Sunday, 13 May 2012

Shure 440 Headphones review

After trying a few pairs of headphones on in my local audio shop in London, I opted to buy a pair of Shure's SRH 440 studio headphones for use in my home studio and also for general use on my PC and laptop.

Given that this was originally written for Freshdnb.net over a couple of months ago, it remains relevant nowadays as well. Shure have since expanded on their line of headphones as well and all are looking good on the main review sites.






Background:

Shure are a US-based company with a good history of making microphones and speaker systems, notably for the US army during WW2, and in recent years have moved into making a small line of earphones and headphones as well.

The 440s fall into the lower end of Shure's current product lineup and were chosen as they provided good value in terms of output versus price. When comparing the 440s to the 840s with my own ears in-store, there wasn't an awful lot of difference that I could discern between them to justify the higher price. Shure describe these as perfect for home and studio monitoring/recording, so they should be a good option when making electronic music.

Disclaimer: Results always vary when buying headphones and you would be well advised to try out any headphones before buying as sound quality is subjective - ie. it differs from person to person.

Contents:

In the box you get a pair of headphones, a detachable audio cable, 5.25inch plug adaptor and carry bag.

Description


These are a fairly heavy pair of cans that clamp onto your ears with a hard-padded headband and on first wearing can seem a bit unwieldy on your head. This is short-lived and you quickly become accustomed to the size/shape/weight, although the headband does push slightly into the top of your head to keep them on and can take more time to get used to.


The audio cable is plugged and secured into the left headphone with a special plug with a lock fitting that twists, together with a long curled headphone cable with gold plated connectors. These don't pop out in case of accidents as with Sennheisers or similar products, but are at least replaceable.


Each headphone is designed to cover the entire ear, which really helps with noise reduction from the outside. On the subject of noise reduction, the 440s are also closed backed and this prevents sound from leaking out as well. I would expect these to be good to use in quiet environments like libraries or quiet zones of trains. The material used is soft leather and doesn't create the same irritation I get from wearing headphones with foam pads (such as Grados), especially for lengths of time.


As you can see from the image, these are an unassuming pair of black coloured headphones with colour markings for Left and Right. Each headphone actually folds up nicely for storage within the supplied bag, making this is a great product for using on the road as well.


Sounds:


As these are going to be used primarily for making Drum and Bass, I wanted to see how they would cope with some of the music I'm going to be listening with them. I've tried heavy bass tracks from Reso and Dillinger and the output bass is lovely, deep and undistorted, with excellent mid and high range sounds as well.


As your ears are completely covered with these, you are able to hear lighter effects and quieter samples used in tracks with greater ease. These are a flexible pair of headphones and seem to cope well with other types of music as well including funk, classical and house. For electronic music (which I'm assuming this audience is listening to a lot), these are going to work pretty well.


Cost/Where to buy:


Google is your friend here and you can pick them up for a good price and definitely lower than the recommended price at pretty much all the big online retailers. The cheapest UK retailer I found was Digital Village, where it cost me £68 including courier (compared with RRP of £109). Mileage may vary depending on where you live in the world, but these can even be picked up for as low as £60 on places like
thomann.de for you European folks.

Conclusion:

These are a lovely pair of headphones; solidly built and fairly comfortable, with excellent sound output and fidelity and at a price that won't break the bank. These were replacing a pair of Sennheiser 212 Pros that were getting ropey and I think were a pretty good choice to upgrade to from the 212s. More serious musicians may pass these over in favour of mid-to-high tier options, but for those looking for some better headphones to deal with their music production or for movies, you could do a hell of a lot worse.