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Shure SE Series: What's the difference from one to the next?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I was redirected here from Maximum PC to ask this question:

Here is the comparison chart for the Shure SE earphone series. What are the practical sound improvements from each model to the next? Is it worth the price jumps?

My main usage is in enthusiast music production and guitar practice via TonePort and my amplifier's headphone port. I do not need absolutely perfect, flat response for professional monitoring. I have heard full-size headphones are better suited and maybe even healthier for these purposes, but I'd rather have portability on my side. If full-size headphones would exponentially increase my experience and exponentially decrease my chances of hearing loss, I'd like to know models within the price range of the Shure earphones.

Thank you.
post #2 of 20
First, there is no health issue regarding In-Ear-Monitor (IEM) when used properly (check out the IEM guide in my signature). The main issue is volume - if you listen to music too loud, you will damage your hearing regardless of what kind of headphone you used.

Shure is nice, but there are other IEM manufacturers out there too, namely Ultimate Ears, Westone, ..etc (you'll find a list of companies in the end of my IEM guide).

Putting aside of your budget, I'll recommend SE310 and above (assuming Shure is the only brand in consideration). It is hard to say whether the different models worth the price jumps, as many of us would agree that the interpretation of sound quality is one of the most subjective topic here. However, My own experience tell me Shure low end models (SE110, SE210) are not worth the price.

Any chance you are considering custom molded IEM too? You'll find LiveWires and FreQ are making some of the best budget custom in the market, all less than the price of SE530.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Alright, thank you... your guide was very helpful, by the way.

I think I'll try the 310... amazon sells it for $200. Based on the cheapest Amazon seller, are there any notable models from those dozen or so companies that match or outdo the technical specs of the Shure SE310?

I would rather not go Custom Molded.

Thank you for your help.
post #4 of 20
But if you can afford the SE530's don't hesitate..
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by green_avanti View Post
But if you can afford the SE530's don't hesitate..
x2.

G.9 - You won't get substantially better sound with full headphones than the options you are considering. As far as the models go, I agree with ClieOS that you should start your search at SE310 and up. The SE110 and SE210 will not offer you much bass at all and don't have great treble extension. The tuned port on the SE310 makes a big difference for base. You will see more of a performance jump in the SE420s, because of their discrete woofer and tweeter microspeakers. Check eBay, better prices can be had for the SE310 and above there. I'm thinking about getting a pair myself (I have the SE530's and in my opinion, they are the best IEMs available below the $1000 Ultimate Ears, at 1/3 the price on eBay.).
post #6 of 20
Got my Se530 today as well as my UE triple fi's(arrived within 10 minutes of each other!)
Instantly loved the UE's but are nowhere as near as comfortable as the Shure's and stick out a little too much....sound is fantastic on both!!
With only few hours listening on each I'm swaying towards the Shure...... completely isolated and lost in musicality!!
Completely recommended thus far!!
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
530's are a bit too much for me... And I'm a little hesitant to buy expensive, used electronics from eBay. I haven't bought anything from there as of yet, either.
post #8 of 20
Shures were about £200 off ebay and arrived sealed and in full presentation box with plenty of extras includin volume control, choice of cable length, plane adaptor and 1/8 to 1/4 adaptor
post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by hatethatgiraffe View Post
Shures were about £200 off ebay and arrived sealed and in full presentation box with plenty of extras includin volume control, choice of cable length, plane adaptor and 1/8 to 1/4 adaptor
Are you in the UK?
Which ebay seller did you buy from, I'm looking at buying the SE530 but not sure where to buy from.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Is the 530 the kind of audio device that would play best in coalition with a headphone amplifier?
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by G.9 View Post
Is the 530 the kind of audio device that would play best in coalition with a headphone amplifier?
It really depends on your source and of course, the gain of the headphone amp. When I got my SE530s I tried using them with my Mini^3 headphone amp - alas my amp has a x5 gain so it's really too much for IEMs. I still use the amp occasionally but not for everything. You would probably be OK with an amp that has a x2 gain - I'll certainly be trying the SE530s with my Pico at x2 when I get it.

In the short run I found that both my Macbook Pro and my Rockbox'ed Sansa e270 had more than enough oomph to really make the SE530s sing. As with most IEMs, the isolation they provide really opens things up and lets you hear LOTS of things that you just can't hear on all but the best of speaker setups. Sometimes it's a detriment - i.e. a poorly recorded audio book with a narrator that has an annoying wheeze that you can't hear on regular headphones or speakers.

Best option - get the SE530s (or TF10s or whatever floats your boat) and give them a listen with your source(s). If you like what you hear, no headphone amp required. If not, start the next phase of upgrade-itis and let the headphone amp gods be kind to you.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
iMac right now, MacBook in a few years... I'm leaning towards the fact that the audio architecture is about the same. iPod Touch is the current media device, while the iPhone will replace it in, again, a few years. For audio production, it's going through my Line 6 TonePort UX2.

I'd really prefer that the headphone amp gods granted an excuse from sacrifice... the less peripherals, the better.
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by G.9 View Post
iMac right now, MacBook in a few years... I'm leaning towards the fact that the audio architecture is about the same. iPod Touch is the current media device, while the iPhone will replace it in, again, a few years. For audio production, it's going through my Line 6 TonePort UX2.

I'd really prefer that the headphone amp gods granted an excuse from sacrifice... the less peripherals, the better.
The headphone amp gods are indeed smiling upon you then, as the 36 Ohm impedence is not unreasonable for a laptop or iPod. I listen to my SE530s straight from an iPod Nano and they sound great. They'll sound even better with an amp, but it is not remotely necessary to have an amp to enjoy them. Cheers!
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Indeed... thanks all!
post #15 of 20
With 25% Live cashback and 10% Paypal discount you can knock off a good third of the price on ebay after everything. Certainly helps the hurt go away a little
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