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published: Jun-22-2020, updated: Jun-27-2020

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NO SMOOTHING is applied to the shown plots. Most measurement sites have some smoothing applied which ‘irons flat’ sharp peaks and ‘wiggles’. I do not use smoothing because some info about sound quality is lost when plots are smoothed.

Aside from a small correction of the microphone itself also some correction in the lowest frequencies is applied to the plots to compensate for the perceived loss of bass when using headphones. This is described HERE in more detail.
A ‘horizontal‘ frequency response curve on the shown frequency response plots on this website thus indicates a perceived ‘flat’ tonal signature.

ALL measurements are made with a good SEAL on a flatbed measurement rig.
The shape of your head, bone structure, pad size, pad ‘softness,  (compliance), hair or no hair and or wearing glasses may (drastically) change the frequency response of some headphones, so… your personal experience may differ substantially from these plots.

Frequency response (tonal balance) is the most sound-determining aspect of headphones. A horizontal line shows audible neutral response in the plots on this website. Deviations in different severities at different frequency bands have an effect on the sound character.
The bigger the deviation the stronger the effect.

Below an aid to help determining the sound character of headphones with relation to the frequency response.


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The Shure SRH-840 headphone is a closed over-ear headphone. The MSRP is € 149.-
For this amount of money you get a well made and more than decent sounding monitoring headphone.

The headphone looks and feels quite bulky and has a quality feel and looks. The cups can fold inside the headphone so it can be transported more easily. The cups can also rotate 180 degrees so can also point outwards if needed. There is more than enough swivel and the cups can be pulled quite far apart. This headphone will thus fit on many different head sizes and shapes which is handy in studios.
It is indeed clearly targetted at the studio world given the easily replaceable pads, coiled cable and robust feel.

Isolation from outside noises is quite decent.
Left & Right markings are present in abundance. It is written on the sides of the headphone and when you hold it in front of you a red dot with a big R in it indicates the Right side. On the left side there is a blue dot with an L. Another give away for the left side is the cable entry.

The cable is coiled, quite heavy amd has a lock-twist 2.5mm TRS connector.
Those that would like to use this headphone on a balanced amplifier will be disappointed as this is not possible.
The cable is microphonic. Touching the cable is easily heard when no music is playing.

The measured headphone is used and was kindly sent in for measurements.
While the pads are easily replaced the headband is not. The padding is comfortable. The part that touches the head is made of cloth, the rest is made of thin pleather which has a tendency to flake.


The clamping force is average.  One can keep these headphones on the head for many hours.

The impedance is 38Ω (measured), specs state 44Ω. The efficiency is quite good so it can also play directly from portable equipment and phones/tablets etc.

The pads are easily replaced and the SRH-840 comes with a spare set of pleather pads in its box. The inside dimensions are a bit of a mix. Width and height will accomodate even big ears. The depth, however, is a disappointing 17mm (not compressed) so quite a few people will feel their Pinnae touching the driver. This can be solved with  aftermarket pads.

With its 379 g (without cable) it is a heavier headphone. The wide headband, however, distributes the weight fairly well


Type: Over ear, closed
Usage: Home/studio
Driver type: dynamic
Pads: replaceable pleather with ‘normal’ foam.
Inner pad dimensions: height: 65mm, width: 45 mm, depth: 17mm.
Foldable: collapsible into the headband, cannot fold flat.
Headphone connector: custom 2.5mm twist-lock TRS jack
Cable entry: single sided (left side).
Cable: smooth vinyl coiled cable with straight 3.5mm TRS + 6.3mm screw-on adapter
Driver size: 40mm, not angled
Power rating: 1W
Max. Voltage: 6.2 V
Max. current:  160 mA
Max. S.P.L.  131 dB
Impedance: 38 Ω (measured, specs say 44Ω)
Efficiency: 102dB/mW = 116(dB/1V)
Weight: 379 g, cable adds 75 g.
Clamping force: medium-low
Colour: black
Accessories: extra pads, coiled cable, 6.3mm adapter, soft carrying pouch.

Sound description:

The sound is ‘full bodied’ with sharp treble up top. This is good for monitoring because you can pick out details more easily. For music enjoyment the treble is too sharp.
Mids have a warmish neutral character. The sound is dynamic.
While the full bodied sound is impressive at first and the bass doesn’t sound very elevated but the bass isn’t tight/well defined.


Below the frequency response of the SRH-840 (Left, Right)FR SRH840
Channel matching is decent above 50Hz.
Bass extends deep and down to 20Hz. When the +8dB peak around 120Hz is EQ’ed out the bass quality improves a lot but you loose the ‘full bodied’ character of course.
From 200Hz to 5kHz the response is very neutral. Voices and instuments thus sound quite realistic and ‘open’ without sounding too ‘forward’.
The +10dB treble peak around 9kHz give female voices and instruments a ‘sharp etch’.
This is fine for monitoring but unsuited for mastering or music enjoyment unless you prefer ‘U-shaped’ sound (elevated bass and treble).

compared to

As most people are interested to see how it compares to other well known closed headphones.  Below a couple of plots that show where they differ tonally.

Below the SRH-840 versus the much more expensive ‘hi-fi’ SRH-1540840 vs 1540
Bass has more impact and extends a bit deeper in the SRH-1540. The treble peak is absent in the SRH-1540.

Below the SRH-840 versus the DT-770. Both are relatively cheap studio monitors. The DT770 is more widely used.840 vs DT770
Bass is better extended but sounds a bit ‘disattaced’ from the mids. While the bass of the SRH840 sounds ‘full bodied’ giving the sound a warm character the DT770 is a bit more ‘neutral’ but bass is a bit ‘one-note’ and a bit separated from the mids.
Midrange also differs and would say the SRH-840 is a bit more ‘realistic’ on tonal balance.
Then at the higher frequencies there is the rather infamous ‘mount Beyer’.
As it peaks at 7kHz there is a bit of sibilance where the SRH-840 is ‘sharper’ sounding.
Both extend equally well.

Below the SRH-840 versus the more expensive DT-1770 840 vs DT1770The DT1770 has a somewhat better but still ‘disattached’ bass compared to the much cheaper DT770. The upper mids are lower in level this makes the sound a bit more ‘laid-back’ / less ‘forward’. Mount Beyer is not as high and closer to 8kHz giving is some more ‘sparkle’ and less sibilance. Treble extension is better in SRH-840 but ‘smoother’ in the DT1770.

Below the SRH-840 versus the mr.Speakers Dan Clark Audio Ether-C flow840 vs Ether C flow
Bass response of the Ether C is better extended but has a similar ‘disattached’ bass dip as the Beyers but less obvious. Mids in the Ether C have a certain ‘presence’ yet still sound ‘laid-back’. The treble quality of the Ether C is higher. Of course comfort of the Ether C is much higher, so is the price. Not really a fair comparison but both are closed headphones.

Below the SRH-840 versus the MDR-1A840 vs MDR1A
The Sony MDR-1A is bassier and warmer than the SRH-840. Mids are a bit less forward/dynamic in the MDR-1A but treble is smoother.

Below the SRH-840 versus the Meze 99 Classic840 vs Meze 99Cl
The 99 Classic is much bassies/fatter/warmer sounding and quite ‘laid-back’. The treble of the Meze is smooth yet detailed and somewhat subdued.

Below the SRH-840 versus the One More Triple Driver Over Ear Headphones840 vs 1MTDOEH
There certainly is resemblance here regarding the a bass hump. The 1MTDOEH has about 4dB more subbass, a small dip around 300Hz (disattached bass) and there is a lower and higher frequency upper treble peak.

Below the SRH-840 versus the Pro-82 in bass level ‘2’ setting840 vs Pro82 -2
A lot more subbass extension, slightly disattached bass, much less clarity and less sharp sounding compared to the SRH-840.

Below the SRH-840 versus the NAD VISO HP50840 vs VISO HP50
There is less bass coloration and much more warmth to the mids. The treble peak of the HP50 is lower in frequency but also lower in amplitude compared to the mids.
A totally different kind of ‘warm’ / ‘full’ sound.

Below the SRH-840 versus the AudioQuest NightHawk840 vs NighthawkThe AQ NH has a totally different ‘warm’ character. The mids are quite recessed. Treble is more even and better extended and lower in amplitude.


The pads of the SRH-840 are easy to replace. There are also pads from other models that can be fitted for more ‘comfort’. Pleather pads have a tendency to get ‘sweaty/sticky’ after a while. Below the SRH-840 fitted with original pleather pads vs SRH-940 velours pads.with SRH940 velour padsVelours pads are more comfortable but usually have a bit less bass (due to leakage of lower frequencies). Bass response actually improves but the treble remains the same.
Because the bass ‘body’ is relatively lower the treble peak is a bit more obvious.

Below the SRH-840 fitted with original pleather pads vs SRH-1540 Alcantara pads.Shure Alcantara pads
Besides the obvious difference in comfort the sound signature doesn’t change much except for the the treble peak. So those liking the ‘body’ of the sound but want less sharp treble may want to fit SRH-1540 Alcantara pads. These pads are easy to fit, are a 4 cm deeper (more room for the ears), far more comfortable, more neutral sounding and less sharp in the treble (but still slightly elevated). You loose some of the ‘body/bass impact’ and isolation.

With a little bit of carefull stretching, effort and fiddling one can also fit various Brainwavz HM-5 pads on this headphone. HM-5 pads are much deeper than Shure pads and allow more room for the ears. The owner of this headphone also sent along angled pleather HM5 pads. Below the angled pleather HM-5 pads vs stock pads.
angled Brainwavz pleather padsThese pads smoothen the ‘sharpness’, have much more room (35mm depth) for Pinnae and leave the tonal character as it is. Sss’es are less sharp. Despite the pads being angled I can not hear any differences in stereo imaging. The angle is probably too small to really matter. Because the bass between 30Hz and 80Hz and 4kHz area is somewhat elevated and the treble is lower in level the tonal character is a bit warmer/bassier and has slightly more clarity but less sharpness.

Below the regular pleather HM-5 pads vs stock pads.840 vs HM5 pleather
In bass response the pleather HM-5 are similar to the angled HM-5 pads but the treble response is different. The 6kHz peak emhasizes ‘Sss’ sounds (sibilance) instead of ‘sharpness’.

Below the regular velour HM-5 pads vs stock pads.840 vs HM5vel


Seal can be an issue with closed-back headphones. Breaking the seal such as improper fit on the head, means a loss of (sub)bass. With open headphones the effect usually isn’t nearly as profound. Below the effect of different levels of seal breach are shown.seal SRH840
Perfect seal, seal broken with thick armed glassesseal broken using a 6.3mm TRS plug. A broken seal (pads not sealing perfectly around the ears) has some impact on bass extension. Only with a substantial seal breach lower bass impact is affected.

output resistance / damping-factor

As this is a dynamic headphone the frequency response might be amplifier output resistance dependent when certain higher output resistance amplifiers are used.
To test this the headphone is measured via a low impedance amplifier (0.2Ω) and a high impedance amplifier (120Ω). On a higher output resistance amplifier the output level will be 11.2 dB lower. To compensate for this the amplifier is cranked up to the same level (at 1kHz) as the low impedance amplifier. This way the plots are overlay-ed and it is easy to see how the tonal balance changes. 120 Ohm -11.2dB
This headphone does react slightly to a higher output resistance by increasing the already too high bass levels  abit more. Bass becomes a bit less well defined/muddier.

Below the distortion measurements of the SRH-840. Below the Left channel.Dist L

The plot above is in a dB scale, below the same measurement but in a percentage scale.Dist L percentThere is quite a lot of 3rd harmonic distortion (indicating compression) below 200Hz. 4% in the lows is reaching audible levels. This is measured at 90dB (0.1mW.) Above 500Hz the distortion is reaching low levels. At 4.5kHz the 2nd harmonics reach 2% which is high.
This isn’t caused by compression (non-linearity) of the driver though.
Below an EQ’ed compression test at 70dB, 80dB, 90dB and 98dB SPL (overlaid).compression SRH840
There is as good as no compression visible.

Time domain measurements

Below the CSD of the SRH-840 (Left and Right are superimposed) @ 90dB SPL.There are some very short lived and not very sound degrading resonances visible at 4.5kHz. The lower mids aren’t damped that well which adds to the somewhat ‘muddy’ and ‘full bodied’ sound.

Another form of looking in the time domain is the spectrum plot. The amplitude is color coded and both the time scale and frequency scale differ as well.

Below the spectrum plot of the  SRH-840 (Right channel) spectr SRH840 L
Frequencies below 500Hz are lingering for quite some time. There is some low amplitude resonance around 900Hz, 2.5kHz, and 4.5kHz. The higher frequencies are well damped.

Below the step response with a dB scale (so not similar to an oscilloscope plot which has a linear scale).  The step response (Left and Right channel over-layed) step SRH840
The part that is supposed to be horizontal drops down fast after 3ms. This bass extension is decent. The rising edge overshoots and shows quite some ringing indicative of the ‘sharp contoured’ character in the treble.

Square-wave and impulse response

Below the 40Hz and 440Hz square-wave response as well as a 100μs DC impulse.
The upper traces are of the stock SRH-840 and the lower traces when using Angled Pleather HM-5 padsSQR stock vs HM5AP
The green trace is the applied signal and the ‘target’ the measured response should reach. Note: there is a timing difference caused by the speed of sound and driver-mic distance.
The difference between these pads is quite stark. Especially the mids (440Hz) is improved a lot with much less ringing and more neutrality. The 100μs pulse shows a LOT less ringing and almost perfect (albeit slghtly overshooting/too high) impulse response.

Treble peak

The audible treble peak around 8kHz can be removed using a passive filter if one is bothered by it (not everyone will be as it provides ‘fake detail’).
Below the effect of the passive filter for the SRH-840 with stock pads.
It also works with SRH940 and SRH1540 pads.SRH840 filter
The sound signature is not changed but the sharpish sound is removed.

Schematic of the passive filter shown below.SRH-840 filter schematic



The Shure SRH-840 is a decent monitoring headphone. It has a full bodied sound with a good midrange and dynamics. It is easy to drive, even from a phone/tablet.
The downside is the treble peak. This isn’t an issue for monitoring but it is for mixing and music enjoyment. The pleather headband will be loosing its looks over time. Pads are easily replaced and will be available for quite some time I reckon.

The headphone is a bit bulky and on the heavy side but still comfortable. The sound can be tuned by playing with different pads. For € 149.- this is an option for those looking for a full bodied sound and elevated treble (U-shaped tonal character).

The Angled pleather HM-5 pads, though a bit hard to get on there especially when brand new, give a nice improvement to the sound and allows a LOT (35mm vs 17mm) more room for the ears.

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