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Shure SRH 440 Professional Studio Headphones

  • Tuned to deliver accurate audio reproduction and featuring an adjustable headband with collapsible construction, the SRH440 offers a mix of professional sound quality and comfort ideal for recording and monitoring. The ear cushions and cable are replaceable and the SRH440 includes a carrying pouch and threaded ¼-Inch adapter.

Recent Reviews

  1. audiophilefan
    Shure SRH440 - Pristine Clarity? Shure. Why Not?
    Written by audiophilefan
    Published May 15, 2018
    Pros - Great value, impressive detail clarity and soundstage, fast bass, flowing mids, shimmery highs, great build quality
    Cons - Headband cushion could be thicker, a little more bass (but that's just nitpicking for a studio monitor)

    It was my birthday a few months back and it was Christmas time back then. I decided I needed a gift for myself. Something new. Something interesting. And the only luxury (if you call it that) that really makes me happy is music gear. I never had a studio monitor before. And I thought, since they are branded as “professional” gear, they should sound great, right? Or at least they should sound the part. And more importantly, I never had a Shure before. In the world of professional studio gear, I cannot think of a single name more respected than the others, from mics to IEMs, to recent full-size over-ear monitors, Shure is the name. So I browsed through my favorite online store for an authorized seller and pulled the trigger. Was it a happy birthday and merry Christmas rolled into one? Read on to find out.


    I listen to almost all genres of music but my favorites are rock, blues, and jazz.

    I am a music lover, not an audiophile. I need to veer away from the audiophile persona from now on. I love music more than the equipment to play music with. I recognize that decent equipment is important but decent is good enough. Expensive is not necessary. I’m not willing to go past the $100 mark for any reason. I firmly believe in the law of diminishing returns.

    I believe in burn-in but it depends on the headphones. Some do not need much. Some do not need any at all.

    I believe in measurements but I never relied on them. I solely rely on my ears.

    I believe that blind test is the only real test, without any visual influence or biases, without placebo.

    Audio nirvana for me is a state of mind, not a state of equipment.

    Regardless of my beliefs, I respect all audiophiles and music lovers for their passion and dedication.


    Finally, a professional-grade packaging for me. You know how I felt about the Grado SR80e. I love it. It’s vintage. But it’s nowhere near a packaging I’d consider luxurious. This one, though not luxurious, looks and feels very professional:

    IMG_20171206_102713.jpg IMG_20171206_102740.jpg IMG_20171206_102808.jpg IMG_20171214_134424.jpg IMG_20171214_134645.jpg IMG_20171214_134911.jpg IMG_20171214_134928.jpg


    For complete specs and features, please check here - https://www.shureasia.com/products/headphones/srh440


    Build quality is exceptional. All the materials are high quality and it has some heft to it. I do not mind some weight on my headphones as long as they reflect the quality of materials used on them. The coiled wire looks heavy-duty. The ear pads are thick enough for me and feels like good-quality pleather. The overall feel is utilitarian, as expected of professional gear. This headphone should last someone a lifetime (except for the ear pads), unless you’re too harsh on your gear. It feels very durable.

    Comfort is average for this over-ear. The ear pads are thick enough so my ears are not uncomfortably touching the driver grills. The one-sided cable doesn’t weigh the headphones too much. The headband padding could be thicker but the cups are angled slightly so that if you’re wearing them, the headbands are slightly forward and not touching the very top of your head. It touches the flatter, more comfortable part. One downside to comfort is the headband can still press on your head after longer listening sessions. This can be fixed by adding aftermarket headband cushions. This is really optional as it didn’t bother me much. I once used the headphones for a 5-hour bus trip, taking them off on stops, so it’s a total of 3 hours minimum and still find them reasonably comfortable.

    Design is simply utilitarian. No frills. No flashy stuff. Do I find them attractive? By their own merits, yes! I find the professional styling appealing, though I’m not a professional. I’m not sure how they did it, but isolation on these over-ears are impressive. It’s almost like wearing a decent IEM, without the vacuum effect (you can hear yourself swallowing, etc.). Is it with the earcup design, the ear pads material, I’m really not sure but you can safely use it for a long commute if you’re into that. It folds so it should be portable. If I have to nitpick, I’d say the wires protruding to connect the drivers could be a concern to others. The Audio Technica M40x and the Takstar Pro 82 are “cleaner” in that regard as the wires are hidden in the headband. They also have the option to fold “flat” as opposed to just a “ball” like the SRH440. By sheer looks though, I’m biased towards the Shure. I’d rather display “Shure” outside than any other studio brand but that’s just me.


    Burn-in: They sound great out of the box. No glaring changes after 100 hours.

    • Lenovo K4 Note Smartphone (with Wolfson WM8281)
    • Dolby Atmos engaged at Music mode where EQ is flat
    • Stellio music player EQ is flat with Replay Gain engaged
    • Also tested with Fiio A3 in low gain and bass boost on
    These headphones are clear, very clear. I even came up with a marketing line for them – “Pristine clarity? Shure. Why not?”

    Bass is fast, really fast. It’s there when it needs to, it’s not there when it doesn’t. I find that it’s more of a sub-bass rumble I’m hearing more than mid-bass. Its mid-bass is not elevated at all. I find that this type of bass is the “correct” bass. You don’t actually “hear” bass all the time in a live concert. It’s at the back and shocks when it’s intended to shock but it’s not always present. It gives music it’s needed warmth and immediacy when called upon. Very good bass quality but quantity will be lacking for some. The bass boost on the A3 gave it a nice needed bump. The Grado SR80e is a touch bassier. The JVC HA-RX700 is even bassier and I use that more if I just want to rumble.

    Mids are watery. Yes, “watery”. You read it here first. Usually, the term used is “buttery” or “buttery smooth”. But it’s not. It just…flows. It’s like nothing is holding the mids back. It flows, like gushing stream to a waterfall, it flows ever so freely. I love it! The AKG K550 or K553 has buttery mids. The JVC HA-RX700 has buttery mids, albeit a little recessed. The Grado SR80e has sharp, engaging mids so that’s quite a contrast. There is no other way I could describe the mids. They are as effortless as they go.

    Highs are shimmery and complement the rest of the spectrum quite perfectly. I find that highs on the 440 are also “correct”. They’re not overly sharp or metallic but very detailed and extend pretty well.

    Now onto soundstage. As these are tuned flat for accuracy, and no frequency or instrument is overpowering the other, soundstage is exceptional. It is very wide, like easily more than a foot away outside of my head from either side. Because of this, imaging is great too as you have space to pin-point instrument placement. It is wider than the Grado SR80e and I daresay even the JVC-HARX700. It is definitely wider than the Audio Technica M40x (although I’ve never been impressed by the soundstage of AT’s monitors).

    Tonally, the Grado SR80e is more lifelike-sounding. But I find the SRH440 to be more detailed. Being more detailed than a Grado is quite a big feat. It could be due to its monitoring nature that it’s able to pick up every minute detail but what impresses me more is how clear every detail is. It’s very very easy to pick up “hidden” sounds, like someone adjusting the mic in a live concert recording. I could easily pick it up, not even straining to listen to it. Clarity is just impressive.


    The Shure SRH440 is an amazing value. Pristine clarity, fast bass, flowing mids and shimmery highs, combined with an exceptional soundstage, I could not ask for more from a closed back set. Well maybe a little more bass but that’s just nitpicking. It’s a studio monitor in the first place.

    I feel that the only way to upgrade it is to buy a more capable Shure (like the Shure SRH840 or the venerable Shure SRH1540 as closed-back options). Either way, you’d be sure with Shure. Haha!

    Happy listening, everyone!
      trellus and Malfunkt like this.
  2. sunnyheadcase
    Great sound and very comfortable
    Written by sunnyheadcase
    Published Sep 29, 2015
    Pros - Good bass and high end response. Isolation is wonderful. Best for the price range
    Cons - Headband pleather deteriorates easily, over driving can be extremely harsh.
    I bought these headphones while on the road to a field record because I had left mine in a hotel room a few hundred miles away. These were the best a local music store carried and to my surprise they far exceeded my expectation.
    I had been using SONY headphones almost exclusively up until I picked these up and although there is a small learning curve to the way they sound, I feel like they are some of the best headphones available when listening to single sound sources like just vocals or particularly in sound design. The isolation provided by wearing them is a remarkable step above most headphones I've used in this price range, providing comfortable isolation to outside sounds as well as not making you completely deaf to the rest of the world. The removable and swap-able cable makes switching from a studio environment to a field environment a pleasure with both long straight and curly cords available, and in general the gauge of the cord is nice and beefy in comparison to some even higher end models. 
    These have become a go-to headphone for whenever I am out in the field or on a sound stage trying to capture sound that I can tell will be useful in the studio later.
    I ended up wrapping the headband in grip tape to prevent further deterioration and flaking.
    I would 100% recommend these to anyone in this price range and I have put SHURE down as a company to watch for headphones in the future.
  3. Thymen Frederik
    Nice headphone for beginning audiolovers
    Written by Thymen Frederik
    Published Apr 30, 2015
    Pros - nice soundstage (for a closed headphone), well balanced, nice bass
    Cons - earpads aren't very soft, sometimes a little too bright
    Hello everyone,
    First of all I would like to say that this is my first review of a headphone and I am also really new to audio-loving, but I'll try my best :D
    The Shure SRH 440 comes with a detachable 3 meter coiled cable, a 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm adapter and a carrying pouch.
    I got these cans as a birthday gift and I really like them. They are well balanced, but lean a little to the bright side, which isn't always bad in this case.
    When I listened to the Mr. Nobody soundtrack I was able to hear a nice amount of detail and it sounded very bright. Sometimes even a little too bright.
    After listening to some music with a little more bass, I noticed that the bass is nice and a little punchy, maybe not as punchy as some people want, but it is defenitly enjoyable.
    Another thing I noticed was that this headphone has a nice soundstage for a closed-back headphone in this price-range. Certainly bigger than the ATH-M40X I compared them too.
    Of course it's soundstage isn't as big as that of an open headphone, but you can't really expect that.
    This is where these cans start to shine a little less. The earpads are nice when you get this headphone out the box, but they degrade rapidly. I have this headphone for a month and already the earcushions
    are starting to dry out, but this could be because I don't properly maintain my headphones. 
    The Shure SRH 440, sits decently comfortably on my head and it isn't too heavy. 
    One thing I noticed is that this headphone slides off my head when I look up or lie down.
    These cans are nice for beginning audiolovers (like me), they sound nice, but aren't extremely comfortable. They are fit for portable listening and isolate enough sound to ride a bus with.
    I would recommend the Shure for people who like to listen to classical and jazz, but they do well with any genre.
  4. donniefalcone
    Great studio headphones ( for the money )
    Written by donniefalcone
    Published Sep 20, 2014
    Pros - Excellent mids, clear and crisp sound, great price
    Cons - Not neutral sounding, somewhat uncomfortable.
    First of all, I have bought these headphones exactly one week ago. I have upgraded to these from my Superlux 668b. I will do a review now, and update it after another couple of weeks worth testing.
    Shure SRH440 headphones come in nicely built box. Inside you can find your warranty, information and safety sheet, leather carrying pouch ( I like it a lot ),3m coil cable and 6.5 mm adapter, and headphones. 
    There is nothing more to say about packaging , so I will now talk about some more important things.
    First impressions:
    When I took Shure SRH440 headphones out of the box,I was amazed at how good they felt in my hand ( when compared to Superlux 668b headphones ). SRH440 is a bit heavy, some people find this to be a bad thing, but I am a fan of heavy stuff, so the weight didnt bother me at all.  Once I put them on my head, they felt very nice and comfortable but not as comfortable as my previous Superlux headphones.
    All in all, I was satisfied.
    If you are looking for extreme comfortability, Shure srh440s are not for you. They feel great on my head, clamping force is not too strong, my ears are not touching the drivers, even though the pads are quite shallow. But, there is a problem. My head starts hurting after 2+ hours of wearing these headphones, which is something I didnt experience with Superlux headphones. I will definitely upgrade 440 pads to 880 pads, and that will provide me greater comfort and give me a  little bit better bass, and warmer sound. I would suggest you do the same if you are going to wear these headphones for extended periods of time.
    Build quality:
    Even though these cans felt great in my hands when I first got them, I cant get rid of the feeling that I will easily break them. They are made from good quality plastic, and the plastic feels quite nice to touch, and I'm sure it cant be broken easily, but , as I said, I cant seem to shake off the feeling that I will break them if I apply the lightest force to them.  
    Sound quality:
    When it comes to sound quality, boy, do these headphones deliver. I was simply stunned while listening to some songs, my jaw fell to the floor. I could basicly hear every single note that has been played. Mids and highs are crisp and clear while bass is a little bit lacking, for my taste. Even though all studio monitoring headphones should sound neutral, these are not that neutral sounding. They tend to boost treble a little bit.  I love songs produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, and their songs have one of the bass+guitar parts I have ever heard in my life, and listening to some of their songs on these headphones made me say WOW. Guitar sound was absolutely amazing, so much better than on 668b superlux heaphones, bass was also great , but it could have been better. 
    Even though these headphones can be folded , and carried around in the provided pouch, they are not to be used outside of your home or recording studio. At least in my opinion. You can do whatever you want with your headphones, you can even wear them in a swimming pool for all I care. But if you wear these headphones in public you'll get a lot of strange looks because these headphones look really big on your head. When my girlfriend saw me, while I was wearing these headphones, she said I looked like an astronaut. Weird comparison , yeah I know. 
    Great headphones with great price, and even better sound. They will be very uncomfortable for some people, yet for some, they will be very comfortable. It all depends on your head and ear shape. If you have these headphones, upgrade to 880 pads and you'll get even better sound and greater comfort . ( A friend of mine did this to his 440s,and I borrowed them for comparison, so I know what I am talking about ) . 
     All in all, these are some really good headphones, and you should definitely check them out.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  I hope you like this review, I am a beginner reviewer and English is not my native language, so please have some understanding. Thank you for reading. :)
      caprireds likes this.
    1. caprireds
      nice review...how do they compared to 668b superlux heaphones,when it comes to sound details?
      caprireds, Apr 25, 2018
  5. KonKossKang
    some of the best ones in this price range.
    Written by KonKossKang
    Published Apr 14, 2014
    Pros - The sound is pretty balanced, everything is detailed.The sound quality is almost like the things you hear when not wearing headphones.
    Cons - feels weak because of the little sideways swivel feature they added to it.
    sound quality=great with more detail than the m50 and q40 i owned by a noticeable margin.(they still sound pretty good though considering the EQ settings they have by default.
    the srh840 pads give it a whole different sound.ill stick to the 440 pads because the pads seem to give all headphones their sound, some better some worse.
    the srh440 is like a dt770 if you equalize the bass up 5db or so.
    build=everything feels strong except the swivel function that is somewhat necessary.they should have extended the amount yo could turn the headphone horizontally, probably would have made it just a dollar more.
    no batteries are needed, blocks out sounds at 25% volume, not recommended if you are needed by someone at the time of usage, unless you wear these at night.I advise using studio/computer speakers during hours when you are needed so you can hear whoever trying to get your attention at the moment, despite still being able to hear music at the same time.
    comes with 1/4 adapter for better systems, case that's soft and protects from minor conditions such as walking, running etc anything not involving vehicles or aircraft unless you are stationary and not operating anything.
    good for sound design.
    good for gaming and meda.
    good for blocking out noise at reasonably low volumes as to prevent damage.
  6. Misterbushido-
    Gem for the buck.
    Written by Misterbushido-
    Published Dec 21, 2013
    Pros - Smooth Mid / High, Good Bass response, Clarity Overall, Awesome Isolation.
    Cons - Need to do little mod for Comfortable, Kinda Heavy, Bass may lack for some.
    This Headphone have Very Good and Smooth Mid / High, Good Bass response.
    Cold-side, Analytical, Overall Clarity made this Headphone Shine, Bass may lack on some track or Not enough for some people (I'm not a bass-fan for sure)
    Also, have Awesome Isolation sound leak at Zero to Very minimal.
    While sound good almost on all track, but never tend to sound awesome nor impress on me. (as expect from monitor)
    Easy to drive with iPod, noticeable when plugged on amp.
    What, really is Downside of this Headphone is Uncomfortable and Weight.
    While Comfortable can easy fix by Place some Circle Under a Driver Guard, I use a Warped Tissue, just to make sure to prevent it from a Driver Hole.
    This mod increase a Comfortable a lot for me, While sound not noticeable change at all.
    What, I can't really stand is Weight, Kinda heavy for me, for a long listening.
    Comfortable is minus, Weight is minus, also Coiled cord made is even worst, make my JAW have Clicking sound for a few days.
    That what the whole only reason why I sold this headphone off.
  7. bowei006
    Good headphone for the studio and only for the studio
    Written by bowei006
    Published Oct 17, 2013
    Pros - Detailed, clear mids and highs. Accurate string instrument representation
    Cons - Analytical, cold, very little bass, mids are forward but don't have depth.
    See the review post here:
  8. trane1992
    lasted 2 years and loved them
    Written by trane1992
    Published Sep 28, 2013
    Pros - mids and the higgs
    Cons - bass almost nonexistent
    these were my first pro headphones and the left speaker just died 2 days ago i am very sad 
    i loved them
    1. pietpuk123
  9. blueangel2323
    Good sounding neutralish headphone for the price, if you can get past a few build quirks
    Written by blueangel2323
    Published Sep 3, 2013
    Pros - Close to neutral, energetic sound, exceptional clarity, value
    Cons - Average comfort, creaky build quality, grainy, small soundstage, bass roll-off
    The SRH440 was the first $100+ full-sized headphone that I ever owned, back before I joined Head-Fi. I was looking for an affordable, closed monitoring headphone for home studio use, and I found the SRH440 and SRH840, which had just recently come out, to be more engaging/exciting sounding compared to the studio standard, the Sony MDR-7506, while still maintaining relative neutrality. Another studio staple, the once Head-Fi favourite Audio-Technica M50, sounded slightly better but cost over 50% more. The SRH840, which sounded even better, cost twice as much, so I ended up buying the SRH440.
    Build quality and comfort
    Build quality feels decent in the hand, if a bit hollow and plasticky. The coiled cable is thick, rubbery, and detachable. The little wires leading from the cups to the headband, while exposed, are reasonably thick compared to the dismally thin ones on the basshead favourite M-Audio Q40, for example, and should hold up fine with many years normal use. The pleather underside of the headband, however, tends to crack and peel after a while.
    Once on the head, the creaky structure becomes obvious. The hinges and swivel mechanisms are not smooth at all, and the slightest head movement will cause loud creaks, which is annoying when you’re trying to listen to the music. The ear pads are similarly noisy when rubbing against your jaw, skull, or worse, glasses.
    The SRH440 is my go-to benchmark for “average” comfort. Headphones that are less comfortable than the SRH440 (e.g., M-Audio Q40, AKG K81DJ, Sennheiser HD25) are below average in comfort; headphones that are more comfortable than the SRH440 (e.g., Denon D600, Sony MDR-1R, Sennheiser HD600) are above average in comfort. What does this mean? Weight is slightly heavy but not too heavy; pads are reasonably thick but not nearly as soft as the SRH840 pads; the driver grills touch your ears but not in a very bothersome way. Notwithstanding the creaking and your ears getting sweaty inside the pads, they are perfectly tolerable for short listening sessions.
    Bass is very punchy and visceral despite being modest in quantity. In fact, the SRH440 have the sharpest bass impact of any headphone I’ve tried due to its speed. There is a mild mid-bass hump but the bass remains tight, controlled, and textured at all times. However, the low end gradually rolls off below 90Hz. That’s not to say that these headphones can’t produce the lowest sub-bass, which they can. It’s just quieter than the rest of the frequency spectrum and a bit of EQ can improve bass extension without distortion or compromising bass control.
    Clarity is exceptional on these headphones. No matter what music you play or how much you mess with extreme EQ settings, nothing will make them sound muddy or veiled. Timbre is not always ultra-realistic like on an HD600, but everything sounds nice and crisp, and for the price it’s hard to fault. Acoustic guitars in particular are just magical on these headphones due to the slightly forward upper mids. There’s a slight tilt towards the upper mids but the overall midrange presentation is smooth with no obvious peaks or dips. Of particular importance is the fact that I hear no shoutiness at 2 kHz that ruins vocals on many headphones in this price range.
    There’s a large mid-treble peak that’s quite obvious without any burn-in. This initially gave instruments a “shimmery” quality that was quite engaging if not technically accurate. It worked quite well for adding “air” around a few specific instruments, but once the mix got busy all that “shimmery air” became crowded together and turned “cloudy” instead.
    In any case, after a hundred hours or so, that peak became less noticeable and the upper treble opened up. Now the treble is just wonderfully energetic and extended. It’s still slightly emphasized, giving the overall sound signature a slight tendency towards brightness, and given the quantity there is a bit of grain, but it’s also never harsh or sibilant.
    Soundstage and presentation
    The SRH440 remains impressively detailed across the whole spectrum, thanks to the treble extension, midrange clarity, and bass speed. Presentation is pretty forward and in-your-face so soundstage is about average for a closed headphone in this price range; decent, but nothing to write home about. Imaging is again quite decent for the price range. You can pick out individual instruments, but there isn’t a whole lot of space between them. Coming from a higher end, open-back headphone like the HD600, the presentation of the SRH440 sounds downright claustrophobic, but still 3D and immersive. It's almost like you're on stage, with the entire band is playing in a semi circle all around you, but each band member is only a couple feet away.
    The Shure SRH440 is one of the best sounding neutral headphones at around $100 and a great buy despite some build quality and comfort issues, most notably the tendency towards creakiness. It’s a better value than the slightly better sounding Audio-Technica M50, as the latter has gone up significantly price as a result of its popularity, and as a bonus the Shure doesn’t have the midrange shout at 2 kHz that the M50 does. Admittedly I haven’t heard the supposedly excellent alternatives from Superlux and Fischer, but of the $100 headphones I’ve heard, only the Sony V6/7506 come close. Recommended.
  10. Argyris
    A criminally overlooked option for semi-portable, closed back neutrality
    Written by Argyris
    Published Dec 21, 2012
    Pros - Neutral balance, detailed, nice texture overall, nice tight, punchy bass, well extended treble for a closed set, good imaging, commendably transparent
    Cons - Uncomfortable without slight modification, underwhelming bass extension, can seem somewhat bright, only average soundstage, isolation not stellar


    Like my DT880, and for almost as long, the SRH440 has been a trusty companion, in its case pulling double duty as my portable headphone and as my "plug-it-in-real-quick" set. Therefore it's only fair it gets a proper review as well.
    Back in 2009, Shure released a new line of closed-back, full-sized headphones, which included the SRH240, SRH440, and SRH840. The latter two received a lot of interest, though the flagship (at the time) got the lion's share of that. Essentially, Shure had managed to achieve the impossible, which was to make a closed back headphone that actually sounded good and whose name didn't contain the letter M or the number 5. And some of us who've owned both might say we should drop that qualifier entirely. [​IMG]
    It's funny how people forgot about that once all the shiny new headphones started coming out, though, and the SRH440 especially seems to be entirely abandoned. I'm here to try and turn the tide back in favor of this headphone because I think it's criminally underrated. Is it a giant killer? Probably not, as it's not even better than my humble DT880, but it's a damn good set of headphones for less than $100 these days.

    Overall Summary

    As usual, here's the shortened version: the SRH440 is a neutral headphone, leaning slightly toward brightness, with an average-sized soundstage, good imaging, punchy but not terribly extended bass, well-textured and balanced mids, and slightly leading treble with good extension for a closed design. It's not particularly comfortable stock, unfortunately, but can be slightly modified (see the relevant section) to improve comfort considerably. Also, do not replace its pads with the SRH840 ones as is commonly suggested, at least until after you've read my special section about that.

    What's in the box, Build, Comfort, Ergo, etc.

    The box doesn't come with a whole lot in it apart from the headphones, but that's not a big deal. You get the SRH440 itself, a 1/4" adapter, a quick guide/specifications book, a black pleather carrying pouch, and an orange warranty card. The cable also comes separate in the box (if I remember correctly)--yes, if you didn't already know, all the SRHx40 models apart from the SRH240 have a detachable cable. It's coiled, though a straight cable is available from Shure (for $20, last time I checked).
    One place where the SRH440 doesn't impress me so much is in the build quality. The structure creaks a fair bit, and the plastics, while they've held up fine for almost two years of fairly constant abuse, feel a bit on the cheap side. The structure also feels a bit hollow, and in some places firm pressure can actually flex some of the plastic pieces. On the other hand, it lacks the utterly asinine hinge system of the old Sony V700 (which was copied, apparently down to the brittle plastics, in the SRH940), so the entire structure is more sound than this description might make it appear. Like I said, it managed to survive some pretty rough handling without a scratch, so I can't complain too much. I still expected more from Shure, though.
    Comfort is initially sub par, on account of a bizarre design choice (or perhaps, more cynically, an example of built in upselling): the pads are quite shallow, and the material attached to the back of them that's meant to protect the driver from dirt and earwax is so thin it may as well not be there. The upshot is that the hard plastic driver guard installed to protect the driver from accidental puncture jams right up against the ear and becomes painful in under half an hour. The SRH840 pads have much thicker material (almost like cloth) attached to the back of their pads, so the driver guards on their respective model presumably don't cause this problem. Also, the headband on the SRH440 (and from what I've read, the SRH840 as well) digs uncomfortably into many people's heads.
    I've solved both these problems, the first by placing a felt circle on top of each driver guard (I punched out holes for the bass reflex ports), and the second by using a piece from a velcro roll to stick some foam under the headband. With these modifications comfort is actually quite good. I can wear them for hours without any issues. As I said, I "fixed" Shure's mistakes, which I don't feel I should have had to do, given how these issues should have shown up in any reasonable product testing.
    Rant over. Ergonomically I'll point out that, like several Sony monitor headphones I know of, there's only one correct way to wear the SRH440. In other words, you can't swap channels by flipping the headphone around. They seem to have a reasonable range of cup motion, so overall fit shouldn't be a problem, but I just thought I'd point out the orientation thing.



    Tonal Balance

    The overall balance is neutral leaning toward slightly bright. Their treble peaks aren't as tall as those of the DT880, but the overall treble level is actually slightly elevated over that of the DT880, believe it or not. Therefore, while overall they don't come across as quite as bright as the DT880, part of their EQ calibration curve (see the relevant section) involves shelving down everything above 10kHz by 3 dB.
    Extension is somewhat lacking, but the midbass is pleasantly punchy and is very slightly bumped up. The overall character of the bass is tight, punchy, and exquisitely textured. There's a certain heft and grunt to the SRH440 bass that I find highly enjoyable.
    Decently transparent and clear, and neither recessed nor forward. Guitars and vocals have a nice, crisp presentation, and the timbre is very natural. If I had to find a very slight fault it's that the upper mids on rare occasions can be a little shouty, but I honestly can't remember definitively the last time I experienced this. Mostly it's just an energetic, poised presentation that reminds me a lot of a nice pair of mini-monitors.
    -TREBLE & EQ-
    Definitely tipped up a little in overall volume, the treble is nonetheless impressively free of grain for being so prominent. Like the midrange, it carries a lot of energy and never leaves me wanting for sparkle. It also helps highlight detail without being excessive. All this said, EQ'ing out my resonance peak (6 dB at 7.6kHz), shelving down everything above 10kHz by 3 dB, and addressing a few shallow peaks at around 5.4kHz and 14kHz satisfies the perfectionist in me and achieves, to my ears, a wonderfully smooth response. Even without EQ the treble is acceptable, but it has a tendency to be edgy.

    Presentation - Macro

    As ever, we'll discuss soundstage, imaging, and transparency. Soundstage is one area where the SRH440 is a noticeable step down from the DT880 (since their tonal balances are quite similar). It's not horrible in absolute terms, but it's that typical "tubular" soundstage common to closed headphones: decent width, anemic depth, and no real sense of height. The effect of switching between my DT880 and SRH440 is akin to taking off your current prescription glasses and putting on the ones you used to wear one prescription ago--everything is still mostly there in the same proportions, but there's the sense that something's subtly wrong, which goes away once you've spent a little while adjusting.
    Imaging is similarly very slightly lacking compared to the DT880, perhaps merely because the SRH440 has less raw space in which to distribute sonic elements. Directional cues are still obvious, but layering is noticeably less sophisticated and there's this unshakable feeling that the edges of elements are slightly blurry, compared to the razor sharp delineations the DT880 produces. Overall it's not a deal breaking step back, but it's obvious in direct comparison.
    Transparency continues in the same mold. Direct comparison reveals a slight lack of refinement on the part of the SRH440 when compared with the DT880, but it's not noticeable in isolation. The SRH440 is still impressively transparent for a sub-$100 closed headphone. Veil of any kind is nonexistent.

    Presentation - Micro

    Detail and texture are well appointed in the SRH440. In fact, I'd say the SRH440 gets the upper hand on the DT880 here in one respect--it manages to texture its entire range, whereas the DT880 loses some texture as you descend through its bass extension. Bass in particular is very enjoyable on the SRH440 as a result of this. Detail-wise, the DT880 expectedly wins out, but it's closer than it ought to be. Both render minute artifacts and tiny details well, but the DT880 pulls ahead with its uncanny ability to convey ambiance and space around the instruments. The SRH440, perhaps being a closed design, just can't reproduce this information.

    A note about the SRH840 pads

    Don't do it. Easy, right? Of course I'm going to tell you why. Very simply, they change the sound quite noticeably, and not for the better, IMO. I'm also confused by the numerous claims that they somehow tame the treble, since for me they do the exact opposite. In fact, they seem to add a 5dB shelf above 5 kHz or so, a bump somewhere between 2.5kHz and 3kHz which makes vocals and guitars barky and shrill, and a mid-to-upper bass bump that muddies up the bass and makes it sound like somebody just turned on the MegaXXXXXXtraBass function on a cheap mini-system. How can pads do all this? Simple. They change the size of the acoustic chamber between the driver and your ear canal, which can have all sorts of nasty effects (see above). The SRH440 was voiced with its own pads in mind, and uncomfortable and impractical as they might be, you should leave them on there. Try the felt mod I mentioned earlier in the review. I swear it works wonders.


    Overall, the SRH440 is an often overlooked/overshadowed headphone. Its biggest threat is probably the M50, which monopolizes all the attention whenever reasonably priced closed headphones are discussed. I've owned them both. The M50 got returned. The SRH440 is still here after two years. That doesn't mean, of course, that your preference will fall the same way. But these two headphones both deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence, and in the same recommendation thread responses. They both do a lot of things right, and they pursue slightly different tonal balances (the M50 being more focused on mid- and sub bass and less focused on midrange than the SRH440). Ultimately, the M50 had too much bass for me. If you've ever felt the same way, but otherwise liked the detail, transparency, and basic presentation of the M50, the SRH440 might be right for you.
      Claritas likes this.
    1. TheSonicTruth
      Insightful review, and proof to the GearSlutz "use your ears!!" crowd that measurements and graphs can correspond to what we hear, despite their protests.

      One caveat: If my Sennheiser HD280 Pros are the uber-vise on my head, the 440s are the polar opposite, LOL! My Sony 7506 are somewhere in between. When producing with the 440s on, it is common for them to slide forward and backward over the top of my head as I'm looking down at my keybd and then up to the screen.

      At one point, they almost fell on my lap & keyboard, something that neither tightening or loosening them seems to eliminate completely from occurring. My hair on top is very thin compared to the sides of my head, which might contribute to this.

      Aside from that, I find them very accurate and smooth for most genres of what I listen to. They are, as you stated, not boomy headphones. Accuracy is their goal, not boom. Beats by Dre is more of what one wants if all they want is bottom.
      TheSonicTruth, Jan 8, 2015


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