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Next $500 Investment: SRH-1540, or Amp/DAC Setup?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 

Well, here I am again.  Right now, I'm listening to my beloved SRH-940s, which are unfortunately starting to physically wear out.  Shure just didn't build these things to last.


Right now I have $350 saved up, and will be dumping another $150 into that once I get some junk sold off.  I've got a budget of $500, no more, unfortunately.  ATM, I can't afford to care how much better your $1000 electrostatics are, nor how much you think they're worth the money - I'd probably agree, in all honesty, but a college student like myself only has so much to work with.


Right now, I'm almost set on buying a pair of SRH-1540s; based on Jude's review and everything else I've heard, they sound like the headphones I've always wanted - a warmer pair of 940s that actually has some substance at the bottom end.  Neutrality may be nice, but I want something fun to listen to - I love my 940s, but at the same time, they are admittedly a bit flat, thin, and airy.


On that same note, though, I'm having trouble convincing myself that the upgrade would be worth it, replacing a cracking pair of $300 closed backs with a $500 one.  BTW, I need all the isolation I can get up here, trust me.  I've been flipping through Schiit's site, and am absolutely enamored with their Bifrost/Asgard2 setup, but thats unfortunately a couple hundred above me with USB (I lost optical SPDIF with my headphone jack)... I could, however, pull off a Modi+Asgard2 - I'm avoiding the Magni due to the fact that I don't actually need the gain for any of my headphones, and the Asgard's low-gain setting would be great.  Granted, I only have two - a pair of M50s, and my 940s - but none of them are hard to drive in any sense of the word.  Now, I listen to my music on an Asus G75VW through a headphone jack I literally crushed, superglued together, crushed again, and then soldered back in place (computer engineer :rolleyes:).  I have to say there aren't any problems with it, but I feel like I could do better.  The plug on my 940s' cable has proved more durable than the jack it's stuck into.


What would you do if you were in my position?  I'm not unhappy with my 940s, but I'd like something a bit different, and the 1540s sound literally perfect in every way for me.  On the same note, I'm not unhappy with my laptop's audio,  but again I could do better with an Asgard setup for $~350 and just go on saving for a new pair of cans in the future.  Any thoughts?  I've been brewing over this for a month now... I've almost blown the money on building a suplus Xeon workstation-server-bastard-child twice now, but have managed to stop myself both times.  I'm not sure I can hold off much longer.:normal_smile :


Much appreciated, as always!

post #2 of 36
Do you a favor here. Amazon has the SRH1840 under used amazon warehouse deals for $350. You're welcome, unless you need closed back..
post #3 of 36
If the choice is between a new headphone and an amp/DAC for the ones you have, don't buy the amp/DAC for the old ones and do buy new headphones; maybe, but not necessarily, SRH1540 (unless you're Shure you want it).

What sort of music do you listen to most?
What sort of sound do you enjoy?
post #4 of 36
Thread Starter 

I really do need the isolation where I'm at.  I don't want people listening to what I'm doing, they don't want to hear me, and I don't want to hear them.


Music-wise, I have a bit of everything, though my collection is made up of about 20% rock and 80% epic score, which leads to a bit of a strange combination.  I was ecstatic when Jude mentioned Alter Bridge in his review - I love them.  Like I said, before my 940s I used a pair of ATH-M50s, and really liked their sound signature, though going back to them now, the entire bottom half of their spectrum is just muddy in comparison.  I made the upgrade, and though I love my 940s for their amazing resolution, they just lack any sort of bass presence.  I'd be happy with a similar setup, only made of something slightly more durable and with a kick in the low end, which sounds to me like what the 1540s are aimed at.  Don't mistake me for a basshead... I don't want an excessive amount of it, but I do want it to be present, and it sounds like I'd really like the 1540's warm presentation over the 940's rather cold, analytical one.

post #5 of 36

If you think 940 cold I'd stay far far away from 1840 anyway, too bad I haven't heard 1540 yet but impression seems to agree that it's an improved 940 with more bass.

post #6 of 36
Thread Starter 

That's what I'm hoping.  A warmer, bassier 940 that won't fall apart after a year.  Maybe 'cold' is a bit harsh, but I'm constantly noticing that things like the big booming percussion in a Two Steps from Hell recording being horribly recessed - there's nothing big or booming about it.  It's there, but severely lacking in impact.


I'm hoping I can find someone locally to try out a pair, but knowing my surroundings, I might be looking for a while.

post #7 of 36
Even 840 has more bass than 940 and it plays rock well (it plays nothing badly except very bass heavy genres), so you might consider that too.
post #8 of 36
Here's a left-field suggestion, but I feel like it could work nicely for you:

Obviously different than big over-ears, but have you thought about some high-end universal in ears? I have and love the Westone 4R. They sound incredible, have a hefty low end, fit your budget, sound great out of pretty much any headphone jack and completely block out the outside world.

Just something to consider!
post #9 of 36
What about some heavily modded T50rp? There's Mad Dogs and 2 other makes, one going for an he500 sound. The name escapes me atm
post #10 of 36

Gain is not that important as long as the noise level of the amplifier is low enough. And from what I heard, Magni does not have much noise to begin with.... Go save money with Magni+Modi, which will cost you about 240$ including shipping and tax. You may try get a used NAD VISO HP50 or Sennheiser Momentum which have good amount of isolation.

post #11 of 36
Originally Posted by Soundsgoodtome View Post

What about some heavily modded T50rp? There's Mad Dogs and 2 other makes, one going for an he500 sound. The name escapes me atm

ZMF. And you can hear the influence most with solo vocals. It does its own good things too--with any string music.
post #12 of 36
That's the one. Basic is mid $200s too. Although the upgraded cable and plug is probably worth the extra $100. Not sure what other closed backs there are in the sub $300 that can pull that performance.

With the basic kit you can still get a modi+magni or vali and still make your budget. Both amps should give you enough power for the ZMF.
Edited by Soundsgoodtome - 3/22/14 at 10:01pm
post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 

Mmm... interesting suggestions.


I definitely won't be going with the 840s, not as a direct replacement for its own more expensive older sibling; I don't want a difference in signature that badly to 'drop down' to the 840s, though I'm willing to be proven wrong if I can audition a pair locally.  I know someone who might have a pair, and we'll see how that goes.


I'm open to IEMs, but am hesitant due to the facts that 1) I don't trust myself with such a small unit, and 2) I'm a bit bothered by having things in my ears rather than on them, though I'm sure it's something I could get used to.  I'd definitely be looking for a unit I could replace the cable on.  I don't remember if it was here at Head-Fi, or somewhere else, that I was reading about a very nice-looking universal unit with a wood body and detachable cables that got high reviews... can't say more than that, and I don't even remember the price on them, but I'll go see if I can't dig up that history link.  I might be interested.  Actually...


Jude, you're going to end up costing me a lot of money, now that I remember how highly you spoke about Shure's IEMs in that review of the 1540s.  Damn... I see a really overshot budget approaching in my future.


As for the Sennheiser Momentum and ZMF's offerings, would they be worth dumping another $300 into, over what I have now?  Again, I'm obviously hesitant about spending this money on an identically-priced pair of headphones... I can't shake the feeling that I'll have dumped $300 into my 940s for nothing.  I wish I had more experience and/or a local source for this, because I just don't know what would be different, or what would be different and a general upgrade.


Thanks for all the opinions, guys!  I'm still doing my homework... much appreciated!  You're all doing a lot more for me than you realize... the newbie appreciates it... even if you shoot something I say out of the water, at least I'll know it was a bad idea from here on out.  Some people can't take constructive criticism these days.



What sort of a reputation do Shure's SE535's have?  I've never actually owned a pair of decent in-ear earphones, which means I really have no clue what I should expect... how does the sound signature differ from a pair of circumaurals, or does it at all?

Edited by TheAdmiralty - 3/23/14 at 2:39pm
post #14 of 36
You don't think the 1540 will sound similar to your 940? I think you'd benefit from going to a head-fi meet or somewhere where you'll be able to sample a bunch of HPs from different makes.

The planar sound in itself would be enough of a difference in sound delivery vs a dynamic driver.
post #15 of 36
Thread Starter 
I suppose maybe my expectations are a bit out of proportion. I just don't know... that's my biggest problem.

I'm too strapped for time to make it to the next head fi meet, but as long as they stay relatively close to the east coast, i think the best thing i could do is make a trip to one of them. Maybe I'll just hold off until then...

Let's say I went out and bought a pair of modded T50s and was able to drive them. In comparison the the 940s I'm used to, what differences would I notice first? Would they subjectively sound 'better' in terms of soundstage and resolution, or would they just be different?
Edited by TheAdmiralty - 3/23/14 at 3:56pm
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