Shure – SRH1840 Headphone Review

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Shure SRH1840 Headphone Review

David Solomon – Headphones.com

NEUTRALITY AT ITS BEST

Shure entered the headphone world as a manufacturer of in-ear-monitors. After several years of dominating the high end IEM market, Shure joined the long list of full-size headphone manufacturers. The first four headphones Shure was to release – SRH240, SRH440, SRH840 and SRH940 were all closed-back in design. TheShure SRH1840 is one of two open-back models which Shure released in 2012, the other being the SRH1440. The SRH1840 is Shure’s current flagship and it is, by far, the best sounding model I have ever heard from Shure. It is among the best sounding headphones I have heard for under $1000 – an absolute winner!

THE FIT AND THE FINISH

Just seeing the SRH1840 in photos for several weeks before they were released, I couldn’t help but think it had a striking resemblance to Sennheiser’s HD650. However, Shure offers a plethora of unique design features. The velour earpads are comfortable enough for extremely long listening sessions. The earpads themselves can be removed rather easily and Shure was generous enough to supply an extra pair of earpads. The cable is easily removable and terminates to a miniplug with an added ¼ inch adaptor. Just as with the earpads, Shure includes an extra cable! Nice!!!. The overall packaging is among the best I’ve seen. In addition to a fancy cardboard storage box, the SRH1840 comes with a hard-shell carrying case with zipper. Even the included instruction manual was of a higher grade than average. The SRH1840 is among the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever worn. The oval-shaped pads fit around my ears without any excessive clamping pressure. I can wear them for hours without overheating. The adjustable headband is very light considering its size. Of course, being that these headphones are open-back don’t expect any isolation from outside ambient noise. Because of this, these headphones are best suited for home use and use in the studio control room. All in all, the SRH1840 proves to be one of the most well packaged and fully accessorized audiophile-grade headphones on the market today!

ALL ABOUT THE SOUND…

To get the best sound out of the SRH1840 you will want to power them with an amp such as the SPL Auditor.The SRH1840 are one of the most neutral headphones around and as such, they are quite susceptible to changes in amplification. However, they sound good with every amp I’ve tried including a variety of tube amplifiers.

THE GOOD

  • Insanely neutral tonal balance
  • Works well as a monitoring headphoneNon-fatiguing
  • Revealing

THE BAD

  • Lacks a hair of transparency
  • May sound a bit analytical for some tastes
At its price, the SRH1840 is one of the most impressive headphones around and here’s why… The SRH1840 is among the most neutral headphones on the market today. It allows you to fully assess the music and hear details that you didn’t know were there. For editing and mixing purposes, the SRH1840 also may prove to be an asset because it doesn’t favor any region within the audio spectrum. Listening to Carlos Kleiber & the Vienna Philharmonic perform Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, I noticed that I was able to faintly hear clarinets over the opening motif. It is unusual that one would be able to spot the clarinet amidst the thick string section. The SRH1840 was able to allow the clarinets to have their own space. The upper harmonics of the mix are audible due to the headphone’s wonderful treble extension. Next listening to Joe Henderson’s version of “Without a Song” from his Big Band album (one of my favorites) I was pleasantly surprised to hear the multiple big band horns did not sound strident at all. Usually when the horns blare out on this track, I have to lower the volume to avoid ear fatigue. Not the case here. The drums showed to have a terrific balance of impact and detail. The bass was just slightly lacking here. I would have enjoyed a hair more impact. The lead saxophone was wonderfully present and entertained a large space in the center. The imaging of the instruments was excellent. The overall soundstage was narrow but intimate. Listening to Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” I found the highs to be aggressive and the bass to be lacking. If I was merely monitoring the mix, I would be pleased with the tonality because of its revealing nature, but for listening purposes, the tonality felt sterile with this song. Listening to Arcade Fire’s “Crown of Love” the balance was much better. The bass was fuller, the vocals fuller as well and the percussion elements were better balanced, though still slightly on the bright side. The background vocals possessed wonderful presence with the SRH1840 and this added immensely to my enjoyment of the track. As one might have expected based on my description of the sound, the SRH1840 showed that it is not an ideal candidate for hip hop listening. It lacks bottom and punch. I took a listen to Nas’s “New York State of Mind.” The balance was oddly bright and lacking in visceral impact. This is not the fault of the SRH1840. Hip Hop music often sounds best when the headphone possesses a colored tonality. In the sense that the SRH1840 is a neutral headphone, it was doomed to not be the right choice for hip hop.

LAST WORD

I am extremely impressed with the SRH1840. They are a great value for someone who is seeking ultimate neutrality. While the tonality may be a bit analytical for some, it rewards the listening with tremendous accuracy and detail. It is also a highly durable choice as it comes packed with replacement parts and accessories. Highly recommended.

Rating Chart & Price Point

Sound Quality 9
Design & Features 10
Comfort 10
Value 9 out of 10

Shure SRH1840 Headphone Review

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