By David Ponce
The Shure SE215 earphones are not exactly a new product, but we were recently sent a pair for testing and would like to take a short bit of time to give our impressions for anyone considering them.
Shure is known for their quality products and some of their earphones can fetch up to $500+ (like the triple driver SE535). But the SE215 feature a single driver and a much more modest price of $100. And for that amount of money, they deliver a sound almost on par with competitors at $200… like the Beats by Dr. Dre Tour In-Ear Headphones, which we also recently acquired. To be clear, the sound quality is less bass heavy than the Beats and the highs and mids are more crisp. We’d describe it as well balanced and distortion free even at higher volumes. But the more impressive aspect of these earphones are twofold: the sound isolation and the snug fit.
To understand what we mean, hit the jump.
While they come with a variety of interchangeable nibs, it’s the larger memory-foam ones that got our attention. It’s a quality foam that takes quite some time to regain its shape. Once inserted, it expands to efficiently hug the inner walls of your ear and forms a tight seal. It’s this seal that does an impressive job at keeping outside noises out. We’d say it’s almost on par with that of the larger Dr.Dre Beats Studio, which feature active noise cancellation. It’s also this seal that does an even more impressive job at securing the earphones in place, no matter how vigorous the activity. In fact, removing them can be difficult and you end up worrying about the tip detaching and staying in your ear. This never happened, but it’s a small concern.
Also, the particular shape of the earphones conforms exactly to the shape of the part of the ear they’re intended to nestle into. This is an advantage as well as a disadvantage. When you do succeed in inserting them, it’s very comfortable. But getting there is another story. It takes some time to figure out which angle the earphone is supposed to go in at, and it will only fit at that specific angle. It’s a tradeoff between ease of insertion and comfort, but we believe it’s worthwhile. They don’t stick out of your ears as much as the Beats and don’t fall out at all (like when jogging), unlike the Beats.
The first two inches of the cord, after the drivers themselves, retains its shape somewhat. This is important because the SE215 are not meant to be worn like traditional earphones, with the cords dangling straight down towards your front. Instead, you’re supposed to wrap them behind your earlobes and down your back. It takes some time to get used to how the cord behaves once it’s like this, but it’s a minor inconvenience.
We like the SE215 from Shure. They don’t deliver an impressive bass, but it is adequate for someone looking for quality reproduction. The sound is crisp, deep and distortion free. The sound isolation dramatically adds to the enjoyability of the music while the snug fit make them easy on the ears for extended listening periods. For $100, it’s a very value conscious purchase and definitely worth it.
+ Snug fit
+ Good sound isolation
+ Impeccable sound quality
– Difficult to insert and remove
– Somewhat weak bass
– Takes time to adjust to proper wear style