Pros: Mid frequencies, sound isolation, customer service
Cons: Thin bass, tight fitting tips on nozzle
*I have listened to the Shure SE535 using iPhone 4S and the latest iPod Classic (6th Generation). The below sums up my listening experience from these sources only.*
To my ears vocals sound better through the Shures than any other earphones I’ve heard. Voices are rich and clear. I often listen to audiobooks or Radio 4; just listening to people talking is a joy. However, I find the lower frequencies too thin. Bass is there, and is textured well enough to be able to distinguish between bass instruments, but it just doesn’t hit my ears with enough oomph to be pleasurable. I’m no ‘bass head’ but I do like to feel bass, not just hear it in the distance.
That the mid frequencies are louder that the bass or treble is one reason I sold my 535s. I noticed as time went by I wasn’t using them much; I was forcing myself to listen to them rather than being unable to take them out of my ears. I was listening to, rather than feeling and enjoying, music.
Physically, the Shure SE535s look good and appear to be well-made. Like Logitech’s newer UE 900, the earpiece has an unusual connection to the cable, which allows the earpiece to rotate when attached. I find that this, along with the long memory wire, is an unnecessary feature that makes them cumbersome to fit and insert. I much prefer the simple two pin plug of the Westone 4R. The cable itself is sturdy, but for me it is too thick and far too long. I like an earphone cable’s length to reach from trouser pocket to ear with a little slack. This one hangs down to my knees.
The nozzle you insert into your ear is quite long. With the right tips, this ensures good sound isolation. Many people like the foam “olive” tips. I do as well, but they can fit too tightly on the nozzle, making them difficult to remove. I snapped the nozzle off one earpiece when trying to twist a tip off. [TIP: if the tip is stuck on the nozzle, put the earpiece in a bag in the freezer for a few hours. I’ve done this a few times and the tip comes off easily without damaging the earpiece.]
If you are looking for your first pair of ‘quality’ earphones, I recommend Logitech UE 900. I find that the Shure 535’s mid-range sound is wonderful and they block out more external noise, but the Logitech’s are a better overall package. Their sound is more balanced and they come with a very good accessories package.
If you already own the Shures and are looking for something a bit different, try Phonak’s Audeo PFE 232. The sound is like an inverted Shure SE535 sound signature, with excellent, strong bass and louder treble. I find their sound airy, fun and interesting, though they do not isolate sound well enough to be used in noisier environments.