Shure SRH1440 Professional review:

Shure SRH1440 Professional

Open-back designs like the SRH1440s' rule out any chance of private listening, so keep in mind that the sound will be audible to anyone within a few feet. On the other hand, they don't seal you off from your surroundings, so you can hear what's going on in your environment. They're extremely comfortable to wear; their light weight and low earpad pressure make the SRH1440s a pleasure to use.

Warranty coverage runs a generous two years (twice as long as average), and Shure's Authorized Distribution Centers handle service and repair for Shure products in the States.

A receipt or proof of purchase is required to make warranty claims, and Shure will still provide service or a heavily discounted price for replacement headphones after the two-year mark.

The SRH1440s have a bright tonal balance that emphasizes detail, but the bass feels a touch lightweight. "The Sounds of Silence" from Paul Simon's recent "Songwriter" album is a live, in-concert recording, and the SRH1440 did a great job distinguishing between the close-up sound of Simon's vocal and guitar, as well as the audience ambiance in the distance.

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The ability to reveal more of a recording's spatial landscape is one distinctive advantage to open-back headphones. The SRH1440s' sound was a bit bright, so I compared them with the Hifiman HE-400 open-back headphones, which sounded fuller and richer. The SRH1440s had more detail, but I prefer the HE-400s' warmer sound balance.

I also compared the SRH1440 with Shure's more expensive SRH1840 headphones. The two headphones share the same open, spacious sound, but the SRH1440s have a brighter treble and a less generous bass balance. The SRH1840s sound comparatively laid back next to the SRH1440s, so the SRH1440s are a better choice if you prefer a more immediate- or brighter-sounding set of headphones.

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That actually works in your favor, because their MSRP is $300 lower than the SRH1840s', but if you like bass, definitely pick up the SRH1840s. Then again, if you really like bass, I recommend DJ-style headphones like the Beats Pro by Dr. Dre. Those headphones have more bass and more prominent treble sizzle, but the Beats Pros also sound more closed-in and canned than either Shure model.

The SRH1440s are among the more comfortable full-size headphones I've ever used. Sonically, they're definitely in the bright and clear school, and not ideal for those who want to feel bass massaging their eardrums. The SRH1440s are fairly expensive, but Shure designs its headphones to last a long time and backs up its quality claims with a two-year warranty, with sizable discounts on replacement headphones after the warranty expires. If you're an audiophile shopping for one pair of headphones to last the rest of your life and don't mind spending money to get the best that Shure has to offer, the SRH1440s are a viable option.

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