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Shure SRH145m+ review: An affordable on-ear headphone with more expensive sound

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We're always on the lookout for good values in the headphone category and the Shure SRH145m+, which sells in the US for $49 online, is among the better ones, offering very good sound quality for the money. (The headphones will be sold in the UK and Australia but prices are not yet available; the US price converts to about £30 or AU$55, but expect final prices to vary.)

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Shure SRH145m+

The Good

The Shure SRH145m+ is an affordable, relatively comfortable on-ear headphone that sounds more expensive, with good detail and accurate tonal balance. It also has an Apple-friendly integrated inline remote/microphone for making calls and the headphones have a two-year warranty.

The Bad

Design is a bit generic, and the finish on the headband is prone to getting scratched up since no carrying case is included.

The Bottom Line

The Shure SRH145m+ may not be swanky, but it fits well and delivers strong performance for a reasonable price.

Before I tell you more about that sound, I should clarify that the m+ version of the headphone has an integrated Apple friendly inline remote and microphone (not all features will work with Android and Windows phones, but you can make calls). The standard SRH145 has no remote and costs a little less.

Meanwhile, the SRH144 has has a semi-open back design that allows more sound in from the outside world. All three models sound virtually the same.

Shure SRH145M headphones product photos

See all photos

Generic but sturdy design

I can't say I was blown away by the design of these Shures, but it's better than that of many sub-$50 headphones. They look pretty good from afar. Up close, however, they don't fool you into thinking they're a more expensive headphone. They're rather generic and made mostly of plastic, though they do seem sturdily built and the cable's heavy-duty 3.5mm plug housing should withstand a fair amount of abuse without failing. The 5-foot (1.5-meter) cable is non-detachable and impedance is rated at 34 ohms.

On the headband there's a faux-metallic finish that looks attractive enough, but that finish is prone to showing scratches and dings, so you may want to be careful where you place these headphones when they're not in use, especially since so protective pouch is included (avoid mixing them with a set of keys in your bag).

The headphones fold but don't come with any sort of carrying case. Sarah Tew/CNET

Those gripes aside, their comfort level is good, especially for an on-ear model. At 5.2 ounces or 150 grams, these are pretty lightweight headphones and they fit snugly on head without putting too much pressure on your ears. It's also worth noting that the way you adjust the headphones to your head is by sliding the headphones up or down on a rail system and the headphone should fit heads big and small.

Performance

As I said, the sound quality is impressive for the price. They deliver smooth, relatively accurate sound, with good detail. While the bass isn't incredibly powerful, it does have good definition, and the headphone should work well with a variety of music.

The view from above. Sarah Tew/CNET

CNET contributor Steve Guttenberg compared the SRH145 (the model without the inline remote) to the MonoPrice 8323, an inexpensive over-ear model he liked. He says, "The SRH145 is clearer than the 8323, bass texture and definition are better too, but the 8323's bass sounds more powerful than the SRH145's. Jeff Tweedy's vocals and acoustic guitar on Wilco's 'Summerteeth' album pop out of the mix more over the SRH145; the 8323 sounds hollow, not all there."

While the 8323 does a bit better job blocking out external noise, the Shure's smoother, more accurate tonal balance and transparency won Guttenberg over, although it does cost double price of the 8323.

He likes the more expensive but still affordable Beyerdynamic' DTX 350 p even better (they sound clearer than these Shures), but thinks the Shure's build quality and two-year warranty, a rarity in the budget headphones category, make them a good deal.

Conclusion

The Shure SRH145m+ may not be swanky, but it fits well and delivers strong performance for a reasonable price. I'd spend the extra dough to get this model, but those who don't care about the integrated microphone can save $10 by going with the standard SRH145 or the SRH144.

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Shure SRH145m+

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Sound 8Value 9