Shure SRH1540 Headphones

General Information

The SRH1540 Premium Closed-Back Headphones feature an expansive soundstage for clear, extended highs and warm bass. An included storage case, replacement set of Alcan Tara ear pads, and an additional dual-exit cable ensure years of uninterrupted listening enjoyment.

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New Head-Fier
Pros: The neutral sound, the sound-stage, detail
These at the time were the second product of Shure’s that I had heard and they have really secured my love for Shure’s products. They are a good set of headphones that sound decent
I found my-self needing a set of over-ear headphones for every day use and decided to get these based on a few video reviews. One of the things that surprised me with these headphones is the sheer number of accessories that you get with the package. Shure, give you:
-2* MMCX connector rubber coated cables both of which the same length
-2 sets of Alcantara ear cups. (the cups themselves are stitched together at the seams not glued)
-1* 3.5mm to 1/4 ‘’ Gold plated adapter
-And a hard carry case with compartments to store everything in.
Now the accessories that they give you really makes a feature of the headphones stand out (and possibly one of the best things about Shure’s products) they feel solid, Very Sturdy. These are a set of cans that are designed to last. The Alcantara pads that they give you, a feature I pointed out earlier, are sewn up so they are robust and don’t come unstuck with oil (from skin). This seems to have been inevitable and a major point of failure in other brands such as, my Bose QC15 where the two sets of cups I had lasted a year of use (each) before coming unglued. the cups themselves feel so so good on the ears. When you first get them out of the box they are fresh and crisp after a few days of use the Alcantara softens up and feels exactly like a soft leather. The cups inside are filled with memory foam so they are comfortable for extended listening periods and sort of blend in after a while. Many a time I have forgotten I have had them on and ripped the cables from the headphones. Very well thought out from Shure and a huge advantage with MMCX. Onto the cables, they feel beefy and thick, however not at all stiff. They are made of a hard-wearing rubber so I find they get caught on items of clothing. The strain relief on the cables is on every joint and once again I don’t see it getting broken any time soon.
The headphones are padded with more memory foam on the head rest for more comfort and as of this point 2 years into owning them, is the only part showing any sign of wear. They are hinged with metal bars that are also used to fit them to your ears. The 1540s could be a little tighter on the against my head, not saying they are hanging loosely on my head but, they could certainly benefit from, and get away with it, because the cups are so soft. This could just be my head and others might not feel that. Despite the srh1540s being so durable in construction they don’t feel heavy in hand or feel heavy on the head. After a few hours of listening they can get a little uncomfortable on the top of the head and this is where I feel them being tightened on the around the head fit would help.
For me, these headphones have been perfect. The sound isn’t amazing but that’s only my opinion as I love bass. They have been perfect because I’m tough on my gear. I don’t believe in having things just to gather dust. These are a serious set of durable cans. I’m not the most careful person in the world and I’ve dropped them a lot, knocked them off my desk countless times, thrown them in my bag (the case is ridiculously huge), ran over the cables almost daily with my chair, ripped them out of the socket of both the MMCX and the 3.5mm side and still, they have stood up to my everyday life. I can seriously say these are some phenomenal headphones. Not because they sound the best but because they are built so so well. In a world now where almost everything is disposable engineered to fail these Shurely(heh heh) stand out to last the test of time, thankyou Shure for making these.
Is there anything I don’t like about these headphones?
          Yeah, definitely. The ear cups after a while collect grease from your head and if you then put it on paper it makes a huge oil print. Many practice exam papers of mine have this on the front page. They creek slightly when you first put them on as the hinges aren’t oiled. The case they give you is cumbersome and only good for storing all the accessories and the headphones for long periods of time. They also have high impedance in comparison to most of my gear so I have to pump it up a bit but none of that is a real deal breaker for me.
Now onto the sound.
from what I can hear, my reference being Arctic monkeys vinyl played on a project turntable, the mids are the most pronounced part of the spectrum i can hear with the lows and highs taking only a slight back-seat.
The bass is detailed and present but not forward and rampant I like bass so this isn’t the best sounding set of headphones for me in terms of sound. In particularly bassy songs such as limit to your love from James Blake there is ample bass and sub bass that rumbles, hits hard and makes my skull reverberate as it should. So, the bass isn’t anywhere near as bad as the qc15s and the bass Is certainly there, I just feel like its hiding. The Mids are clear and slightly pronounced, I feel that they can be in your face at some points in songs such as in atmospheres sugar some of the instruments feel too loud in comparison to everything else. The highs are also to emphasised for my liking and this is probably the worst part as they are very present and sometimes painful James Blake retrograde stands out as probably one of the worst as he really hits some painful high notes which I am a tad sensitive to.
Now I know I’m not the best at describing how things sound in general so ill describe specifics in retrograde at 2:40 the high notes of his voice singing “ooo” is very overwhelming despite this I can still separate all of the instruments well everything sounds in its place and it still sounds clear.
One of the things the headphones do very well is imaging, they have a very large tight feeling soundstage which you can pick off specific instruments on the stage. In brohemian rhapsody, for example, everyone can be picked out and placed. If you had your eyes closed, you could point out exactly where things are.
There is no part of the spectrum that I can say sounds particularly bad but also there is nothing astounding in the sound. I’m not saying that they sound awful, not at all but they don’t like £500 which is the RRP or the £450 that I paid for them. I do wholeheartedly recommend them however. I feel that what they lack in sound they make up for in their construction and their accessories.
For this review I have used a range of sources and components
Astell and Kern AK100 with a range of m4a, flac, and, mp3 files.
Samsung S6 edge with Google play music
Project debut carbon turntable with pro-jects own amp
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please give me some feedback. im going to upload a few pics and write another review for my shure SE846s and one final one for my LEAR BD4.2s when I get them.


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Sound Quality, Style, Comfort
Cons: Price, Cable
After two years of listening to Shure’s SRH840 headphone nearly every workday, I decided it was finally time for an upgrade. Not so much because the SRH840 isn’t a good headphone (you can read my review here), but more because I wanted something different.

My workspace, where I use an ALO Audio Island DAC/amp to drive my music daily, calls for closed-back headphones. I had the Fostex TH600 in my collection, but its sonic signature never quite satisfied me. The TH600’s sub-bass is beyond fun, the sense of space is great, it’s quite comfortable, but the deeply recessed mids left a lot to be desired for my musical tastes and the resultant emphasis on the bass and treble regions could get overpowering after hours of listening. So it was out. Actually, it’s gone (sold).

So the search for a SRH840 and TH600 replacement began with a few points in mind: Something light, respectable looking, a shade more detailed, rich mids and maybe just a hint more sub-bass extension and definition if possible. I actually thoroughly enjoyed the sound of the SRH840 over the years, so I didn’t want to abandon it entirely. Logically, I looked to Shure’s offerings to see what the next step in the line might be, and that’s where the SRH1540 falls in.

Shure describes the SRH1540 as its “premium closed-back headphone,” featuring “an expansive soundstage with clear, extended highs and warm bass.” The description fit the bill, Tyll’s review on Inner Fidelity helped solidify my confidence in its performance and having the sound signature I was looking for, so I decided to pick up the SRH1540 without ever demoing it beforehand.

It was a risky decision. It’s not a headphone I see suggested frequently or talked about often on forums, and I’ve actually only seen it in person once before at AXPONA in Chicago. With a typical retail price of $499, it’s not exactly a headphone one should gamble on. Thankfully, my bet paid off (mostly). 

The Sound
I’ll dare say it—if you could take hints of the Shure SRH840, Fostex TH600 and Sennheiser HD650 and meld them together, you might just come up with the SRH1540. It’s an interesting and enjoyable soundscape if you like headphones with an intimately warm tonality.
Much like the SRH840 and HD650, the SR1540 maintains a clean, rich midrange that projects vocalists of all varieties well. These are the mids the TH600 severely lacks, and if it had them, I would have likely kept that headphone, but I digress. Mids are where I think Shure shines. I find the midrange smooth and full-bodied with enough texture to really get my ears engaged in the music. If you’re coming straight from the SRH840, you may find the SRH1540 to be a touch cooler as it has less of a hump towards the bass and in the upper ranges. Compared to the HD650, I personally always sensed some grain and edginess in its clarity, I think the SRH1540 just delivers better here, albeit with a slightly different tone.

Moving deeper into the bass region, the SRH1540 delivers weighty bass with ease. Sub-bass is an area the SRH840 lacked and left me wanting for more as it placed a greater emphasis on a mid-bass hump that bled into the mids. While it’s undeniable that there’s a bass hump on the SRH1540, it transitions smoothly from sub- to mid-bass and then into the midrange in a way that sounds more natural and doesn’t overemphasize its presence. I’d say the bass extension and impact of the TH600 is superior, but the SRH1540 is more pleasing and fuller sounding than the SRH840 and it handles the transitions much better than the TH600 where the mids simply fall out of the bottom resulting in bass bloat. Basically, it’s a solid middle ground between the two, and I can live with that.

One thing I can’t live with is peaky, edgy treble—especially in a headphone that I rely on to get me through the workday. The SRH840 didn’t have that; it’s dark and relaxed, and that’s part of why I liked it so much. But at the same time, the soundstage closes in when there isn’t enough sparkle. So here again, the SRH1540 strikes a nice balance between the darker SRH840 and the brighter TH600. The SRH1540 has pleasing, grain-free treble that isn’t fatiguing like an AKG or Beyerdynamic, but offers enough details so that you aren’t missing any zip. With slightly more presence and extension than the SRH840, the SRH1540 sounds more open and spacious, albeit, the TH600 easily outpaces both in presenting a 3D soundstage. Again, it’s a compromise, but one that won’t stop me from fully enjoying this headphone.

Overall, I really like the SRH1540. It takes what I liked about the sound of its SRH840 sibling and does it better in just about every way. Better bass. More balanced mids. Smooth, detailed highs. Greater sense of space and instrument separation. If you like the SRH840, you’ll likely love the SRH1540, except for its price, but we’ll get to that later.

The Fit
Fit and comfort were my biggest motivators for abandoning the SRH840 as my daily driver headphone. If you follow my blog or Instagram, you’ll know that I took great strides to modify the obscenely heavy SRH840 headband (possibly an over exaggeration) and find ear pads that provided better heat dissipation, comfort and overall performance (Brainwavz HM5 angled pads, please). While my tweaks certainly kept me happy for quite a while, I wasn’t contented enough.

I can confidently say that the SRH1540 takes the comfort level up several notches. The SRH1540 has a sleek modern design that maintains a similar overall shape as the SRH840 but trades in the heavy molded plastics and oversize headband for slimmed down aluminum and flashy carbon fiber bits. While you lose the ability to fold the headphones for transportation, you gain looks and weight savings (a claimed 286g versus my SRH840 that weighed in at 376g pre-mods and 324g post-mods). This puts the SRH1540 in the same weight class as the HD650 and TH600.

The headband in stock form is a step up from the SRH840. It features a similar shape, but is reduced in size and features a center cutout to keep the weight and contact points down. The padding is minimal, but so far it seems sufficient enough. In time I may add an additional pad or wool wrap as I did with my HiFiMan HE-500 and Audeze LCD-X, but I don’t see an immediate need for it. Also, the headband is quite flexible allowing it to be flexed a bit to relieve clamping force. I haven’t had an issue here, but others with larger heads may as all Shure headphones maintain a firm grasp on one’s noggin. 
Finally, we get down to the ear pads. The SRH1540 features a thick perforated Alcantara ear pad that is satisfyingly comfortable. It’s a substantial step up from the thinner pleather and velour ear pads that come with the SRH840 and SRH940. Noise isolation doesn’t seem as good as the SRH840, but I don’t have an accurate way of measuring that. Heat doesn’t seem to build up as much with this ear pad either. Pads are also easily replaceable.

Overall, the SRH1540 is a light, comfortable and stylish headphone that fits well and seals out noise fairly well. 

The Gripes
As much as I like the SRH1540, I do have some issues with it. For starters, the price is excessive in my opinion. I don’t really have any qualms about the performance, looks or comfort, but at $499 new, I guess I expected it to feel more robust or something. At its full retail price, I am hard-pressed to recommend this headphone to everyone, but at $300-375 for used and open-box models, I find it to be a much better value. 

Accessories wise, the SRH1540 comes with an extra set of pads, a ¼” adapter, a hard travel case and two detachable cables. Here’s the silly part; the cables are both identical 6-foot straight cables. Why? Come on Shure. Give us a short cable for mobile use and give us a 10-footer to use in our listening rooms, duh. The cables also feel cheap. In comparison to the 10-foot coiled cable on the SRH840, the SRH1540’s feels thinner, seems more microphonic and kinks easily. It's also dual-sided versus the SRH840’s single-sided design.

My final minor gripe is that the yokes don’t rotate horizontally like they do on the SRH840. This isn’t much of an issue if you plan to use the stock pads, but I really liked the performance of the Brainwavz HM5 angled ear pads on the SRH840. I tried them on the SRH1540, but it’s not possible to get a good seal with them because the ear cup cannot twist to align with your head.

That’s It, That’s All
To sum it up, the SRH1540 is a headphone that you can wear all day. It looks good. It feels good. And most importantly, it sounds good. This is a fun headphone to listen to. It offers great bass, warm mids, and detailed highs that are nicely balanced. If you get the SRH1540 at the right price, you really can’t go wrong.
I actually like the Shure SRH1540 headphones better than the $3,000 Meze Empyreans!
I still use these at work regularly. I keep them in the case when not in use. Besides cleaning the pads, I've had no issues with durability. The only wear point is the headband pad, which has flattened out quite a bit and doesn't provide much cushion now. I haven't bothered to try replacing or modifying the pad yet.
Thanks for the detailed review. Any chance of comparing these against the similarly priced Neumann NDH20?


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: comfy, lightweight, isolation, versatile sound, non-fatiguing sound, design
Cons: a small upgrade in sound quality, long cable that detach easily

I was relatively happy with the sound of my srh940. However, the band of my srh940 started to crack seriously, and with all the scotch  and glue to maintain the band, it was just an ugly mess. So the srh1540 with a superior design, was a natural choice to replace my srh940.
Physical description:

Here are some pics, to compare with to my (old damaged) srh940. The box height of sr1540 is significantly bigger.
Sound quality:

They sound fine with most musics. No "wow" factor, I didn't find them superior with a particular genre. However no "glaring flaw". The bass is a bit emphasized, but I  get used to it after some listening. The sound signature is relaxing, non-fatiguing, but I  don't get bored either. In comparison, the srh940 sound more "exciting" , with a more present treble. The shr940 sounds more "alive", and I thought it work well with metal , or industrial music.
Is the sound of the srh1540, that much different of the srh940 ?
Yes and no. I thought that beside their different frequency balance, there was some similarity.
Actually, I  tried to put the srh940 pads on the srh1540. And I  was much more familiar to that sound.  It sounded just like my modded srh940. Because I've put some rope to increase the thickness of the srh940 pads (see my previous review). The thicker are the pads, the more the treble is tamed, and the more the bass is present. So I  think, if the srh1540 default pads were a bit less thick, the sound would have been more pleasant.
Would I  replace the srh1540 pads, with the srh940 pads ?
Nope, because with the srh1540 pads, I  get significantly better comfort & isolation. And after all,  the srh1540 sound, with stock pads, is good enough. Even if I  miss a bit some  "excitement".
So is the difference in sound between srh1540 and srh940, just a matter of distance between ears and drivers ? (or different pads) .
Not completely. I  thought the srh1540 got a cleaner sound. So, there's an improvement somehow, even if it's not striking.

Much, much better, than the srh940. Clearly among the best.  The most comfy headphones  I know, are still the hd595 though. The srh1540 are incredibly lightweight, they just weight nothing !
The alcantara for the pads, makes a difference. I thought the velour pads were comfy, but not that much when you compare with alcantara.
The isolation of the srh1540 is better than for my srh940. Almost as good as HD 25-1 II , but this time with true comfort.
Cables : not too happy with the way you connect them. You can detach them accidentally. I put the cable around  behind my neck to prevent this. In the manual they warn that "the cable connection is not designed for everyday use". In other words, it's a bad idea to attach/ detach too frequently the cable. Otherwise, I find the cable too long for my needs (listening music most of the time from my computer). And I miss a coiled version of the cable.

If it wasn't just to replace my srh940, I'd say that the srh1540 are a good buy. I hope they are more durable. So far, I'm satisfied. I don't feel the need to spend more time (and money) at collecting other headphones. If I didn't need isolation, I would use  my hd800 instead, but otherwise the srh1540 are enough enjoyable for me.
I've had 1540s for a while now, just rediscoveing them.  they play well at low to moderate
volumes, but don't overpower them with too much gain or amping, or they sound artificial
and digital.  they sound really good right out of a good DAP or phone, and thats their best
use. with the right volume balance you can amp them out of a DAP into a small class A
amplifier (like a Ray Samuels Hornet( and they become sublime!


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