Welcome to this new semi-exciting experiment! A headphone review diary. Instead of waiting a few weeks to post my impressions, I am posting them “diary style”. The latest updates go on top, so if you are reading this for the first time, start reading from the bottom (not that there are any spoilers). So the subject/victim of our first experiment are the brand new Shure SRH 145 closed-back on-ear headphones. You can find their specs at the bottom of this post in bright orange (that’s the back of their box).
If you have any questions, feel free to use the contact form or leave a comment below…
Dec 5: Keyboard Test
All apologies for the delay in updates, a number of factors contributed. This time I used them to play the music keyboard (61-key Casio). Overall, I did not find anything offensive in the piano sounds. The only audio area that stood out in terms of issues was the first few keys of the Acoustic Bass faux-instrument. The SRH-145 simply did not have the rumble and impact as the Sony MDR-V6 bass (which is a bigger and more expensive studio headphone). I’m guessing most people use the piano sounds on a keyboard anyway? There is a certain level of oddity playing a guitar or bass or saxophone or drums on a keyboard 🙂
While they do not have the benefits of over-ears, they are fairly lightweight and comfortable for a practice or play or improv session, and they are not picky on 1/4″ adapters (they don’t come with one – see unboxing – but they worked with random standard 1/4″ adapters I randomly grabbed).
Obviously playing the keyboard is not their intended use, but they are serviceable in this fashion, in other words, you don’t have to buy another pair of headphones (unless you want to or you are a more advanced player/student with a more advanced piano/keyboard). They are certainly an upgrade over the basic $10-ish headphones included with some headphone bundles (the aforementioned Casio was bundled with a Nady pair that fell apart without much use).
Nov 12: hinge
One thing to note, if you are folding it and putting it in a pouch or bag, when unfolding, the cable can get caught in either the left or right hinge, so be mindful of that during the unfolding. Prevention is a great idea to keep headphones working for a long(er) time!
Nov 4: On Burn In
There are never-ending discussions on burn-in on various forums, so I am not going to attempt to provide an answer to burn-in. I will merely describe what I experienced: initially when I start using these, there was a feeling of the headphones being somehow “closed in” and needing to “expand” or a sticker/veil to be peeled off them so I can get to their “true” sound.
Fast forward to today, and I no longer get that feeling. [[added to clarify (Nov-22): they still sound like closed-back on-ear headphones, but the initial boxed-in-ness is not there]] Now, how much of this is my bird brain adjusting to their sound, how much is it to the headphones physically adjusting to being put to use, I don’t know. It is very hard to come up with a measurable _and_ repeatable way to test this (since you can only try them on for the first time only _once_. So let the debates continue for eternity 🙂
November 3: replaceable ear pads
I forgot to mention it earlier but true to the Shure spirit, they have user-replaceable earpads. Unlike some of their studio headphones, an extra pair is NOT included in the box, but you can buy them for $7 per pair (eg amazon.com). It’s way too early or me to speculate/guestimate when these may need replacing, but it’s always a good idea to have the option of replacing a body part than not. This particular model is only good for the two closed-back models (this one (SRH-145) and the one with the mic/remote (SRH-145m+). The semi-open uses a different model.
November 2: my kingdom for a pouch
The SRH-145 do not come with a pouch or case (see unboxing post) but they fit just fine in this Shure drawstring pouch (priced around $7). The pouch is made for their larger studio headphones (240A to 840), so it works well for these, either folded or just dropped in the pouch. It is a nice looking pouch with an unassuming Shure logo, but keep in mind, pouches cannot really protect from impact, so if you usually throw your backpack all over the place, you need one of them secure hardshell cases.
You still have to do some cable management when putting them in a pouch or case, because the cable can get caught up in the earcup sliding mechanisms, or twist around itself. Remember, this is a dual-entry non-detachable cable, in a Y formation.
November 1st, 2014: Bass vs Bassy
I’m switching the diary updates to actual dates, because keeping track of the number of day since unboxing is unnecessary work 🙂
In a back to back listening comparison, with Lady Gaga’s “The Fame” album, between this and the AmazonBasics On-Ears, it was rather obvious that the AmazonBasics have the “bassy effect” popular with some listeners, while these Shure are going for a more conventional bass representation.
Day #5: Telling Left from Right
This is something that is often ignored in reviews, but a very practical issue when you put the headphones on your head multiple times per day. It looks like Shure went for a clean outer look, because you can’t tell L from R from the outside. However there is an L and R written on the inside of the headband. Shure also paid attention to the visually impaired – right below the L, there is a dash – shaped marking that you can feel by touch. There is of course a simply DIY approach to being able to quickly tell L/R, you can use a sticker or put some other temporary or permanent marking on the headphones (I know, blasphemy!).
Day #4: Comfortable so far
On-ear headphones sometimes hold on to your head for dear life, but in this case, from the start, I haven’t felt any pressure to the sides of my head or the top of my head from these. I haven’t done any long (3+ hour) sessions, so we’ll see. The earcup height adjustment allows me to get a comfortable fit, and these are fairly lightweight (5.2 oz with the cable off the scale, 5.6 oz with the cable on the scale), so gravity is their friend.
I haven’t used them outside yet (eg, coffee shops) so that’s something to try out in the next few days.
Day #3: Music
After a few hours of listening, I think I still need some time for my head/ears/brain to “burn in” their sound, so it’s too early to make general comments about their sound. And that’s before you factor in the question as to whether the headphones physically need time to burn in (which I will do by using them and also by letting them play on their own, eg finish albums or drain the battery out of devices).
Two of the albums that I liked (and did not find anything objectionable) during this time were Sade’s “Soldier of Love” and BRMC’s “Specter at the Feast”. The former more at a musical level, while the latter, at a tonal balance level. This particular album is rather tricky, with a lot of headphones either the vocals or the instruments are emphasized or de-emphasized which throws the enjoyment of the album out of sync. But I’m not using this album just as a cold analytical case – I actually love this album, so it’s both a musical and technical test of sorts.
It’s too early to tell conclusively, but given the bright orange bold-o-vision DEEP BASS on the box (check picture #1 here), I was expecting a basshead party. So far, I haven’t noticed any excessive bass in music that isn’t supposed to be very bassy (eg Depeche Mode’s “Delta Machine”). [to be clear, I haven’t listened to any basshead music with them yet]
Day #2: Adjusting for Head Size
Good news for Big Head owners – they fit comfortably, and with a couple of clicks to spare. I am always worried when it comes to on-ears, so that’s one of the first things I check.
The way you adjust for head size with these is slightly different: the sides of the headband do not move – the earcups move up and down, with discreet clickable positions. The mechanism that does this looks fairly simple from the outside, but I don’t know if this may be a concern for long term durability if the earcups get dropped or pressure is put on them pushing them away from the frame. Only time will tell.
It is however a practical way of moving them up and down without having any moving parts in the frame itself (other than the folding mechanism of course). With this design, you get about 1 inch (2.5mm) of adjustment space. Not as much range as some other portable headphones, for example, with the Sony ZX-100 you get over 4cm of maneuverability.
The earcups do not fold flat, but they bob (verb) a few degrees in both the X and the Y axis (left/right and up/down), so they can get a fairly good fit on the head – other things equal as always.
Day #1: What’s In The Box?
The headphones arrived! I posted a detailed pictures and text What’s Inside the Box (no video, no audio) practical unboxing post, so I won’t repeat any of that here.
Shure SRH 145 Specifications
These are the specs for the Shure SRH-145 (closed-back, on-the-ear), taken (using the Evernote camera) from the back of their box. As you can see, the specs match their intended usage scenarios (low impedance, triple figures sensitivity)