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Shure SE215 Review

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

 

 

 

Shure SE215 Review

 

Thanks to Advanced Headphones www.advancedheadphones.co.uk for the sample (AMP3’s sister site)

 

 

First Impressions:  The box is clearly much smaller than the old SE210 box but that’s hardly important.  That I do notice and is more important is the case.  Shure have decided to give the 215 the soft pouch like case rather than the hard oval one that came with the 210.  I can see some preferring this move as the oval one is rather large but personally I would rather have the hard case.  The buds themselves however look fab, these ones are in black but it’s not an opaque black, it’s translucent.  So you can still see the innards and the driver enclosure in there.  You won’t notice this from any distance but up close its tre pretty.

 

Oh also, no modular cable.   I know you can now remove the cables and that’s a good thing but I’d still like the cable to be modular so I can add in phone adapters or the PTH device.  (Seriously Shure, it’s a fantastic device but holy crap is it huge.   Pretty please make a new smaller one, thanks)

 

First listen and they sound not bad.  I’d been listening to the 210 before hand so I’d instantly hear the differences between them.  From what I’d read id been expecting lots more bass but I can’t so I heard it, yes it moved more air but I was anticipating lots, lots more.  Also I wasn’t picking up the Shure mids but they were right out the box and dynamic so maybe a little burn in will help them come out.

 

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Source 1G iPod Shuffle with and without a 75 ohm adapter added

 

 

Lows:  I had expected vast abundance from what I had read but that wasn’t exactly what I got.  Now in comparison to the 210 they replace though there is a significant difference.  The 210 was pretty famous for being bass light, certainly I don’t think that’s an accusation that shall be levelled at the 215 anytime soon.  Having a listen to The Beautiful South’s “Your Father And I” the difference between the two is vast, truly vast.  Big, abundant, powerful, air moving lows as only a dynamic really ever can do and the 215 does it masterfully.  Honestly though I must say I’m disappointed.  It’s not because there is anything wrong with the lows, far from it, it’s that Shure is offering something I can find all over the place.  It feels as though Shure has decided to offer a “consumer” orientated sound and while that’s fine, it isn’t the “Shure House Sound.”  God I moan a lot, is it maybe unfair of me to pick on Sure for that?  It probably is.

 

So if we forget it’s a Shure then, the bass here is plentiful, well controlled, abundant and versatile.  It has no problem doing deep and smooth or doing fast and punchy.  It’s really very good at everything and because it’s sealed it really can impact with a ferocity that its price suggests it shouldn’t be able to.  That it’s done by a big name brand too is surprising.  It’s just not at all what I want from a Shure though.

 

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Mids:  For those who have read a few of my reviews will probably know I love mids, you nail them right (PL-50) and I’ll pretty much gush about how much I love it.  This being a Shure you might think “oh well he’s going to just love it” and that’s what I’d expect too.  But......... it just isn’t really a Shure.  I want those upfront mids, clear and belting out above everything else and here they just don’t.  Again I can’t say they do anything wrong because they don’t.  But they are just so in line with everything else that I can’t help but feel cheated.  Like being told you’re going to your favourite restaurant for dinner then find they have fired the chef and changed the menu.  Sure the food is still good but not what it was you wanted and that’s how I feel here.

 

Okay, I’m going to try and be objective.  Quantity wise, like I said they are pretty balanced and occasionally take second place behind the lows but that’s not often and is song dependant.  Should you listen to something mid heavy then they are bathe clean and clear.  Tonally they do ever so slightly tend towards the rich and liquid side of things.  It is ever so slightly though.  Zee Avi’s “I Am Me Once More” sounds fantastic but tonally you can tell she is getting shifted that little bit down and having a little air sucked out of the performance.  It’s not terrible at all but if it’s entirely airy, light mids you want then the 215 maybe a touch thick for you.  Artists like Kate Nash though may benefit slightly as she tends to be rather airy.  Quality wise I really can’t fault or anything lacking either.  The presentation though does obscure thing a tiny touch but that’s what thickness and richness does.  I must admit if I wasn’t whining that the mids don’t stand out more that i really do enjoy them.

 

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Highs:  This is Shure traditional “problem area” in that they roll the highs off.  I have never seen this as a problem of failing but an acoustic choice intended to aid in avoiding listening fatigue.  If you are using Shures as monitors and your listening to them all day everyday then trust me, crisp exciting treble will ravage your ears.  Since Shure has pretty much thrown the monitor notion out the window with these they aren’t locked into that.  Also BA’s normally have trouble at the very top end, they just can’t extend far and again it’s better to roll them off before they crap out than to push them to the edge.  Again this isn’t an issue as the 215 has a dynamic driver at its heart.  Soooooooo are they treble happy?  No.  So it’s nice to see Shure haven’t totally about turned in tuning these, but there is a touch more treble than the 210 and it also stands out a little more because the mids are no longer out in front.  The main improvement though is that dynamic drivers just deal with highs better than BA do.  Dynamics can extent further, more easily and when they begin to lose it they do it gently and gradually become a smear.  When Balanced Armature’s got pushed to far they break up in a gritty, edgy, coarse cacophony that is easily picked out.  Dynamics just get increasingly less clear and fuzzy. 

 

So how good are they?  Good but not excellent.  If you are a big lover of treble happy crispy crispiness then these are going to be the one for you.  Frankly at this price point I really wouldn’t expect treble excellence and most certainly not with the low end that the 215 has.  So Shure being an old hand an making IEM’s does what you have to do and rolls those highs off in a smooth and controlled fashion.  It’s done with the skill of an old master getting just enough edge in the lower and mid treble range to let you know exactly what’s going on but they sloping away as the range rises to mask the things it cannot do.  I think this is how it really ought to be done as nothing bothers me more than bright edgy treble getting gritty and harsh.  Kudos here then.  Still treble monsters these most certainly are not and you can get better treble without looking spectacularly hard.

 

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Soundstage:  Well much bigger than its elder sibling the 210 but middling more than large.  All perfectly reasonable if you ask me but very much middling, to maybe slightly small.  Still it’s not the upfront intimacy of the old 210 which I kinda liked.  Separation is middlingly decent too, it not wowing me but then its richer, thicker sound isn’t likely to give vast instrument separation.

 

 

Fit:  Hmm, you I have the 210 and the E3 (the one the 210 replaced) and for me fit has diminished with each step.  Not a huge leap but it’s there; the memory wire in particular just would not get tight enough to stay on my right ear.  Are my ears freakishly small?  I think not.  It’s not like they were terrible but the increase in the angle of the nozzle too wasn’t helping, seriously Shure, go back to the E3 enclosure. 

 

 

Comfort:  Much like the fit, it was okay but a slight step down from its predecessors, the nozzle angle is too high for me then the cable angle too aims itself back into my head rather than out in front round my ears.  They never melted away.  The quantity of air they move too was an issue, they being in a sealed enclosure I must say after listening all day I did find it a little tiring.  Still this isn’t something that bothers most people.

 

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Cable:  Well it’s not modular and that’s all I can complain about.  It’s an excellent cable and a clear step up from the one on the 210, this one is still thick but it’s very soft and flexible.  Shure has also gone back to the right angled jack rather than the straight end found on the 0 ending ones.  It too feels very solid and is all of the very highest build quality.

 

Microphonics:  Erm none.

 

Amped/Unamped:  All the usual differences but nothing that made me think oh wow.  What however may make a big difference is that they are really quite insensitive.  What I mean by that is if you want to make these go loud you had better not have a crappy weedy player crippled by the French and their stupid loudness law.  Now my little 1G Shuffle could of course power these to stupendous levels of volume but it’s a pint sized marvel.  So if you have a quiet player then you may want a little amp.  Oh and adding impedance was welcomed by these too particularly in the highs but many players will have trouble powering that combo.  Still adding an ety impedance adapter is my favourite enhancement.

 

 

Isolation:  Here should be where I moan and bitch that it’s a dynamic so it should be vented blah blah blah.  Don’t ask me how but these pull off the same trick that the Etymotic mc3/5 manage and stick a dynamic driver in place of a BA and yet you would never know it.  No driver flex and no air pressure issues that bother me so.  Accordingly they are perfectly sealed like all other Shure’s and they isolate just the same.  Well maybe a touch less as they sit far more shallow than the 210 or the super deep E3.  Still you really aren’t going to get better for isolation is general other than by moving to Etymotic.  Its first class stuff and I’d be happy to fly wherever with a pair of these to hand.

 

SDC11922.jpg

 

Value:  This is the make or break bit isn’t it, should you actually part with money for a pair.  First off I’m going to say if you are looking for the Shure “House Sound” then don’t.  These are not Shures, they just happen to have their name on them.  However if you’re sitting looking for a big bass, good all rounder and that isolates then OMFG yes this is what you want.  The isolation is great and no driver flex or air pressure issues, so for all intents it behaves like a BA till you listen to it.  Nothing else can do this.

 

 

I was looking at some other things commented about these and there was a little surprise at where these have been priced and I must say I agree.  In the last few years the Far East has been hammering big names like Shure (read my PL-50 review) and while this wasn’t exactly where I was expecting Shure to go they have priced these well below what I would expect from them.  I expect the big name western company with the vast distribution network to charge a premium.   That was always how it went, xyz is good sounding but for the same money you can getter something better from some company in the Far East you have never heard of.  These you can buy in high street shops.  While you can get as good a sound for the same money you really are paying no premium whatsoever for buying a premium name brand.  I think Shure have priced this extremely aggressively and if you want its sound signature then it’s amazing value.  Even more so if you value buying that premium trusted brand.

 

SDC11923.jpg


 

Conclusion:  I find myself on one hand loving the 215, and thinking “oh holy crap Shure are on the war path with this one.”  If you have read it in my PL-50 review where I gushed my enthusiasm all over the page for its lush midcentric Shure sound I had said it would decimate Shures low end sales.  The 215 has gone for a completely different sound, no more midcentric sound, thin time they have gone for a radically more mainstream sound (which personally I don’t love) significantly cranking up the bass and dialling up the treble a touch too.  It’s got a sound that will instantly be likable to most people and certainly much more so to the masses than the 210 was.  The 210 was for so long the entry Shure so people would think “oooh I want something of quality, I’ve heard of Shure, I’ll get one of these.”  They would buy it, then wretch in horror at the lack of forceful overpowering bass that their ears where so accustomed to hearing.  There shalln’t be any of that here, I’m not saying they are bass monsters but they are much more bassy than most stuff in this quality range.  That they have the fancy premium brand name too is just icing on the cake.  Like I said in pure sound quality terms these are nothing special but these do have a couple of killer attributes.

 

The biggest reason to get these is that they manage the impossibly hard combination of bassy and isolating.  Okay so it’s not hard to do, you just use multiple BA drivers and voila.  Only trouble there is that tends not to be cheap so usually you get bassy dynamics than are reasonable costing but then they make isolation sacrifices and often have driver flex and air pressure trouble.  Shure have managed to avoid all of those troubles and made something you just can’t get anywhere else.  A big, bassy, dynamic that isolates very well and without issue.  If you want big bass and isolation at this sort of price then there is no competition whatsoever for the 215.  None. (If you think otherwise by all means please let me know.) 

 

SDC11927.jpg

 

If we ignore for a moment that special attribute then on sound alone, the 215 is nothing special, it’s certainly very good sounding for the money but there are a few makes that can do just as well but they haven’t got a name yet.  They aren’t found in high street shops, they don’t have that brand recognition, they don’t have the public confidence and presence that a company like Sure does.  As a consumer you expect to pay a bit for that name on that’s a choice you make because you feel more confident, that name equals quality in your mind.  Shure is a brand like that, it’s known for being a premium high end brand and as such I really would expect these to have a bit of that premium and I don’t think they do.  They are priced very, very aggressively in my opinion.  The bass and isolation is a killer combo in itself but the price and quality for a big brand name is going to steal some sales back from recent rivals.

 

So did I love the SE215?  No, it was too bassy for me it.  I feel it should have been given a completely new name as calling it SE215 makes it sound like it’s a tweaked SE210 which was just a tweaked E3 since renamed SCL3.  Shure has a history of its updates being just tiny adjustments and that in not what we have in the SE215.  It is nothing like its predecessor.  It’s not really like anything actually.  I’ve never heard a sealed, properly sealed IEM that can move air like it can.  If you want a dynamic you have to at least vent it a tiny bit and even then you get tons of air pressure issues, those are just the rules.  So if you want bass that’s sealed you have to use lots of drivers but even then they don’t move air like a dynamic can.  The SE215 somehow manages to steal the attributes it wants and ignores what it doesn’t.  It’s not playing fair and its competition, well I’m not sure it has any.  Really if you want bassy, isolating and none of the pain it usually brings this is it, there is just nothing else like it.  In fact I may have to ask if I can keep them!

post #2 of 26
Thread Starter 

 

Shure SE215 Quick Review

 

 

Thanks to Advanced Headphones www.advancedheadphones.co.uk for the sample (AMP3’s sister site)

 

 

Brief:  Shure responds to the competition in ass kicking style.

 

 

Price:  US$100 or £90

 

 

Specification:  Speaker type: Single Dynamic MicroDriver, Sensitivity (1 kHz): 107 dB SPL/mW, Impedance: 20 Ω, Frequency range: 22 Hz - 17,5 kHz, Cable length: 162 cm, Color: clear, black

 

 

Accessories:  6 pairs of tips, 3 olives and 3 “Flex” ones.  Oh and it comes with a soft case too.

 

 

Build quality:  Supreme, excellent cable that’s removable, jack feels uber sturdy, cable is flexible and the buds feel absolutely first class.  Oh and 2 year warranty too.

 

 

Comfort/Fit:  Well for a Shure it wasn’t that good.  Not that it was actually uncomfortable but I’m used to them simply melting away and the 215 never really did.  Fit was a little bothersome too with the new memory wire not really bending as much as I wanted resulting in the right side occasionally unhooking from my ear.  If I pulled the slider it solved it but Shure is normally top of the class and the 215 is more in the top third. 

 

 

Aesthetics:  In pic’s the black just looks black but if you look at them up close they are translucent and it is very, very pretty.  Not in a gaudy ostentatious way but I very much liked it.  It looks much nicer in the flesh than in a photo.

 

 

Sound:  It does not sound like a Shure.  A Shure is supposed to sound like a monitor, a little dull, gentle and the ear and mid centric.  Mid centric is what Shure does, right?  If that’s what you want from these then you will be sorely disappointed as they are nothing like the SE210 they replace.  Of course the 210 was regularly bashed for being boring and bass light (bass nonexistent to some.)  If you were just coming into the word of higher end earphones or IEM’s then Shure with its famous name was an obvious choice and the 210 at near the bottom of the range was a good option right?  Thing is compared to low end stuff that are usually bass monsters the 210 was a hell of a shock to most.  So they get bought and then they go straight back, this won’t be happening with the SE215.  It has a much, much bigger bass output than the 210 and moves a hell of a lot more air too.  You feel it.  Granted I missed the forward mids as this doesn’t have it, bass and mids are similar but the bass is bigger at times and the highs take a back stage but are still very well done.  How Shure have done what they have done here at the price they have I really don’t know.  I suggest reading the full review because I can’t fit it all in here but trust me; the SE215 is seriously ass kicking.

 

 

Value:  If isolation, brand name and such mean nothing to you then its pretty good value.  If they matter (and for me isolation does) then they are fantastic.  Nothing does bass like this and isolates like this. 

 

 

Pro’s:  Name, Prodigious bass response, fantastic isolation and no driver flex or air pressure issues, warranty.

 

Con’s:  Prodigious bass response, it doesn’t sound like a monitor or anything like its predecessor so I think a slightly misleading name, can get better sound for the money.

post #3 of 26

Big bass with isolation competition...the atrio x beats them. Similar sound (i like it better even) at 80 dollars...so they even undercut the 215s in price to performance. You said to let you know if there was competition lol.

 

The 215s are awesome...i just couldnt get a good fit with them no matter what i did.


Edited by dbdynsty25 - 6/12/11 at 12:25pm
post #4 of 26

Thanks for the detailed review mark. I was actually considering trying the se215 for a while, but the reports of shoddy build quality, as well as the super long cable, memory wire, and rotating connectors scared me away. They just appear to be really hard to fit. Nonetheless, they look like they definitely fit their niche well.

post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbdynsty25 View Post

Big bass with isolation competition...the atrio x beats them. Similar sound (i like it better even) at 80 dollars...so they even undercut the 215s in price to performance. You said to let you know if there was competition lol.

 

The 215s are awesome...i just couldnt get a good fit with them no matter what i did.

 
well atrios where always called bass montsers so not sure id think of them as competition but i guess they cant be a million miles away.  i really must hear a set of them one day.  do they isolate as well though?

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by JxK View Post

Thanks for the detailed review mark. I was actually considering trying the se215 for a while, but the reports of shoddy build quality, as well as the super long cable, memory wire, and rotating connectors scared me away. They just appear to be really hard to fit. Nonetheless, they look like they definitely fit their niche well.


yeah the cable is a bit long, its a little annoying but i dont get the notion of shoddy build, the build is very solid

 

post #6 of 26


 

Quote: mark2410

yeah the cable is a bit long, its a little annoying but i dont get the notion of shoddy build, the build is very solid

 



The overall built of SE215 is like a tank, i've never seen anything as heavy duty as SE215 when it comes to cabling. However, i believe the shoddy build he's refering to, is the detachable cable part. I've owned mine for 3 weeks, and i've just had enough of interrupting sound due to the connectors, and i've returned my pair for refund.

post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by qwertasdfg24 View Post


 



The overall built of SE215 is like a tank, i've never seen anything as heavy duty as SE215 when it comes to cabling. However, i believe the shoddy build he's refering to, is the detachable cable part. I've owned mine for 3 weeks, and i've just had enough of interrupting sound due to the connectors, and i've returned my pair for refund.

That's it exactly. If you browse the appreciation thread, you'll find multiple reports of left or right channels going out randomly. Now, to Shure's credit, they've been great about warranty support. Not a single poster complained that the company left them hanging. Nonetheless, I'm in no hurry to purchase a product I'll only have to replace.
 

 

post #8 of 26

How do they compare to the Meelec CC51 which you reviewed a while ago?

post #9 of 26

Purchased a set of these today and I have to say I'm quietly impressed. The build quality is identical to the top of the line SE535 - serious cabling that's detachable and heavy duty strain relief on the mini plug and the headphone splitter. I dont think the fit will be for everyone, but so far I'm getting along with mine.

 

For me the fact that these can be seen as a departure from the Shure house sound isn't so much of a bad thing - I've always felt Shure's could do with increased bass impact and these certainly have that. Although the bass is really deep and powerful its also very controlled and is quite tight - esp for a dynamic driver IEM. These IEMs make me realise what I miss about dynamic IEMs - a powerful, relaxed natural sound. Hip hop, rap, dubstep <insert heavy bass oriented genre here> fans won't be disappointed

 

Comparing to my W3s there is a world of difference: the SE215 has a lot more sub bass and I can also hear a bit more mid bass too. I'd say the mid's on these are a tad more forward than on the W3. The high's are fine, but not as crisp and perhaps not as refined as the W3s.

 

Comparing these to the SE535s the differences are there but are not as much as to the W3s: SE535s have better mids, period. Also the SE535 have better detail retrieval - as you would expect. Don't be fooled though, these are still very good in regards to detail retrieval esp at this price range. However I actually prefer the bass in the SE215 to the SE535 its more natural and goes a lot lower. I think its too early to compare the highs on both phones but I think its fair to say they are both quite similar. 

 

For the money I think Shure have created a monster product. The bass response will probably appeal to a wider audience as well. I'll certainly be keeping mine - its proving to be lots of fun.

post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Onza View Post

 

Comparing these [SE215] to the SE535s the differences are there but are not as much as to the W3s: SE535s have better mids, period. Also the SE535 have better detail retrieval - as you would expect. Don't be fooled though, these are still very good in regards to detail retrieval esp at this price range. However I actually prefer the bass in the SE215 to the SE535 its more natural and goes a lot lower. I think its too early to compare the highs on both phones but I think its fair to say they are both quite similar. 

 

For the money I think Shure have created a monster product. The bass response will probably appeal to a wider audience as well. I'll certainly be keeping mine - its proving to be lots of fun.


Funnily enough, if they had the same price, I'd personally take the SE215 over the SE535. BTW, I didn't find the 535's mids necessarily better than the 215's. While I do agree that the 535s have better detail retrieval, I found the overall sound presentation on the 215s closer to what you hear in the real world. Also, I don't find the bass on the 215s quite as tight as you do - I find it a bit muddy, actually, but still pretty good for a $100/£100 IEM -, but I'd take the 215's bass over the 535's bass any time. 

 


Edited by music_4321 - 6/13/11 at 6:53am
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PinkysBrain View Post

How do they compare to the Meelec CC51 which you reviewed a while ago?


 

the CC51 is a much more even sound, more balanced across the spectrum, cleaner and quicker sounding too.  the 215 is thicker and more visceral.  long term id prob take the lighter overall nature of the CC51 as the weight and power in the 215 would be too much for me all the time.  however the 215 isolates so well and i can see many just loving the sealed power its low end can offer even if its not the quickest or most agile.

post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

Funnily enough, if they had the same price, I'd personally take the SE215 over the SE535. BTW, I didn't find the 535's mids necessarily better than the 215's. While I do agree that the 535s have better detail retrieval, I found the overall sound presentation on the 215s closer to what you hear in the real world. Also, I don't find the bass on the 215s quite as tight as you do - I find it a bit muddy, actually, but still pretty good for a $100/£100 IEM -, but I'd take the 215's bass over the 535's bass any time. 

 


I'm finding this too, aside from the bass there isn't anything thats particularly stand out about these phones, but I do enjoy them.

 

On another note I see you got rid of your W4s? Did they not cut it for you in the end?

 

post #13 of 26

Hey I just got a pair of the se215s, and so far I'm loving them!

To anyone who have seen the se215s in both translucent black and clear versions, which color do you think is nicer?

BTW I have the clear ones.

post #14 of 26

how would the se215 fare with the closely priced hippo vb in terms of bass and overall sound quality?

post #15 of 26

I got these to act as a back-up pair for the SCL2 - which I really like for the music I listen to in the gym i.e. Electronica, Trance, Dance, House, Prog, Rock or anything with some bass and drums. Since they are discontinued, I want to spare them any further abuse. I also tried the SE215 and SE315 together at the Shure stand at the Gadget Show, Birmingham UK. I could not tell a huge difference other than the fact that SE315 were a lot better at handling the mids and sound-staging was slightly more pronounced on some tracks.

 

I think this new range is back to the glory days of E2/E3 etc. and not the return to best forgotten SE110/210's - which was a big mistake. Here are my initial impression and comparison on the SE-215CL, after sounding them out over the last few days...

 

Sound: not as much 'full-on' bass as the SCL2 which feels like a wild animal, in comparison these feel a bit controlled; but still pack a punch and tighter bass - can't really complain here. The mids can be sometimes a bit confusing, sounding very different to the SCL2 - which are quite versatile IMO. The isolation is pretty good as expected - even with the olives from my previous pair. I might try the foamies at some point to see how they sound.

 

Aesthetics: The cable on the clear version looks and feels very good - kind of optical cable look with a silky texture. However, it does take time for the cable to be shaped around the ears, due to the wire-form. I am hoping it starts to feel a little bit comfortable with some more wear. The cable is not as thick as it looks in the official product shots; also it is slightly thinner than the SCL2 or rather feels like that - possibly due to the addition of Kevlar and retains the shape much longer. Once again cannot complain with the overall quality and hope the cable will not wear-tear as much as the E range.

 

Comfort/Build: Although they sit much more cleanly and flush with the ear than the SCL2 - the rotating part of the MMCX connector is a strange beast and the movement of the cable against the body pushes out the monitors a touch; this connector also makes it harder to fit them into the ear and not as seamless. It is also very hard to find out the positioning - especially on the clear versions although they are marked with tiny red and blue dots! I am not sure about the rotational aspect of these connectors and how they will perform over time - at least I have the Shure warranty, which other manufacturers cannot beat.

 

Overall, I am fairly happy with the SE-215 as a replacement and hoping they survive longer than my previous E2c/SCL2's. Although, wish that the price point could have been a bit lower than £100 I paid for them and sure they will go down. I suppose that is the price you pay for new tech and improvements, but I would still buy the SCL2 or E2c if they brought them back!

 

 

 

 

 

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