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Why I chose Shure SHR840, and not AKG 271, Beyer 770, 990, 250; ATH-M50...

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by ninjavsninka, Jan 24, 2014.
  1. NinjaVsNinka
    First of all, I’m not well versed in the headphone sound terminology and I haven’t made this kind of written review/run through before, so bare with me. I use my headphones a lot, therefore a decent pair of headphones is a must. I listen to all music genres, and I want to be able to pick up all the different instruments when the symphony orchestra goes for the win, and get a little punch, when enjoying a little dubstep or some good old rock´n roll.
     
    I was looking for a new pair of headphones to replace my old AKG k272hd. And this is not going to be a detailed review of the headphones, but more a shorter summary/notes of my experiences with each headphone. Maybe some of you will find it helpful or informative. 
     
    All the headphones in this run through, I tried out at home, for three weeks or so. Except my old AKGs, of course.
     
    Initial criteria.
    A clear and balanced sound, but with a bit more bass than my AKG k272hd. Great comfort. Within budget. Suitable as a studio headphone. And preferably closed, I get very easily distracted and annoyed by outside noise, somebody mowing the, loud neighbours, roommate walking around and so on. So I would like to be able to close of, and just enjoy the music (or movie) without knowing everything that goes on around me.
     
    First I’ll give a brief note on my old AKG k272hd.
    For three years or so I loved them, they were the first pair of “better” headphones I’ve had. Before that, it was steelseries headset, and some “lower level” sennheiser.
     
    Pros :
    Comfort! I could wear them all day long. Clear and neutral sound. Headband design! You wont even know it’s there.
    Cons:
    I don’t know if it’s just me or what, but when the cable brushes up against something, like my shoulder, when turning my head, the ruffle goes right into to the left cup. I kinda got use to it, but it’s still annoying. The neutral sound lacks bass. It’s very neutral indeed. Flimsy build. After the three years of use, the left part, where the headband system connects with the cup, broke of. An I have to say, that my headphones live a good and comfortable life, either on the desk or my head, They are in no way mistreated.
     
    Ok so the headphones I tested the last three weeks are;
    Beyerdynamic DT-770 pro (250 ohm)
    Beyerdynamic DT-990 pro (250 ohm)
    Beyerdynamic DT-231 pro
    Beyerdynamic DT-250 (250ohm)
    Audiotechinca  ATH-ANC7b
    AudioTechnica ath-50
    AKG k271 mkii
    Shure SHR840
     
    Beyerdynamic DT-770 pro (250 ohm)
     
    You just want to put them on! I love the look, they look like something I just wonna put on my ears. I really wanted to like these, and I kind of did… I’ve read about the bass, in these headphones, and that for some it was too much, others just fine, and for some not even bassy enough. I have to say, that I like the bass, I feel it’s clear and balanced, not just loud farting sounds. But at the same time I did experience fatigue within 40 min or so, depending on the music. And I know some say that the mids are recessed, others that the bass is just emphasized. Whatever the reason, I definitely feel that the mids aren’t as clear, as say they AKG. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good sounding pair of headphones, but in my ears, the mids aren’t as clear and up there, as one might have wished for. And you will find your self, turning up the volume to get out more mids, but then the bass overthrows you.
     
    The build feels great, the plastic cups feel solid, and I like that the “cup holders” are aluminium (I think. Metal anyway) and the fact that all parts are replaceable is just great. I know some people don’t like coiled cables, but for now, I do. I don’t have to worry about moving away from the desk (within a given radius), and I don’t have to pick up the slack cable from the floor after I do, to avoid cutting the cable with the wheels on my chair. But admittedly, is does get in the way more easily (the coiling these is small compared to some of the other cans)… Enough about the cable!... The comfort should be great. Really soft and big ear pads that have no trouble enclosing the whole ear, soft and comfy headband, and comfortable weight too. I say, “should be great” because after a while, let’s say 30 min. the left side, started to feel strange and uncomfortable and I had to adjust the headphone all the time, after that. I don’t know if it’s my head shape, an especially clampy pair of 770, or perhaps the cable, pulling just a little on the left side, which made it uncomfortable. Lastly I was hoping for a little more noise reduction. It’s ok, I guess, but not as good as the AKG or Shure (coming up). Also each cup has a tiny whole in them, so that doesn’t help. These cans improve greatly in sound and drive, with an amp.
     
    Pros:
    Personally I love the design, great gripping bass, they clearly have the recipe and components for great comfort, Build quality and widely sold, replaceable parts.
    Cons:
    Comfort for me, the noise reduction was lacking a bit, mids just weren’t clear enough compared to cans, like the AKG. 
     
    AKG k271 mkii
    These resemble my old 272. The same clear neutral sound. Without knowing, I could imagine, that it’s the same can, with removable cable, and a more quality like look.
    These have the same problems as the 272, which are, a little too neutral sound, for me (this time around:)), it’s clear and everything is correct, but they aren’t much fun, not as the 770. But on the other hand, you can wear them all day (with velour pads!), The headband self adjust system still works like a charm, and you can’t feel the headband on your head, at all. There’s no fatigue. The same issue with ruffle from the cable brushing up against things, as the 272 has. It might just be me, but once I noticed it, it never went away, and it seems worse on the 271. It just got too annoying, and replacing the straight cable with the coiled one, just made the problem thrice as bad. The coiled cable, for some reason is very stiff, and therefore increases the ruffle. (By the way, the cable ruffle problem, only occurred on the AKGs). The comfort as mentioned, is great. The build quality also resembles the 272 with it’s flimsiness. You feel “close” to the music. And of course the driver is physically closer to the ear, than it is on the Beyer, and it does make a difference, at least it did for me.
    Luckily the 271 come with both pleather, and velour pads. I don’t like the pleather, and in the case of the AKG I didn’t observe any dramatic difference in sound, with the velour. The noise reduction is better with pleather though.  
     
    Pros:
    Clear neutral sound. I love how clear the sound is on the AKG models, and I actually decided on keeping these, but after a day or two I did miss a bit more bass punch. Especially when having compared them to the very different Beyer 770. Comfort. Removable mini XLR cable, pleather and velour pads included. Straight and coiled cable included.   
    Cons:
    Build quality. Neutral flat sound, with a lack of bass. Cable ruffle in the left cup, and because of this problem the stiff coiled cable is useless.
     
    Beyerdynamic DT-990 pro (250 ohm)
     
    Just as the 770 I love the design, and they have the same “you wonna put me on” appeal. Like the 770, there’s some discomfort on my left side, when used more than an hour or so, but it’s minute, and not at all as annoying as the 770, and I could easily look pass this. There are really not a lot of bad things to say about these cans. I think they sound great, much better then the 770, oddly enough, they sound more open!:wink: The bass is better too, not as overpowering as on the 770, but very well balanced, I feel. I didn’t experience real fatigue. The comfort is great. It’s like a 770 with none of the drawbacks. Except one, they’re open.
    And yes I did know this, when I brought them home with me, but I thought I’d give them a try, and maybe the outside noise wouldn’t be an issue. But unfortunately, for now it isL
     
    Pros:
    Design, great open sound, with delicious mids. The recipe for comfort works with these. Build quality and widely sold, replaceable parts. 
    Cons:
    “Personal con” Open headphone. If you have surroundings, that allow you to use open headphones, you should give these a try. I will be getting a pair, when I find some extra money lying around. To use when I can use them without distractions. 
     
    Beyerdynamic DT-250 (250ohm)
    As you would expect, these have a more closed sound, but clear and balanced, a little on the neutral side I would say, compared to the 770 and 990. I really liked the sound on these. If I had to point out one thing, it would be the bass, it could have been just a tad more up there. But all in all I like the sound. And for a while I thought about keeping them. But the more I used them, the more uncomfortable they became.
    First of all the elongated pads, feel good for some time, but then it starts getting uncomfortable, because the pads are just not wide enough to cover the little flap, on the middle portion of my ear… I have no idea how to explain this:) But then again this is a personal problem, and my not apply to everyone, though my ears are fairly normal:). But it did become a problem. Another thing is, that the cable is HEAVY, you can feel how it pulls on the headphone. Also the coil is BIG, so it’s more annoying than any of the others. The cable plug to the earphones is some in my eyes weird thing.
    On a more positive note, they look good and have a nice slim profile.
     
    Pros:
    Lightweight, design. Slimness. Sound. Comfort to a point, but some modding would have to be done, to the cable. Removable cable.
    Cons:
    Comfort. HEAVY cable. Massive coil. They are actually sold as noise reduction headphones. But didn’t feel any reduction, over other closed back headphones. And far less then some.
     
    Beyerdynamic DT-231 pro
    I bought this on the recommendation from someone, as a good sounding pair of cheaper headphones, I could use as a spare pair, for when the surroundings did not allow for the use of the 990s. They would work as the “noise reducing” pair. Not to my overwhelming surprise, they didn’t.
    But these are not a bad pair of headphones, and especially considering the price.
    The sound is not on level with the other headphones on the list, but no one was expecting that (maybe except Audiotechinca ATH-ANC7b). The sound isn’t as clear as the rest, a bit muffled perhaps, and with an emphasis on bass. The bass sounds ok.
    The build is very plasticy, but feels solid. The comfort is ok, the self-adjusting headband works as intended. But the cups/pads are a bit to small for my ears, especially my left ear… My left ear is weird…
    Overall a decent pair of headphones. If I was looking for something in this pricerange, I might look at these, though I would probably go for something that’s either on ear, or can enclose my ear more. This a weird middle ground.
     
    Pros:
    Price. Sound (considering price). Build.
    Cons:
    Comfort with the small earcups/pads
     
    Shure SHR-840
    I chose to keep these.
    These are nowhere near perfect, But all around they met most of the criteria, I had, and others I hope I can mod my way to.
    The sound is clean and clear and on the neutral side I would say, but with a little more fun in them, than AKG. They don’t sound as crisp as the 990, but then again it’s a closed back. In my opinion they sound a lot better and more balanced than the 770. They could have a little more bass “punch”. It’s like the bass wants’ to, but can’t. It’s like it’s just about to pop and punch you, but then doesn’t. I do miss a little more punch, from the bass when listening to rock But overall I like the sound signature. Not as fun as the 770, but on the other hand, these have clear mids and no fatigue.
    The build is plastic, but they feel solid, and clearly have some metal components, which give them a durable feel. But the build also makes them heavy.
    The coiled cable is perfect for now. When hooked up to my amp, the cable and coil come across the desk, and stops at the edge, and from there the last piece of cable is straight. So no heavy coiling hanging and pulling on the headphone. All the other headphones, with coiled cable, aleays had some “coiling” hanging and pulling. So this is just perfect. And the cable is removable, not really that important to me, but always nice, if it brakes, or if you want to replace it. Also the not important to me, but the headphone is collaspeable. Nice that they can take up less space on the desk, if needed, and of course for traverling.
    Noise reduction with these is relatively good, the best on the list, except maybe the ATH-ANC7b, and honestly I never got that far with the AudioTechnica ath-50. And as I already returned those, I can’t compare the two. The noise reduction and sound quality are some big factors for me. Another big one, is of course comfort, and this is where you might ask, wgy did you keep those? They are heavy, and as you will or have read elsewhere here on the forum, the headband is just… WHAT?!?! Who designed this? It’s the worst headband I’ve ever tried. The pressure load on the head, is concentrated on just the middle top part of the head. I don’t like badmouthing people, but come on… Anyway, the headband is not just wrong. I wont go more into it, there’s enough on the forum.  Oh yeah, the headband slides forward if you tilt your head down. Also the headband keeps readjusting, when of the head. Which means that, if I set the headband to 4 on the scale imprinted onto the headband, and put them on, it stays there, but when I take them of it usually slides down again to 3 or less… Which is a bit annoying.
    I usually hate pleather ear pads, and this isn’t really an exception, but for now it’s fine. On the positive, they do fully enclose my ears, and clamp isn’t too tight.
    I would probably not keep these headphones, if I wasn’t prepared to do some headband modding, But after some modding, they should weight 20% ish less, be a lot more comfortable, and stop sliding when I tilt my head forward. I will probably also find some velour replacements for the ear pads. Or even play around with making my own with some memory foam.
    But the headband might not be a problem for everyone. I need things to be just as I want them, but I could probably get use to the headband, without modding. And some people don’t mind pleather, so I don’t want to scare people away from these, if you don’t want to mod. They are still a great pair of headphones.   
     
    Pros:
    Good noise reduction. Sound quality and signature. Cable. Collapsible. Removable cable. Comfort potential. Modding project:)
    Cons:
    Big and heavy. Headband.  Pleather pads. The bass could use a little kick in the…
     
    Audiotechinca  ATH-ANC7b (Active noise cancelling)
    I mostly bought these for the fun of it, and well I might be in luck, I like the idea of noise cancelation, and unlike the Bose q15, you can use these without the ANC on, so I thought I’ll give them a try. I’ll make it a bit short…
    Unless you really need ANC, and for some reason (money likely) don’t buy the Bose q15 (sometimes here in DK, like right now. The Bose and these Audio technical, are priced the same, if look around) you don’t want these. If you want good sound and comfort, it’s my opinion, that you should look somewhere else.
    The sound is muddy, and slightly muffled. It’s not horrendous but any of the other cans on this list, have way better sound quality. And the fact, that you can use them without the ANC turned on, is totally negated by the fact, that the sound just goes to s***. It gets super muffled. The muffling is worse when driven by an amp, but still bad when driven through my Mac.
    The noise cancelation is not as good as Bose, which I’ve tried in much noisier surroundings, with great result. But it works, and does not give quite as much low-pressure feeling, as the Bose q15. You can still hear people talk and so on, but not as loud and other more low freq noise is fairly reduced. I have only tested them in and around the apartment though.
    Comfort is ok, though the ear pads are a bit small, and you can definitely fell them on. The pads are some kind of memory foam, so it’s not all bad. There’s a crackling sound in the cable, sometimes, when moving the head. And even when they aren’t hooked up to anything you can hear the ANC working, very subtle, but it’s there…
     
    AudioTechnica ath-50
    Honestly I had these on my head for like 5 min before taking them of. And as I didn’t plan this post I just thought “nope, not those” and put them back in the box.
    I could just feel, that my ears would get cooked in there. A bit of a clamp, and the pleather would get clammy fast. Though I did get to experience the noise reduction, which was knd on level with the AKG k271mkii
    I got them because of the many positive reviews I had read. So thought I would try them out.
    I know it’s not the most elaborate experience I had with the Audio techinca, but thought I would share it, insignificant as it may be.
     
    End notes
     
    I have to say, that if I haven’t started out with my old AKG, and accustomed to the clear neutral sound, and being overly picky as I am. I would probably be more than satisfied with any on the headphones listed here. All except ATH-ANC7b…
     
    My next headphone will probably be either the more expensive sennheiser 650, at least to try out:) if not, the Beyerdynamic pro 990 – 250 ohm.
     
    For tests I use:
    A focusrite scarlett 2i2 audio interface
    And a presonus hp4 headphone amp.
     
    As a closing I have a question.
    I have the presonus HP4 Which I got specifically for my new headphones, as I thought it would be the 770 250ohm. But Now I ended up with 44 impedance 840s So my focusrite does the job fine. BUT I don’t know whether I’m imagining things or is it possible that the sound is just a tad more clear, when driving the 840throgh the HP4? I thought that an amp just amplified the signal, to be honest (total audio interface and amp noob) Seeing as the HP4 has a 50-something impedance out, I read something about damping, how does this affect my 840s? And do I ”need” the amp, or should I send it back, and get one when I get my 990?
     
    Well anyway, hope you found this useful somehow.
     
     

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