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Shure SRH1540 Review

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by kimvictor, Jan 23, 2014.
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  1. Partlys4int
    Are these headphones balanced (as opposed to SE?) or do you need to buy extra cables? Thanks
  2. jude Administrator
    While it doesn't come with a balanced cable, you can make one (or have one made for you). It's a dual-entry cable design, by the way.
  3. Quadfather
    I broke out Lotoo Paw Gold Diana and my srh1540s today. I'm glad I did because this combination is excellent.
    trellus likes this.
  4. waveSounds
    Let's get some life back in here, folks.

    Who else has tried a set of Brainwavz sheepskin leather pads their 1540? I've recommended the swap before, and continue to recommend it. Do it!
  5. trellus
    I love the stock pads, which are so good that people use them to mod other cans frequently! :beyersmile:

    Where are the benefits of the sheepskin leather pads and how does it affect the sound signature?
  6. waveSounds
    I hear you, man! Whenever I switch back to the Alcantara pads it invokes feelings of booking myself in for an hours massage [​IMG]

    Here's my original post with my (somewhat vague) description of the changes.

    To expand on it; the bass sounds tighter with better control and the highs are also more pronounced. Big fan of both, but I think the sheepskin pads offer a more musical performance of the two. Still, they don't beat the pampering effect of those Alcantaras, though!
    trellus likes this.
  7. shampoosuicide
    Picked up the SRH1540 about a week ago in my search for a closed-back upgrade to my M50x. Now, normally I wouldn't purchase headphones without auditioning them first, but I chanced upon an offer on a used pair that I simply could not refuse.

    Out of the box, I was disappointed. I thought they sounded flat, bloomy, and muffled. The soundstage and spaciousness were impressive, yes, but the colouration in the lower mids and mid-upper bass - which I personally dislike - were far too obtrusive for my tastes, and obscured too much detail in both the mid range and top end.

    Sifting through this thread, I learned of the Dynamat mod and Alpha pads, and dutifully performed both mods.

    The SRH1540 are now a different beast. To my ears, they easily exceed the stock version in terms of imaging, detail, bass tightness, and tonal balance. The mid range is much clearer and better balanced at both ends. Overall, I would described the modded sound signature as "balanced" with a slight bass bump. They are quicker and lighter than the HD650; more weighty and authoritative than the AD2000 and K702; and almost as fun as the M-100 and M50x.

    To delve deeper into the differences, the K702 still has the edge in terms of sound stage, spaciousness, airiness, and transparency. The SRH1540 in comparison has a more upfront presentation, which I find more engaging and natural for my purposes. It is more bassy, more fun, and more involving, while the K702 is more polite and refined. In terms of detail retrieval, I noticed little difference between the two, although the airiness of the K702 might lend the perception of greater detail. I would put them in the same league in terms of sound quality.

    Against both the M-100 and M50x, the SRH1540 is much more spacious while maintaining a relatively upfront presentation. Both the M-100 and M50x are surpassed by the SRH1540 in terms of clarity, detail, imaging, timbral accuracy, and tonal balance. The SRH1540 sounds much more full bodied and lifelike than either headphone. Bass is punchier on the M-100 and M50x, with more sub-bass presence, and the SRH1540 requires some EQ in this regard for me. As an upgrade, I find the SRH1540 to be a bigger improvement over the M-100 than the M-100 was compared to the M50x.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
    trellus and waveSounds like this.
  8. waveSounds
    Excellent write up!

    I've not used the Alpha pads, but based on the descriptions that everyone has weighed in with they sound extremely similar in the differences that the Brainwavz sheepskin leather pads bring. For those that can't purchase the Alpha pads for whatever reason, these would be the next best thing.

    They only thing that still interests me about the Alpha pads on the 1540 is how they work with such an angled structure, given that the Shure doesn't have yokes that don't rotate laterally.
  9. shampoosuicide
    Thank you! I was actually too cheap to pony up for the Alpha pads, and bought the angled Brainwavz pads instead.

    On the 1540, the pads are installed such that the thick side fits on the top of the cup. Initially, I installed them as you pictured, with the thick side aligned with the rear of the cup, but that fit awkwardly and made little difference to the sound...
  10. waveSounds
    Ah, I've got the non-angled version of the sheepskins on! Couldn't work out how I'd fit the angled ones on given the limited geometry of the 1540.

    Glad you've noticed the same changes that I've heard, though, and it's not all in my head xD
  11. SHAMuuu
    I've never looked at shures even though i had and enjoyed 440/dk750. I explored different flavors, but the 1540 calls to me like a guru to disciple.

    I love the hm5 sheeps so if they work together that sounds awesome. What are the improvements you see, the bass over alcantara? Does it become livelier,much livelier of alcantara? I am little confused with your description. WHen i had researched it was described as very flat, boring etc, which is what is attractive to me (and for my Hindustani Classical, Classical, and Peruvian Music needs). But the sheepskin + the good looks of 1540 is seductive.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
  12. waveSounds
    @SHAMuuu Even without the HM5 pads the bass on the 1540 is elevated. I don't know what cans you like or own, but here's a graph of the frequency response against some others:


    Despite that I still consider it wonderful across any genre, but then I'm not an especially discerning listener of classical.

    Zeos' review of these is one of the few I don't agree with. It's definitely not flat. Or boring!
    trellus likes this.
  13. SHAMuuu
    I meant "boring" signatures in terms of absolute flatness. er4s type boring flatness i seek to some degree. If I were to want a TOTL dt660mkIII (thought its obvious dt880/T1 is "better") signature, with more refinement. Though I tried the AEON FLOW Closed, which i thought shared what i like in the dt660, but its a bit overly clinical. I have not heard the PMx2, but that one from my research is another I would like down the road (more than one r10 owner has recommended that one to me, but its not chump change/ risky without audition). Anything over 1k i would audition for comfort, enjoyment etc. When I listen to classical (both eastern and western), I prefer detailed , yet intimate. So as much as I crave bass on one hand for hip hop/edm etc, I want flat , near bassless (but layered/detailed) for my classical needs. BUt yeah, this journey in what you want in signature, tonality, bass needs is a trip and a half :p So, regarding Z, a can that doesn't call for attention, and disappears, to me, is a plus. Comfort is also important and i love the hm5 sheeps, so if that combo works, its a plus. ARe they eq friendly with leather on?
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  14. shampoosuicide
    Further impressions:

    If you liked the sound improvements with (p)leather pads, I highly recommend taking things further and dampening the cups with Dynamat. The midrange becomes even clearer and more detailed; lower mids and mid-bass are attenuated, leaving an extremely clean, clear, smooth, and balanced midrange with a slight emphasis in the upper mids. Decay and transient response are improved, especially in the mid and lower bass regions. The result of all this is that the imaging also becomes more precise, and as a corollary, instrument separation is better. I’m listening to them with a +3dB bump in the 32Hz region, and the bass is deep, clean, articulate, and potent, with a very enjoyable rumble, never bleeding into the midrange or overpowering it.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2017
  15. shampoosuicide
    I felt it was important to recant my initial impressions of the 1540. I’ve had these for a month now and recently undid the Dynamat and pad mods after finding myself wishing for a touch more mid and sub bass impact. They now sound nothing like I had initially described them: flat, muddy, muffled, bloomy, etc. What I hear instead is a keenly detailed, transparent, clear, and open sound across the spectrum. Keep in mind that by now I’ve added close to 200 hours to them, as well as a Schiit Modi.

    The midrange is prominent and lightly U-shaped, providing a richer and more vivid quality compared to the K702. I've Between the K702 and V-Moda M100, they lean towards the M100 in terms of bass quantity and impact/slam/punch. Although the M100 continues to exceed them in both categories, the bass on the 1540 is more taut and textured. With a 3dB increase in the 32Hz region and 2dB increase at 125Hz, overall bass impact is very satisfying, with good speed and decay. Treble is smooth, detailed, and never sibilant, although somewhat shy. With a 1.5dB increase across the region, overall clarity is immediately improved, with greater vocal presence, and stronger attack.

    In terms of soundstage, they sit between the M100 and K702: that is to say, substantially larger the the M100’s soundstage, but smaller still than the K702’s. Imaging and instrument separation are excellent, and soundstage height and width are very good. I don’t find myself wanting for very much at all in these areas. My perception of soundstage depth isn’t as keen, but it seems to me to be decent. In terms of speed, they lean closer to the K702, with excellent transient response to my ears.

    I’m still keen to try a pair of TH-X00’s, but I think I foresee a long relationship with the 1540…
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017
    Quadfather likes this.
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