Review: Shure’s SRH440 Headphones Sound Like A Million Bucks, But Only Cost $100.

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I’m going to climb out on a limb here and suggest that most people don’t use their headphones to dig trenches or compute the rotational velocity of Jupiter. No, headphones are for sound reproduction. Shure’s new SRH440 Professional Studio Headphones do nothing more or less than that, do it very well, and at the bargain price of about $100.

Full review after the jump.

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[xrr rating=4/5]
Company: Shure

Model: SRH440 Professional Studio Headphones

List Price: $125.00

Compatible: Most models of iPhone and iPod; most Mac computers

Buy Now: The SRH440 Professional Studio Headphones are available from Amazon for $88.60 with free shipping.

Shure has been making headphones for professional musicians for some time, but the SRH line — the 440s being the middle sibling of three, flanked by the 240s and the 840s — marks the first time Shure has marketed over-the-ear headphones to the masses.

Note the color-coded "left" facing indicator, for those too high to read
Note the color-coded facing indicator

What first hit me about the 440s is that they’re built like a Mack truck. Everything, from the hinges to the replaceable cable, is big and meaty; I suppose if really wanted to dig a trench using headphones, this would be the pair to wield (and perhaps this scenario comes to mind so often because the 440s have the aesthetic charm of a shovel).

Shure designed these headphones for heavy use; the standard jack threads securely into the accompanying quarter inch jack adapter
Shure designed these headphones for heavy use, as evidenced by a jack that threads securely into the accompanying quarter-inch jack adapter.

But where these cans really shine is, of course, their sound; the quality of which was easily a match for the QuietPoints I tested earlier. Shure says the SRH440s have the most neutral tonal reproduction of the three in the line; I’d imagine that to be accurate, even without testing the other two. The 440s sound well-balanced and vivid, with a slight, pleasing boost on the bass end.

The only real problem I encountered with this set is that I could only wear them for about a half hour before there was a little too much pressure on my ears for comfort. Luckily, the 440s pads are easily replaceable, and it’s possible to swap them out for the 840s superior memory-foam pads, which should prove more comfortable and better at sound insulation (not that the closed-backed 440s noticeably leak sound, but more is better). Shure says the 840 pads can be had for about $20 a pair.

For $100 — or even $120 with the pad upgrade — delivering sound this good is a coup for Shure.

Arrgghh, there be musical booty in this bag.
Like the headphones that tuck neatly inside it, the accompanying bag is stripped down, utilitarian.
The SRH440s are helpfully equipped with this massive logo should anyone forget who makes them.
The SRH440s, folded for transport. The headphones are thoughtfully equipped with a massive logo, presumably to identify the headphone's manufacturer to passengers in planes flying overhead.
In the box: headphones; heavy duty, detachable cable; carry bag; threaded quarter-inch jack adapter
In the box: headphones; heavy duty, detachable cable; carry bag; threaded quarter-inch jack adapter