Pros: Smooth mids, Deep bass, Incredible detail
Cons: Cables may not be the most durable
Amazing detail, incredibly smooth mids, and deep bass are these 'phones defining characteristics. The only real weakness might be the slightly rolled off highs, but it's not a huge deal. I find it makes them less fatiguing. Also the bass while deep, is flat all the way down to DC and not over emphasized. To some people this is a feature, to others it's a bug, ultimately it just comes down to preferences. I don't have the huge breadth of knowledge and experience needed to compare these to others in the same price range but I can say that if you like the the Shure 'house sound', then you'll love these. I've had, Shure E2cs, heard E3cs, and these can be described as the same, but better. I was also pleasantly surprised to find out how much better they sound amped. My BitHead, which I bought just to bypass crappy onboard sound, gives them much better bass, just for starters. They certainly don't sound bad without dedicated amplification though. I used them daily for 8 months unamped, and never felt like they were missing anything. A major concern with these 'phones are the cables. The materials seem to have changed since the early days of 'only lasted a week' horror stories, though they are still not replaceable without electronic microsurgery. They have a 2 year warranty if, and only if, you have a receipt from an authorized dealer. Shure replaced mine, no questions asked, after one side went very, very soft. I don't think it was actually the cable though, because no amount of fiddling would yield a temporary fix.