Headphones are a crucial part of your studio. Whether you are recording vocals, mastering your latest creation, or practicing your DJ sets. Selecting a solid pair of affordable headphones allows you to spend more on other components for your studio. In this review, we check out a budget pair of headphones from a very popular and respected audio brand.
The Shure SRH440 has plenty to offer the budget-conscious artist. But it isn’t perfect either. Let’s check them out in more detail.
The Shure SRH440 aims to be the perfect hybrid pair of headphones without breaking the bank. Below we break down in detail if it has managed to achieve this goal.
The Shure SRH440 offers solid sound quality. Aimed at studio professionals it leans towards a neutral response. This is great for accurate mixing and mastering.
The highs are well defined and clear. Excellent clarity for pinpointing issues in the top end of your mixes. The mids are smooth and full of body but are a little forward. The low end is the weakest part of the audio soundscape. There is a distinct lack of depth in the lower frequencies. This is not always a bad thing. A flat and neutral sound is ideal to highlight flaws in your mix. But, these are also marketed as DJ headphones. As a DJ I prefer a meatier low end with a distinct kick for accurate beatmatching.
The Shure SRH440 offers good sound quality but is lacking in bass.
Precise impedance, power handling, and sensitivity are also present. You can comfortably run these direct without needing a headphone amp. There is plenty of power and the volume output is more than enough.
These are a great choice for artists that want a jack-of-all-trades option. They may not be the best sounding headphones but it is hard to fault them considering how affordable they are.
The Shure SRH440 weighs in at 0.6 lbs. (272 grams). While not overly cumbersome they are a little heavier than other options in this price bracket. The slightly higher weight is evident. There is a distinct clamping force that at first is reassuring. But, as the sessions grow longer you may begin to feel the fatigue and pressure. If you have a larger head this will be even more pronounced.
The coiled cable gives you maximum mobility in your studio.
But it’s not all bad news. You do have to be wearing these for long periods before you’ll feel the effects. For shorter sessions, they feel great. The padding on the ear cups is dense yet comfortable. The headband is adjustable with several micro increments available. Perfect for adjusting to your preferred tightness level.
As with all closed-back headphones, there is not much breathability for your ears. Heat build-up is present but once again more apparent in longer sessions.
I’ll admit I have a bigger than average head so it’s likely some of these issues may not impact you as much. As always comfort level is a nebulous concept that is very unique to each person.
This is one area where the Shure SRH440 could use some improvement. The focus is on studio use. These are not the most attractive headphones and sport a retro design aesthetic.
The collapsible design is excellent for portability. If you are a traveling DJ you’ll appreciate the compact form factor. The travel pouch is also a great inclusion.
The Shure SRH440 offers a classic design that focuses on function over aesthetics.
Isolation is reasonable but there is still some sound leakage present. Still much better than some of the other options available at this price point. If you are a DJ working in very loud environments you may want to spend a little more on better cans.
The only other issue is the exposed wires. I always prefer for the wires connecting each side to remain tucked away to prevent accidental damage. But, the Shure SRH440 does offer a long coiled detachable cable. This allows for replacement if you damage the cable. It also helps prevent accidental unplugging via the bayonet clip which secures the cable in place.
While not the prettiest headphones out there these do offer some great features. A keen focus on useability that for the most part exceeds expectations.
The Shure SRH440 is tough. Real tough. The thick solid plastic inspires confidence. Studio headphones can take quite the beating from multiple long sessions. These are up to the task. Likewise, DJs will appreciate how rugged these are.
The Shure SRH440 is a solid set of headphones with good features.
Component quality is also high. Good quality 40mm drivers power the sound. The quality of the cable is also above what you would expect at this price point.
Cheaper headphones will utilize cheaper components but Shure has struck a good balance here.
These are great value for money. While very affordable they are leaps and bounds better than other budget choices out there.
The Shure SRH440 offers great value for money.
The included pouch and adapter are a generous inclusion. An excellent budget alternative to the more expensive SRH840.
What Others Have To Say
The Shure SRH440 is well-liked in the audio community. The cheap entry point and neutral response make it an excellent option for new producers.
Coiled Vs Straight Cables
When selecting headphones it is worth considering whether it comes with a coiled or straight cable. But which one is better? Let’s check out the pros and cons for both.
Coiled cables offer some interesting features which may make them the ideal choice for your workflow. Here is where they shine and where they fall flat.
- Coiled cables take up less space while still offering a long extension.
- Due to the springiness of the cable, there is a lower chance of the cable becoming unplugged.
- Coiled cables tend to be longer in overall length which results in heavier cables.
- These cables have a bad habit of entangling themselves with other cables.
Straight cables are among the most common cables that come with headphones. Below are some of the reasons you may want a straight cable and some reasons why you might not.
- Straight cables tend to be shorter which minimizes the potential for sonic interference in the signal.
- A shorter cable will be lighter which can reduce the amount of strain they place on connection points.
- Straight cables are not as convenient to transport as they don’t condense into a smaller profile like coiled cables.
- There is a greater risk of tripping or accidental disconnection with a straight cable.
The best cable for you will depend on your work environment.
Both cable types have their uses and which one is best will come down to personal preference. For example, I prefer a coiled cable when DJing. It gives me freedom of mobility without a long unwieldy cable. But in the studio, I like to use a straight cable as it is easier to tuck behind my workstation without it getting tangled with other cables.
So which one is the best? Like many things in life, there is no definitive answer. This is where replaceable cables are always preferred for headphones. You can switch types as your needs change.
If you are looking to buy some budget headphones there are some worthy alternatives to the Shure SRH440.
Audio-Technica ATH-M30x Review
The Audio-Technica ATH-M30x is a great budget-priced set of headphones. It offers a more colored sound profile that is pleasing to listen to and DJ with.
- Lush and warm low-end that is ideal for DJing.
- Solid build quality with good components.
- Hardwired cable reduced your options.
Read our full Audio-Technica ATH-M30x review for more detailed information.
Sony MDR-7506 Review
The Sony MDR-7506 is another popular recommendation. It is a bit more expensive than most other budget options but it does offer a solid range of features.
- Fantastic sound quality with an excellent balance across frequencies.
- Comfortable ear cups with solid isolation.
- On the pricier side compared to other options.
AKG K72 Review
The AKG K72 is another choice if you want to maximize your budget. It is aggressively priced while maintaining a good level of quality.
- The adjustable headband and large ear cups make these extremely comfortable.
- Firm over-ear coverage provides great isolation for DJing.
- The bass response is a little soft. Not as meaty as some might like.
Should You Buy?
The Shure SRH440 is a compelling option for the budget headphone space. They are extremely versatile. Well suited to mixing and mastering work due to the neutral response. But, they are also a solid set of DJ headphones. If you are both a producer and DJ there is a lot to like.
While not perfect they offer exceptional value and are among the best budget headphones you can buy today.