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Very good design, well made, good sound

A Review On: Shure SE215

Shure SE215

Rated # 2 in Universal Fit
See all 34 reviews
Recent Pricing:
Review Details:
Audio Quality
Comfort
Design
Isolation
Value
Purchased on:
julian67
Posted · Updated · 38527 Views · 4 Comments

Pros: Sound, comfort, great value, long life

Cons: Replacement cable price (complaint is specific to UK). Case not as good as older Shures.

I bought these in February 2012 for £75 at amazon.co.uk and have used them every day except for about one week when I was awaiting delivery of a replacement cable. Typical use is with a variety of personal players (iRiver H140 and H340, Sansa Clip+, Archos A43IT) as well as with PC audio and occasionally with home audio. I listen to many kinds of (usually lossless) music but most often orchestral, choral, vocal, instrumental, rock, pop.

Price and value:

These are very decent value and the price in the UK is close to the US price. This is quite unusual as UK consumers are typically ripped off to the tune of 1.5 to >2 times the US price for the same Asia manufactured products. Shure UK get some goodwill for not playing that game with the price of the SE215. They lose a sliver of that goodwill because in the UK they maintain super high prices for aftermarket products such as tips, cables, and replacement left/right phones. After 14 months I needed a new cable. UK price is £45! That is US $69. I bought the same genuine cable from a Canadian retailer for about half that price including international delivery. And when I need new tips I can save about 35% by buying from North America, or by buying a 3rd party replacement.

Durability:

These things are built to last. I haven't been particularly careful with them. They have been sat on, snagged, dropped, trodden on and once even immersed in salt water (I fell in the sea with them in...whoops) and I often sleep with them in. I needed to replace the cable after 14 months as the thicker "memory" section cracked, leading to sound dropping out and wires actually being exposed. In the last few years I've had two pairs of Sennheiser IEMs fail (cable), some Klipsch IEMs fail (?), and a pair of Sony headphones fail (cable). Being able to replace the cable on the Shures is a massive plus point.

My SE215s have kept working and been maintainable while several other IEMs and headphones have died on me. That makes them better value than every other 'phone I've ever bought except a pair of Sennheiser HD 500 which worked for over 10 years before blowing a driver.

Comfort:

Very comfortable. They sit flush in the shell of the ear and cause no irritation or pressure and can be worn all day or night without discomfort. Having the cable route behind the head is ideal for me. In daily use these are as comfortable as smaller, lighter IEMs such as Sennheiser CX series, and if you need something suitable for sleeping in or wearing under a hat/helmet then the Shures are surely as good as it gets without paying for a custom fit.

Isolation:

Very good but depends on good fit and on choice of tips to a small degree. With the supplied tips the isolation should be good enough for most people most of the time. You don't get quite the isolation as with long, thin IEM that sit relatively deep in the ear canal but it is far superior to Senn CX type tips which sit at the entrance. Triple flange tips aren't part of the retail package but are available. They do offer more isolation but many will find them irritating to the ear canal. Tips that fully seal the ear probably aren't ideal because these Shures aren't designed with any tiny breather hole to relieve the pressure, which can be obvious if using triple flange tips. The regular silicone and foam tips are very nearly as good.

Sound:

Slightly emphasised bass, good midrange, slightly rolled off highs. To me this is a fine combination. I don't want bass heavy IEMs but I do want slight emphasis to make up for the lack of bone conduction or air being moved or whatever it is that goes missing with neutral IEMs/headphones compared with speakers. The highs might be slightly rolled off, probably to avoid harshness. With really powerful high tones (soprano voices or similar) you might occasionally be reminded that these cost £75 and not £175 as some harshness can become evident, but overall it's very hard indeed to fault these IEMs. I've used them for many hours almost every day for 14 months and they aren't tiring or irritating. That in itself is probably better compliment than any description of their sound quality or technical analysis (which I can't offer anyway).

If worn as recommended by Shure, with the cable held snug to the back of the neck/head by the keeper, then there is no annoying noise from the cable. Because the IEMs sit flush in the ear there is no wind noise or whistling effect when used outdoors.

Other:

The supplied soft case was a little disappointing. I used to have a pair of Shure E2C IEMs and they came with a really tough little case. The new soft case is made of heavy cordura but isn't of the hard clamshell type and I think it doesn't offer enough protection.

Overall it's hard to find fault with these IEMs at £75. Criticisms are few, small and qualified while positive attributes are plain and abundant. You get the same mature design, easy comfort and good build as with the most expensive Shures, and sound quality that doesn't feel in any way modest. I would unreservedly recommend these to anyone who wants to spend a moderate amount to get a huge sound upgrade over the buds supplied with their player/tablet.

4 Comments:

Nice review, i just bought these and i agree with pretty much all of you're points, except the point about the case, while a hard case i better, the soft one provides a lot of protection when its something like in-ears.
Hi Zubaru, thank you for your feedback.

Yes the case is OK, it definitely isn't a deal breaker. I wanted to make my review as comprehensive as possible so that's why I noted the difference between the really excellent old Shure cases and the OK new ones at roughly the same price point.

Actually a few months ago my SE215s were stolen (I was left with the case, spare tips, box, warranty and a bad, bad feeling) and I needed to replace them. I bought, used and tried different IEMs from Sennheiser, Monoprice and Ultimate Ears and in the end I bought another set of Shure SE215. I can afford much more expensive IEMs but in truth the sound quality differences between Shure SE215 and high end kit mostly disappear in a noisy environment. The Shures aren't as good in absolute terms as my circumaural Sennheiser Momentums or maybe even my Koss KSC75 but outdoors on the urban streets the Shure SE215 are the better choice.
@ Julian, and cheaper if they get stolen, dont matter if you have azzexpensive earphones if you have to watch out all the time, and get the hazzle with the police and insurancecompanies, you can only get so much out of an insurance until they start to question your motive!
 
For me its a nobrainer, they are not the cheapest, i have three shures in my collection, the SE 215 my kid has most of the time, but anyway, if i go outside, i bring them, not the 535s for example, i only use them in my studio!
Good review Julian.  I've had the SE215s for about a year now and I'd say your review is spot on.
 
Well done.  
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