The revamped SRH range of headphones has been a little hit-and-miss. The SRH240A is decent but does carry some flaws, while the SRH840A is a fantastic pair of headphones. In this review, we check out the mid-tier SRH440A option to see how it sits in the line-up.
The Shure SRH440A does an excellent job of balancing sound quality, features, and price. But as with many headphones in this price range, it is far from perfect.
There is a lot to like with the Shure SRH440A. This updated take on a popular pair of headphones ticks many boxes, but there are a few missteps. Let’s take a closer look.
One of the surprising elements of the updated Shure line of headphones is the wide gap between the various models regarding sound quality.
The Shure SRH240A put in a decent showing for a cheaper set of headphones, while the SRH840A delivers refined sound that is great for studio work.
With the SRH440A, I expected a similar, albeit less refined sound as the SRH840A. But it became apparent that the SRH440A takes a different approach than the other two.
The low-end is substantial and does offer plenty of body and richness. Not overly punchy and not boomy. It’s restrained yet capable, which makes it a valid choice for neutral assessment of bass tonality.
The SRH440A headphones are easy to drive and feature good sound balance.
The mids are wonderfully present and rich in detail, with a distinct emphasis on this range. Clear and precise, these headphones are a good option for balancing media projects like videos and podcasts.
Meanwhile, in the top end, they come across as bright compared to other studio headphones. It isn’t overly harsh, but there is a little too much sparkle.
Balance across the 10Hz-22kHz frequency range is pretty decent. These might not be the best choice for serious studio work, but for light mixing tasks, they are more than adequate. These are also a good choice for tracking or recording sessions.
The soundstage is noticeably more cramped than the more refined SRH840A but still solid for a pair of headphones in this price range.
Perhaps I was hoping for a little bit more from these, especially after hearing the SRH840A. But despite my own bias, these easily leave many competitors in the dust at this price point.
After years of trying out and reviewing headphones, I’ve become quite sensitive to the slight variations across brands and models. Comfort is critical, whether you are a producer or a DJ. Long sessions fly by when you have comfortable cans. And on the comfort front, the SRH440A does an admirable job.
The ear padding is generous and provides a comfortable and tight seal. The ear cups offer plenty of space for your ears, and the depth is just right. You won’t have your ears butting up to the driver cover.
The padding on the SRH440A is thick and comfortable.
The headband is fantastic. Thick and durable padding that is still very soft. These sit comfortably on your head and won’t place undue strain on any area of your scalp. Weight distribution is also even adding to the comfortable feel.
Clamping force is firm but not to the point of making you feel like the meat in a sandwich. Due to the firm fit, the stability is also high. While you can’t expect to work out with these, they can handle the regular movements and some head bopping you might do in the studio.
As with many closed-back headphones, heat build-up is an issue and hard to avoid when you have a tight seal with no way for air to move about. But to be fair, the vast majority of closed-back cans suffer from this to one extent or another.
This is one area where Shure has hit it out of the park. I was not a fan of the previous SRH440. It came across as bland, uninspired, and a little cheap looking. This latest iteration improves in every area.
It is simple and more refined and now oozes an air of elegance. Well suited to a studio setting as well as for day-to-day use. The debossed logo on the headband adds appeal without looking tacky. Restrained use of branding on the ear cups is also appreciated. These now look the part, and I’m pleased Shure decided to give these an overhaul.
The SRH440A is a slick and modern-looking pair of headphones.
Looking past aesthetics, there are other notable elements and improvements. The first thing that caught my eye was the removal of the exposed wires that were present on the original. While often not a huge issue, it is one less failure point to worry about.
Impedance is a low 40 ohms meaning these are not hard to drive. They will work fine with lower-powered devices like laptops and smartphones.
Another notable change is moving to a straight cable instead of a coiled option. Which style you prefer often comes down to personal preference. But more importantly, the cable is detachable and locks securely into place.
Most of the design decisions have improved on the predecessor, but there is one change that some may not like. The previous version was fully collapsible, making it a breeze to transport. This newer model does fold flat but doesn’t collapse. Still decent for travel but not as convenient as the original.
It’s clear that Shure has taken a no holds barred approach to this update. But I’m happy to see that most changes are for the better.
This is one area where the Shure SRH440A scores top marks. These are rugged headphones, and you can rely on them even for demanding situations.
While there is plenty of plastic, it is thick and durable plastic, and it doesn’t aggressively creak under pressure and holds its shape well. At 0.6 lbs. (272 grams), these are not the lightest headphones out there, but I appreciate the added heft here, especially since the weight distribution is on point.
The SRH440A is well constructed with high-quality materials.
The padding is high quality, and replacement ear pads are available when they do eventually succumb to standard wear and tear.
The hinges are well-executed, and I can’t foresee these breaking easily. I’d go so far as to say these will stand up to an accidental drop better than many other headphones out there.
From top to bottom, these are well-constructed and durable. A pair of headphones that can handle the rigors of frequent use. Legendary Shure quality on full display.
The value offering of these is also pretty good. These are aggressively priced and an excellent affordable option for light studio work. A noticeable improvement in quality and performance over the cheaper SRH240A while not a massive downgrade from the SRH840A. Outstanding balance between features and price.
The SRH440A doesn’t come with any accessories besides an adapter.
Where it does fall short is the lack of any included accessories. I would have liked to see a pouch or second cable. If you need these, you’ll have to buy them separately. It’s not a dealbreaker but something to consider. Overall these are well-priced and much better than several comparable headphones on the market.
Does Weight Matter For Headphones?
Headphones come in all shapes and sizes, resulting in various weights. There are ultra-lightweight cans out there but does that always equal greater comfort? In most cases, the answer is not always straightforward.
Headphone comfort doesn’t boil down to just how heavy there are. The quality and amount of padding play a significant role. Plus, other factors, like the clamping force, can impact how heavy headphones feel on your head.
Long sessions in the studio are easier with comfortable headphones.
This is why headphones with even weight distribution are essential. Headphones like the Shure SRH440A offer a balanced approach to distributing weight. There isn’t excessive pressure on your ears; likewise, they don’t rely on the top of your head to hold them in place.
I’ve worn lightweight headphones that have become uncomfortable after an hour. I’ve also worn bulky audiophile cans that somehow balance the weight so well that they feel light as a feather.
So the next time you buy headphones, don’t let their weight sway your decision too much. Instead, look at the quality of the padding and the balance they achieve between clamping force and weight distribution. Buying headphones that tick these boxes will result in a more comfortable and pleasant listening experience.
There is plenty of competition in the headphone market. Below are some closed-back alternatives to the SRH440A worth considering.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Review
The HD 280 Pro from the legendary Sennheiser company comes in at a similar price point. A solid and dependable pair of headphones that can match the SRH440A.
- An excellent balance across the frequency range with tight lows and crisp highs.
- Highly durable construction along with a fully collapsible design.
- A slightly aggressive clamping force that results in a tight fit.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Review
Audio-Technica is another brand that makes excellent headphones. The entry-level ATH-M20x is their cheapest offering and a decent choice if you want something more affordable than the SRH440A.
- A well-rounded sound profile. Not the most accurate, but very enjoyable to listen to.
- The low price point makes these an excellent choice for budget-conscious buyers.
- I don’t like the exposed wires, and these headphones don’t collapse.
Audio Technica ATH-M20x
Shure SRH240A Review
I’ve already mentioned the SRH240A in this review, so it’s fitting to include it here. They lack the refinement of the SRH440A, but they are also noticeably cheaper.
- A relatively neutral sound profile that is capable of light mixing and tracking work.
- Much like the SRH440A, these offer a comfortable and secure fit.
- The build quality of these is lower. Not as robust and durable as the SRH440A.
Should You Buy?
Shure has done a great job of refreshing their mid-tier option. The SRH440A improves in nearly every regard over its predecessor.
A clean and refined sound that retains a good level of neutrality. They are not accurate enough for serious analytical work. But if you need that, you’ll inevitably need to spend a lot more.
The improved design also brings these headphones into the modern era. And fantastic build quality and comfort are other highlights. Plus, it becomes very easy to recommend these to budget-savvy buyers when you factor in the affordable price. A great pair of cans from a company you can trust.