Shure has been a fixture in studios for decades. So it should come as little surprise that the SRH440 skews more towards a neutral tonal balance. But while the similarly signatured 280 sounded dull, distant, and tinny with certain genres of music, the Shure’s sparkling highs, well-balanced mids, and tight bass translated into a much warmer, more inviting overall sound. I fed them all sorts of music — from bluegrass to dubstep — and couldn’t find a genre that didn’t spring to life on these tank-like cans.
Unlike many other closed-backed headphones, bass was never bloated or overbearing. True bassheads probably won’t be satisfied with the 440’s impact, but if you want some approximation of accuracy plus a little extra sparkle on top, these Shures will definitely satisfy. For a closed-back headphone, imaging wasn’t half bad either. Good recordings had an airiness to them that wasn’t perceptible on other headphones in the roundup. The wide soundstage was even complemented by some depth too.
Really, my main gripe had to do with comfort. Though the 440 travels well by folding into a compact, portable bundle, longer listening sessions were kind of painful thanks to the .85-pound heft and thinly padded headband. After an hour of listening, you become distinctly aware that there’s close to a pound of plastic and metal bearing down on your dome. The ridiculously long 9.5-foot cable doesn’t make these great for commuting unless you like jumping rope while you listen to music. Thankfully, the cable is detachable.