Cheap Tweaks: Shure SRH840 Headphone ModsJuly 16, 2014
While you’ll rarely hear a complaint about the sonic qualities of the Shure SRH840 Professional Monitoring Headphones, there is an area where these cans do fall short for some—comfort.
When I first wrote about these in “First Listen: Shure SRH840 Professional Monitoring Headphones,” I warned that these are on the heavy side (376 grams w/o cable), the headband design leaves a small contact point that puts pressure on your head and also leaves it prone to sliding around, and the synthetic leather ear pads tend to get warm.
Leaning towards the warmer and darker side of neutral with a slight mid-bass hump and highs that roll-off in the upper levels, these are a great choice for your all-day listening needs. So if you love the sound but hate the feel of these headphones, there are a couple of low-cost and easy-to-do mods that will shed some unnecessary weight and heat and take these cans to the next comfort level.
The stock headband is beastly. In fact, its wrap and innards weigh 75 grams alone—that’s nearly 20 percent of these can’s total mass. Luckily, this is easily remedied by removing the stock headband structure and replacing it with a Beyerdynamic-style snap on headband pad available through Amazon (buy it here or here).
This replacement headband not only offers a thicker strip of padding for added comfort, it’s also 52 grams lighter than stock and provides a more secure fit for individuals with smaller heads. Here’s how to install it:
Tools you’ll need: A mini Phillips-head screwdriver and a thread puller or Exacto knife.
Step 1: Using the mini Phillips-head screwdriver, remove the two screws on the back plate of the extension limiter located at the base of the headband.
Step 2: Carefully remove the back plate by prying the headband cover away from it (it is tacked in place by a thin layer of glue).
Step 3: Using your thread puller or Exacto knife, carefully cut each thread along the seam of the headband cover. Don’t cut too deep to avoid accidentally cutting the internal wiring.
Step 4: With the seam opened up, you’ll be able to peel back the covering and see a thin layer of padding and a thick black rubber frame around the aluminum band. Remove the pad and free the aluminum band from this structure (it just snaps out). This is the piece that adds all of the unnecessary weight to the headband. You can save or discard these pieces.
Step 5: With the stock headband structure removed, snap the extension limiter back plates into place (they are labeled for their corresponding sides) and use the Phillips-head screwdriver to replace the two screws removed from each side. Tighten until snug.
Step 6: Install the new Beyerdynamic-style headband pad by folding it over the aluminum band and snapping it closed (snaps should be on top, away from your head). For extra padding, you can also put the thin stock foam strip back in place before snapping the new headband pad closed.
Step 7: Plug headphones in, place on head, enjoy your favorite tunes through your modified, lighter (324 grams without cable), more comfortable Shure SRH840 headphones. While shedding 52 grams may not seem like much, when it is directly on a small contact point on your head, it makes a big difference the longer you wear them.
A second source of complaints and discomfort for many Shure SRH840 owners is the ear pads. The stock ear pads are a synthetic leather that are excellent for noise isolation, but they quickly heat up and can stick to your skin during extended listening sessions.
A low-cost fix is to replace the stock ear pads with the velour ear pads from the higher-priced Shure SRH940 headphones. These replacement ear pads are a perfect fit and are available around the web and through Amazon for around $20 (buy them here). The alcantara pads from the premium Shure SRH1540 is also an excellent pad, thicker than both the SRH840 and SRH940 pad and offering some improved ventilation. I highly recommend them, and you can grab them here.
Here’s how to install them:
Step 1: Grab ear pad by edge, pull. The ear pad pops right off.
Step 2: Install the new ear pad be stretching the fabric over the driver housing and inserting it into the channel that secures it in place.
Step 3: Put your new, more comfortable, airier SRH840 headphones on and enjoy your favorite tunes.
Some people say changing out the stock ear pads for a velour set changes the sound dramatically. I did not experience a drastic change. You’ll lose only a hint of noise isolation and bass thump, but you’ll gain some airiness and I found the bass to sound a bit cleaner during my listening tests with bass heavy tracks like When I'm Small by Phantogram, Sketches of Pain by Audible Mainframe and Gooey by Glass Animals. Really, the velour SRH940 cups are almost identical to the SRH840’s, the only difference is that the velour wraps around the portion of foam that comes into contact with your skin. The underside closest to the driver grill cover is still the synthetic leather, so changes in acoustics are minimal.
As for comfort, however, I find the velour pads to be far more comfortable, they stay a touch cooler for me, and they don’t get sweaty. It’s a personal preference. The synthetic leather and velour ear pads weigh an identical 34 grams per pair, so no weight savings will be gained by changing them.