Shure Aonic 40 review: Powerful ANC and solid audio performance
- ANC level can be adjusted to match your environment
- Excellent call quality
- Does not require power to work with 3.5mm cable
- Extensive EQ control in the Shure Play app
- Highest ANC setting causes eardrum suction
- No LDAC support
The Shure Aonic 40 is a worthy competitor to the more expensive wireless headphones from Sony and Bose.
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Best Price Today: Shure Aonic 40
The Shure brand might make you think of professional audio gear more than consumer electronics, but the Shure Aonic 40 noise canceling headphones are worth comparing to what market leaders Bose and Sony have to offer. And given that Shure started building innovative microphones from 1925, this headset does a great job with phone calls.
The Shure Aonic 40 are closed-back, on-ear headphones with 40mm dynamic drivers. These drivers use neodymium magnets and have a frequency response range of 20Hz to 22kHz.
The headset features a sleek and stylish design, with a matte black finish and chrome accents. The earpads are plush and comfortable, and they create a good seal around the ears, which helps block out external noise before you even activate ANC. The headphones also feature an adjustable headband with rubber padding that goes over the top of your head.
Aside from the silver aluminum posts that connect the earcups to the headband and the patent leather of the earpads, the body of the Aonic 40 is plastic. It’s a high-grade plastic that tends to retain fingerprints, but its overall build is similar to the Sony WM-1000XM5 we reviewed in 2022.
This review is part of TechHive’s in-depth coverage of the best noise canceling headphones.
Does the Shure Aonic 40 offer long battery life?
The Shure Aonic 40 has a battery life of up to 20 hours with Bluetooth and ANC on, and up to 32 hours with ANC off. The earbuds also have a quick charge feature that offers up to 2.5 hours of playtime with just 15 minutes of charging.
The headphones use Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connectivity and support AAC, aptX and aptX HD codecs for high quality audio streaming. They also feature multipoint pairing, which lets you connect to two devices at the same time, like a phone and a tablet.
What types of cables and enclosures come with the Shure Aonic 40?
The Aonic 40 comes with a USB-A to USB-C cable for charging. The cable also works for listening to music through your computer’s USB-A port. A USB-C to USB-C audio cable will also work, but USB playback is dependent on the headset battery.
There’s also a 3.5mm connection next to the USB-C port on the bottom of the headset’s right earcup. Shure includes a 3.5mm cable that lets you plug in the headphones for battery-free use.
The hard zipper case includes an image of the correct way to fold the Aonic 40 and where to place it in the case. Since this process is a little counter-intuitive (to me at least), this visual guide has been a huge help for nearly every dozen times I’ve put this headset away.
What controls does the Shure Aonic 40 have?
Shure sticks with physical buttons to control the Aonic 40. There’s no sliding or tapping, just satisfying clicks to control its functions.
A power button on the left ear cup doubles as a Bluetooth pairing button. The right ear cup has a bottom button that toggles between ANC, passthrough and noise cancellation settings.
The main controls for the right earcup are on a three-way switch. The upper rocker increases the volume and the lower rocker decreases it.
Using the Shure Play app with the Aonic 40
The Aonic 40 pairs with the Shure Play app (available for iOS and Android) for a smooth and seamless experience. After granting it permissions to run on an iPhone, the Play app connected to the headset and opened to its home screen, where it displays the headset’s battery level and status. active noise cancellation.
The ANC button on the bottom of the right earcup toggles between ANC mode and Environment mode, which is Shure’s term for the switch. You can disable ANC completely with a long press, but it’s easier to control this through the app.
When ANC is enabled, the app settings allow the user to choose between Light, Normal and Max. The Max setting generates the same intense eardrum suction that makes the Sony WM-1000XM5 so disorienting to me. It’s the nuclear option, an option that will certainly be welcome on a plane or on public transport, but it’s not something I would want to use on a regular basis. When the environment mode is activated, a slider allows the listener to adjust the amount of outside noise that comes through.
Granted, some users value that intense ANC as the most important feature of a wireless headset, and Shure comes close to, or even matches, Sony and Bose standards with the Aonic 40’s Max setting. I found the setting Effective light without the disorienting effects, but it’s good to know that the most intense setting is available for the noisiest environments.
The headphone button functions cannot be changed to your liking, but the app includes a helpful list that details which buttons produce the results, including play/pause, volume, ANC control, next song or previous, battery level and set up. your device’s voice assistant.
Shure has made a name for itself in the microphone business, so it’s no surprise that the Aonic 40 is better for phone calls than most wireless headphones. There are also interesting options regarding the performance of the microphone. When listening via the USB cable, for example, you can choose to turn off the microphone completely or keep it active and experience slightly lower sound quality.
Shure also includes a Busy Light option. When enabled, the feature activates a red light on the side of your headset when you’re on the phone. This signal seems like a surefire way to promote peace and understanding for anyone working from home.
On the Play app’s Equalizer panel, Shure includes seven different EQ presets: Bass Boost, Bass Cut, Treble Boost, Treble Cut, Vocal Boost, De-ess, and Loudness. Each parameter includes an icon that displays a waveform that corresponds to what the EQ parameter does.
A manual option lets you start from one of the presets and use your finger to move one of the four strips. There is also a menu that allows the user to fine tune the frequency, gain and bandwidth.
I confess that I find most headphone EQ presets described with terms like “acoustic”, “jazz” or “rock” to be a confusing mess. The Shure layout is simple, logical, and it’s easy to hear the differences between each preset. The custom option allows for significant fine-tuning and allows you to save multiple profiles if you want different settings for different types of music.
Listen to the Aonic 40
Shure is aiming its Aonic 40 at the consumer wireless headphone buyer who places a premium on noise cancellation, so the question for a listener like me is always how well they balance the often mutually exclusive demands for clarity music and noise reduction.
The designers and engineers of the Aonic 40 decided to focus on versatility and delivered what amounts to three separate headphones in one. My favorite listening experience was using the 3.5mm audio cable plugged into an iFi xDSD Gryphon DAC and an iPhone. Shure is known for its professional audio gear, and the Aonic 40 is a good neutral-sounding passive headset, although it wouldn’t cost $249 if that was its only feature.
Second, USB-C performance. There was a bit more life to the sound as there was amplification from the headphone as well as the source. USB-C playback also provides access to any EQ settings you choose or configure in the Play app.
None of these options, while useful, are the main attraction of the Aonic 40. Bluetooth and ANC are the real show here, and Shure delivered a more neutral setting than the competition. You also have the ability to find your own sweet spot for noise cancellation in different listening environments.
Listen to Jessie Ware’s 2023 album This! It feels good!the Aonic 40 does a great job of reproducing individual instruments in some very busy tracks that feature a live band playing 1970s disco. I also spent a lot of time with Arthur Russell’s 1986 album echo worldand the Aonic 40 could replicate Russell’s sparse arrangement and provide a sense of the room echo that’s so important to the mood of the album.
Should you buy the Shure Aonic 40 headphones?
The Shure Aonic 40 headphones are aimed directly at customers considering the Sony WM-1000XM5 headphones or the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones. Shure may not have reached the maximum ANC performance of these two models, but some of us find the overwhelming noise cancellation of these models disorienting and tiring to listen to. Shure also makes the Aonic 50 Bluetooth wireless headphones, which sell for $50 more. The extra money provides an improved headband and the addition of LDAC and aptX low latency support.
I prefer the slightly less intense ANC of the Shure Aonic 40 and the ability to reduce noise cancellation in different environments. I also think it’s a great wired headset. If you have the right adapters, you’ll never have to worry about finding a way to recharge them on the fly. Personally, I’d choose the Shure Aonic 40 over the Sony WH-1000XM5 or the Bose QuietComfort 45, but their ANC performance is close enough to those options that they’re worth a look for anyone committed to maximum suppression. the noise but looking for a cheaper alternative.