August 17, 2013 UPDATE: Click here to read my follow-up impressions of the Shure SE846.
In just a little while, Shure is going to announce a new flagship in-ear monitor called the Shure SE846. The Shure aficionados among us--myself included--have been wondering when we'd see a Shure flagship beyond the incremental upgrade to the old (and still excellent) E500 that the current Shure flagship SE535 is. Well, today's the day. And the Shure SE846 is definitely a doozy--a clear step up, a clear advance for Shure.
To finally move to a three-way configuration, Shure opted for a four-driver design, and innovated a pretty radical low-pass filter design to properly purpose the low-frequency drivers into the roles of subwoofers--True Subwoofer design, as Shure calls it. How this low-pass filter works is by incorporating ten precision-welded stainless steel plates to form a four-inch, high acoustic mass pathway that enables low frequency roll-off beginning around 75Hz. By using this low-pass filter to effectively roll-off unwanted midrange and high frequencies coming from the low-frequency drivers, midrange clarity and detail isn't sacrificed, despite the SE846's ability to deliver very visceral bass.
If you've loved Shure's previous high-end in-ears for their midrange, you're in for a treat with the SE846, as it's more resolving in the midband than any in-ear Shure has ever made, and certainly one of the top performers--in terms of body and resolution in the midrange--that I've had experience with, certainly when compared to any other universal-fit in-ears I've yet heard.
In terms of treble, many among even the most dedicated Shure SE535 devotees have longed for a bit more sparkle--some way to let the music shimmer just a wee bit more, but without sacrificing the beautifully smooth character of the Shure flagship. Once again, Shure took a bold step here, too, providing an interchangeable nozzle filter system that allows the user to choose three different treble profiles--balanced, warm and bright. (I'm not sure if these are the names that'll be given to the different nozzles in the production version SE846, but that's what they're called now.)
The balanced nozzle (which is what comes installed) is intended to essentially provide more neutral treble performance. The warm nozzle has a nominal -2.5dB decrease in treble (versus the balanced nozzle) from 1kHz to 8kHz. The bright nozzle has a nominal +2.5dB increase in treble (versus the balanced nozzle) from 1kHz to 8kHz. I've only had the SE846 for a few days, and I've been going back and forth between the balanced and bright nozzles. To my ears, this nozzle filter system has been very well engineered, as (a) they work very well to do just what they are designed to do, and (b) they do so without sounding at all unnatural, having no impact that I can hear on the SE846's coherence or imaging.
Here are the specifications I have for it (from Shure):
- Speaker Type: Quad High-Definition MicroDrivers with True Subwoofer
- Sensitivity: 114 dB SPL/mW
- Impedance (1kHz): 9Ω
- Noise Attenuation: Up to 37dB
- Frequency Range: 15Hz - 20kHz
- Input Connector: Gold-plated 3.5mm (1/8")
- Cable: 64" Detachable with wireform fit (45" cable also included)
- Color: Crystal Clear
Seven years later, and many of us are still happily listening to a Shure sound signature that originated with the E500 more than seven years ago. But the SE846 is the leap we've been wanting to hear from Shure for some time now, and I think they may very well have still another classic in-ear monitor on their hands.
Again, I've only spent a few days with it, and I'll have more to say down the road, as I happily spend more and more time with Shure's new flagship SE846.
(Click on the images below see full-size versions.)