I wouldn’t call the SRH1440’s cable the last word in ruggedized cables, but since it’s so easy to replace, long-term wear shouldn’t be a problem. Shure even includes an extra cable with the SRH1440. My only criticism of the cable is that it sports a stereo mini-plug rather than a full sized ¼” stereo connector. I would have preferred that one of the two included cables was for ¼” stereo rather than both requiring an adapter for a standard headphone connection. Perhaps Shure will offer a dedicated ¼ cable in the future.
iPod, iPhone, and iPad users will be disappointed that the Shure SRH1440s do not offer a dedicated iPod/mP3 player cable with built-in controls. Given that the cables on the SRH1440 are removable, I would think that offering a dedicated iPod cable would be relatively easy to do, but so far Shure hasn’t made one available.
With a sensitivity of 101 dB at 1 mW the SRH1440s sit in the middle of the sensitivity spectrum. Although not as hot as some ear buds, such as the 115 dB Urbanears Medis, the SRH1440s do have enough sensitivity to make it easy for an iPod to drive them. The SRH1440 are an open-back design, so they don’t completely seal their output from escaping into the world at large, but sound leakage levels were lower than I expected. And while I wouldn’t recommend the SRH1440s for public library use, commuters are unlikely to disturb fellow passengers at normal listening volume.
Given their size, the Shure SRH1440s probably won’t be most people’s first choice as a portable headphone, but they do make excellent headphones for jogging and other outdoor sports. The open-back design allows outside noise in so that users don’t lose contact with the world around them. Yes, the velour pads will absorb sweat during workouts, but since Shure supplies a spare pair and they appear to be washable, the SRH1440s could be a great choice for audiophiles who regularly brave the outdoors.
During the time I had the Shure SRH1440s for review I was using a pair of PSI Audio A-14M powered professional monitor speakers in my desktop system, both fed from an April Music Eximus DP-1 DAC/Preamp. As is happens, when you plug headphones into the Eximus DP-1, outputs to the speakers muted, making A/B comparison quick and easy. Every time I took the SRH1440s off and went back to using the PSIs I was impressed by how similar their harmonic balances were. Of all the headphones I’ve reviewed and used in the past year, I’d rank the SRH1440s as among the most neutral and least harmonically colored. The other headphones that are equally uncolored are all more expensive. The SRH1440s harmonic linearity reminded me of the Ultimate Ears In Ear Reference Monitors, which also aim for a flat and neutral harmonic presentation.
Bassheads, who by definition always want more bass, will not be blown away by the SRH1440s. Yes, they have more bass impact and punch than the AKG K-701s, and far better detail and definition than the Sennheiser HD600s, but the SRH1440s lack the low-frequency “whomp” of the Audio-Technica W-3000ANV headphones. This is partially due to the SRH1440’s open-air design, which trades some visceral impact for improved airiness and detail. Personally, I’m more than willing to surrender some slam in exchange for better definition and speed. And unless you live for that feeling of having your eardrums pressurized, I suspect you will find the SRH1440’s bass response more than adequate.
From their upper bass and lower midrange through their lower treble, the SRH1440s are as smooth, uncolored, and as evenly balanced as any dynamic headphone I’ve heard. Since I often use headphones for monitoring during recording I appreciate the SRH1440’s lack of “emphasis” on a particular frequency. I hesitate to use the word “honest” because it implies that other headphones are dishonest, but when compared to the A-T W-3000ANV, the SRH1440s had noticeably less of a “look at me!” character to their midrange. Female voices through the SRH1440s had a less nasal quality to their timbre than through the W-3000ANVs. On some sources the W-3000ANVs generated more upper midrange sparkle, and depending on your tastes in sound and music that can be very seductive, but the SRH1440s were more harmonically accurate and less spectacular.