As my title suggests, I haven't made any posts since forever. I recently decided to participate in a local write up contest to win this particular shure model, so I feel that it would benefit (I hope) the head fi community if i published my work. To be honest, I am no professional writer or audio critic, hope you guys enjoy it anyway.
If it is any good, do me a favor and like/share this Facebook post? Thanks in advance XD
On the 3rd of April 2012, Shure made its debut in the open back, circumaural (over the ears) headphones category with the release of the SRH-1840. Due to my insatiable appetite for subliminal sound, I have been eyeing this pair of headphones since it made its debut.
Build Quality - 9/10
With a tank-like construction, it is hard to imagine a broken or frayed cable from any Shure products. Since Shure uses the same material, Kevlar, to reinforce all their cables, I was able to compare them with a pair of se535s I used to own. From experience, I stepped on the cables countless times, got them sandwiched between MRT doors, stuffed them in my bag without coiling them... you name it. Believe it or not, it is still working hitherto. That said, even if you somehow managed to screw up the cables, you will be pleased to know that they are replaceable. Moreover, Kevlar, being a very good shock absorber, reduces any microphonics to the point where it is negligible.
The choice of materials gives the SRH1840 an edge over its competitors; aircraft grade aluminum and stainless steel for the hinges and mesh respectively make it extremely durable. However, a closer look at the headphones reveals a hard plastic body. Even so, the headphones are still very well made and are designed to last through the ages, affirming Shure’s nonpareil durability.
Sound - 10/10
To assess its audio capabilities, I used my ipod as well as my mac + Stereo’s RSA Darkstar (unbalanced mode) in order to see how well it scales from an average source to a high end source. All tracks are 16bit FLAC or higher.
The following are the tracks used:
Logarithmic Sine Sweep (Full spectrum 20Hz - 20kHz)
Submarines - The Lumineers
Time - Hans Zimmer/Inception OST
Freedom At 21 - Jack White
My Name Is Skrillex - Skrillex
Amar Haciendo El Amor - Celine Dion
Purple Rain - Etta James
My Man - Etta James
Egmont Op84 Overture - Beethoven
Missa Solemnis Benedictus - Beethoven
Anime Et Tres Decide - Debussy
Isolation: Being an open back design, the SRH1840 has negligible passive isolation. Depending on the choice of music, background noise can be drowned out, however sound quality will still be compromised. Moreover, the open backed design makes it vulnerable to sound leakage, ruling out any chance of private listening or usage in home recordings.
Treble: The SRH1840 is able to reproduce nice airy highs effortlessly. I like the way it decays naturally, not too abrupt or lengthy. It is generally very bright and well extended, with a small spike in the lower treble frequencies. When I was listening to Jack White’s ‘Freedom at 21’, the SRH1840 handled the reproduction of cymbals very well. Despite them being in the background, each clash of the cymbals was very pronounced, harmoniously blending together to create an intricate combination of instruments. However, I did notice a very slight amount of sibilance which may cause ear fatigue in long sessions. Overall, the treble presented by the SRH1840 is very realistic with a good amount of detail.
Mid Range: The midrange of the SRH1840 is very neutral and laid back compared to its predecessor, the SRH940. This gives a very relaxed listening experience. The mids are smooth, yet not that smooth as to take away the liveliness from songs in the rock/pop genre. It manages to reproduce every drop of emotion in Etta James’ rendition of ‘Purple Rain’. The whole song comes alive with each breath, smack of the lips and minute imperfections in Etta James’ voice. Instruments are not spared in the sonic euphoria delivered by the SRH1840s. I could almost feel each and every touch of the guitarists in ‘Amar Haciendo El Amor’ and ‘Purple Rain’ as they worked their magic in the different segments of the song. Two words, ‘spectacular’ and ‘sublime’.
Bass: The SRH1840 is able to reproduce accurate bass without any bleed into the midrange. Instead, the bass well balanced with good attack and decay, making it suitable for listening to genres whereby exaggerated bass response is not required for maximum enjoyment. Moreover, it has good, linear bass extension, going well into sub-bass. Unlike most bass heavy headphones in the market, this pair of cans is able to reproduce a good balance of bass for most instruments, such as the bass or the cello, without it sounding overbearing. This can clearly be heard in ‘Anime Et Tres Decide’, in which the bass forms a platform that lavishly supports the rest of the music.
Soundstage + Imaging: This is where the SRH1840 shines. If you’re not familiar with open back design, basically they leave the outside of the ear cups open so that the sound waves reflected off your ear will interfere less with the sound waves going into your ear. As a result, the soundstage is wider and deeper than its predecessor, the SRH940. There is a three dimensional quality to the position of each instrument, hence making it extremely easy to visualize each group of instruments in ‘Time’ and ‘Egmont Op84 Overture’. In this aspect, the SRH1840 gave me the perception that I was in a live concert with every track tested.
Sound Signature: Though it may boast a frequency range of 10Hz to 30kHz, our ears are only able to detect frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz, hence I used the Logarithmic Sine Sweep (20Hz - 20kHz) to assess the frequency response of the SRH1840. The SRH1840 leans heavily towards neutrality, with a small bump in the lower treble frequencies, yet maintaining its musicality. It presents a good balance of treble, midrange and bass frequencies and is not skewed towards any particular frequency, unless the music producer intended for the song to heard as such. This makes it good for a a very wide range of genres, hence catering to audiophiles with esoteric music tastes. Perfect instrumental timbres can be expected from this pair of cans. Any sonic nuances discerned through critical listening can be attributed to the flaws already present in the poor mastering of the track, making it a somewhat revealing pair of headphones.
Drivability: At 65ohms impedance, my faithful ipod classic managed to squeeze out enough juice to power it. With the RSA Darkstar, I was able to get a good listening volume with the knob turned halfway on high gain setting. However, when I fed it directly from my iPod Classic, the headphones could no longer boast the same level of detail, smoothness and musicality. The mediocre amp/dac chips in the Ipod does not bring out the quality of the SRH-1840 as much as i would like it to, thus showing that it does indeed scale well from entry level to high end sources. As such, I feel that it would be best pairing it with a dedicated amp such as the RSA SR71-A or RSA Darkstar and a good DAC like the Cypher Labs Algorhythm Solo (CLAS). In addition, at excessively loud volumes, no distortion can be heard.
Comfort/Design - 8/10
When I first put the headphones on, I felt that it had a very snug fit. The light clamping force minimizes the presence of the headphones during long listening sessions but still provides good stability when moving my head around. Moreover, the headband is flexible and easily adjustable. I also found the headphones very light at 268g. While the choice of using plush velour pads certainly adds to comfort, in hot and humid Singapore, these pads might just prove to be a sweat ‘magnet’, requiring occasional replacement. A gripe I have about the design is that Shure decided to opt for a dual exit cable configuration instead of a single exit cable configuration. This design makes the cables more prone to get tangled or snagged.
Aesthetics - 8/10
In my opinion, the SRH1840 is very classy. The aircraft grade aluminum and stainless steel used in the design give it a premium feel, hence partially justifying its enormous price tag. I love the matte finish and slightly angular hinges. The metal mesh gracing the sides draws your focus to the 40mm neodymium drivers housed in the headphones. If I had to choose a phrase to describe the overall design, it would be ‘simplistic elegance’.
- Verdict -
All in all, I personally feel that Shure’s first attempt at an open back pair of headphones is a stunning success. At SGD$999, I feel that this pair of headphones are unrivaled in this price range in terms of overall musicality, analyticity and versatility.
Once again... like and share please?
Edited by randomosity - 9/26/12 at 5:55am