Thursday, September 1, 2011

Shure SRH940 – My Headphone Kings

Pros: Great mostly balanced sound for recording, great package that includes all you need, removable cables, best “mids” I have heard out of any headphones
Cons: Not very portable, not the best isolation, no handle on box that encloses the cans and accessories, still bass-light (or too treble friendly ;-))


After a whole lot of browsing, reading, testing, etc., a couple of years ago I decided on getting new cans. This resulted in me acquiring the Shure SRH440s. At the time I had not listened to such type of headphones, meaning quite balanced with great mids providing a complete package that actually made you want to keep listening and enjoying music. (I.e. most headphones I had were cheap Koss or Sony’s, etc.) These cans opened up a new world for me. Yes I had good audio equipment, cheap but good sounding, for my home theater, “recording” room (I’m not a musician, it’s just a hobby to create some song snippets.), etc. but never thought much about headphones. It all went “downhill” after that… Started buying headphones just to compare but still I was attracted to my 440s. When I read that Shure was planning on releasing an updated pair, I quickly jumped on them.

My main concern with the 440s in the start was what I praised them for now. Mids were kind of anemic… I don’t know if it was “burn-in” or my ears getting used to the sound but after a while I couldn’t get them away from my ears, I loved the mids! Bass was something that quite never settled with me. They were kind of lacking (when compared to a couple of other closed cans) but the upgrade to 840 pads made some sonic changes for the better (especially bass region!). So for the 940s I was expecting more great things (including better bass…). I was wrong… (more in a bit :-p)


First let’s talk about the headphones.

When I saw them I was surprised. The industrial-like silver/gray color was great looking and a departure for the whole black-motif of the earlier series (except the “DJ” one). The velour pads were another departure (I live in hot-ass Puerto Rico and I was just thinking of sweaty ears/head lol!!) which I wasn’t sure about (after getting used to the 840 pads). The complete package was complete enough that gave me the security I made a good purchase. But it all hinged on the sound…


* Transducer type: Dynamic neodymium magnet
* Driver size: 40 mm
* Sensitivity (1kHz): 100 dB/mW
* Impedance (1kHz): 42 Ω
* Max. input power (1kHz): 1000 mW
* Frequency range” 5 Hz - 30 kHz
* Net weight (without cable): 11 oz (320 g)
* Length of cable: Coiled: 9.84 ft (3 meters), detachable, Straight: 8.2 ft (2.5 meters)
* Type of cable: Detachable oxygen-free copper
* Plug: Gold-plated 1/8" (3.5 mm) stereo mini jack

Package Contents:

* Replaceable velour ear pads
* Two included detachable cables (coiled & straight)
* Zippered hard travel case
* 1/4th adapter


And we got here… even though I was expecting more low-end presence on these headphones, it was actually the opposite. I have to say that high-end band and mids were more forward than the 440s (or any other I have ever heard) and still bass light (even more so than the 440s with 840 pads!). Was I disappointed? Shure! ( ;-)) But I also had to keep in mind that these were “recording” headphones. Started breaking them in and using them everyday and then I started noticing.

* Crisp sound! Crystalline in fact!
* Mids were even tastier. Vocals on this thing were surprising (women performers in particular!)
* Even though it is a bit bass-light can (compared to AT-M50s, 840s, some Senns) the low-end extended well and was pretty clear!

Began modifying my playlists, added a couple of Jazz, techno, electro-pop, etc. and felt in love back again! Highs were not fatiguing, mids were the best I have heard (still is! Love vocals and acoustic guitars on this thing!), and the bass… it does goes low but it depends… and that’s my other point. These headphones LIVE OR DIE BY THE SOURCE!!! If a recording is poor, these will be a pain to use and listen to all day. Due to the high-end being so forward, you will not be happy when you start listening to hiss, distortion, etc. Again NOT the headphones fault, but take note! Finally, soundstage, it’s great for a closed headphone. It will definitely not beat HD600s nor cheaper AD700s soundstage but it’s good. Tested with indie and jazz you can actually pay attention to the music and instruments without being disappointed in them being panned way to your left or right, etc. (unless the recording is actually like that! Lol).

Overall, I grew to like them and it’s now my preferred “portable” cans!


I really think that for music recording these are a great addition to your arsenal since you will be able to clearly listen to any defects you might have (being brought due to those forward highs!). If you play your cards right, you can even mix a bit with these just have in mind that these are not bassy so don’t overdue the bass quantity! Isolation is not the best ever so I wouldn’t record vocals with these on just in case any sound leaks. But I was really surprised with how “listenable” they are. Yes they are a bit heavier than the 440s but sound is so tasty that you’ll forget about them being in your head and start rocking out.

I trusted Shure and I was not disappointed!

If they break apart, would I buy them again?

HELL YES!! (along with Hifiman HE500s… yes… these hobby is like a drug! Lol ;-)).

Hope you liked this mini-review.

Some bonus pics…


Update: Just testing out with JDSLabs CmoyBB amp and… WHAT A GREAT COMBINATION! Soundstage a bit expanded, and I HEAR MORE BASS!! Is it my mind?!? Naaah, made some notes, time coded, on a couple of songs. Bass presence is definitely there!

Update 2: If you are wondering what I used to drive the headphones: Archos 7, Archos 605, my main PC through Icon HDP and Lexicon Omega Recording interface.

Update 3: Have I adequately burned these in? Although I don’t believe in burn-in (to me is just your ears/mind getting used to the sound signature) yes, I have had a couple of months using these for 6 or more hours 5 days a week so… hundreds and hundreds of hours! ;-)

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