definitely on the sharp side, and on some songs it's annoying (pop lovers, beware!), but for the most part it blends well with the strong mid-range. As for depth, they're not flat. But they're not terribly deep, either. For the most part, the sound is all right in one spot, with slight variations. Honestly, there's a better soundstage on my cheap pair of Sennheisers. But for a simple rock experience--especially a standard four-or-five-piece band, Beatles-based rock, punk roots, etc.--you're going to have a great time. Long story short: I got my mom rocking out to the Offspring with these on. Overall, a fun sound--and totally an enjoyable pair--but the failures aren't just cracks, they're potholes. And that's rather disappointing for the price tag. If you can find these for $100 or less, I'd say go for it.

 

Overall: 3.5 out of 5

I do really like the 840. It's a good set, comfy, and for most of my music, it can really deliver. But like I said, for a $200 price tag (some places as high as $250!), they've got some pretty serious downfalls that I feel are inexcusable at that price range. I've seen them going for around $130 now (that seems much more reasonable), and for that price I would probably be a lot more forgiving. I've never heard another pair of Shures, so I'm not sure what the house sound is like, but, given my impression of the 840, I would hesitantly give them another shot.

 

 

post #2 of 10

I share the same opinion as you.

 

"The high-range is definitely on the sharp side, and on some songs it's annoying (pop lovers, beware!), but for the most part it blends well with the strong mid-range."

 

Some high frequencies of my SRH840 are brighter and sharper than my Denon D2000, DT770 and Ultrasone Dj1 Pro on some songs, and this is based on amped and unamped A/B comparison with high quality recordings. SRH840 has a huge fan base, so I guess my ears are just more sensitive to sharp highs.


Edited by andychen - 4/1/12 at 10:37pm
post #3 of 10

The 840's are currently $132 at Amazon and the highest they have been is $200.  They are currently about $15 below the M50's 

 

I recently picked up the 940 there for $220.

post #4 of 10

Nice review! One thing to add would be the equipment you reviewed them with??? Was the review done straight from a mp3 player, computer, with or without a HP amp, etc......?

 

Only reason I ask is, the bass will tighten up considerably with a nice HP amp.....at least in my experience. I do agree with you on the highs - I listen primarily to jazz and it handles about 95% of the highs really well. However, when it comes to fast passages or fast paced solos packed with notes, the 840s stumble a bit in clarity and things tend to blur together.

 

I paid $129 from Amazon and they are definitely worth the cost - a nice closed can that won't bankrupt most people!!!

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the words of encouragement everyone! Good to know it's not all just in my head--although my family begs to differ.

 

I also forgot to mention (because I forgot I did it), I am listening with some minor tweaks. I adapted the equalizer settings on my computer to diminish the high range and give the bass a bit more of a boost. The bass is much, much flatter without it; the treble's still not terrible--although I'd steer clear of Mariah Carey. Wouldn't change my rating for something like that--since it's an easy (and free) fix--but in the interest of science, I thought I should mention it.

 

mrpink44: I listen using either an iPod touch (generation... 3.... maybe?) or, more commonly, a Macbook pro. I have not gone so far as to delve into amps at all, but I'm curious to see the kind of difference they can make. I'm stuck at the simple plug-and-play stage, but I've been thinking of branching out. What would be a good amp you'd recommend for the 840s? I feel like with just a few minor tweaks these could be amazing.

post #6 of 10



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zanofthejungle View Post

 

mrpink44: I listen using either an iPod touch (generation... 3.... maybe?) or, more commonly, a Macbook pro. I have not gone so far as to delve into amps at all, but I'm curious to see the kind of difference they can make. I'm stuck at the simple plug-and-play stage, but I've been thinking of branching out. What would be a good amp you'd recommend for the 840s? I feel like with just a few minor tweaks these could be amazing.



The first HP amp I purchased was the Audinst HUD-mx1 which is a DAC/Amp combo. I used it primarily with my 840s....and now with my ATH-A900Xs. It compliments both well - I wanted something more detailed oriented, but didn't want to break the bank. It's a nice little combo unit for $175. There are quite a few reviews online and those are what sold me on the unit.

 

That being said, I've never used a Macbook pro so I'm not sure what the DAC is like in it - a lot of peeps on this site use Macbooks though so maybe someone will chime in. You could also get a portable amp/DAC for your iPod, but again I use a different mp3 players so I'm kind of useless when it comes to the iPod. There are a lot of threads though so I'd recommend doing some searches in the headphone amp forums.

 

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrpink44 View Post

That being said, I've never used a Macbook pro so I'm not sure what the DAC is like in it - a lot of peeps on this site use Macbooks though so maybe someone will chime in. You could also get a portable amp/DAC for your iPod, but again I use a different mp3 players so I'm kind of useless when it comes to the iPod. There are a lot of threads though so I'd recommend doing some searches in the headphone amp forums.

 


 

Thanks a million! That's definitely a good start, since I know virtually NOTHING about amps. And I'm glad to hear you've used it with the A900Xs, since I've got my eyes on Audio Technicas for my next big purchase--good to know I could get some mileage if I got this one. And I'd probably use an amp only on my laptop--I almost never use my iPod because the output quality is absolutely terrible (especially considering that's it's primary function...), so I only use it in a pinch. It pretty much just stays plugged into my car stereo all the time. But I do think I'll have to start lurking the amp reviews now...

post #8 of 10

Quote:

Originally Posted by zanofthejungle View Post


 

Thanks a million! That's definitely a good start, since I know virtually NOTHING about amps. And I'm glad to hear you've used it with the A900Xs, since I've got my eyes on Audio Technicas for my next big purchase--good to know I could get some mileage if I got this one. And I'd probably use an amp only on my laptop--I almost never use my iPod because the output quality is absolutely terrible (especially considering that's it's primary function...), so I only use it in a pinch. It pretty much just stays plugged into my car stereo all the time. But I do think I'll have to start lurking the amp reviews now...



 The AT A900X's are awesome!! I was looking for an upgrade to my Shure's and they are definitely a step up. My job allows me to listen to music all day long so it was easy to drop the cash on a new set of 'cans since I get 30-40 hours out of them each week!

 

Here is my original thread where I was seeking advice on an upgrade to the 840s: http://www.head-fi.org/t/595881/closed-can-upgrade-to-shure-840s#post_8151357

 

The AT A900X delivered exactly what I was looking for. One cavet, if you have a small head, the wing system of the AT's headband is a bit annoying - it feels like the HPs want to slide off. Once you get use to it - it's not that bad though and the sound quality more than makes up for it. From what I've read, it's only peeps with small heads who have the issue.

 

I'd recommend spending some time researching amps - trying to figure out if you want a tubed setup of solid state. Also, that will allow you to enjoy the 840s unamped and then see how they scale up. Good luck and happy listening!! 

post #9 of 10

I've used the Apogee Duet 2 (and also the latest Apogee Duet for Mac/IOS) with Shure headphones and can say the 440 and 840 make a good combination.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestion--although I think the Duet might cost more than the internal organs I'd be willing to sell for it. Any other amps you could suggest that work well with Mac?

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