Cover image credit goes to Alex over at Medium.com!
Originally published 2/6/16.
- 3/10/22. Article revisit/refresh.
Hi friend and welcome!
Before we get into the Shure SRH440 Headphone Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
- Video Review
- Amp/DAC requirements
- Who benefits?
- Final Word
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!
- Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check eBay!
- Type: Closed back
- Fit: Circumaural
- Impedance: 44 Ohm What is Headphone Impedance?
- Sensitivity: 105dB/mW
- Frequency Response: 10Hz to 22kHz
- Material: Plastic, Pleather
- Headband: Minimal padding
- Color: Black, Red, Blue
- Accessories: 1/4″ adapter, leatherette carrying bag
When I sit down and think about it, there’s really only one headphone that comes to mind in the entry-level mixing category that’s just about as popular/well known as my beloved Sony MDR-7506. It’s Shure’s SRH440 that originally came out around 2009.
You’d be hard-pressed to find many people who haven’t at least heard of these in passing, though they don’t seem to be nearly as popular as they were a few years ago.
Heck, my sister has a pair and she doesn’t really care much about headphones (at least not as much as I do). She makes music and uses gear, but she’s not an obsessive asshole about it like I am.
I’d go out on a limb and say the 440 is one of the most recommended studio headphones on the planet, and certainly should be considering what it has to offer.
It’s not a perfect headphone by any means, but let’s take a look at why it’s still relevant, what its downsides are, and if you should ultimately consider purchasing one for your own projects.
As far as build quality is concerned, they do suffer a little bit.
First off, the headphones are all plastic (save for the bit of metal on the outside of the ear cups) but the overall construction feels a bit cheap, flimsy, and creaky. This was one of my sister’s main concerns when I asked for her impressions over the last few years.
She kind of just shrugged her shoulders.
The construction becomes subpar when compared to other headphones in its price range. It’s not a deal-breaker, but you will notice a marked difference. The 440 is also fairly bulky like the HD280 Pro, but doesn’t feel nearly as robust.
If there were ever a headphone to fit what I’m about to say, the 440 is it.
It’s DUMMY THICC.
But it feels rather cheap and “chunky” as Alex so eloquently put it.
As with the 7506, you’re getting a coiled cable, but here it’s detachable and not nearly as annoying as that one is.
In other words, it doesn’t tangle in on itself quite as easily. The 7506’s cable is notorious for becoming nearly impossible to untangle after a year or 2.
Shure also sells an 8 ft. cable separately which would have been nice to have in the existing package, but I digress.
All in all, the SRH440 is vastly inferior in this regard to close competitors like the MDR-7506 for example, which utilizes metal for the headband rather than a cheap-feeling plastic.
Comfort is also hit and miss. A few years back, Metal571 lent me these for demo and I just couldn’t get on board. Don’t ask me why I never took any pictures; I really have no idea. Lol.
They tend to hug your head in all of the wrong ways, and you most certainly feel them given how large they are but also how much they dig; into the top of your head as well as the sides.
In addition to that, the pads sweat quite easily and they tend to irritate my ears when I have them on due to what he said in the review below; that is that the pads are wide enough but not deep enough.
In other words, your ears will likely touch the drivers and start to annoy you after a while.
Alex Rowe from Medium put it well:
Fortunately, the 440 does an excellent job with isolation which is one of the reasons why many people (including my sister) likely use it for tracking guitars and so forth.
By far the best quality about the 440 is its sound profile which is mostly neutral across the board save for the bass which does have a 5-7dB shelf across 20Hz to about 100.
That said, the bass never felt boomy, boxy, or bloated to me. It sounded correct and wasn’t overdone like your mom’s meatloaf.
The mid-range can sound a bit forward with certain recordings, but I think it mostly knows its place in the mix.
You will notice on graphs that there’s a roughly 5dB elevation across the entirety of the mids, and this is likely what Metal is referring to when he says that guitars and such can stick out a bit too much at times which I happen to agree with to an extent.
For the most part, the mid-range sounds excellent though.
Moving into the treble, it also stands out here, but not in a way that feels overly sibilant or bright. There’s just enough sparkle to keep you satisfied.
In fact, I really enjoyed the sound of the 440.
It feels crisp, open, and clear, with very good separation and a pretty decent Soundstage for a closed headphone IMO.
Think a decent amount of air without really being an out-of-your-head experience, but that’s to be expected given these are closed backs. I actually found them a lot more open-sounding than I was expecting.
Metal571 likened this response to an HD600, and I think that’s mostly accurate. The 440 does have a bit more treble and bass than the HD600, but by and large they are pretty similarly flat and even sounding.
As with the HD600, I never get the feeling that the 440 is trying too hard to impress me which is most certainly a good thing considering what people use it for.
It’s neutral, honest, and very flat across the board for the most part.
In fact, the 440 easily made my best studio headphones for mixing, mastering, and music production list and still remains a top recommendation in that category even despite some of the issues we discussed earlier.
Unlike Metal, I don’t really think these are bass light per se, but his preferences tend to follow the Harman Curve (i.e. something like a K371) which I think can be way too bass-heavy depending on the track in question – something I mentioned in the official review.
That said, your mileage may vary. I really enjoy the extension these provide, but as metal also said, it’s not quite as clean sounding as something like an HD600’s low-end response around the sub-bass regions.
At the end of the day, I suppose these are minor nitpicks especially for the price.
Told you I was an obsessive asshole.
- Mixing/reference staple.
- Excellent sound isolation.
- Preferred overall for flat, even response.
- Bright in the treble, but not harsh. Maybe the best aspect of this can.
- Folds nicely for portability.
- Removable cable. A separate straight cable can be purchased as well.
- The bass is tight, accurate, and clean.
- Replaceable ear-cups.
- Build and comfort are both lacking.
- Earpads will get hot and sweaty after a while. They are big enough but not deep enough. They are replaceable, however.
- Hardly any headband padding.
Check out the video review!
All credit goes to the Metal571. Check him out on Twitter @Metal571!
The 440 can be plugged into anything, but if you’re buying these you’ll most likely be using some sort of interface like the Scarlett 2i2 which I highly recommend as a perfect entry-level solution.
Who do these headphones benefit?
They are really meant for mixing and reference, but I’ve seen them endorsed for and with:
- String instruments (Violin, Acoustic guitar, Cello)
- New age
- More detailed music with less of an emphasis on impact.
These have a very well extended bass frequency, but it’s not booming. The treble range and sound isolation are both excellent, but again they are lacking in build quality and comfort.
As far as to even sound across the spectrum, the 440s are a solid option at this price point and definitely worth a look.
Well, this is really tough. So I will try to break it down as quickly and concisely as I can.
Sennheiser HD 280
- Superior construction, solid as a rock.
- Poor sound reproduction with strange peaks and valleys in the signature. More on that in the review.
- Supreme isolation.
- Comfort is about on par with the 440, as is construction although I feel like the 280 is more robust.
- Bass light. Not for bass heads.
Overall I would not recommend the 280 for serious studio work.
Sony MDR V6/7506 (almost identical)
- Bass is less extended here but sounds cleaner and a tad more refined than a 440’s bass.
- Excellent construction/longevity overall. Ear cups may fall off and/or peel like aged sunburn though. Lol.
- Very bright in the treble range. Maybe too bright/Sibilant for some. Definitely brighter than a 440.
- I prefer the comfort of a 7506 over a 440, but your mileage may vary.
- Extremely flat sound overall. Similar mid-range to a 440.
Overall I would definitely recommend the 7506 for serious studio work.
- Lacking in comfort and build. Poor construction. Very flimsy and don’t hold up well over time. Ear cups are not deep enough. The 440 is definitely the worst out of these in terms of build and comfort in my opinion.
- Incredibly flat and even across the sound spectrum. Probably the flattest of this bunch.
- Treble is certainly less bright than a 7506 and does tend to work better over longer listening sessions.
- The bass has a bit more extension than a 7506 and hits a bit harder but still isn’t bass-heavy. It’s also not bass light. It kind of sits in the middle.
- Excellent sound isolation, but not as good as the 280s in this regard.
Overall I would definitely recommend the 440 for serious studio work.
So what should you consider first?
I still think the 7506 is just about the best closed headphone for studio work under $100, but the 440 is right there. I think the 440 is runner-up simply due to its build and comfort, but honestly, this could just be a case of flipping a coin.
Even with that said, the 7506 is in my budget kings list whereas the 440 isn’t, so take that for what it’s worth as well.
Well, that’s about it for today my friend. I hope you enjoyed this Shure SRH440 Review and came away with some valuable insight.
What do you think about the SRH440? How about my beloved MDR-7506? I would love to hear from you…
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
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