Review of the Shure Aonic 40, audio above all else

Equipped with active noise reduction and excellent sound quality, can the Shure Aonic 40 wireless headphones establish themselves as a daily essential?

Modeled on the design of the first Aonic 50, the new nomadic headphones from Shure are distinguished by a sober and successful aesthetic: mainly composed of black and silver plastic, the device seems robust, and it is clear that it is not only an impression. Delivered in a rigid storage case similar to those already offered by the competition, the Aonic 40 folds easily thanks to its asymmetrical and folding temples which only attach to the back of the circum-aural ear cups. Apart from this little fancy that allows it to roll up on itself to fit in a bag, the helmet sports a classic yet functional design.

Discover the Shure Aonic 40 headphones

Inside its case, there are two cables dedicated to charging and wired use: a USB-A to USB-C, as well as a more surprising model jack 2.5 to jack 3.5, much too thin to be used serenely. On a daily basis, we will mainly use the USB cable, which is much more practical and robust than its companion.

Too heavy to be comfortable

Admittedly, the weight of the Aonic 40 brings with it a impression of robustness that will not be taken away. But weighing in at 313 grams, the headphones struggle to stay comfortable for more than an hour of listening. Yet padded, the hoop weighs rapidly on the top of the skull, and ends up triggering serious headaches when used for too long. Everyone’s tolerance will vary, but it can become unpleasant very quickly.

A black spot, all the more unfortunate since on the question of comfort, Shure’s headphones are doing otherwise rather well. The pads surrounding the transducers are thick and encompass the ears well, resulting in very good passive noise isolation. The headband is also padded, and its attachments on the ear cups allow you to be correctly positioned on the head, keeping the helmet immobile even when you move your head. The discomfort related to the weight of the helmet is therefore all the more frustrating.

Smart and easy to learn

After his discomfort, the Shure Aonic 40 offers a simple and effective grip. As on the 50 model, the hybrid headset is not one-upmanship: on the right atrium, a single pairing button allows you to turn on the device, and connect it via Bluetooth. At this level, it could hardly be simpler. Pairing is done in just a few seconds, both on PC and smartphone. Placed just under the thumb when taken in hand, it also allows you to erase all the peripherals previously connected to the helmet, simply by being held for seven seconds.

On the right, there is a triple button to control both the volume and the navigation between the different tracks of a playlist. Finally, the last button dedicated to the ANC allows you to juggle the active noise reduction parameters. Not always very intuitive, this multi-touch layout on the right atrium ends up becoming an automatism, however, and quickly manages to be forgotten.

With assumed nomadic positioning, the Shure Aonic 40 can be paired in seconds via Bluetooth. For PCs or in case of low battery, it is also possible to connect directly via USB or 3.5 jack, thanks to its dedicated cables. Note that unlike some competing headsets, the device works in wired mode even when it is in passive mode. A detail far from being anecdotal, especially since even in USB, the headphones have the good taste to work without a driver.

Without being absolutely essential, the application ensures clean and fluid navigation, which focuses on the ANC settings, the behavior to adopt in the event of a wired connection and the battery level. An equalizer tab allows you to navigate between a few presets and manual sound customization, which will adapt to the most demanding audiophiles. It should be noted that if the application also allows a sometimes practical reminder of the commands, the latter are not customizable.

High quality sound

If the Aonic 40 is not perfect, the helmet nevertheless benefits from solid arguments in terms of sound. Even to the point of forgetting its weight to take advantage of its sound quality. Despite a predominance of bass, which can be easily adapted via the equalizer of the application, the rendering is clear, and allows us to benefit from the slightest sound variation. On this point, the helmet achieves arguably his finest feat.

On the ANC side, on the other hand, the finding is a little less impressive. Shure’s new headphones seemed to do better than its predecessor, though, with improved bass support in active reduction. With its nomadic ambitions, the device wanted us to forget the humming engines of the metro and public transport: it must be admitted that the result is far from perfect. Without being catastrophic, ANC is barely acceptable, to the point of regularly letting the mids and certain low frequencies through. The feature isn’t useless, but too anecdotal to be truly notable.

In the same way, the Environment mode, supposed to filter only the parasitic noises while letting through the voices of your colleagues, is too random to be effective. However, the helmet has a good point which is not software here: with its all-encompassing shape and quality materials, it already benefits from a good passive noise reduction, largely sufficient in an indoor environment. In call mode, on the other hand, the ANC is intended to be a rather good student, and manages to isolate the voice from parasitic background noise to keep an audible rendering and without too much loss, even in a busy environment.

I have to say that Shure knows how to do it on the hardware side. Both on its integrated microphone and on its 40 mm transducers, the manufacturer has made sure to keep its promises on audio quality. At this level, the nomadic helmet is more than up to our expectations.

Autonomy and connectivity

With 25 hours of autonomy announced, theAonic 40 did much better than the brand’s estimates. In active ANC mode, the headset lasted forty hours before showing the slightest sign of weakness. A lifespan no doubt due to the use of the AAC codec, which consumes less energy than AptX HD.

With its controlled connectivity and support for codecs SBC, AAC, AptX and AptX HDthe Shure Aonic 40 forgets the LDAC support that the Aonic 50 nevertheless supported. Not enough to shake the connection quality and stability. Especially since the headset also allows multipoint, i.e. the simultaneous connection to two devices at the same time. A rather practical detail that allows you to switch from one audio stream to another in a few seconds.

Price and availability

Launched on January 4, theAonic 40 from Shure is offered at 249€. A good surprise given its audio performance, which rubs shoulders with more high-end competing models. Available in black and white, it will have the advantage of adapting to any user without being noticed.

Discover the Shure Aonic 40 headphones

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