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Shure SRH 440

Best $100 Studio Headphones

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Best Budget Studio Headphones

Shure SRH 440

  • Don Makoviney
  • Last Updated: April 5, 2016

After over 30 hours of testing and consulting with audio engineers and studio owners, our pick for best $100 studio headphones is the Shure SRH 440. They have a great, flat, frequency response so audio tracks are not unnaturally colored. The build quality is durable, and some fans have some ingenious hacks to make them even more comfortable.


While you’ll generally be mixing and mastering with a great pair of studio monitors, headphones work great in the studio for tracking and recording instruments, vocals, and more.

In August 2014 we sent out a survey to readers, audio engineers, and studio owners.

After sifting through the results, we narrowed it down to four pairs of headphones: AKG K 240 MKIISony MDR 7506Sennheiser HD 280 Pro, and Shure SRH 440.

The Sony MDR 7506 can be a pretty tight fit. I have a larger head so they are definitely tight on me. Over extended periods of time, they start to make my head sore. By long time, I mean an hour or more. So for tracking, pulling them on and off to do all the studio stuff one usually does, it won’t be an issue. But for longer term tracking or mixing, you might want a pair with a looser fit. They sound really nice, and I could see myself using these while recording and being happy with the fact it would translate well to regular speakers.

The AKG K 240 MK II is the next generation K 240, and has a lot of great features for “budget” studio headphones. Two cables are included. One is the standard light weight cable, the other is a coiled cable. Headphone cables can break, now you already have a spare. They have a remarkably flat frequency response. Less bass than the Sony MDR 7506, which for headphone mixing and tracking is great, because headphones tend to be bass heavy by nature anyways. They have also improved the cushions on the cups, and longer term reviews have pointed out how comfortable they are.

Next up is the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro.  These are over-ear design and is neither closed or open back designs. Instead, Sennheiser calls it “semi-open technology”, a kind of hybrid between open and closed as you can see in the closeup picture. The headband is self-adjusting, so I was able to get a really snug fit, but not so snug my brain was feeling squeezed. It was quite nice.

Last up was our winner, the Shure SRH 440. I really liked the feel of these as I wore them. There was really no contest. I could see myself tracking and doing rough mixes with these. One Amazon reviewer said he ordered these replacement ear cushions for Shure SRH840 headphones and it made them more comfortable, and made the cups deeper so those with ears that have problems being covered – you’re covered! (I’ve ordered some, and can’t wait to test.)

At this point we’re pretty happy with all four. They all sound lovely, meet our strict budget, and are easy to find at multiple retailers. What it came down to for everyone involved in testing was fit, really. The least comfortable were the Sony MDRs, but they also were one of the best sounding. Thing is, they’re not terribly uncomfortable at all, just tight for people with big heads. If you are someone who always buys a small or medium baseball cap you’ll be fine.

But there was no argument between all the participants. The most comfortable studio headphones were definitely the Shures, with the AKG K 240 MK II coming in a very close second, then Sennheiser and Sony.

We’ll check back with our reviewers later to see how our picks handled the durability test.


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Best Budget Studio Headphones

Shure SRH 440

Best Budget Studio Headphones

Important Specs

Impedance 44 Ohm
Connector Threaded 1/4-Inch gold-plated adapter
Cable 10-foot coiled, detachable cable
more specs

Synopsis:

After over 30 hours of testing and consulting with audio engineers and studio owners, our pick for best $100 studio headphones is the Shure SRH 440. They have a great, flat, frequency response so audio tracks are not unnaturally colored. The build quality is durable, and some fans of this model even have some ingenious hacks to make them MORE comfortable.

- M
Originally published: September 16th, 2014

Important Specs

Impedance 44 Ohm
Connector Threaded 1/4-Inch gold-plated adapter
Cable 10-foot coiled, detachable cable
more specs


“It’s not so much the equipment as how you use it. I’ve heard people with really cheap studios do great recordings.” —Frank Gambale


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