Okay, I received my set today and have been listening for about an hour. I kind of wanted the bronze but then I figured I already owned 2 pairs of bronze SE530's so I opted for the clear instead. Also, I think the blue and red (L & R) indicators are cool. Some non-audiophiles could see these clear IEM's as ugly. I think they are beautiful!
First off....the cables...holy crap! It is safe to say Shure was pretty perturbed by all of the negativity regarding past cables because they certainly are making amends. This cable is nothing short of amazing. I have never had a problem with a Shure cable before and always liked the heaviness to them which keeps it from tangling and makes it feel generally rugged. Having said that this cable is built like a tank. Everything about it. I even much prefer it over the IE8 cable which gets such high praise. My W3's feel dainty and delicate next to the SE535. As far as the clear cable discoloring over time? I highly doubt it. The clear is more of a hazy greyish/amber color and has a somewhat rough tactile feeling to it. In addition it has the bendable re-inforcement over the ear sheathing to keep the IEM's in place. It appears this sheathing is part of the cable and not removable but no need to worry. You don't feel it. One very unique thing about the cable is where it connects to the housing...the housing is free to swivel around. Instead of a plug connection it is more like a fastener connection. The swiveling seemed strange but makes sense for perfect fit and comfort. I am not aware of any other IEM that does this. Very little microphonics too.
The sound: I owned a couple sets of SE530's for close to two years listening to them almost daily but is has also been close to a year since I had the last pair. From memory I cannot recall any sound changes which isn't necessarily a bad thing. This IEM has always been regarded very high. Treble slightly recessed, slightly forward midrange, very smooth, balanced and non-fatiguing. I was hoping for a bit more treble but I don't hear it. If Shure tweaked the sound, I would like to know what is different about it? If I had to put my finger on something, I might say the soundstage seems slightly larger as it now seems very similar (in size) to W3 where I previously thought the W3 soundstage was much larger. Also, I do not hear as much "hiss" as I recall SE530 having but I may need to do more experimenting. In fact, it's pretty silent out of my nano. Having said that, the housing does look a pinch smaller but without comparing side by side I don't know for shure. Comparing to my W3, the W3 has more treble sparkle and a more pronounced mid bass hump, the SE535 sounds more balanced with a more forward midrange.
Other than that, the accesories and case is the same as previous generation.
In summary, while it would seem like a huge premium for possibly no sound improvements (needs to be confirmed), I cannot say enough about the cable. I'd say it set a whole new standard and almost seems indestructible. Seriously! Like I mentioned above I sense much less hiss and possibly a slightly larger soundstage but it would be nice if a Shure rep could validate this. Other than that, I would say that Shure's flagship IEM does not only retain the label of the top few best sounding universals available but may also gain a new label as most durable and rugged IEM (universal or custom) ever made.
Edited by Spyro - 6/14/10 at 12:04pm