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Shure E500 v. Ultimate Ears UE-10

post #1 of 607
Thread Starter 
Ok, I just got back from a supersecret meet with a few headfiers and sugarfried. I was told I would be allowed to listen to the E500's. I jumped at the opportunity and went with my UE-10's, RSA Hornet and 5G Video iPod with certain key lossless files for A/B'ing purposes.

I used my trusty demo discs which I know like the back of my hand. After listening for about an hour I was very impressed - so much so that I think the Shure E500 will be a definate UE-10 killer. Here is why:

The UE-10 is not shabby on the bass. It provides clean, accurate and natural sounding bass. However, the E500 provides clean, accurate and powerful natural sounding bass. In the bass department, the E500 definately has more powerful and deeper sounding bass than the UE-10's. In case some are wondering, yes, the E500's did handle (with authority nonetheless) my infamous bass crusher track. Holst's Suite has NEVER sounded so good before on a portable rig.

Fun, lush and rich are the words I would use to describe the E500's. I queued up "Them there eyes" by Ella Fitzgerald. Ella came across with a very warm tone and the sound was dead on perfect and if not perfect, very well damn near perfect. Comparing them to my UE-10's I would say the UE-10's sounded more clinical and dead while the E500's put a true breath of life into Ella. I was very, very impressed.

For the highs I mainly listen to "Long Valley Road" as played by Bruce Horsby. I would be willing to bet a preety penny that the E500 has a higher extension on the highs than the UE-10's. The cymbals and dobro came across so crisp and the decay on the cymbals was amazing. Once again, the UE-10's are not shabby but the E500's are so much more fun to listen to.

I would also bet quite a bit and say that the E500 is just as detailed as the UE-10. I would have to spend more time with the E500's to pass an authoritative and complete judgment on them. On the whole I felt the E500's were at the very least on par with the UE-10's.

Comfort and fit:
It is a no brainer that the UE-10's would win out in this category as they are custom IEM's. However, I was surprised at how light and comfortable the E500's were. Not only are the E500's comfortable but they are also very stylish. They are rounded in such a way that they look small and comfy and indeed they are.

Final Verdict:
Would I trade in my UE-10's for E500's? No. But if I could start all over again, would I pick the E500's or the UE-10? Well, let us see. The E500 is a lot more fun to listen to and is more than HALF the price of the UE-10. Hmmmm........

I think the E500 would be the better and wiser choice for music lovers and UE-10 for critical audiophiles, although I could definately see the critical audiophiles falling in love with the E500's.

Many thanks to my good friend Jasper994 for letting me in on the secret meet and to sugarfried for allowing us to demo the E500's.


We also got a chance to demo a small unit called the Push to Hear (PtH). The thing is awesome. If you have ever wondered if people are talking about you when you have your IEM's on, here is the chance to know. The unit connects to your source and the IEM's of your choice connect to the PtH. You press play and the music comes through like normal but push the button on the PtH and the music sounds like light elevator music and you can hear everything that is going on around you without having to pull your IEM's out . I think this product is long overdue and I for one could definately use one while on business trips or during certain times at the office. Definately check this out when it comes out.
post #2 of 607
Wow, nice first impression. I definitely have more faith in this Shure E500 after this. I remember the last impressions was commenting on the overwhelming bass, so now it is getting really interesting.

Did you also demo the push-to-hear technology? I am actually more interested in that.
post #3 of 607
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by solvexyz
Wow, nice first impression.

Did you also demo the push-to-hear technology? I am actually more interested in that.
Thanks. I did demo the push-to-hear technology. I had chance to demo it with my UE-10's and with the E500's. It is definately cool. The microphone picks up even very subtle sounds and it allows you to hear what is going on while listening to your music AT THE SAME TIME!!! It is definately some cool technology.
post #4 of 607
Lots of pics here:


I got to hear the E500's at CES, and now in a quieter room and with better standalone sources and amps, I got to hear the E500 in it's full glory.

Although I would prefer the treble to have a bit more extension and clarity, I think the powerful bass has a bit of a masking effect (a common issue with IEM's it seems), however, it would make the E500's not suitable for straight out of portables like the iPod.

So the frequency response is an excellent compromise. Sugarfried and the folks at Shure have really outdone themselves with the E500.

BTW, our better test system was Iron_Dreamer's laptop (running Foobar and FLAC files) with optical output to his Lavry DA10.

Also on hand was the iRiver iHP-120 and the Hornet (two of them there). Along with quite a few iPods. From the 3rd Gen to the 5th Gen and Nano.

There also a new foam ear tip in development from Shure. The "olives". They are black and more bullet shaped, and have a smooth outer skin that is not very porous. This will allow them to be cleaned more effectively. The prototypes were entirely too huge for my ears, and largest ones look like black olives with one end cut off. The production ones will apparently have a size available in the same diameter as the older yellow ones.

It's going to be a looooong wait until May.

post #5 of 607
You're very welcome LFF! And thanks again Sugarfried, for having us all there, and letting us check out this spectacular new product.

If I had to sum up the E500 into just one word it would be: WOW!

Thankfully, I can say a bit more...

Like LFF already mentioned, the E500 is a lot of fun. While we were all demoing them I was having a look around the room and I saw a combination of closed eyed smiling bliss, and huge grins... Always a good sign.

To me, the E500 had perfect tonal balance across the range. The UE-10 on the other hand seems to have a few dead spots. The treble also seemed to be significantly more refined. I tried several tracks that tend to get a bit harsh with the UE-10; the E500 never did. This is something I felt that the E4 did too, but the E500 does it even better leaving the UE-10 in the dust. The amount of detail seemed to be at least on par with the UE-10 if not better. The bass was utterly spectacular.

The design of the E500 is awesome! I personally think they were slightly more comfortable than the UE-10. They were very small and fit into my ear better which would allow me to lay on my side without the discomfort I get with the UE-10. Something to note, the UE-10 fits flatter in LFF's ears than they do in mine. This may be part of the reason he finds them more comfortable than I do. Inside the canal itself the UE-10 is a bit more comfortable (very small margin for me), but the difference in the comfort level in the outer ear pushes the final comfort level into the E500's favor for me. The metallic look is very cool, and the breakaway cable is something I'm really looking forward to. The PtH module is awesome! I can't wait to get my hands on one!!! No more having to take out my IEMs everytime someone wants to have a 5 second conversation with me. A little added bonus: You can hear yourself as others hear you since your voice comes through the mic.

Would I trade my UE-10 for these? Hmmm... Well, I'd want to do a bit more listening, but based upon my initial impressions, I get the feeling I would. At half the cost, would I have gotten these instead of the UE-10 and never looked back? Absolutely!

I should add, if there was one thing I could change about the E500, I would have it available with a memory wire. Since the E500 is meant for the consumer market, maybe this is something Shure could offer in a pro version.
post #6 of 607
Originally Posted by solvexyz

Did you also demo the push-to-hear technology? I am actually more interested in that.
Sound quality can be argued till the ends of the Earth, and everyone has their own subjective opinion. But the PTH tech is more of an objective feature. It is just so sweet a feature. And if you have ever tried using IEM's in an office situation, the PTH unit will be mana from the heavens.

It can also be pretty sneaky as long as you cover up the green LED that lights up when it's active.

Oh, and apparently the battery life is around 20 hours of continual use. And with sporadic day to day use, that could easily be a couple of months for most people. In fact, the batteries in the PTH unit there was the same one used during CES and MacWorld. They didn't change the single AAA battery in it.

post #7 of 607
I was there for the E500 hoedown as well, and frankly I'm flabbergasted by the combination of AWESOME sound, great fit/comfort/ergonomics, and low price (relative to sonic competitors). And PTH is just the icing on the cake. I think this product will redefine the entire map for IEM's, forcing people to make better sounding IEM's at lower prices.

Soundwise, they frankly do things that I never thought possible from IEM's, like produce bass impact comparable to the best I've heard from dynamic cans while maintaining superb texture and detail without a hint of bloat. On some tracks, the bass frankly rivaled what I heard from foo_me's great balanced Qualia rig at the meet last weekend. The highs are certainly the most extended I've heard from an IEM (including the UE10 demo I heard this weekend, which previously had redefined IEM treble in my mind), smashing the 16kHz ceiling. The detail is fantastic; I heard hiss and other noise on recordings I thought were quiet, and other small musical details that even the SA5000 glosses over somehow by comparison . It did all this without the slightest hint of harshness or sibilance, just sounding refined as all get out. And the midrange was wonderfully live and entertaining. They strike an amazing combination of refinement/detail and FUN, a combination that is found very few and far between with audiophile gear. These impressions were from about an hour of listening to lossless files of all sorts of music from my laptop (kmixer bypass, optical out) to the Lavry DA10, which really allowed the E500 to show all that they can do.

Then you add in that they are far lighter and smaller than the E5, despite have an ADDITIONAL DRIVER, and the thinner, easier to-manage cable, along with the better entry angle for the stem, and these things are a real pleasure to wear. Whereas I start to tire a bit of wearing the E5 after an hour or so, after an hour with the E500, I felt no discomfort of any kind. The short cable with swappable extensions or PTH is also a great idea, as it would allow for custom cables of almost any sort and length, tailored to one's own portable and/or home systems. Plus it allows you to walk around with an iPod Nano as a necklace

I know this may sound like hype, but it really isn't, as I have never been so amazed by a product. It has sound like a true hi-fi headphone, and in a superbly ergonomic and useable package that allows for great options for use at home, work, or on the road, and all at a price point that really drops a nuclear bomb on the whole IEM industry. I do not want to see UE or Etymotic's quarterly reports once the E500 is available, because it will send a shockwave through those manufacturers once the raging wildfire of the E500 hits headphiles everywhere. They are going to have to work long and hard to come up with something THIS good, or face extinction from the high end market, it's just that good.

If I used IEM's a lot, I would be just DYING waiting until May to get these, thank god I have the SA5000/Dynahi rig to keep me happy

post #8 of 607
I agree, the bar has truely been raised. Other companies are going to have to seriously inovate, or be left in the dust.
post #9 of 607
Finally, I might be willing to let my Etys go for something that has good highs as well bass.
post #10 of 607
Damn, you guys are gushing like Old Faithful. I'll have to test them vs. the ES2 when they come out. The bar has been raised for IEM's? It better be. So far I've found every single universal-fit IEM to be lacking in one way or another. If the E500 is as good as you say, then it won't be "raising the bar" so much as "getting it right."

I'll wait until I hear these. The release date is in May, right?

Also, do we have any concrete stats? Frequency response, impedance, sensitivity, etc...
post #11 of 607
Wow, it seems that some people here must be influential.
post #12 of 607
You have really given me something to look forward to! All the UE-10 owners are probably very content on their puchases, as they should be. Since I can't afford, and would not get a custom monitor at the UE-10 price point, I am looking forward to getting a Shure E500 down the road!
post #13 of 607
The replies in this thread will be of two types:
1) Enthusiasm and questions regarding the E500
2) Denouncement and skepticism by people who feel threatened.

I'm definitely interested now What's the sensitivity like? Is it still super high and likely to reveal system hiss out of a DAP's headphone out?
post #14 of 607
Nice impressions.

This is not good news for my wallet, and for my UE-10 Pros.
post #15 of 607
Originally Posted by CookieFactory
2) Denouncement and skepticism by custom IEM owners who feel threatened.
In my case, it's denouncement of my custom IEMs, not the Shures...
And it's not the owners who feel threatened but their wallets...

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