Pros: Excellent isolation, terrific bass, decent mids, generally quite comfortable, magical/life changing cord, great sound profile
Cons: Slightly recessed highs, not the best case, occasional plug issues, I absolutely can't remove the tips
My last IEM purchase was a disaster; I bought the Turbines and ultimately returned them as they were literally destroying my ears. I figured I was done with the IEM game for good, and moved to great big full sized Ultrasones. But I just couldn't ride the bus with those, they were too cumbersome and didn't quite isolate enough. So, my wallet aching, I went with these.
I've gotta say, after a little over a month I have almost no buyer's remorse whatsoever.
I'm going to start with the bad, because that's easier to quickly explain.
-The high's aren't the best, music in which the lead singer has a higher voice sometimes needs to be EQ'd to sound full. Keep in mind I haven't formally burned these in yet, I've listened for maybe 20 hours total but that's all the use they've gotten. This issue may go away, and if not it's not always noticeable and it is not a huge deal as the overall sound profile is great.
-The case is not terrific; it works, but it's not quite large enough for the cord (more on that cord later) and it doesn't seem to do a ton to protect the headphones.
-When I keep my player in my pocket and the plug is partially in my pocket, and the connection between the cord and the plug bends, it occasionally causes a mild skip in the audio. This is very rare, but it has happened a few times in the last month and it's worth noting. Easily avoided by carrying my player differently.
-Finally, here's my only really big gripe: I cannot remove the stock foam tips. I have pulled, tugged, squeezed, twisted, frozen, scratched, manipulated... nope. Now, the stock foams happen to fit my ears rather well (most of the time) so it's not a tremendous problem right now, but 1. It would be if the tips didn't fit and 2. The foams will eventually get really gross, and I will have to probably cut them off gently to replace them. It's like the tips are glued on, I don't get it. Most of the time these stock tips fit me, but I would like to be able to try the additional tips included for a potentially better fit. The left bud sometimes feels awkward, so a different tip might be really helpful. And as I said, foam tips are gross. They're wonderful in many ways, but they get really gross. And I will have to remove them to clean them eventually, and if I can't I'll have to take scissors or a pocket knife and slice these tips off and buy new foams from Shure (maybe a warranty would cover that, though).
Ok now that the small number of complaints have turned into a huge wall of text, let's get on to the pros (which will surely turn into an even huger wall of text).
-I'm going to start with maybe the most exciting thing: the cord. The beautiful, magical, amazing, life-changing cord that is made out of pixie dust and concentrated joy and was gifted to mankind from heaven above. Yes, I'm speaking in hyperbole, but the cord really is awesome. It's long enough to really comfortably reach from my pocket to my ears, and then some. And it's thick to the point where it could take some SERIOUS punishment and absolutely never twist. Finally, I really appreciate it being removable in the event that it did break (I think it might, if I threw it into the fires of Mordor in Mount Doom).
-The bass is incredible. These little IEMs pack as much of a punch as any full sized I've ever heard, but in quality not quantity. It goes very deep and is very strong, but does not get muddy or overtake the mids (sometimes it does drown out the highs, though).
-A really nice warm, full sound signature. These really sound rich and full; R&B and wall-of-sound rock sound great, but thinner/strangely recorded oldies/classic rock also manage to sound really nice and not light or overly thin.
-Despite the tip issues, the fit is excellent. These do not fall out, ever, and the over-the-ear cord is a really nice touch that ensures they stay in place. The first time I put them on it took me about five minutes to perfect getting them in, but then I had no trouble. The fit is particularly great in that it blocks out probably 95% of ambient noise: my bus driver blasts Steve Harvey every morning on the way to school and I can't stand it, but the minute I turn my music on it blocks it all out. The headphones don't block as much when the music isn't playing (it's passive noise cancellation, so the headphones themselves don't do a ton to block stuff out. Better than nothing, but not great). Nonetheless, with music on a reasonable volume I hear nothing outside.
-Terrific value. I had a 30 dollar gift card that I do not remember receiving for Best Buy, where I bought these, which felt like found money so in the end with tax and fast shipping they ran me about $80. I think they're worth a lot more than that.
I mainly listen to rock (punk, alternative, prog, classic, light, pop), along with some R&B, rap, and jazz. Sometimes some EQing is needed to make the highs and lows balance, but in general these really sound great with everything I listen to. I won't do the description for a few different specific songs that I've done in the past because I feel like that's a little too specific, and these are very consistent.
So yeah, I pretty much love these. They're comfy, they block sound well, they sound great, and the cord is majestic. I would strongly recommend these to anyone, my only real issue is the ultra-stuck-on tips. An excellent intro to higher end ear buds for me, very satisfying. I'll probably upgrade within a year or so, just because, but I could see sometimes using these even after I upgrade and if I can't afford an upgrade these would probably keep me happy for a very long time.