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Shure SE535LTD RED

93% Positive Reviews
Rated #8 in Universal Fit

Posted

Pros: Details are plentiful, especially in the mids

Cons: Treble Roll-Off, Bass lacks punch, price vs. sound quality

I was looking for an excellent universal IEM with multiple drivers to fit my portable listening needs. Ideally, I would have my beloved LCD-2's in a portable package. I have become addicted to the effortless brightness of those headphones and their versatility. I'm sad that I can't wear them all the time, which is why I need something portable.

 

I have listened to and enjoyed many low end IEMs (including a sub $100 set of Shures) since my first pair of IEMs (Etymotic ER-4P's) were destroyed, but none of them were able to completely satisfy my needs. Towards that end, I had been eyeing custom molded IEMs, but I'm always too impatient and decided to try the upper range universal fit IEMs before trekking to the summit.

 

The SE535 came highly recommended on many sites, including this one. I wanted the clear ones, but they weren't available in a timely manner (again, impatient) and I was able to get the special editions for only about $20 more than what I would have paid for the bronze or clear versions

 

 

The resolution of these IEMs are immediately apparent as is their comfort and build quality. 

 

Up to this point, these were the most comfortable IEMs I've used. The construction of the driver housings are top notch and the detachable cable is an important detail. The cable connections rotate freely, allowing for multiple fitting styles, but it makes them more fidgetty to insert and keep in the right spot, sometimes requiring two hands to adjust them.

 

I tried most of the included tips (which are mixed up in the same baggy), but none of them were as comfortable as the Complys I bought along with the 535's. The fake Comply's came closest, but they have a thick plastic wax guard that altered the sound signature for the worse. As comfortable as these are, they still made my ears slightly sore after long listening periods, plus they required adjustments fairly often. I will put up with a lot of pain to hear the highest quality sound and, fortunately, these deliver their sound quality without much discomfort.

 

The included grey cord is too short, but it isn't very microphonic. The splitter is kind of clunky and it is terminates in a very chunky plug. It looks like it's getting ready for an 1/4" jack.

 

These IEMs are easy to drive, but they don't play well with poorer sources. I originally planned for them to be connected to my phone through the FiiO E-18 Kunlun (which didn't work out so well). I also used them with my Headroom Portable Desktop. I listened to all styles and qualities of music and the SE535 again were not well matched with some songs, even within the same genre.

 

Since I will primarily use these in a portable setting, my in depth listening was done with the FiiO X5 (which replaced my Kunlun), using FLAC files from ripped CDs and high resolution sources. I did compare with a couple higher end amps and DACs, but the results didn't vary enough to be noteworthy. I will write out my listening notes at the end of this review.

 

Overall sound quality is abundantly detailed. These are very revealing, very analytical IEMs. Unfortunately, they are also cold and quite lifeless. They don't sound good with large dynamic ranges either. They sound uneven at lower volumes and tend to be too harsh at high volumes.

 

The bass end is fast and defined, but is usually hollow and lacking impact whatsoever. There isn't much extension to speak of either. The SE535's don't seem to pull out much texture in the recordings, so while the detail of each note is reproduced, the feel of the instrument is behind the note is sometimes lost.

 

Mids are the sweet spot for these little guys, but there's a noticeable hump in the upper mids, which correlates to vocals and tends to exacerbate any bloat found at those frequencies in the recordings. The most detail and resolution is found in the midrange, but there isn't much warmth to speak of. Speed is again very quick and there is a little more room for the decay than in the higher frequencies.

 

Highs are rolled off.  The details are there, but they tend to become absorbed by the lower ranges once the roll-off begins. You won't find any warmth here either, just more analytic coldness. The highs are bright, but not particularly airy and they can become very harsh at the peaks. Cymbals, especially, attack very well, but the decay tends disappear too quickly.

 

Overall, the Shure SE535LTD IEMs are not all that musical. They become fatiguing with their cold edginess and analytical nature. They might be considered neutral, but they don't pair well with enough sources or genres for my tastes. The best qualities that they have are the fit and comfort, their speed and their clarity. I do feel that the might be too fast for their own good, however. The attacks are great, but there isn't any decay and they don't seem to allow for the textures of the instruments to shine. It's like the notes are always trying to get out of each other's way. As it stands, they are remarkably detailed, but they leave me wanting a more lifelike representation of my music.

 

For $500, I can be analytical right back. These are very detailed IEMs, but the resolution alone isn't worth the money when they aren't a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

 

 

 

 

Personal note: I was able to buy a different brand of IEM in the same range and try for a better sound signature while still being able to compare them. My previous daily use IEM was the Audiofly AF78's, which are a hybrid design. I got them about 6 months prior for 1/5th the price of the Shures. While they have a few issues of their own and they can't stand up to the SE535's in the detail department, they did have abundant texture, comparatively, and warm musicality, which I had been missing.

 

I ultimately went with Audiofly's new 4 driver AF180's for the head-to-head test. These also retail at the same price as the 3 driver SE535's and I will compare these two universal IEMs below. Spoiler: I will be keeping the AF180's and I'll have to do something I've never done before since I entered this hobby: send something back.

 

Good-bye, Shure SE535LTD! May you find a home in someone else's ears.

 

Side by side comparison (Click to show)
AF180 vs SE 535
 
X5, no amp
 
Norah Jones "Don't Know Why" 24b/192k FLAC
 
AF180: Highs are bright and well detailed, with a touch of warmth. Mids and bass are even and detailed. Piano sounds realistic.
 
SE535: Vocals are bright and detailed, but way too harsh at the peaks, percussion is veiled, but detailed, piano is a tad strident.
 
 
Baroness "Mtns. (The Crown & Anchor)" 16b/44.1k FLAC
 
AF180: Lows are deep and ominous. Highs are crisp. Impact is felt well into the mids. Vocals are a little strained and veiled. Timing is precise despite the distorted vocals
 
SE535: Lows are deep, mids are crisp and highs are thin. Vocals are strident and pushed too forward. Percussion is too quick, sounds almost mechanical, tinny and has zero warmth.
 
 
Pixies "Dig for Fire" 16b/44.1k FLAC
 
AF180: Opening percussion is very twinkly, guitars and drums are fast and transparent, vocals are laid back.
 
SE535: Highs are veiled and mids are thin. Voices sound like they're coming from a tube. Details are present, but analytical and thin. They're quick, like they don't want to get in each other's way. These IEMs do this album no favors.
 
 
Goat Rodeo Sessions "Quarter Chicken Dark" 24b/88.2k FLAC
 
AF180: Instruments are dry and snappy, very engaging. Double bass doesn't overpower the mandolin or vice versa, very balanced throughout. Back up instrumentation are still very detailed behind solos and duets, while instrumentation in the main focus is still well detailed and finely textured. Slight bloat in the midrange warmth. Good attack and release in the instruments.
 
SE535 is transparent, if a lacking warmth. Mandolin is too quick, all attack, no texture or decay. Bass has texture, but no depth, sounds thin when the full quartet plays. Highs are lacking in extension, mids are powerful, but somewhat hollow. The bows sound are harsh and edgy on strings.
 
 
Chet Baker "Easy Living" 24b/192k FLAC 
 
AF180: Just enough warmth and evenly detailed throughout spectrum. Baker's breath on the microphone is felt. Flute is bright and effortless, even over the low saxes and heavy bass notes.
 
SE535: Highs are very detailed and cold. Bass lacks warmth and weight. Baker's voice is smooth and sweet. Saxes sometimes step on his decay, though. Piano drowns in other mids and bass. Cymbals are thin, but quick and without decay.
 
 
Project 86 "The Spy Hunter" 16b/44.1k FLAC 
 
AF180: Guitars are appropriately heavy and remain fast. drums and bass are impactful. Vocals are detailed. Every growly noise can be heard in the throat. Cymbals are ever present above everything, but not very bright.
 
SE535: Mid treble is slightly overbearing, vocals are edgy and bright. Bass is thin, but detailed, not enough separation to discern details.
 
 
St. Vincent "Black Rainbow" 16b/44.1k FLAC
 
AF180: Clark's voice is sweet and warm.  Bass sounds synthesized and has plenty of impact and texture. High details are quick and bright, no harshness in any frequency. Many sounds appear outside of headspace. Bassoon is deep and clear. The ending crescendo section is busy, but all details seem present.  The constant bass remains impactful and it tickles the ear. The ending decay is still high without too much shrillness 
 
SE535: Vocals are cold and slightly brittle. Woodwinds are very harsh, sound overblown. Bass is present sonically, but no impact. Distortion is grainy and violins are textured. Mids are slightly muddy until crescendo section becomes strident
 
Horace Silver "Song for My Father" 24b/192k FLAC
 
AF180: Sax and trumpet are punchy and slightly warm. Cymbals have good attack and decay, rides well over the rest of the music. Good texture all around. The snare rolls are absolutely stunning. Piano is smooth. Sax solo slightly laid back, but natural, drums and cymbals still won't let go of the song, bass is slightly punchy. 
 
SE535: Sax and trumpet attacks are super quick. Cymbals are recessed, but details are present. Piano is cold, but gentle and well defined. Snare is poppy. Sax solo is transparent and smooth. Bass lacks presence.
 
 
 
Sansa Zip Clip 16/44.1 FLAC
 
AF180 are warm, but there's bloat in the mid treble with female vocals on certain recordings.
 
SE535 is cold/analytical. Treble is harsh until it reaches the roll off point. Details are very present, but require EQ help to become palatable.
 
 
Note 3, Ampless, 320kbps MP3 streaming, 16/44.1 FLAC
 
SE535's: Cold, harsh highs, thin bass, Details are are plentiful, if a bit hollow in the higher treble, Cymbals and bass lack impact. 
 
AF180 Cymbals are twinkly and extend, mids and bass are impactful and textured, less separation than the Shures. Highs are warm and detailed. Overall resolution is slightly lacking across the board.
 

Posted

Pros: Astonishing mids, awesome trebles, great construction quality.

Cons: Maybe not so many bass frequencies.

First of all, before the SE535 I had a pair of Monster Turbine Copper Pro, so I was habituated with many bass frequencies and forced to put them repetitively inside of the ear because of their weight. I’m absolutely not saying that the Turbines wasn’t a good pair of earphones, in fact they were my personal favorite pair in spite of their defects. After 2 years of happiness with my Monsters, I decided to go to the next level, with a more comfortable and more detailed pair of earphones, but without spending more than 500 dollars.. I finally opted for the Shure SE535. The first time that I wore them, it took me about 30 minutes or more just to understand how to put them in my ears, but at the end of that complicated process they were so magnificently comfortable and well inserted in my ears.. that I struggled to understand that they were in my ears.

However let’s go directly on the sound review: I use them with an iPod Classic 7th Generation and rigorously all WAVE format songs, with a Fostex HP-P1 amplifier with DAC and an AudioQuest silver plated high definition cable; simply I've never heard Mids and Trebles so perfectly in a pair of earphones like in these, I can hear details, voices, instruments and effects that I’ve never heard before with other earphones. The voices of the singers are so greatly evidenced, pure and naturals that seems to have them in front of your eyes, amazing details with an astonishing speed of response, really.. I’ve never heard something like these beasts. I simply can’t describe the sensations that I feel when I use them, just with words, you have to try them before judge.

The only defect that I could find in these, is the bass frequencies.. yes, there’s so many basses don’t worry, but not so many as I expected.

 

Final Judgments:

 

TREBLES: 8/9

MIDS: 8/9

BASSES: 7

CONSTRUCTION QUALITY: 8/9

Posted

Pros: Excellent Quality Well Defined Sound Through All 3 Ranges

Cons: Can Be Difficult To Find The Best Tip To Extract That Amazing Sound

Hi,
I've been patiently waiting for my 535Ltd's to get a good few hours run in (this includes the stock cable & an upgraded 3rd party cable purchased from eBay, OFC Silver plated copper with Oyaide Plug). I'll just be giving you my thoughts on the 535 reds & try to refrain from too much into towards cable choice etc...

Unboxing ;
The Shure Red's Packaging was nothing special & thus would probably lead you to think there's nothing special inside... Not like say Unboxing something like a set of Monster Miles Davis Trumpet Buds where the packaging is exquisite to say the least... But that's no bad thing as sometimes fancy looking packaging gets your hopes up too much wink.gif

Contents ;
The 535Ltd's Come with pretty much what you'd expect in the box like your usual sets of small/ medium & large Foam + Silicone Eartips with a yellow Foam tip that seems to fit medium & large sized ears... But in my own personal case after trying them all + a few 3rd party Tips I bought along with the cable upgrade I actually found that the x2 best fitting Eartips for me were made by Westone & I for now use their Foam & Silicone tips in a large size (Pretty weird to me as I'm %99 of the time a medium tip).
Also they come with your airplane adapter + a Volume control adapter + also a jackplug for converting your 3.5' - Full size headphone socket & TBH with you all 3 of these accessories look & feel very cheap as I guess their the same 1's used with even the cheapest of the Shure SE range so because these are their Limited Editions I guess I was expecting better quality accessories but it's certainly not a deal breaker for me.

Included too is I believe a slightly thicker/ better quality cable rather than the basic SE range stock cable which I thought was a step in the right direction after all Special Edition stuff usually is Special because it has better quality versus it's stock base models smily_headphones1.gif

Fit ;
These Over Ear style IEM'S fit pretty much perfectly & once you hit upon your chosen Eartips of choice their very easy to put in & take out again as long as you bend the Kevlar to shape round your ears correctly... I HAVE HEARD OF PEOPLE LEAVING NEGATIVE REVIEWS OF THE 535'S SIMPLY BECAUSE THEIR TO DUMB TO FIGURE OUT HOW OVER EAR IEM'S FIT & THATS JUST SAD wink.gif
As mentioned once you eventually get your best fitting tip = You'll probably be like me & barely notice their even in & I can quite easily fall asleep with them in after a long listening session smily_headphones1.gif

Build Quality ;
Shure have learned from previous mistakes you can tell a lot & I mean a lot of though has gone into making these 535Ltd's IMHO Pretty indestructible barring dropping them in front of a steamroller I think these should last you many many years to come as the build quality on the ear pieces is excellent & The cable looks & Feels really really tough so I don't forsee many returns regards the 535's.

Sound Quality ;
Now my own 535Ltd's have only ever been fed on a diet of my Colorfly C4 Pro & Lossless Flacs with the odd 320kbp MP3 thrown in to compare it against.
If you plan on feeding your 535Ltd's on a diet of uncompressed Flacs or Wavs then you'll most definitely not be disappointed you shelled out the big cash for these just Excellent IEM'S as their by far & away the best IEM'S I've ever had the privilege to own/ hear their just Flawless on all 3 ranges & Make me Smile from ear to ear smily_headphones1.gif
Now I did notice when trying Mp3's that they can pick up on any bad rip & expose it's weakness with such ease that if your planning on maybe buying these for your eh Ipod then your just wasting your money as you should buy much more cheaper headphones that don't expose MP3's & Compressed files' weaknesses as easily as easily as the 535Ltd's do.

So to some up then ;
These Shure SE 535Ltd's are targeted at users who prefer Quality & by god do they provide Quality in abundance but please save your cash if your plans were to feed them anything other than uncompressed music from a decent source.
1 last thing is that a 3rd party cable can improve sound, but IMHO only slightly as the stock thick grey cable is great in its own rights, so it's just a matter of preference if you upgrade the cable smily_headphones1.gif

Hope this review will be of help to potential 535Ltd Buyers out there & accept my apologies for not mentioning all the colours of the rainbow to describe sound LOL.


Thx J.

Posted

Pros: an ethereal existence on gossamer wings

Cons: only two ears to use; how can I get to 7.1?

When we were over in Asia last year I had a couple chances to visit the Hong Kong tech meccas.  I was very pleased to buy one sealed set of these, thinking I might pass the favor on to a fellow head-fiér.  As it was, I put an ad up but the closest I got to a reasonable bid was still below my out-of-pocket.  And YES, I did pay the customs duty when I brought them in!

 

Since no one was that eager to pay what I was asking, I decided to open the box in mid-December, awarding myself an early Xmas present.  I'm so glad I did!  These Shures have a very different sound from my bronze and clear Shure sets.  (Incidentally, all my IEMs are now on Comply tips, the deep-foam ones if available for the IEM.  Some IEMs don't have long Complys available though. It all has to do with the size of the shnozzle; length and diameter. SE535s take the same as tips as Westone 4/4Rs, FWIW. )

 

The sound ... well, along the way, my kit expanded to a Cowon Z2, 32GB internal and an extra 64GB microSD.  It has been hard to start to write this review because the upgrade of the Cowon over my last-generation Zunes is sheer amazing... and the Cowon is also Android, meaning I can play (smartphone-like) anything, while also listening to my music.

 

Let's put the sound this way:  You will abandon your previous rigs, perhaps in their entirety, when you buy these two pieces of kit.

 

Ranking, I'd put the red SE535s in the top two of my collection.  I still prefer the discontinued Sony MDR EX1000 for its precise soundstage imaging.  But I haven't seemed to have found time to put those IEMs on while this is such a fantastic pairing!

 

 

Posted

Pros: Deep Soundstage, Crisp Highs and Mids, Durable, Range of Tips

Cons: Price, Can't keep up with fast songs

Ω

Posted

Pros: Good Clarity, Deep Soundstage, Balanced Sound, Beautiful!

Cons: May not be the best for universal flagship IEM, price, short cable.

After struggling to find an ideal universal flagship IEM, I finally chose Shure SE535SE.

 

Reason:

Cheaper deal I got over here, compared to W4R which will be around USD$100 more.

A strange affinity towards Shure brand.

Beautifully painted body and beautiful packaging.

 

Honestly, I'm not really particular in auditioning the IEM before purchase. Reason is because it takes time to appreciate or get used to the new sound signature. And I wanted a flagship IEM so that I can stop (temporarily) searching for a better IEM while learning what BA drivers can do. Probably later I'll go for W4R or EX1000, where the latter would be more intriguing.

 

I'm a dynamic guy. So BA is kinda fresh to me. What this IEM lacks compared to dynamic ones is the bass punch. It's decent, but not as airy and powerful compared to dynamics. But the thing that impressed me right out of the box is the sense of depth in soundstage. Boy I was really enjoying the chanting and whistling behind the back of the songs in Hell Freezes Over.

 

Frankly speaking, this thing is not 50% much better than any IEM 50% cheaper than it. Value wise, it's better to go for cheaper alternatives, like SE425, or what I've tried myself: GR07, EPH-100, and those ultra value buy dynamic IEMs. However, there'll be time when I felt discontented with the lack of something in the sound by those IEM, and wanting more. Thus here I am, listening to the SE535SE.

 

This IEM is highly dependent on the source you feed it. The better the source, the more it will be able to perform. In short, Source>Headphones.

 

Edit (11/23/12): After a few month using it, I noticed that:

1. Bass: Bass is deep, but not having much impact. While remaining airy, the bass don't punch the ears. Even on pop songs which normally have powerful bass, 535LTD isn't really portraying any much punches.

2. Details: Arguably one of the better IEM with good details However, due to the nature of the FR (rolled off treble), much micro details isn't really in-yo-face. Well, I guess 535LTD is more towards fluidity of the presentation rather than a microscope analyzing all the details (or defects) of the song. It's very enjoyable, yet not for those who demands excellent micros.

3. This thing isn't really isolating 100% of the sound. It blocks out most of the little annoyance, but not moving trains or roaring thunders. I'm not sure if it's due to my use of the Olives, but 535 to me is brest used with the Olives.

 

Thanks for reading. And enjoy your music :b

Posted

Pros: excellent sound quality, excellent build quality, great isolation and comfort, awesome color, good tips and accessories

Cons: cable is a bit short, very pricey

These have excellent mids, vocals sound very sweet, typical Shure.

Good treble with some sparkle, although less sparkle/piercing than the normal SE535, but more refined.

Bass is great, low and punchy, not overly emphasized, just the way it is meant to be heard.

Soundstage is okay, not as big as the Westone 4.

 

Sound isloation is excellent, for me it's better than Shure SE315 and SE215.

Very comfortable and snug with the black foam tips.

Cable is robust, but I wish it is longer by like 10cm, right now it's 116cm.

 

Although they say "enhanced high frequency response", the red 535 aren't that much better than the normal 535, just a little less emphasis on mids and a bit more details in the treble, same bass reponse.

 

The red SE535 are much more passionate and engaging than the Westone 4/4R, which are probably their biggest competitor, I prefer the Shures over the Westones; just my opinion. I highly recommend these earphones.

 

 

UPDATE:

I've had them for over a month and I'm very pleased with what I'm hearing. They don't seem to change that much with burn in.

I've also realized the black foam gives a better sound than the gray silicone tips, the foam has more bass, and has a fuller, richer sound, while the gray silicone has a cold, metallic sound with harsh treble, and less bass. It's a very minor difference by the way.

The nozzles of the red 535s seem quite delicate, I could heard squeaky sounds from them when I was changing the ear tips.

 

 

 

 

 

Shure SE535LTD RED
By:
Description:

The SE535 Special Edition utilizes Triple High Definition MicroDrivers - a dedicated tweeter and dual woofers for incredibly spacious sound and rich bass. A newly tuned acoustic network delivers enhanced high frequency performance, while a distinctive red and gray color scheme offers an exclusive look.

Details:
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Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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