Shure SRH144 Headphone Review
Average audio for a good price
The Insides That Count
The SRH144s deliver standard performance in exchange for a budget price. Its lab results weren’t ideal and the problems it faced were mostly due to its semi-open design.
While our frequency response test didn’t produce any results that were very surprising—either positively or negatively—the distortion and isolation scores were not very good and really hampered the SRH144s overall assessment.
I’ll break down what happened during each of our tests and how that impacted the headphones in each category.
Our frequency response test provided results that were fairly inoffensive—which is great news if you want to equalize your music. But, there are some key points that are important to highlight.
It’s important to note that, when we test, we start off with a parent signal of 74dB and measure the response based on that number. Sub-bass starts off around 70dB but quickly rises closer to 82dB, and then stays around that level as the frequency increases into the bass range at 60Hz. This means bass will sound about twice as loud as our parent signal. The midrange frequencies—300Hz–2kHz—dropped from the 80dB range somewhere closer to 75dB.
There’s a fair balance between bass and midrange sounds that won’t be overpowered one way or the other. It’s in the upper mids that we get a drop in relative volume to somewhere closer to 65dB. In other words, sounds from this range are about half the volume of our parent signal and approximately four times quieter than the relative volume of bass. Depending on your music, some of the high guitar notes and vocals that live in this area will probably be lost to the louder bass.
Distortion starts to get really noticeable by most people when it reaches 3% or higher. In an ideal scenario, we won’t measure anything that crests above this amount and instead will leave you listen to clean and clear music. But, there are some pretty high peaks and valleys in the beginning of this chart that may be a little worrisome at first glance. We’ll take a closer look at the results and see what’s really going on here.
Those peaks and valleys fluctuate between a high of 32% and a low of 4% in the sub-bass range. So, the good news is that only a few frequencies will suffer from really high amounts of distortion while the rest will be somewhere between a terrible and minor amount. Luckily, that sub-bass range of 0–60Hz—where all of these peaks and valleys are—is the most difficult portion of the audible spectrum for humans to hear distortion. It will boil down to how sensitive your hearing is and, of course, the kind of music you listen to.
After the frequencies shift to bass at 60Hz and up, the distortion drops down to a much more reasonable level below 2%—a much better score that translates to cleaner sound.
The semi-open back design of the ear cups means that the SRH144s were constructed knowing that they wouldn’t be able to block outside noise (and would also leak sound from the headphones). When we put it to the test, we got results that matched our expectations.
The SRH144s don’t start blocking any outside noise until the midrange frequencies of about 800Hz and the volume of those sounds will only be dropped by a small amount. To get a better idea, I wore these headphones around my office to see how much of the chatter would be cut down—hardly any at all. I could even still hear the sound from me typing on my laptop. Greater isolation numbers don’t come in until the high mids—although there aren’t a lot of sounds you’re likely to encounter that lives in this range. If you plan to purchase these headphones, do it knowing that you’ll still be fully aware of what’s happening around you.
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