Shure 1540 closed-back over-ear Headphones - Official Discussion


Been searching for a closed HP for the last month to replace my new Sennheiser HD1s The HD 1s are very good with very deep base and smooth highs but not open sounding enough for me for Classical.

I’ve read hundreds of reviews and nearly pulled the trigger a couple of times. I was very close to getting the 99 Classics but then I read about the Shure 1540. This HP has really good critic and user reviews similar to the 99. Several user reviews noted that the 1540 sounded like a closed version of the HD650 which I own and love. Also the 1540 got excellent reviews for comfort, openness and soundstage. So I ordered the 1540.

They arrived today and after just a quick run through of my reference tracks I can say WOW these are really good. Extremely comfortable and fit and feel like an open HP. They are well made and have a quality look and feel.

As to the sound. Yes they are very similar to the HD650 but with a deeper more impactful bass and a more neutral (less warm) midrange. If you check frequency graphs for both you will notice that the 1540 bass extends deeper and the midrange is slightly recessed while the 650 has a more prominent midrange. Treble is almost identical. In concert hall perspective the HD650 is front row and the 1540 is row 10. The soundstage on the 1540 is bigger, wider and deeper and actually sounds more like an open phone than the 650. The 1540 is so comfortable and open sounding it’s hard to think of them as closed. I recently sold my T90s which were semi open and the 1540 is superior in every way. They were originally priced at $499 when released and at the current price of $374 they are a great deal.


Nice impressions!

I haven’t heard the Shure 1540 myself but I have heard a lot of good things about it. I know you were looking for a closed headphone to replace your HD 1. How does the 1540 compare to the HD 1 in your opinion?


I like the 1540 over the HD1. It’s so much more comfortable and is truly over the ear unlike the HD1 which did not quite cover the ears. As to sound the 1540 sub bass is even stronger. The mids are a little more laid back and the treble is more open and extended but never overly bright. With the 1540 it’s like wearing a comfortable open HP. The large Alcantra fabric pads make a nice seal without it feeling confining. As to soundstage and imaging the 1540 Is noticeable superior. It’s just a better phone from my perspective especially for classical and large orchestral tracks, film scores , etc. I also prefer it for Pop and Jazz as solo instruments and voices are not in your face as much. The 1540 does a good job of projecting the sound field out in front of you rather than just outside your head like the HD1s do. With the exception of the powerful bass the 1540 is quite smooth and neutral. I’m going to list my HD1s for sale.

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I liked the sound of the Shure but head comfort was a problem for me; which was a shame. After an hour or so they just hurt to wear; must be the shape of my head :wink: sent them back and tried the Fostex. Excellent headphones though and that price is excellent.


okay, so you’ve had the Shure’s for several months now…what’s the word??? Strengths, weaknesses, would you buy them again??? I’ve heard in other reviews that the noise isolation isn’t the best even though they are closed; what’s your opinion??

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Love them. They have actually improved with time. Beautifully transparent, spacious with a smooth and natural high end which is critical to my enjoyment of classical music. As to comfort I find them light and easy to wear for hours. Would buy them again in a heart beat.


Oh forgot. Yes they don’t entirely isolate you from your surroundings. More that they significantly mute it. However they do not leak. So no one will hear what you are listening to.


Thanks for the feedback. I’ve come to understand that isolation is critical for me, making me rethink what will work for me. Right now the Shure 1540’s and the BD DT 1770’s are two I’m considering…that won’t break the bank. So it’s good to have some feedback from someone who’s been using a pair for several months now.

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The 1540 and DT 1770 are really two very different headphones. I have the DT880s and had the T70s. I find the Beyerdynamic headphones too bright in the treble for relaxed listening. I sold the T70s which were really bright for me. I found the 880s smoother and use them for monitoring when I record. For Classical music both Beyerdynamics are too bright. Also had AKGs and they were very open but light in the bass and also a little too bright as well The Shure 1540 is just perfect with a neutral midrange and a natural string tone. But it also has a solid natural deep low end. Best headphone I’ve ever had.