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REVIEW: Shure SE535

post #1 of 75
Thread Starter 

Shure SE535 Review


I would kindly like to thank for supplying me with this sample for review, they are Shure’s distributers in Portugal, I will try and write as honest a review possible.


These received more than 50hrs of burn in, no change was noticed.




Gear Used:

iPod Classic 7G (rockboxed) > Shure SE535

iPod Classic 7G (rockboxed) > Fiio L3 > JDS Labs C421 (AD8620) > Shure SE535



Sensitivity - 119 dB SPL/mW

Impedance - 36 Ω

Frequency Range - 18Hz – 19kHz

Cable Style - 64" Detachable (at ear) with wireform fit





Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality:


Packaging is the simple Shure black box, with a window showing the IEM’s, and a flap that opens with information about the IEM’s, specifications are printed on the back, along with the accessories. I like the simple but attractive packaging, nothing over the top.


Accessories are great as usual, you get 3 pairs of the Shure Olive tips (S, M and L), grey flex silicone tips (S, M and L), one pair of triple flanges, one pair of Yellow Foam tips, airplane adaptor, volume control and a hard carry case. Great supply of accessories, guaranteed to get you a good fit and also protect your IEM’s when in your bag.


Build quality is great, as is expected from Shure, the housing is all plastic but good quality plastic, very well put together housing with detachable cables prolonging the IEM’s life and it  also allows you to upgrade from the stock cable. The stock cable feels good, but is very thick and a bit too long for normal portable use, the L shaped jack has very good strain relief, the y-split too, and the memory wire is convenient if you like it.





Comfort, Isolation and Microphonics:


Comfort is another of Shure’s strengths, being very ergonomic with the angle of entry being perfect, the memory wire preventing too much strain on the ears. The housing is light, and fits fairly flush in the ears, the housing doesn’t allow the deepest of insertion though.


Isolation, another strong point with the Olive tips, they isolate very well, perfect for noisy places like public transport, airplanes, concerts and more. You will not be able to hear outside noises though, so be careful walking about with these in.


Microphonics are low, as the cable goes behind the ear it eliminates most of the problem, but you still get some when the cable brushes against your collar or something similar.






Split into the 3 usual categories then a few more specifics.



The bass is very present, and I would call these warm, but these are no bass monsters by any feat. The bass they have is very well bodied and accurate, but lacks some punch and extension. You only get a faint notion of the sub-bass, but these handle most music very well. The bass never bleeds into the midrange and is very precise but decays a bit too quick. Separation in the bass is excellent, with kick drums being very well separated from bass guitars.



This is what Shure is known for, and these are no exception. Lush effortless mids, sounding warm and sweet but a little too forward in presentation. The mids never sound edgy or harsh, they bring out every detail in the music and present vocals and acoustic music with such a realistic tone. You will easily be able to pick out nuances in your favourite tracks with these, only a hint of sibilance can be detected in the upper mids.



Very smooth, again being very realistic in tone. Cymbals crash with authority and shimmer, but lack extension to really shine. I find that the highs roll off too early with these, and they don’t have sufficient sparkle to sound totally convincing. The highs are superbly presented in such a realistic manner, that you forget about the roll off, and detail is also easily picked out.




Soundstage, Imaging and Instrument Separation:


Soundstage was the first thing I noticed when I put these IEM’s in, it is very wide, especially for an IEM, I have had many a out-of-head experience with these and it is not presented in an artificial way.


Imaging is also very good as with most Shure models, panning is well done and never detached.


Instrument separation is good, but not the best, as these do become a little congested with fast music, despite being BA based.



Amping does help, not hugely, but the highs do sparkle a bit more, bass gains more body and the layering becomes even better. Overall adding an amp does add to the enjoyment, and they become even more lively and fun to listen to, amped they are full bodied with an effortless sound, never sounding artificial.



Although these have been around for a while, and the price has dropped (I don’t think they are totally worth their initial price tag) these are still excellent IEM’s, and are very competent, they are special in their own way, with a very natural presentation, and such amazing mids (albeit a little too forward). They don’t have the greatest extension on both ends, but the pros do outweigh the cons still, and I rate these highly for what they are, non analytical, fun sounding easy to listen to IEM’s.




VS SE425:

Well, they are different beasts, the 425 being more geared towards a neutral sound for performers and bands, wheras the 535 is more for enjoyment and easy listening.


Firstly the 425 lacks a bit of body in the bass, which is where the 535 comes in and adds more body to the bass. Then we have the mids, both do exceptionally well, but the 535 has the sweeter lusher mids of them both, the 425 is more balanced. The highs are fairly similar, but presented differently as the 535 has a wider soundstage.


So depending on your preferences, the 425 will excel if you want a more neutral sound, and the 535 if you want a laid back easy listening IEM, both with amazing mids, and detail retrieval.


I hope you enjoyed this review, comments and questions are welcome.


Tracks Used:

Skrillex – First Of The Year (Equinox) (320kbps MP3)

Paramore – Franklin (320kbps MP3)

Diana Krall – The Girl In The Other Room (FLAC)

Deolinda – Passou Por Mim E Sorriu (live) (ALAC)

Suicide Silence – Unanswered (FLAC)

Massive Attack – Angel (ALAC)

Eat Static – Dzhopa Dream (ALAC)

The XX – Crystalised (FLAC)

Funeral For A Friend – Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings (ALAC)

Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man (FLAC)

The Scene Aesthetic – Humans (259kbps MP3)

A Hero A Fake – Swallowed By The Sea (254kbps MP3)

Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, Spring Allegro (ALAC)

Johnny Craig – Children Of Divorce (161kbps MP3)

Deadmau5 + Kaskade – I Remember (Caspa Remix) (320kbps MP3)

Black Uhuru – Utterance (ALAC)

We Are The In Crowd – Never Be What You Want (226kbps MP3)

Silverstein – Discovering The Waterfront (320kbps MP3)

Concept Of Thought – Our Thought (FLAC)

Nirvana – Something In The Way (Unplugged) (ALAC)

post #2 of 75

Nice review, your findings mirror my own almost exactly. Mids too forward, bass is pretty nice... surprisingly present honestly, but may lack some extension, and the highs are rolled off, yet pleasant. I wouldn't buy them when compared to other, more natural-sounding options out there in the price range, but I suppose I can understand why they have their fans.

post #3 of 75
Thread Starter 
They have an acquired sound, not everyone will like it, but I really like the way they present everything.

Yes the mids sound as if the singer has a huge mouth, but they never get shouty or harsh, and are very smooth.

Bass could have better extension but the quality is great.

My only real gripe is that I love my highs, and these could be a lot better up top. My DBA-02 MKII sound much better up top, but can't touch these for spacial sound or natural presentation.

Layering is perfect, soundstage is great....

I think they still have their place, but they definitely are not for everyone's taste.
post #4 of 75

Good review. Thank you. I owned SE535 for about a week or so and while bass, mids and highs were very high quality to my ears, I also found that the bass didn't blend together with the mids and highs as well as I would like - the lows sounded somewhat detached from the rest of the spectrum and with some "mind of their own" so to speak. I noticed this more with certain tips than with others. For example, the black foam olives produced a more coherent presentation than the grey silicone tips IMO. I wonder if this is purely a fit issue or a multi-driver problem. Other than this, I agree with you that the midrange is nice and lush, if a bit overly forward and shouty at times, especially if the fit is not right, the bass is tight and well defined and the treble is smooth and articulated. I wished the soundstage was a bit larger at times though, as I noticed that sometimes things seemed to get a bit congested during music passages with emphasis on mids and/or with a warm source. I think the similarly priced Westone 4 is much nicer in this regard with a much larger, more open sound and no hint of congestion. I AB'ed the the two directly at a store a couple of times. I also felt that next to Westone 4, SE535 highs were somewhat harsh and grainy - the Westones seemed significantly clearer and more refined. I would recommend that you try out Westone 4 if possible. I also recommend giving cheaper single driver IEMs a shot as well as dual driver dynamics. In particular, I feel that Etymotic HF and ER4, Phonak Audeo PFE (the single driver version), as well as JVC FXT90 all offer most if not all that the current top universal multi driver balanced armature IEMs do at a much lower cost and without the problems with coherency that most multi driver BAs seem to have from my experience. Our brains adapt to sounds really well though and issues may only become obvious during direct AB comparison.

Edited by Pianist - 10/11/12 at 10:02am
post #5 of 75
Thread Starter 
I did not like the Etymotic HF5 very much, my favorite so far are the Fischer audio DBA-02 MKII, but the Shure's beat them.
post #6 of 75
Originally Posted by randomkid View Post

I did not like the Etymotic HF5 very much, my favorite so far are the Fischer audio DBA-02 MKII, but the Shure's beat them.


What was it that you didn't like about HF5?

post #7 of 75
Thread Starter 
Too analytical, not natural enough for my liking.

There are some great budget IEMs like the DUNU I-3CS which sounded great, but the fit wasn't as good as the Shure's, and I love Shure's mids.

I would quite like to reshell my SE535's.

The DBA's are amazing, but the Shure's have slightly better bass and a more natural sound.

The Shure's are only better by a small margin from the others I mentioned.
post #8 of 75

One thing is for sure about the Shures... the fit is amazing!


Pianist, great point about some of the cheaper alternatives being just as good. I'd have to agree for the most part. Same goes for the adaptive hearing deal. I find myself liking just about everything after listening for a while. The only thing that ever puts me off is harsh highs and upper mids which hurt my ears.

post #9 of 75

i often feel that they have been overlooked by bang for the buck iems and true 'top tier' iems ... 

in total agreement that they have a great presentation and a huge head stage.. but if you give them very fast music their thickness will get in the way..

the quality of sound you get from them are second to none .. however the re 272 is the best of both worlds.. incredibly technical and brilliant sq .. eitherway they sound more like a great earphone ..


if you are planning to keep them i would suggest you get custom cables like the baldur mk2 or the 6n ofhc spc or the dream cable ... 


im saving up for a great amp!! 

post #10 of 75
Thread Starter 
6N OFHC is on it's way already smily_headphones1.gif

Can't wait to get it, I do hate the stock cable, too long and uncomfortable.
post #11 of 75

RK - if you ever get the chance to demo them, try the SE535 Ltd Ed (the 'reds').  Extra extension on the highs completes the 535 IMO.  It's what Shure should have released as the standard SE535.

post #12 of 75

I have a pair of 530, worth the upgrade?

post #13 of 75
Thread Starter 
I asked shure if I could swap them for the red's, but they have none available frown.gif

If your 530's are still fine, keep them as they sound pretty much the same apparently
post #14 of 75
Originally Posted by Brooko View Post

RK - if you ever get the chance to demo them, try the SE535 Ltd Ed (the 'reds').  Extra extension on the highs completes the 535 IMO.  It's what Shure should have released as the standard SE535.


Hmm... I don't understand why the ltd SE535 would sound different from regular SE535... Could they really tweak the drivers for the ltd version? Seems very unlikely to me. Are there any measurements available for the two that show any differences between them?

post #15 of 75
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post  Hmm... I don't understand why the ltd SE535 would sound different from regular SE535... Could they really tweak the drivers for the ltd version? Seems very unlikely to me. Are there any measurements available for the two that show any differences between them?


The drivers are unaltered, but AFAIK the acoustic damper is a different value and the crossover circuit is altered --- most likely a capacitor value change. Regardless of what they did, the difference between the regular and LTD-J is obvious.

Edited by tomscy2000 - 10/11/12 at 4:13pm
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