Build and design
Once their super-soft pads (they’re actually covered in Alcantara – suede-like material more commonly used on car seats) bear-hug your ears, it’s hard to part with them.
Comfortably enveloping and roomy inside, they’re the sort you could fall asleep wearing and they make perfect company to carry you through album after album. Peel off the pads and you’ll get a glimpse of the 40mm neodymium drivers buried inside the earcups.
The oval cups might be big (not monstrously so), making them less-than-ideal travel partners, but their aluminium alloy and carbon-fibre construction mean they’re surprisingly light at only 286g.
Make sure you have a decent DAC/headphone amp – like the Audiolab M-DAC – to get the most from your music
That makes it easy for the headband, which rests lightly on your head thanks to two strips of leather cushioning.
Flexible and easily stretchable, they’ll comfortably accommodate any head size.
A dual-exit cable – one wire connected to each earcup – has a 3.5mm end that fits into your portable device, but a 6.5mm gold-plated adapter for use with higher-end systems comes supplied too.
Also in the box is a hard-shell travel case, as well as an extra cable and pair of ear pads to swap in when the others eventually wear out.
More after the break
And you’ll want them to last as long as possible – the Shures perform superbly. You only need a moment with them to appreciate their dynamic and diligently detailed sound.
Their broad sonic presentation serves up a nice spread that’s easy on the ears, and their balance never leans either side of neutral. Play something upbeat such as Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean and the Shures are fanatical: they hit hard on the distinct bassline, and their fast, nimble manner handles the song’s subtle rhythmic shifts effortlessly. Bubbly and naturally musical, they are a real treat to listen to.
As well as producing a brilliant sound, these headphones have excellent comfort
Bringing them down a notch with the introductory piano sequence in Daft Punk’s Within, there’s a seamless fluidity to notes that lesser cans struggle to match, and stark insight into each struck key.
Dynamically, they are really telling, and the subtlety they unmask is truly class leading. The Shures really do lay music bare, regardless of genre. After the energy of Daft Punk, we quieten down with The Sundays’ Wild Horses and the 1540s hang onto every quiver of Harriett Wheeler’s soaring vocals.
The acoustic-led instrumental accompaniment is clear and textured, and the intricate strings of notes are tangible.