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Over-Ear item created by dweaver, Apr 22, 2012
Pros - Superb sound, design, comfort
Just a joy to behold when one listens to all nine Beethoven Symphonies or Coldplay's 'Life in Technicolour'. Perfect for acoustic music, folk, indie, alternative and any music where hearing the lyrics clearly completes the audio enjoyment.
Transparent, sharp, airy and most importantly pleasing. I give this headphones full marks in every department.
This is the cream of the crop of indoor reference headphones that I own. My lusts for seeking the ultimate indoor headphones have ceased for the moment and hopefully for a long long time.
I don't dream about the Sennheiser HD 800 anymore.
Pros - Smooth + Accurate Highs, Sweet + Rich Mids, Natural and Clear Bass. Neutral, Realistic + Wide Soundstage
Cons - None ( but you do need to change the cable and burn-in or run the headphone for at least 30-50hrs to remove the "Thin" feeling )
My original review was too short, coz I didn't have time to write it,
but just want to give the rating to express how much I love this headphone.
It is probably the most expansive phone I have ever purchased, (and would not be the last....)
Simple but delicate design,
High quality metal on the frame,
MMCX connection hole suitable for most DIY or Upgrade cables,
Unbelievably light weight,
Feel almost nothing on the head,
Reasonable clamping force,
Open Can design is good for prolong usage without sweating the ears,
Extremely comfortable ear pads, like memory foam pillow on your ears.
My Audio Setup
Foobar --> WASAPI --> Furutech Formula 2 USB cable --> Nuforce Icon HDP --> Labkable SRH1840 7N Super OCC Headphone Cable --> SRH1840
(The Cable is claimed to have been "Burn-in" by Telos Audio Design's Quantum Burning Technology (QBT), I don't wanna explain too much, interested can check it out here,
Colorfly Pocket HiFi C4 --> Labkable SRH1840 7N Super OCC Headphone Cable --> SRH1840
Philips DVD963SA (SACD player) --> Nuforce Icon HDP --> Labkable SRH1840 7N Super OCC Headphone Cable
Listening to "Steven R. Rochlin THTST" 24bit 96kHz,
Track 1 "A Far Off Land" to Track 4 "Cymbal Climaxes"
The Chimes are very gentle, can feel that the highs are spreading with strong sense of direction.
The Decay is highly natural like silk fall on and slip of from skin.
The Cymbals used in the record are utterly smooth sounding.
It was kind of Edgy when I put on this SRH1840 the first day,
then I use the "Demo CD of Ultrasone" to Run the Headphone for 30 hours (for @ 5 hours, I stopped for 1 hour),
The Edgy Highs disappear.
Once I switched from Stock MMCX cable to Labkable Upgrade Cable,
Highs are more realistic, less hollow, removing the previous "Thin" feeling
(won't cause your ears to feel dull after hrs of listening)
Listening to "Terry Snyder & The All Stars - Persuasive Percussion SACD"
Very Dense, Dynamic, Vibrant and Rich with elegant texture,
Track 3 "Misirlou"
I can feel the rigid yet elastic sound of percussion instruments running around my head,
like a bouncy ball jumping everywhere. Besides, it shows the powerful separation and instrument positioning ability of
Listening to "Linn Records - kuniko plays reich" Studio Master 24bit 192kHz,
Tack 4 "Six Marimbas Counterpoint"
Kuniko is an expert and probably the best percussionist,
The energetic yet poetic and versatile Marimba performance is fully revealed through the SRH1840,
I can feel the strong (but still controlled well) resonance of the resonators.
When Kuniko plays faster and faster in this track,
the soundscape is very clear without a bit of confusion,
each resonated sound is defined and presented in high clarity and accurate manner.
Listening to "Rebecca Pidgeon - Spanish Harlem"
Every word, breath, and sound of swallowing and tongue movement can be felt.
Her voice becomes quite alive and full of emotion,
I love to listen to this song before sleeping...
"Ondekoza - Fugaku-Hyakkei"
"Babatunde Olatunji - Love Drum Talk"
"Deep Rumba - A Calm in the Fire of Dances"
I really don't know how to express,
I feel like I am at the front of the Performers or in the middle of them (like I am the one who is playing the drum).
The Immersive, bouncy, vigorous sound of drums make me believe that some one really playing them next to me,
Once I close my eyes, the whole scene of music is alive.
It is not artificial or enhanced, if so, it can make my ears feel tired.
The Bass is not very strong and forceful like Beyerdynamic ( I audited it but didn't own one ),
it is sort of natural but not too subtle and totally appropriate.
It is excellent and completely enjoyable to use SRH1840 to watch Blu-ray movies,
I can hear the tron's motorcycle (light bike?) thrusting across me,
and when the light's tail broken like glass and shatters all over the floor,
[you need to have seen this movie to know what I am talking about]
I can feel how far and where the "Light" falls and slides on.
e.g Ironman 2
when Ironman and War Machine fighting each other,
the sound of metal crushing and sparks of fire and explosive are extraordinarily realistic.
while Ironman rockets and circles in the sky, I can feel the sound of air jet swirling above my head.
Coz, part of my job is machinist, I handle metals and hammer or drill them a lot,
I do remember what metal sounds like.
(therefore, I love percussion...and play with hammer in the workbench at the time)
Several feet by the sense of Left and Right,
A feet plus at the front or behind my head,
A feet plus up and down around my head,
Much better and solid soundstage than my Ultrasone Proline 650.
Sometimes when I listen to "Take Dake with Neptune ASIAN ROOTS",
I am confused that something in my room drops down from the shelf.
I can easily point out where the instruments are and count them at ease.
It is 4 times the soundstage of my Westone UM3XRC.
And they share the same accuracy,
but SRH1840's much wider soundstage makes everything easier to spot,
and imagine the whole scenario of music playing.
All in all,
Similar as most reviewers' comments,
SRH1840 is kind of neutral, high quality, versatile.
I believe it is (generally) the best at its price range,
Coz some people may want to have heavier bass.
With upgraded cable, proper burn-in and great AMP/DAC,
I find it is very close to some legnedary $900 over-ear headphones I audited.
[ I owned Westone UM3XRC, V-Moda M80 & LP2, Ultrasone Proline 650 ]
[ Audited, Beyerdynamic DT1350, T70P, Denon AH-D7000 ]
I auditioned the SRH-1840 straight out of the box, and was unsatisfied with the sound, so I decided to give them a period of break-in. Recent scientific studies have shown definite differences between new headphones and used headphones in frequency response. Of course, "better" is a subjective impression outside the realm of science, but the studies confirm that reviewers are not imagining things.
I tried them again after about 20 hours of break-in and there was definite improvement in several areas of sound quality. So, I continued the break-in process. I finally ended up with about 100 hours of break-in and I have to say that it sounds to me that the break-in made a difference all the way through the process. The bass quality and quantity are both significantly improved, all shrillness and edginess to the treble has vanished, and everything is quite smooth now.
Meanwhile, one problem I've had is that the headband/earpiece fit was not particularly good for me. I tried various adjustments of the headband and ear pieces, but nothing helped significantly. Note this is not a "comfort" problem. I'll say here that these headphones have above-average comfort - although part of that might be due to the clamping force being actually less than what would be optimal. They are also relatively light in weight for full size headphones.
Anyway, I've found that I can move the ear cups around on my ears with my hands and sporadically hear sound improvement, confirming my impression that there is something not quite right with the "fit" - again, this is the placement of drivers for sound quality (as opposed to comfort).
Then, I found a thread on the big headphone forum of a mod for the SRH-940, and since it was easy and non-destructive, I tried it on the SRH-1840 (using a paper towel aince I am out of cotton balls). Here is the thread:
All I can say is - OMG - all of my list of "disadvantages of the SRH-1840" vanished. The bass quantity is now certainly at least equal to that of
other high end phones. The already impressive imaging improved further, and the audibility of hall sound and ambience improved as well.
The original strong points of excellent timbre accuracy and even balance of all frequencies are even better now with the mod.
Okay, I can say that if I were making a purchase decision based on the out-of-the-box sound quality (before break-in), I would make the wrong decision, so I
think that Shure (and other makers) should consider in-house break-in for this price range of product.
So, I strongly recommend:
- 100 hours of break-in (with about 20 hours a absolute minimum)
- Apply the mod in the thread linked above (the material used should be to your preference, I don't think it matters) unless you feel that the fit and sound are already just right.
The following evaluation is based on the results after both.
* Excellent instrument timbre accuracy (what makes a sax sound different than a guitar). If the recording is good, instruments are very close to their real sound.
* Excellent balance of frequencies (bass, midrange and treble). You never get the sense that there is too much of any particular frequency, in other words, it never seems overly bright, or recessed, or overly bassy - unless, of course, the actual recording is that way.
* Excellent clarity and detail
* Very good low end extension
* Treble is strong without being annoying or overly bright
* Imaging is outstanding ; you can pick out individual instrument positions and there is a three-dimensional quality to the instrument positions. For example, in the first BVSC track, you can hear a musician move his percussion instrument to a spot a foot away. Note that this is not the same quality as soundstage size or depth - both of those are good, but not excellent - the Senn HD5xx series are better in this respect due to their slightly forward driver position. My guess is that the matched drivers of the SRH-1840 are what makes the imaging so good.
* Excellent for a wide range of music types. As you can see from the tracks listed at the end, I verified that these have good sound quality with any music style.
* Very good comfort - should not be a problem for most listening sessions.
* Usable with portable devices - the 65 ohm impedance, and 96 dB/mW sensitivity both work fine with portables (unless they have unusually low output)
* Foam padded hard shell case which protects the headphone in transport.
* Beautiful storage box which keeps the headphones and accessories together.
* Spare cable and spare ear pads included - you should not need to order anything for a long time, if ever.
* Clever plug design which has the smaller ipod/ipad size plug inside a 1/4" plug that screws over the smaller one - this provides rigidity when using the larger size, and avoids having to use a bulky adapter when listening through a portable device.
* The headband and ear piece adjustments are minimal ; my guess is that this provides rigidity which would then help with detail and imaging ; but as a result, it does not adjust easily for a wide variety of head shapes and sizes. You may not have any problem if your head is similar to what was used in the design of the headphone. And, the mod suggested above may help - it has for me and others. Also, in this price range, I strongly suggest contacting Shure directly if you can use some assistance - I find that many audio manufacturers are more responsive than people think.
* Small amount of sibilance in vocals ; in comparison to Infinity Emit tweeters that go up to 40khz but do not have the same sibilance ; probably due to small frequency spike in the vocal range.
* Not as much bass "slam" or impact as those headphones that have that as one of their selling points ; but not entirely deficient in bass impact either. (After break-in period and proper "fit" - in my case using the mod - bass quantity and quality is otherwise fine.)
* Cable is slightly short for use with a "desktop" amp and is slightly long for use with portables. (Senn solves this problem by making the cable shorter and including an extension.)
* Cable is double entry, instead of the more convenient single entry. This is the accepted style for high end headphones, in order to make both wires the same length. However, that can be accomplished within the headphones while still using a single entry point, but using a wholly exterior cord allows for aftermarket audiophile replacement cables So, this is a minus in terms of convenience and ease of use, but I suppose could be a plus later for those who want to buy expensive high end replacement cables, if and when they appear for this model.
* Padded hard shell case requires the cable be removed, which not only takes time, but also might eventually wear out the connections. You can put them in the case with the cable attached, but you have to reverse the phones and gather the cable and put it in the zippered pouch with the cable sticking out - it is a "kluge" but works, but it seems clear that no one has thought of this issue.
* Instructions - as with all our full size headphones I've used - say nothing about using the headphones. From above, there is clearly more to the fit than just "put them on your end and put the plug in the jack", but that is the clear assumption. In contrast, Shure's $99 SE215 in-ear-monitor phones come up with extensive instrunctions on wearing and fitting them. For this product, the big manual seems entirely for legal disclaimers. For $699, it would be good to have some suggestion from the designers as to how your ears should fit in the ear pieces, and how to adjust them for best sound and fit.
Conclusion - If you can get the fit right, this is an outstanding sounding product that is very neutral. Unfortunately, I do not have any of the competing products in this price range, so I cannot directly compare them. (But I would be happy to review and compare those other competing models, if reps want to send me temporary loan pairs.)
Album/tracks used in evaluation:
The Beatles - Complete 2009 Remasters in 24-bit format
Alison Krauss & Union Station - Paper Airplane (hdtracks)
Miles Davis - Kind of Blue SACD
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon (MFSL CD)
N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton (20th Anniversary)
Mozart - Violin Concertos (Marianne Thorsen) (hdtracks)
Galactic - Crazyhorse Mongoose
Mozart - Sinfonia concertante (Julia Fischer) (hdtracks)
Andreas Vollenweider - White Winds
Derek and the Dominos - Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (hdtracks)
Buena Vista Social Club - Buena Vista Social Club (hdtracks)
Opus 3 Test Record "Depth of Image"
Previous headphones owned (not used in this review): Sennheiser HD590, HD518, HD449, HD424x, RS180, CX300II, Shure SE215, AKG K240DF
Equipment used: Custom built home theater PC using cPlay audiophile music player and HRT MusicStreamer II asynchronous DAC (an excellent product and outstanding value) directly into the headphones (due to the relatively high output of that DAC).
Experience - I have a diploma (and license) in studio audio engineering, and have been an audiophile and music lover since I was a teenager. I have also worked at all levels of record retailing, and have participated in music performance.
Pros - detailed, transparent, efficient
Cons - headband padding a bit thin
I recently purchased a pair of SRH-940 and was very taken with their sound, enjoying their open presentation and level of detail. So when presented with an opportunity to hear and review the SRH-1840 I jumped at the chance even though I knew I could not afford the flagship headphone at the moment.
The headphones I am reviewing are someone’s private headphone and have well over 100hrs of use on them so I burned them in for 20 hours after my initial listen just to see if there was any change sonically and after being satisfied there was no change in sound I started to do some critical listening.
Before I get to the sound of these, let’s talk about the basics.
The package these come with is MASSIVE! The retail box is designed in such a way as to hold the headphones in a foam holder in the bottom of the box and then have the travel case sitting on top of the headphones. This design has made the case large and bulky (online retailers probably hate this kind of packaging due to exorbitant shipping costs, while stores will be torn between liking the luxurious feel of the box and the wasted space on the shelf. Over all I love the look as it does exude class.
Once you open the box, the headphones themselves are well made utilizing a minimalist approach that keeps them light and agile with no structural weak points. Some people who equate complex design with quality will think these are cheap but personally I think Shure has designed a very solid functional shell for this headphone.
From a comfort perspective these are lighter than the 940 due to the lighter weight but a very slightly thinner ear pad design increases their pressure points making them slightly more present around my ears. The thin nature of the padding on the headband also makes them slightly harder than I would like. Overall though they still are a comfortable headphone, just not as comfortable as they could be.
The cabling of these is double sided as compared to single entry like the SRH-940 but I don’t mind have the cable on both sides and this will likely make their sound slightly more balanced. I do like the thinner nature of their cable as compared to the 940 cables. This makes them a bit more portable for me.
There is two pair of cables in the box and one extra set of velour ear pads along with an excellent travel case ensuring a complete and long term headphone solution.
So now let’s get down to the sound.
To start with, THESE ARE NOT THE SRH-940 or SRH-840 IN AN OPEN HEADPHONE DESIGN! So if you absolutely LOVE either of those headphones for their sonic signature you might be disappointed with the sound of these in comparison. But if your unhappy with those headphones you may be very happy with the 1840 depending on why your didn't like them.
Bass – The bass of the 1840 is slightly heavier and warmer than the 940 but not as heavy as the 840. It strikes a nice balance that allows for the proper weight for instruments like cellos and bass guitars without coming across as bombastic or over bearing. This is the one area like the SRH-940 where I can see some people unhappy. The bottom line is Shure has deliberately made their top of the line headphones bass neutral or light in comparison to many mainstream headphones. So if you want or need to have massive bass these will not cut the mustard. Having said that I personally find the bass close to perfect for my ears and the genre’s I listen to.
Mid-range – This is the one area that is most significantly different between the SRH-1840 and the SRH-940. The 1840 midrange is very neutral in comparison to the 940. It has the same type of detail but simply does not stand out as much as the 940 in comparison to the bass and treble. This give the 1840 a much more relaxed sound and for young ears, louder listening, and genres that have aggressive midrange oriented sound it will be more appropriate. Personally since I am getting older and I like my music quieter, and most of me genre’s improve with more forward mids, I find this headphone not as optimal for me. I LIKE MY MIDS!!!
Treble – The treble of the 1840 is quite bright and feels like it has a small spike in the lower treble to my ears. This tends to accentuate the crash of cymbals a bit too much for me while minimizing their decay. This tendency is not severe enough for me to dislike the treble but is enough that I notice ear fatigue after listening to the 1840 for extended lengths of time. This tendency also gives these the sensation of not having the same level of detail as the 940.
Detail - Speaking of detail I find these to have similar levels of detail as the 940 but you have to work harder to hear that detail. This is caused by the fact these are open and consequently let in more outside noise, but is also because these are a slightly more natural sounding headphone. If you want to easily hear all the detail of your music you might prefer the 940, overall though these provide a more holistic music experience.
Sound Stage - The sound stage of these also benefits from the open design giving these a nice open feeling with lots of room for the instruments to breath. In comparison to the 940 the stage is wider and deeper but the more ready availability of detail of the 940 gives them about the same amount of instrument separation.
Overall I do think the SRH-1840 is a wonderfull headphone. It’s sound is balanced and it offers the highest level of refinement I have heard at it's price point (and in some cases above). But having said that I would caution people to look at the differences between the SRH1840, the SRH1440, and the SRH940 as each model offers differences in sound that may be more appropriate for your listening pleasure.