Shure Aonic 40 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones for Everywhere


Based on its Aonic 50, Shure’s Aonic 40 wireless headphones (available in black or white) offer the same style, convenience, and functionality with smaller drivers and a lower price. Working and residing in the Big Apple gave me a prime opportunity to test these new headphones in a range of common scenarios that most people would classify as “life.”

Shure AONIC 40 Noise-Canceling Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

Shure AONIC 40 Noise-Canceling Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

Presentation and Specs

Like the Aonic 50, these are closed-back, over-ear cans with big “L” and “R” letters inside the corresponding earcups. Good luck mixing up the sides! The sleek look is complemented by strong materials and swooping arms that attach the earcups to the headband, which adjusts near the top rather than down by the earcups. The earcups do fit over the ear, but aren’t overly large, so you won’t look like a buffoon wearing soup bowls on the sides of your head. Since these are designed for travel, Shure made sure they could be folded flat and collapsed for storage in the included protective carry case.

Primarily, they’re made to be used wirelessly, but you can definitely plug them in when needed. An analog audio cable is included for hookup to 3.5mm headphone jacks, and the supplied USB Type-C to USB Type-A charging cable also supports digital audio for listening and conferencing.

In my tests, the Aonic 40 automatically entered pairing mode upon power-up and had no trouble connecting to my iPhone. Like all good people, I installed and opened the ShurePlus Play companion app, which extended my anticipation with a firmware update. While waiting for the exciting process to complete, I opened the user guide, read the instructions, and glanced at the specs, compared to the Aonic 50, below.


Aonic 40

Aonic 50

Drivers (Dynamic)



Frequency Response

20 Hz to 20 kHz

20 Hz to 22 kHz

Supported Codecs

aptX, aptX HD, AAC, and SBC

aptX, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, Sony LDAC, AAC, and SBC

Battery Life (Maximum)

25 Hours

20 Hours


11 oz

12 oz

Listening Time after 15-Minute Quick Charge

5 Hours

4 Hours

Push, Don’t Touch

Following the firmware update, the headphones were ready to rock. Operating the Aonic 40 involves tactile buttons in place of touch controls. I waffle and waver about which I prefer; it really depends on how well they’re designed and executed.

The left earcup has a single button for power, pairing, and initiating a battery check that results in a verbal statement through the headphones. Low-battery status is also indicated via a flashing red LED on the right side. To minimize unnecessary battery drain, the Aonic 40 power off after 10 minutes of being disconnected, but you can change that behavior in the mobile companion app.

The right earcup is where one finds most of the action. Volume up/down buttons flank a center button that, thankfully, has a raised nub to help with identification based on feel. This center button is responsible for play/pause, track navigation, answering and ending calls, and accessing your phone’s voice assistant. Spaced apart from those three buttons is another one dedicated for toggling between ANC (active noise cancellation) and Environment Mode, turning the noise control off, and muting/unmuting the mic. Remote workers who frequently participate in virtual meetings will truly appreciate the onboard mic mute function.

At first, although I found it easy to nail the volume up and noise control buttons every time, I had to feel for the center button’s nub to locate it and then move my thumb outward to hit the volume down button reliably. However, muscle memory did come into play after a few practice sessions, and my issue vanished.

Noise, Noise, Noise

After repeated A/B listening, I decided to keep active noise cancellation on indoors. It reduces quite a lot of static low- and high-frequency garbage but lets “random” sounds such as voices through so you can still hear snack requests from your significant other or updates (and expletives) from officemates.

Outside, I used ANC until the wind picked up. The presence of gusts generated some gentle rustling that I found distracting. Upon disabling ANC and relying on the Aonic 40’s passive noise isolation, the rustling disappeared and much of the ambient sound was still reduced. When I needed to hear the world around me, Environment Mode was a button push away.

Whether using ANC, passive noise isolation, or Environment Mode, I heard music and podcasts clearly; never did I experience a dropout even as I turned my head, moved my phone from front pocket to back, and went through aisles and levels of stores.

As the wind blew across the desert that is Broadway on the Upper West Side, my loneliness peaked, and I had to talk to someone. So, I called my younger sister in California for some long-distance company and to test the call quality of the Aonic 40. When I informed her that I was masked and pushing against the wind, she was surprised, “Well, you could’ve fooled me! I just hear you; it sounds clear, too!”

The Sound

The default sound profile sans equalization is what I dub a “contemporary” tone—robust bass, lots of highs, and a mildly dipped midrange. Though not imbued with the same balance, detail, and nuance as pro studio headphones such as the SRH840A, the Aonic 40’s sonic performance is competitive and appropriate for current mixing trends.

My opinion is that the stock tone of the Aonic 40 is best suited to big, crisp, “modern-sounding” productions typical in pop, rap, EDM, and new country. Listening to Lizzo, Bruno Mars, Kelly Clarkson, JID, Jim Dean, CHIKA, Swedish House Mafia, and Luke Combs, I understood why Shure tuned the headphones the way they did.

I didn’t feel the same way about more organic music—the likes of Punch Brothers, Joe Pass, and most old-school albums pre-1980s—and midrange-forward tracks like “Slipstream” by The Bright Light Social Hour, “No One Knows” from Queens of the Stone Age, and Leon Russell’s “Pisces Apply Lady.” Given my personal listening preferences, those selections seemed to be lacking just enough body and character to feel underwhelming to me. Thankfully, the companion app (see next section) let me quickly tweak the frequency response curve to my liking.

In-App Customization

Through the ShurePlus Play iOS/Android app, bountiful customization is provided. The home page of the app lets you change noise modes between ANC, passive noise isolation, and Environment Mode, and adjust the amount of active noise cancellation and ambient sound for the respective modes.

Aonic 40 Noise Control

Aonic 40 Noise Control

Another tab reveals the equalizer, which can be used for its presets (factory or user) or manual 4-band parametric EQ. I played some of my favorite reference tracks, then bumped up the mids and tamped down the treble to get the tonal curve that my ears favor.

Aonic 40 EQ Presets
Aonic 40 EQ Manual
Aonic 40 EQ Presets and Aonic 40 EQ Manual

Some cool options that can be enabled via the app include a “Busy” light—a red light on the side of the Aonic 40 that activates during calls—and a “Conferencing” USB audio mode for when the headphones are connected through USB. Those, combined with the onboard mic mute function, turn the Aonic 40 into capable headphones for working from home or in the office.

Busy Light
USB Audio Mode
Busy Light and USB Audio Mode

The Music tab in the app supports importing locally stored files and creating your own playlists, but it doesn’t integrate with streaming services. However, because the headphones maintain the ShurePlus Play app-configured EQ when using services like Spotify, I’d wager that most people will just continue using their current music app.


If it’s a blend of studio-inspired sound quality, easy lifestyle integration, long battery life, and in-app customization that you’re after, the Aonic 40 should be viewed as top contenders, especially given their price.

Are there better headphones in the world? Of course, but you’d have to pay a lot more to get them. Drop your thoughts on the Aonic 40 in the Comments section, below.