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Exceptional clarity and detail. Light and comfortable to wear. Impressive low end extension.
Price. Low mids sometimes dominated by the bass.
Having grown to love and count on our old ‘pro’ headphones for a long time, unzipping the carry case for these new Shure SRH1540s felt just a little unfaithful. Realizing that they’re a lot more than twice the cost of my ol’ faithfuls was a cause for pause before putting them on, but we’d a job to accomplish.
“They’re very light, making them very simple to wear for extended periods”
The SRH1540 headphones are incredibly light, although carbon and (aircraft grade) aluminium alloy yoke and frame are remarkably strong, which makes them very simple to wear for extended periods. The ear pads are firm, sitting comfortably over the ear with hardly any pressure.
The package carries a couple of replacement pads for when the inevitable hair grease and head sweat onslaught overpowers the super-modern materials utilized by Shure. Our ol’ faithfuls’ earpads now seem to be flaccid and threadbare compared.
The zippered carry case also contains two sets of cables. They are ‘dual-exit’, meaning they feed both drivers separately with the cable split well below the chin. This writer has only had the ‘cable-to-one-side’ system for studio headphones therefore struggled just a little when taking the 1540s off, either catching them beneath the chin or pulling glasses off etc. As the headphones are so light that is most likely the best approach for keeping the weighting balanced.
The plug ends certainly are a snap-in format we’ve not run into before (MMCX, gold-plated of course) that seem to be in which to stay place before tugging gets excessive, so they are unlikely to jerk your neck an excessive amount of if the cable gets swept up when you maneuver around.
Though they are a closed-back design (the driver and ears are isolated from external sound) they aren’t the most isolated we’ve run into, an unavoidable trade-off for lightness. But as they are listening headphones (instead of performance monitors) it isn’t a large issue.
“The sound quality is exceptional and makes our ‘pro’ pair sound a lttle bit sludgy and veiled”
Underneath end of the 1540s’ frequency range is 5Hz, and despite being two octaves below our nominal hearing limit it really feels so; it’s like wearing a sub on your own head. The sound quality is excellent and makes our ‘pro’ pair sound somewhat sludgy and veiled. Actually whenever we took the 1540s off with the monitors running we noticed much less difference than we’re used to.
The top quality is superior and the transient detail is immaculate over the board – kick drum punches aren’t pulled, reverb tails could be chosen in a dense mix, close vocals fill your mind and, most of all, the slightest distortions are quickly noticeable.
It may seem to be odd to speak about stereo imaging when both speaker drivers are separated by your mind, however the clarity does lead to a glorious stereo picture. The sound staging is really as deep and wide as the foundation, making subtle mix placement easy. The flipside is that poor tracking and mixing do not get flattered. The crystal clarity almost feels artificial, though we don’t mean this negatively.
Our only criticism is that the reduced mids feel somewhat dominated by the deep bass extension and clarity – a masking effect because of our very own auditory expectations and preferences.
Premium in every ways
The word ‘premium’ implies quality over economy to provide the perfect product, and by this definition Shure are to classify the 1540s as such. The high cost can be premium, putting them out of cover many, but professionals who count on high quality headphones would not regret this investment.
It can often be the case that you can’t imagine better sound quality until you hear it, and the 1540s opened our ears to the options.