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Shure SRH1540 Headphones
Review by: Jason D. Buchwald

  WIHO  
             
  Features  Usability  Sound  Documentation & Product Support  Price
Other Comments  Contact Info  Overall Rating—Product Summary
 
             
             
   

KRK V8 monitor speakers We have consistently been impressed by Shure’s range of headphones, and have reviewed the SRH440, SRH840, SRH940, SRH1440, and the SRH1840 over the span of many years. Each model was great, with somewhat different strengths or weaknesses based on its price point or suitability to task. The higher-end models in particular were generally without fault, and are used in many of our team’s studios.

And yet… Shure is not one to rest on their past accomplishments, so once again, the high end of the range has been taken over by yet another pair of worthy headphones. Balancing sound quality, comfort, and price, there’s a lot to like about the SRH 1540.

Category Value KRK V8
Rating
Features 20% 3.5 Stars
Usability 25% 4 Stars
Sound 25% 3.5 Stars
Documentation & Support 10% 3 Stars
Price 20% 3.5 Stars

OVERALL RATING = 3.6 Stars,
which earns it a WIHO Award!


3.6 stars or better: Outstanding, WIHO Award
3 stars or better: Worth considering
2 stars or better: Suited to specific needs
1 star or less: Not recommended


Features

The basic specs are as follows:

Type: Closed back, circumaural
Driver: 40 mm neodymium magnet
Sensitivity: 99 dB/mW
Frequency Range: 5Hz–25kHz
Net Weight (Without Cable): 10.1 oz (286g)
Cable Type: Dual-exit, detachable, oxygen-free copper
Cable Length: Six feet
Plug: Gold-plated 1/8" (3.5 mm) stereo mini-jack

The headphones, despite their large size, are remarkably light. The hard shell case, once opened via a zipper, includes the headphones, two identical six-foot cables, a gold, screw-on 1/4 inch adapter, and two replacement ear pads (identical to those already on the headset). Of note, the headphones don’t fold down, so despite being light, they don’t shrink into a smaller package. Unlike many of the other Shure models, the 1540’s earcups can’t be inverted for single-ear monitoring. However, you can always slide the cup off your ear a little bit if you want to hear more of the outside world.

The SRH1540’s split headband has enough padding to be very comfortable, though for comparison purposes, we noticed that Shure’s SRH940’s have even more padding along the headband. “Hair challenged” individuals might notice a slight difference between the two, but our shiny-domed reviewer found the headphones comparably comfortable.

The ear cups use memory foam wrapped in a soft, perforated cloth, which not only looks cool but is also designed to help minimize heat buildup.


Usability

The SRH1540’s perforated ear cups made these headphones so comfortable to wear that this alone might make them worth the price (we’ll get to the sound shortly).

Snapping in the cables was, well, a snap, and putting them on your head wasn’t too hard to figure out, either! The one thing we found surprising was the set of identical cords. We would have preferred if one of the cords was longer than the other, an extension cable, or perhaps even a coiled cable alternative.

The SRH1540 cords attaches at both ear cups, unlike the a single-ear connector found on most Shure headphones. While we didn’t find this to be a big deal functionally, it was surprising, and the more unique nature of this cable is presumably why an extra cable is supplied. You can’t just grab the twist-lock cable from your other Shure headphones in an emergency.

Let’s talk some more about these bloody headphones, okay? The good news about bleed is the minimal amount of it. We wanted to see how much sound escaped these closed-back headphones—important for tracking drums, acoustic guitar, and vocals. Happily, the amount of bleed was minimal, even at decent volumes.


Sound


There is always a bit of subjectivity to what sounds good, but we thought the SRH1540 sound was great. For most applications, including critical listening, most pros would be very happy with the sound quality, including the remarkably open soundstage that these closed-back headphones provide, but there are a few things to keep in mind. We had a pair of the excellent Shure SHR940s in the studio, so comparison was both inevitable and obligatory.

The first thing we noticed was the richness of the bass on the SRH1540, even more so than on the SRH940, which technically feature the same response spec. The SRH1540 also had a clean and clear high-end, in addition to a deeper low-end frequency response (25kHz vs. 30 kHz). We suspect that this is due to slightly different EQ curves in these headphones. To our ears, the SRH940 headphones are slightly flatter across the spectrum, while the SRH1540 has a slightly more U-shaped EQ curve (boosting the bottom and the top). At reasonable volumes, this curve enhanced the sound, and we loved the great, wide stereo field.

However, when we listened at higher volumes, that U-shaped curve seemed to be more apparent, with the lows on the 1540 becoming more prominent, and to our ears, the highs as well, though to a lesser extent. We didn’t experience this phenomenon on the SRH940, which at higher volumes, seemed to be a little more balanced.  

We are of the opinion that at louder volumes, you may develop a little bit of hearing fatigue from the enhanced curve of the 1540 sound. It’s subtle, but we found that during extended listening sessions, it was more comfortable sonically to listen at more modest volumes. Comparably, this wasn’t an issue when listening through the SRH940.

We need to remind you that we are splitting hairs here. The 1540s sounded great, just a bit better balanced when not blasting the volume (which you shouldn’t be doing anyway).


Documentation and Product Support


If you’re not sure how to operate a traditional set of headphones, we don’t have a tutorial on that subject, but fear not. The headphones include an owner’s manual that instructs you in the basics of their use, the audio specs, and their care.

Price

The Shure SRH1540 (MSRP $624) sells for $449. While not cheap, we think you’d be hard pressed to find a noticeable difference in sound quality without encountering a significant jump in price. And did we mention how comfortable these are? As long as you’re not cranking the volume to 11, we think you’ll be very pleased with the both the comfort and the sound quality. But for critical mix decisions, we might prefer other models in the Shure product range.


Contact Information

Shure Inc.
www.shure.com

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