Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphones › Shure SE846 Sound Isolating™ Earphone

Shure SE846 Sound Isolating™ Earphone

89% Positive Reviews
Rated #82 in Headphones


Pros: The sound, the build quality, the bass, the soundstage

Cons: cable wire,

Brace yourself... Pardon any grammatical errors please as this is one of my longer reviews. 


Some Background:


I’m currently 18 years old which as little as that matters to me seems to be interesting to many people in this community. I’ve always liked music and sound equipment but I never really got into the head-fi hobby until I discovered the Live Sound field from my schools drama club. From there I began to appreciate sound quality as it was just satisfying for me both from listening but also the engineering and everlasting ability to tweak and work on such.


I have worked with home audio, car audio, theater/show systems, portable/personal audio, digital audio (IP-LAN(uhg…) and DSP) and lots and lots of DIY projects. I’ve gone as far to make some of my own speaker cabinets and sound systems from various components too – most notably a very large 2 driver, 4 voice coil, 16ohm, band-pass subwoofer box that I’m quite fond of for its bass quantity and quality.


I’ve owned many headphones/IEM and related gear. Ill list some here but this certainly isn’t all; Shure SE846, Shure SE315, Shure SE215, Westone UM3x, Westone UM3x RC, Westone UM1, Earsonic SM3, Sansa Clip Plus, Sansa Clip Zip, Bravo Tube AMP v3, Sennheiser IE80s (the fake ones) and Sennheiser HD420s


So while I don’t like to be arrogant I do feel qualified to judge products effectively and share my opinion and I hope you find my opinions and ideas entertaining and helpful. 




I’ve owned these headphones for a few months and figured it would be a good idea to write a review for them considering they are the more expensive headphones I’ve owned. I’ve compared them to many of the previous headphones I’ve owned (notable the Um3x and the SM3) but also several at various meets and shows.


Some quick crazy facts: 

-       They are crazy low impedance. 9ohms. so they can be powered very easily but sometimes you might encounter hiss. Also they can handle a decent amount of power. I’m not willing to find the limits though.

-       They are expensive.

-       They are built like tanks – but still sexy.

-       Shure is known for excellent support but I have yet to experience that as I have not had a problem

-       They come with 3 interchangeable filters that go in the nozzle. Black, Blue, White (warm, balanced, and high/clear)


Purchase and Experience: 


After having a lovely time with my UM3x I decided I wanted more. More textured and detailed bass and more sound stage. I started looking at some midrange IEMs. Custom and Universal at around the $500 price point. While these were super cool I didn’t have the means to try them. I decided to settle with something lower in price as I did like my UM3x but wanted just a hair more. I did some researched and purchased the crazy looking Earsonic SM3s which look a lot like the Um3x. Sounds good right?


It was – and while I did notice an improvement in the Earsonics’ I still wanted more. Also I always had a problem with the Earsonics’ falling apart on me – I would remember back to a time when I used my Shure SE315s that I could drive a truck over. I missed that.


I was aware of the 846 at the time but I couldn’t dream of spending that much money… But I did dream of it. Id tease myself by going to Head-Fi classified and looking at used pairs for around $800. I figured if I sold many of my current Headphones I could afford to get them. And I decided to try. After many failed negotiations and fear of getting scammed $800 out I decided that I would buy them new. I called many online stores and worked them all on price before eventually I scored a brand new pair for $800 from headroom (headphone.com). I bought these – I was expecting my parents to jump me but they were like ‘cool dude sounds nice’.  I scored free 2 day shipping and a 30 day return policy if I didn’t like them. My dad even had the privilege of trying them in an airport store a day before mine arrived – live blogging to me via text message about how amazing they are. I nearly lost it.




Today was the day. They had arrived and my first test was to play music while talking to my friend on Skype because I was so excited. That was a stupid choice. I should have just listened to music but whatever.  Ill skip the drama




They came with the balanced (blue) filters in them first. While the sound was very impressive it was too harsh for me at first. (But wait!) I almost found them overwhelming with treble and just noise in general. I was nervous. I decided to switch to the black filters.  After listening to some daft punk (our lord and savior) I was hooked.


The bass was so smooth and deep. And the mids were perfect, which is surprising as usually I’m VERY picky about these. The treble was unheard of. The extension was notably better than that of any IEM I’ve ever heard.  Keep in mind this is with the warm sounding filters.


It took me several weeks and several people also trying them to realize that the sound is an acquired taste. It’s not that it’s bad or repulsive but it’s more so that your brain becomes use to it. I like to pretend that our brains have a little inline EQ between our ears and mind. Often it seems that your brain cleans up the sound and hears what it wants to hear as to make music more pleasing but also enhance you sound perception. Whether this is true or not I don’t know but it’s what I think. I also think this has something to do with the “burn in” controversy. But I digress.


Point is that after a few weeks I think my brain had returned to the flat balanced out state of EQ as I was now hearing things more clearly as the music should be. Also I felt as if now would be a good time to try the other filters.  I decided to use the Whites. I was turned off by the openness and highs of them again so I went to blue.  This was incredible.


I noticed more instrument separation and defined bass. The bass had more texture – everyone says that but what does that mean? I think it means (as I also felt) that as the bass vibrated it was more clear in that you could hear the clarity in it. Each and every bass note and sound wave hitting your ear drum was more noticeable and less clouded together than that of lesser headphones and that of a lame car subwoofer that you might find in some kids truck.  I think this has to do with the subwoofer tunneling thing sure claims in their demo video. I think the sound tube and series of tunnels the drivers are behind create some sort of back pressure or something to add that richness but also quantity.


As with the evolution of my ears EQ and my desire for more soundstage and clarity I decided to try the whites.  This time I was very impressed and found them the most desirable.

 I noticed clarity obviously, but also more detailed bass again. I didn’t think this was possible given I already liked what I had from the Blue filters. But most importantly... SOUNDSTAGE. This is what I wanted – as I listened to albums like Random Access Memories (thanks daftpunk again) I could notice placement of acoustic instruments but also bass and the vocalist. Songs that move fast and have a lot going on tend to be more vivid and you get to hear everything at once rather than fill it in yourself.


The binaural effect of sound echoing in the room or stage was something I was never able to experience with most music as these ques for your brain are very hard to reproduce unless it’s intentional. (Search for binaural haircut). But with such sensitivity and a good source and recorded audio it’s very noticeable with the Shure’s. You are getting the full experience whether the artist intended it or not and it’s something very impressive.


Aesthetics and Accessories:


Some of my friends think that they are ugly. I think it’s more so because they are strange and different looking. I personally always have liked the way these look – even before I owned them when I was in my “way too expensive to consider” phase. The engineering on these is incredible. They are like pieces of jewelry as the insides are so intricate and precise. It’s fascinating to look at.

The cable is that of most Shure IEMs. While it’s very strong, feels, and looks nice I am often frustrated with the memory wire that wraps over your ears. It moves and sticks out creating a lever effect sometimes. I removed the memory wire from my shorter cable that the 846 comes with and while this was awesome it soon wore at the base of the connectors going into the headphone and was on the way out.  There is no sounds of cable moving against your clothes or anything. Cable is overall solid.

You can see all the other accessories online so I won’t waste your time. The little containers and cases that they come with are super cool and nice. I do wish Shure included a cleaning stick like westone as sometimes wax gets in the ear tips.



Fit and Comfort:


For me? Perfect. I’m used to IEMs and I could wear these for days. I use the tips that came on them from the factory which is the medium sized Shure foam olives. I did noticed they were slightly different in composition than that of the olives my 315s came with.  They seal very well and are comfortable. Most people are confused at how to put them into their ears the first few times but after you get good it becomes second nature to you.



Source and power:


I often used my Sansa Clip Plus and it was awesome. There was some hiss sometimes from the clips processor but it was fine once music was playing… only sometimes id notice it.

I liked using these with my Bravo V3 tube amp – It added some cool effects and openness from the tube but with super sensitive IEMs like this it’s easy to notice interference that the tube picks up in the air. Like if my cellphone is too close to it. Other than that the Bravo is solid with the 846.


I started avidly using spotify which meant a lot of time on my phone. I have the LG3 and I hate its sound card. There’s so much noise and the sound just feels artificial half the time. I’ve done numerous sound mods and tweaks to it but it’s almost proving useless. I just ordered a Fiio e18 for it so we will see.

I’ve also used the 846 with a Fiio e6. It’s cool but there’s no point.


My favorite source as of right now has to be my Surface Pro 3. For some reason the sound is perfectly balanced with no EQ or anything and clear as day. Also zero noise or hiss at any time at all – it’s amazing.


Would I recommend?


Yes – to an audio enthusiast. To the average consumer – no. The price is too daring for something like these. For the average person I would recommend something like the UM3X as they are very easy to enjoy and affordable now. I do believe that everyone should have nice audio equipment because it adds extra value to your media just as a HD television might but there is a point of diminishing returns for the average user.


For audiophiles I would definitely recommend the 846 as they are a solid investment and will deliver incredible sound and performance for a long time to come. They get everything right.  Sound quality. Customization. Build Quality. Support. Accessories. Even style.


Some people may disagree but I feel satisfied with these. I have actually taken the time to try many other IEMs including the JH Audio Roxxanes which many people consider a step up from the 846 and I didn't see it. But I will say that I didnt have enough time to demo the Roxxanes to definitely say that I would prefer the 846 over them as I simply don't feel as if I have fully experienced other IEMs like that to noticed the small differences.


All in all I hope you liked reading the review and I really hope it gives you a sense of how you feel about the 846. Reviews can be very important and I feel like that people reviewing should take the time to be very specific as it can really effect the buyer’s emotions and feelings.  Another forum member that goes by Mounty Burns helped me decided to get these. He helped me hunt prices and shared his opinions with me via email several times and overall was very encouraging. So I’d like to thank him as well as the academy.



And with that… Happy listening.



Pros: realistic well-layered and -scaled soundstage, high resolution, "real" sub-bass, nice accessories, aesthetics

Cons: super treble extension above 10 kHz should be better at this price


This is basically a translation with some additions and little changes of my German review (http://kopfhoerer-lounge.blogspot.de/2015/07/se846.html) which I did about a year ago, because I decided that as I have some spare time at the moment, I could spend it to take a few new pictures (sorry for the cellphone’s image quality though and the lousy background, I just couldn’t remove the wrinkles from the pleather, no matter how hard I tried) in addition to my old ones and translate plus (re-) write the text.

The SE846 was purchased by me from Thomann.de new for €969.


With the SE846, Shure heads into a somewhat new direction and has designed and manufactured all drivers for their €1000 quad-BA flagship in house, including the “special” woofers which for the first time in an IEM are designed after the (more or less) well-known transmission line (TML) principle that can be found in some loudspeaker designs.
The SE846 uses four Balanced Armature drivers per side which are connected in 3-way configuration by the crossover, with two of the drivers being the TML woofers.
Just as already known from other IEM manufacturers, Shure offers its clients to tune the sound with the help of three included acoustic filter tubes that are located in the removable bore.

Technical specifications:

MSRP: €999/$999
Drivers: 4, Balanced Armature
Crossover: 3 ways
Sensitivity: 114 dB SPL/mW
Frequency Range: 15 Hz – 20 kHz
Cables: detachable, MMCX connectors (2 cables: 46” and 64”)

Delivery Content:

So, what do we get?
The first thing you will see is a well-sealed black paper wrapper that features a large picture of the SE846’s right ear-piece on its front and back.
Breaking the firm seals, inside is a black box with a matte-black soft-touch rubber-like surface, sporting a silver (metal?) Shure logo on the top and glossy black SE846 lettering on the front side which features a magnetic lid and can be folded up.
The lid’s inside features a sticker with the serial number (which is by the way also on the black wrapper), a safety instructions sticker and a description of the “subwoofer” drivers on a pocket that includes the instruction manual – really nice.
Inside of that black box is also an elongated, transparent case, manufactured by s3cases and with a carrying strap plus a silver Shure logo on the upper lid. Personally, I don’t really see any real benefit in this transparent case for me as it is not padded on the inside, but it looks really nice and gives you that premium feel.
Inside are a nice black microfiber cleaning cloth with a large white Shure logo, the IEMs, the two cables (each being different in length), an airplane adapter, a cable clip, a 6.35 to 3.5 mm stereo adapter, the damping adapter with included volume dial, a really nice square carrying case with a pocket on the inside (offering room for the included threaded metallic cylinder which features a tool for removing the IEMs’ nozzles and contains the interchangeable tuning filters) as well as a nice outer metal top-plate with milled Shure logo and last but not least a large selection of ear-tips (one pair of white triple-flange tips, one pair of yellow sponge tips with integrated cerumen mesh filter, four pairs of foam tips with integrated cerumen mesh filter in three sizes, three pairs of differently sized silicone tips).








Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

The IEMs have got transparent bodies that let you see the four BA drivers (the tweeter even features a cute little Shure logo, and the tube network in front of it an SE846 label) and the crossover, which is really nice to see and visually pleasing. Even if the coloured versions of the SE846 would have been available back then when I bought mine, I’d still have gone with the transparent in-ears.
The nozzle and threaded collar that holds it in place are made of metal – using the tool for unscrewing the collar, one can remove the nozzle and swap the acoustic filter tube that sits in it.
Everything looks and feels very sturdily made, plus the whole bodies appear even a bit better manufactured than the SE425s’ which are already excellently built.
What I really like is that not only the cables feature small coloured dots for easy side recognition, but also that the right earpiece’s frame on the inside that holds the drivers in place is red and easily visible.

The cables and IEMs are equipped with coaxial MMCX connectors and the cable has got excellent strain relief and a good chin-slider. It looks basically like SE425’s cable, but is silver instead of black and the twisted cable cores on the inside are coated by a silver and copper coloured mesh, wherefore flexibility is not as good as the black version’s. I’ve seen some people complaining about the cable, but I personally find it more than flexible enough and I really don’t really have anything to criticise about it.

Removing the Filters










Comfort, Isolation:

Like the huge majority of IEMs in this price range the SE846 is supposed to be worn with the cables around the ears, which is anyway my preferred wearing style as well.
Microphonics are close to zero.

The bodies are larger and bulkier than Shure’s lower-priced IEMs, however they should still fit most people and ergonomics are excellent – but I with my large auricles have almost never comfort issues with IEMs anyway.

Provided you manage to get a good fit and seal, isolation is sublime, just like with most other closed-body IEMs and Shure’s lower-range in-ear models.


As I own these for quite some time, I have used them with different source devices, however my favourite are my iBasso DX90, LH Labs Geek Out IEM 100 and gain-reduced Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII.

Just as with about all of my IEMs, I use the SE846 with the included silicone tips (large grey single-flange tips), as foam tips and I aren’t the best friends (they often reduce treble and make bass appear less arid, even if positioned correctly).

Music source are mainly my CDs which I ripped in Foobar 2k and store in FLAC format, but I also have a couple of Hi-Res and DSD albums and recordings. For more intense testing and the purpose of this review, I covered as many music genres as possible and used tracks with different complexity, speed and cast density.

The following tonality paragraph will be split into two parts (blue “balanced” and white “bright/treble” filters).


Blue Filters (“balanced”):
Roughly, I would describe the sound as a smooth and relaxed adaption of balanced sound with a decent amount of added sub-bass. Another description would be “mature fun” (no double entendre intended).
Mids are lush and always present (overall, they’re even somewhat more up-front, just like the SE425’s, however without the sometimes slightly annoying in-your-face midrange “peak”) and slightly on the warmer side which is due to that the fundamental tone is slightly elevated, along with the mids, which adds the subtle warmth in this area.
In contrast to other in-ears with elevated bass, SE846’s emphasis starts very low in the lower fundamental tone, wherefore it doesn’t even slightly bleed into the fundamental tone and also doesn’t add too much unnecessary bloom or thickness. Fundamental tone is about not influenced by the bass emphasis and the upper bass is also not elevated as much (SE846’s upper bass is clearly less present than Triple.Fi 10’s or FA-4E XB’s – the emphasis starts really low), so the “true subwoofer” claim is quite true. Compared to quite neutral IEMs like the ER-4S, fundamental tone and upper bass show some emphasis, but it is of lesser amount than the InEar SD-2’s (fundamental tone) or Triple.Fi 10’s (upper bass).
Down from the mid-bass, the emphasis really starts extending, very evenly, and is integrated rather subtle. The climax with about +8.5 dB is reached in the sub-bass.
Tracks with deep bass lines show nice and distinct “cellar rumble”, for example Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora’s “Black Widow” (actually not my usually preferred and listened music, but good for testing sub-bass), where the first of the two synthetic bass tunes is located at 30 Hz.

Treble is somewhat in the background (on the graphs, it looks different, but subjectively treble isn’t as recessed as the frequency response graphs suggest – this is also what was the general consensus in other (German) reviews).
Unfortunately, so I have to say, treble extension isn’t that good for a quad-driver three-way IEM around €1000, as SE846’s treble rolls off more or less early at 10 kHz. I can accept the SE425’s treble which rolls off about 2 kHz earlier than the SE846, as it costs only between €200 and 300 and is a two-way dual-driver IEM, but the SE846 is quite a bit more expensive and although it has the better extension than the SE425, there is about nothing above 10 kHz (music lacks the subtle sparkle in the area of the super treble).

What I personally dislike about the blue filters are the middle highs: around 5 kHz, there is a quite steep dip in my ears – it took me quite a while to figure out that it was exactly that particular dip that made me dislike the blue filters rather often.
Usually a dip in that area (harmonics of instruments and tones in the midrage) adds a more “relaxed” character to the mids and takes away some strenuousness, however (at least in my case) I find the midrange to become too boring and yes, more strained is case of the SE846 (maybe because the mids are somewhat emphasised). And it is exactly this dip that I dislike about my Westone W4R although it is a technically excellent IEM otherwise (W4R’s dip is even steeper). Yeah, I am not the biggest fan of that 5 kHz relaxed-dip gene.
Another reviewer described the SE846 as “very high resolving but with a presentation as if it coated everything with icing” – and this is in my opinion a very fitting description of the blue filters’ presentation; it sounds clean and neat, but overdone at times and somewhat not “dirty” enough.
Correcting the 5 kHz “relaxed” dip with an equalizer or using the white filters (more about them just in a moment), the relaxed and white-washed tonality mostly disappears.

White Filters (“bright/treble”):
The mids and bass remain untouched, however there are quite distinct changes in the treble department: the area around 9 kHz gets boosted, nonetheless I wouldn’t describe it as the typical bright peak that other IEMs have, though that frequency band is little more present than neutral in my ears. Especially compared to the blue filters, the whites are quite a bit brighter. Despite the less dark highs, I would say that the blue filters sound a bit more natural, homogenous in the treble department – but also a bit too relaxed for my personal tastes, due to the 5 kHz dip.
What I really love about the white filters is that the 5 kHz “relaxed”-dip isn’t as present as before, wherefore the “icing” and subjective strenuousness disappear, although the sound is still a little more relaxed than neutral, but not to the extent that I dislike it.
As you can probably tell, I prefer the white filters much more than the blue ones that are too relaxed for my preference.

Black filters:
Sorry, I never tried the black filters  and do not even intend to – they are still in the metallic cylinder.


On a personal side note, the SE846 IEMs don’t work that well for me as all-round IEMs, as they are too coloured (once again, for me) for Classical, Chamber, Jazz and Instrumental music, so I’d definitely call them genre-specific, however they do that really good (and it’s not a real con for me as I use different IEMs for stationary as well as portable purpose and also have IEMs that I prefer with certain music genres).
Your mileage and preferences may of course be different than mine, so the SE846 may very well work for you as all-rounders (and I have come across some people who use them for about every music genre).


The SE846 has got a high resolution and can easily compete with other universal IEMs above €500 and custom IEMs around/above €1000 (though I have to admit that I have solely experience with the whole Ultimate Ears CIEM line-up when it is about custom-moulded in-ears). My UERM is probably a bit more refined, but these are only nuances and I’d say the SE846 is about on-par.
Although the SE846 is definitely not that close to a neutral frequency response, it sounds authentic and neither synthetic nor inconsistent; instruments sound mostly realistic.
Speed, texture, dynamics and control are really good, however the UERM have slightly better dynamics and the quicker bass impact (more arid/faster decay).

The bass is dry, fast as well as punchy, and especially the sub-bass is surprisingly free of any boominess and pretty arid, despite the emphasis that concentrates mainly on it – really nice.


Compared to their previous and lower-priced IEM models, Shure has definitely improved in terms of soundstage and spatial presentation.
The SE846 has got an authentic and three-dimensional soundstage presentation with decent depth, layering and an instrument separation and placement that is on-par with custom-moulded in-ears around €1k, however it is undeniable that SE846’s soundstage has got less width and depth. Though, the balance between width and depth is really good and I also never get the feeling of congestion.
I’m not implying that SE846’s soundstage is small, as it isn’t by any means, but most IEMs at this price point have a larger one. Nonetheless, the SE846 has got a nice scaling, wherefore I never have the desire for a larger soundstage when listening to music (even when many instruments are playing at the same time).

The SE846 also does a good job with reproducing “emptiness” between instruments/tonal elements and generally does a good job in terms of creating an authentic soundstage, with decent separation and layering.

Subjectively, I perceive SE846’s soundstage as half as large as my UERMs’, four times as large as my SE425’s and about ⅔ times as large as my InEar StageDiver SD-2’s.

Quick comparison to the SE425:
For a fellow friend, I wrote this brief tonal comparison, so I thought I’d include it here as well:

The SE846 (white filters) is a bit more prominent in the lower mids a has got slightly less level in the lower highs (presence area) as well as middle treble and clearly more level and the better extension in the upper highs (with the blue filters however, upper treble levels don’t differ that much, although the SE846 has still got the superior extension). As the level drops steeper from the mids to the presence area, the SE846 is by the way less analytical and critical with bad recordings although its resolution is a huge step forward.
SE846’s bass emphasis starts extending very low and evenly, with its climax in the sub-bass. SE425’s sub-bass rolls a little off and its general tonality is rather balanced, with only little more upper bass and just a tad warmth in the fundamental range.


The SE846 gives you the feeling of a premium product (which it obviously is) right from the start, with its large amount of nice included premium accessories. Sound-wise, it is definitely a premium product as well: it features a mature “fun” signature with “true” sub-bass that is very arid and controlled, adjustable treble via the included filters, a really high resolution, a nice 3-dimensional and authentic soundstage (that is rather mediocre in size but well-layered and precise) and sounds surprisingly natural, despite the emphasis in the sub-bass.
However, it doesn’t have the best all-rounder signature and is rather genre specific (at least for me, but your preference may and will most likely vary) and most strikingly, treble extension above 10 kHz should be better at this price point, but other than that, the SE846 is a really nice and premium IEM that I personally like and use mainly for more modern pop, soft rock and electronical music.

Overall, considering the strengths, weaknesses, value and price, I give the SE846 87% or rounded 4.5 out of 5 possible stars.


Pros: Sounds Great, Isolation, Build

Cons: Cable

Thought that I would post this here as well because peple who search for this should be able to find this easier. Has been reposted from the SE846 thread.


Today I got the chance to listen to some of my friend's gear and compare them to the SE846/DX90. I was particularly curious about the Roxanne, but the IM03 turned out to be a very interesting listen indeed. Here is my comparison of the SE846 and the Roxanne since there hasn't really been an in depth comparison yet. Obviously, YMMV. 




JH Audio Roxanne vs Shure SE846 (White Filter)


The Roxanne was very good, and having loaned that pair for a day a while ago, I knew what to expect. When I had them, I absolutely loved the bass and treble, but found the midrange somewhat lacking in clarity and detail. When I heard the SE846 with white filters, I immediately thought that the SE846 was a bit similar to the Roxanne, but the midrange was absolutely the best I have heard on an IEM.


Let's start with the bass, it is hard to compare these two IEMs especially, because both are adjustable. The Roxanne was on a configuration where the impact was around the same as the SE846. I found that although the Roxanne bass was incredible, the SE846 is just better to me. It is faster and more punchy, which I like and has the perfect amount of sub-bass. The Roxanne was great too, but I thought that the SE846's bass was just more realistic.


The midrange was no competition for me, the SE846 takes this hands down. The SE846's midrange is lush, but very detailed at the same time. It has no sibilance and vocal clarity is above everything I have heard. The Roxanne's midrange just felt like it was a bit veiled and overly warm.


The treble was interesting, on the blue filters I would have taken the Roxanne treble over these any day, but with the white filter it is much closer. The SE846's treble is probably a little more pronounced, but both are very detailed and not sibilant at all. I really don;t prefer either, so this is a draw.


The area that the Roxanne is heads and shoulders above the Shure is soundstage and imaging. The Roxanne along with the 1plus2 are the two most headphone like IEMs I have heard in this regard and although the Shure is very competent in this area, the Roxanne is better. The Roxanne's soundstage is more three dimensional and the SE846's soundstage feels a bit flat in comparison. Imaging is also better on the Roxanne, but the SE846 is not far off at all. 


The SE846 seems to be a little bit more detailed because it is tuned brighter and is faster, but in reality they are both great, but I do feel like the SE846 pulls ahead a little. Clarity is much better on the SE846 due to the tuning once again. The Roxanne's warm mids does it more harm than good IMO and it sounds too warm for me. The Shure sounds quite neutral and vocals especially are incredibly realistic and accurate. Instrument separation is a bit better on the Roxanne, but the SE846 comes quite close. Vocal separation is a little better on the SE846 for me. 


Overall, I do feel like I made the correct decision by going for the SE846 over the Roxanne because personally I like them more, but many people will also disagree with this. One thing is indisputable, however; both of these are extremely good IEMs and are two of the best universal IEMs out there right now. 






Let's get the negatives out of the way first. The AK100 was shocking, and not in a good way. They were warm, had no focus and sounded downright bad. The sound was blurry almost and everything just sounded warm and lifeless. I genuinely do not like this DAP, for the price, the AK100 is simply unacceptable IMO. 


Back to more positive impressions, the HM-901 is great! sounds very detailed, the most detailed DAP I have heard without any doubt. The SE846 paired very well. Soundstage and imaging was exceptional and so was clarity and detail. It made the AK100 sound like a cheap toy. However, almost everything has negatives and the HM-901 is certainly no different. The build quality is horrendous, with cheap feeling and looking plastic everywhere. The deal breaker for me was the UI. The HM-901 is slow, unresponsive and hard to navigate through. If HiFiMAN made the HM-901 more usable, then this would be an awesome DAP. 


The DX90 is what I am using right now and I love it. It ticks most boxes for me - it is small, light, has decent battery life, sounds good and has multiple outputs. It sounds great for the price too. It is essentially a slightly scaled down HM-901. It isn't quite as good, but is more than makes up for it by being a but better overall package. It pairs just as well with the SE846 as the HM-901 does. 







As always, I hoped that this helped and I would love to hear what other people think. 


Pros: Bass, Midrange, Instrument Separation, Layering, Comfort.

Cons: Price, Dark & Veiled, Lacking Treble Extension, Soundstage.



Shure SE846 - Black





Firstly i would like to say a big thank you to Paul from Shure UK for providing me with Demo unit of the SE846 in exchange for my honest review.


Before i start the review i would like to mention that i use a Chord Mojo as a reference dac/amp to ensure there is no bottleneck prior to my reviews. Also i will show a screen shot of the details rating system because Head-Fi changes this once my review is submitted.










Packaging And Build Quality


The 846 come in a very nice premium feeling presentation box that has a magnetic clasp on the lid, inside you get a high quality pelican like case, micro fiber cleaning cloth, adapters, tuning filters, ear tips and another smaller hard shell carrying case. The build quality of the 846 is quite good, its housing is a solid plastic shell and the cable feels tough and is a nice thickness. I would have liked to see a better housing material for this price as there are IEMs around £100 that are using materials like stainless steel or aluminium for a higher quality feel and reassurance.





Sound (Using White Filters)


Bass - So many of you wonder, does it really give sub woofer type of performance and the answer is yes, yes it does but not with all genres of music. To test it out i had go out of my heavy metal comfort zone and try out some of the more bass focused genres so i chose Reggae and Hip Hop. Instantly i was shocked at what these little balanced armatures could do, powerful, controlled and deep low end that kept in its own space down below, i found it so effortless and controlled with tremendous texture and impact, an excellent foundation for the rest of the music. I then tried it with songs im a lot more fimiliar with, whilst not being as impactful and deep with metal as it was with hip hop (usually due to the recordings) i still found it to sound great and never trying to dominate or distract from the midrange. 


Midrange - Forward and lush are what came to mind, electric guitar has plenty of power and aggression, vocals are pushed up front and instruments are well separated with good detail. A very intimate presentation.


Treble - This was the let down for me, to my ears it sounds completely cut off after around 8khz. As a result i think this is the reason the soundstage is so small and compact and the overall clarity suffers, you can tell there's a lot of detail in these little drivers but it can be hard to pick out if the mastering quality has a darker tone. I always felt myself wanting that extra sparkle, more air in the soundstage, more energy in the treble even just a little bit more extension. 





Conclusion - i have enjoyed my time using shures (previously TOTL) iem with its unique BA design and I really do love the bass and midrange of the 846 so its such a shame about the treble, the sound signature is too dark for me personally and i also like a medium to large sound stage. I cant recommend this to people that love their treble twinkly and bright but if you are somone who is sensitive to treble and are into night club type music, with its phenomenal sub bass it could the perfect IEM.




(Audio Quality Scale)



Harsh |---o--|------| Smooth



Forward |--o---|------| Recessed



Boomy |------|---o-| Controlled



Compressed |------|o----| Natural



Dull |----o-|------| Vivid



Veiled |--o---|------| Clear



Small |--o---|------| Large



Slow |------|--o---| Fast



Poor |------|---o--| Excellent


Pros: Great sound, good fit, laser sound stage, great bass, mature sounding

Cons: large housing, expensive, upper treble lacking?

This is my review from "sounds guy" on Amazon!



Comfort- The sennheisers stay in my ears pretty well. The shures are a little too big and the cable is really stiff and annoying. +1 for the sennheisers.

Design- The shures look better hands down, they have adequate amounts of weight to them and the replaceable cable is a huge plus compared the senneiser ie800s

Microphonics- The ie800s did encounter microphonics because of the cable and I could not move much in them. On the other hand the shures go around your ear so the shure gets a +1 for this category.

Sound (Bass,Treble,Mids)

Bass- The shure se846 has a "subwoofer" bass to it which is extremely unique and can dig EXTREMELY deep, but the detail of the bass is "alright", a little definition would be nicer. Compared to the ie800 which also has deep bass. The shures out perform them because of the depth and subwoofer like feeling.

Mids- The shures sound amazing!!!! VOCALS are extremely realistic and sound like the singer/songwriter is talking to you and it's personal. The se846 moves my heart more. The ie800s have excellent mids and vocals sound clean but the se846 is quite effortless and LUSH sounding. Keep in mind that the shures do have coloration to them and aren't reference grade. They do have kind of a fun signature with the bass-mid emphasis.

Treble- The shures for $1000, have a treble roll off which is unacceptable considering the price. They sound veiled and muffled compared the ie800. The ie800 have sparkly treble and can get a little bit too detailed (might lead to listening fatigue). But the ie800 never irritated me, and I think higher end sounded extremely AIRY, and liquidy.
The shures take quite a beating regarding treble.

Filters on the shure se846- I found the Nuetral one to be the best, since the others altered the frequency response, and I generally prefer a balanced sound. The brightness filter was simply "ok" It would have been better to see more airy ness on the upper end.

Final Conclusion- Consider the shures if you travel a lot, because of the isolation and can block serious amounts of noise. The sennheiser are good if you aren't sitting still (many people complained about the ie800 becoming stiff due to cable issues, I have not encountered that).

Sound wise- The ie800 have better over all clarity and transparency. The shure se846 sounded veiled and muffled in the treble regions when compared to the ie800. Now if you want just good Vocal and Bass then consider the shures since they outperform the ie800 in those categories. In my opinion I would pick the IE800s overall since they just offer better sound quality and airyness of a reference grade earphone. It was disappointing of the treble roll off which got me the most, if the shures were brighter then they would easily be better than the ie800s.

Mids : 8/10
Bass: 9/10
Treble: 9/10

Shure se846
Mids- 10/10
Bass- 1010
Treble- 9/10

The treble is amazing, however treble heads might find it rolling off. Sometimes it sounds a bit too warm, over all I love it!!


Pros: great sound quality, bass

Cons: cable, connectors

I had 2 pairs with the same issue, after about 10 months, I started to lose sound because the cable didn't properly connect to the earphone. Just moving your head can make it disconnect.

I tried to change the cable with the second one provided and clean the connector, no luck. Spending extra money on a third party cable wouldn't have fixed my issue (I would have get a new set of cable from the warranty if it was the case, I got a brand new pair)


You've been warned, it's a great earphones, for less than a year...


Pros: low/mid bass, mids

Cons: Treble extension, cost

I'll keep this short.


Build quality: 5/5. Looks very solid and durable. The cable seems like it will last a while, and if it doesn't - you get a second one for free anyway. The Y split is very beefy. The jack is also beefy and looks like it will last a long time. The earpieces look durable as well. They have weight to them. They look and feel expensive - and they are. They even have removable metal nozzles. No worries about breaking those tight fitting olives! Well, you might break the olives. Not the nozzles though!


Sound: These things sound great. For this portion I will mostly be referring to their sound with the blue (default) filters. I've owned many top tier universals and these are easily the best in my mind. Their main strengths are the sub bass, mid bass, and mids. The bass is the best I have ever heard from a BA IEM. They reach deep. The sub bass is very very good. It sounds like an excellent dynamic driver down low. The mid bass has great impact and reminds me of the Westone 3 without any negative impact on the mids. The mids are typical Shure. If you love vocals I don't see how you could dislike the SE846. They are pretty much the star of the show, even with the amazing bass response Shure has achieved with this quad BA. Vocals are smooth, sweet, and a bit more up front than neutral. I love their treble but I tend to prefer a laid back sound overall, especially up high. For those who love a bright top end then you probably won't like these much. The treble is there, detailed and non fatiguing but it's not well extended which can cause a lack of airy feeling up top. The white filters remedy this to some extent but they don't help the overall extension much. The white filters add some air and shimmer but overall the extension is about the same. Bass feels a little lessened compared to the blue filters. I never tried the blacks so I can't comment on them.


So, why buy them? If you're looking for a universal with great build quality, looks, amazing bass and dreamy mids - you should absolutely look into the SE846. I think they are a great step up from the SE535 LTD's. Worth $500 more? As always, depends if you can afford it.


Why not buy them? Do you love your treble? Are you a detail lover? Do you find Shure's mids to be too forward? Are you poor? If you fit any of these categories you might want to take a pass and consider the IE800, 1+2, k3003 or customs. If you're poor, you might want to consider 1. A ramen diet or 2. a job. Both will allow you to experience the wonders of top tier IEMS.


Pros: Light, great isolation. Easy to drive. Well balanced.

Cons: Cable, Cable, Cable

I finally took the plunge and got these. It's amazing how TOTL IEMS can sound so different.


Bass: Tight and full. Tip dependent. With the triple flanges thought my head was going to blow off. I like the silicone tips.


Mids/Treble:: A bit forward with roll off but very detailed. Good separation. Resolution is clean.


Highs:  Right there very detailed.


Soundstage: Not sure it's kind of right in your head.


I have the Westone w60's as well and so I was a bit overwhelmed by the huge presence these IEMS give. They are fun and musical. The w60's are more natural and organic and are more comfortable. The cable is a real disappointment on the 846's. It's too stiff and doesn't fit nicely around your ears. If I had to pick one it would depend on the mood I was in. The isolation on the 846's make them better for travelling. I have the Dunu dn-2000j's which are less half the price maybe  a third and on some tracks out perform both. The 846's are well made. Who would I recommend them to? People that like the Shure sound with great detail and in your face sound but not overly fatiguing. I'm done now. No more gear. I'm broke......


Pros: Fantastically clean bass, wonderful soundstage, ultra dynamic

Cons: Stupid expensive, cable is iffy, requires mods

This is a very long overdo review.  I've owned these for about 15 months, give or take, and use these about 8-12 hours a day.  I've toyed with the various filters, and have tweaked them a bit, but in the end, after tweaking, these are absolutely the best things I've ever heard sound through.  I spent the better part of owning these swapping comply tips every few days, swapping filters back and fourth, and tried a ton of various sources.  Keep all of this in mind while reading this.


I'm going to cut right to the chase: if you own these, then there are two things that you MUST do to actually appreciate these.  First, and foremost, you need to put the blue filters in, and you need to pull out the crappy foam that inhabits the tubes within the filters.  Before doing this, you're appreciating mediocrity, but afterwards you're rewarded with something equivalent to a Ferrari in the headphone world. The soundstage is easily ten times better, bass is significantly cleaner and more lush, and the highs twinkle to an unbelievable extent.  The before and after foam removal is like comparing $200 headphones to $1500 headphones.  I genuinely feel as though this foam unneedingly cripples the audio nirvana.  Secondly, you need to grab yourself an xacto knife, and you'll want to splice out the metal paperclip that promotes the memory loop.... without this metal, the comfort skyrockets.  This is assuming that you have the factory cable, of course.


I typically break down music during any reviews or comments, and claim a headphone is fantastic during certain parts, and crippled during others depending on the music.  This is different.  Anything that you're going to listen to, after the filter mod will push your ears to their apex.  When getting newer, and higher-end headphones/IEMs, you're rewarded with a smirking face the first few weeks you put them on until you become accustomed to them, but these provoke the same sensation every single time you put them in and press "play."


Obviously, I seem biased, but what can I say?  After the foam mod, they actually fight to make sure I'll never want anything better.  They make their point very well, and honestly make me appreciate not only new music, but my previous collection as though I've never heard it before.  Granted, if you're a potential buyer, you're going to think to yourself "I'm paying $1,000 for some headphones, why should I have to tweak them?" and you're right to say that.  Out of the box, they honestly sound very good, but they didn't set them self apart from other extremely high-end headphones/IEMs.  This isn't to say that you won't be extremely satisfied with their default output by any means.  I just want to get it out as soon as possible: if you aren't planning on removing that crippling foam from the blue filters, then I would say just avoid these completely.  I also want to bring up the subject of tip placement, and why these stand apart from other models/brands... the metal tip tube is fantastic, and coming from many other IEMs from various price tiers, I will say that they are significantly more modular as far as tips are concerned.  I have always advocated Comply tips, but in the end you'll have to swap them out at the most weekly, and without that swap you're faced with a dilema of laziness and SQ.  I've always appreciated rubbery tips, but who am I kidding?  They don't promote the same type of seal and isolation that Comply or similar tips provide.  The metal tubing on the 846s, with the barb system allows you to slide the tips as needed for the perfect fit.  I hated dealing with Comply tips, but I obviously couldn't use anything else to get remotely close to the fidelity that they provided via their seal.  With the metal tubes on the 846s, you can drop down a size on the rubber tips that fit you, and slide them down the tube so it pushes further into your canal to provide the same perfect fit that you'd expect from other types of tips (like Comply or tree tips).  It's nice to get that perfect fit without stressing over tips.


Okay, so what really shines with these?  Complex layers are separated entirely through them.  Vocals, both male and female, sound blissful and seductive!  I don't typically listen to vocal music, but when it happens, I feel so blissful that I could simply pop!  Bass riffs?  You got it!  Bass slaps and riffs grind down to your ears until it provokes a grin.  I typically listen to various electronic music, such as electro-pop, trance, chillout....etc, and the layers are so luscious and organic that I borderline can't stand it without being happy.


I am from the 80's, so 90's grunge is very nostalgic to me.  After owning some UE Triple.fis, I assumed that fidelity doesn't work well with heavily distorted guitars, but these aren't fatiguing like the UEs, and instead creates extreme fidelity between each pick during a guitar riff... perhaps the triple.fis were just to "bright?"  I'm not sure, but I'm very happy to admit that I don't have the same problems with the 846s.


To end this review, I've read a rainbow of good and bad reviews of the 846s.  I definitely assume that all bad reviews are from people that didn't do the foam filter mod.  It's easily night and day.  Listening to them with some lossless and a great source makes my old flagship headphones feel like VHS, and these feel like bluray.  I honestly doubt that not only will I never buy another pair of headphones or IEMs, but I doubt I'd ever want to.  They're that perfect in every single way.  Sure, there's IEMs with more BA drivers, and some that are custom, but what would I care?  These are quite simply, perfect in every way when it comes to sound.


Pros: Everything

Cons: size is relatively big

This is the most amazing headphone ever,

I came from background of shure 535, westone w60 and beyren dynamic T6. but this small thing blow everything you ever heard. 

the sound begins to be alive, has its definition, started to hear all my music again, because you can easily imagine the stage and people while listening, 

changed to nozzle to bright and then boom, I cannot stop.

connect it to anything and it will "repair" it, even to airline headphone jack "but with that piece which you can control the sound level, and relax or better "immerse"


I wont regret 1000$, because it worth every penny. and your ear deserve it. 

vocals and emotions are electrifying.

They seem to heard the problem in previous se535. Its the bass, and suddenly the stage in your head. I wonder how could they squeeze this all in that piece.


Kudos for Shure, somebody did their homework properly.

Shure SE846 Sound Isolating™ Earphone

Manufacturer Description: Available August 2013 The latest addition to the award-winning Shure Sound Isolating™ Earphone line, the groundbreaking SE846 combines precision engineering and innovative technology in a sophisticated design for the most discerning audio enthusiasts. QUAD HIGH-DEFINITION MICRODRIVERS WITH TRUE SUBWOOFER For extended high-end clarity and unparalleled low-end performance Four custom-engineered, balanced armature drivers tailored to blend precisely with each other Three-way system configuration for dedicated low-, mid-, and high-frequency distribution PATENT-PENDING DESIGN FOR UNPARALLELED LOW END Groundbreaking low-pass filter enables low-end roll-off at ~3 dB at 90 Hz (~10 dB at 250 Hz), the previously unattainable deep low-end performance of a true subwoofer, without sacrificing clarity or detail Ten precision-welded, stainless steel plates form 4 inches of high acoustic mass pathway, naturally enabling low-frequency roll-off to begin at about 75 Hz without distortion or artifacts For a complete description see - http://www.shure.com/americas/news-events/coming-soon/se846-sound-isolating-earphones

Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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