Enmore Audio

Engineering the Sound: testing out Shure’s SRH440A and SRH840A headphones in the studio

Can Shure bring its stellar reputation for microphone quality to the headphone world? Engineering the Sound tested out the SRH440A and SRH840A to find out.

Shure has been doing its thing for almost a century now. Far from a legacy brand, this American company has gone from strength to strength on the back of rock-solid classics like the SM57, SM58, and SM7B. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t moved with the times. Case in point: two new headphone models, SRH440A and SRH840A.

Aimed squarely at audio content creators of all kinds, these two models are sturdy, comfy, and perform well across a host of studio tasks. Engineering the Sound took a closer look at these two pairs of headphones and identified the key similarities and differences.

Shure SRH440A

Coming in at approximately $200 AUD, the Shure SRH440A is in a pretty competitive market for studio monitoring headphones. Though they’ll work perfectly fine for casual listening, they don’t have the bells and whistles (Bluetooth, noise cancelling, wireless operation) you might expect from ‘lifestyle’ headphones. They’re aimed at getting the job done with a minimum of fuss — a field in which it excels. Simply plug in the cable, and you’re ready to go.

They have a circumaural design, which means that a seal is created right around the ear. This makes sounds easy to pinpoint in noisy environments — and with its 40 mm drivers — a broad expanse of the frequency spectrum is covered. Its character is punchy and clear, with a slight emphasis toward the upper-midrange, which is great for working with vocal-heavy material like podcasts and a natural choice for musicians to monitor sounds from the studio floor.

Shure SRH840A

Priced at around $400 AUD, the Shure SRH840A is a bigger investment. The packaging, however, is very similar to the SRH440A, with the exception of an included carry pouch. Operation-wise, it’s a similarly straightforward affair — a standard cabled headphone. So what do you get for the extra spend?

They’re more blingy for starters. Gold details emerge from the logo on the earcups and the stitching across the headband. Even the gold adaptor indicates a level up in prestige. But as with all headphones, it’s all about sound.

According to the Shure website, the SRH840A offers a “precisely tailored frequency response [that] delivers rich bass, clear mid-range and extended highs.” And when you listen to them, it’s hard to argue. But to elaborate, the bass range offers up clarity across several octaves, delivering subs and more natural bass (like bass guitar) with discernible detail.

At the other end of the spectrum, the aforementioned “extended highs” means that you can dive into mix details on a surgical level and feel confident that your decisions will translate effectively across many real-world playback environments.

Shure SRH840

So in short: yes, the SRH840A is worth double the price of admission. That isn’t to completely discount the versatility of the SRH440A, which will do the job admirably in all but a few situations. But if you do need to zero in on the finer points of a mix, the SRH840A is your best bet.

For more info, head over to the Shure website.