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Universal Fit item created by jdz2287, Mar 7, 2011
Pros - Isolation, smooth & non-fatiguing sound, comfort
Cons - Minor cable issues
With a trip to Vancouver coming up, I didn't have any decent traveling earphones. The best thing I had was a pair of closed-back Shure SRH440s, but they don't isolate well enough to really cut down on airplane noise. Meanwhile, the Shure SE215s were on sale, so I decided to try my first IEM.
Before I pulled the trigger, I wondered if I should just step up to the flagship SE535s. I have some nice headphones already, and budget headphones can be disappointing. But then I thought, what if I find Shure IEMs uncomfortable? My local Shure dealer does not allow returns on IEMs for "sanitary" reasons, so I'd be stuck with an expensive purchase.
Sanitary reasons...that seems a little stupid to me. How am I supposed to try them out and see which ones I like best? And can't they just charge me a restocking fee for a new set of eartips? Or have cheap eartips just for testing? It's not like you're getting bodily gunk over any other part. (Ewww...sorry.)
Here's what I expected from these IEMs after reading many reviews: bass emphasis, smooth sound, treble roll-off, possibly a V-shaped sound signature, good isolation, best-of-breed comfort.
For the most part, the SE215s lived up to the hype. There is a slight bass emphasis, although not as big as I expected. The treble is definitely rolled off, although the detail's still there for the most part. The sound is very smooth, very listenable. I can't see any recording sounding too bright and sibilant and drilling into my brain. That's something the Shure SRH440s do to me after a while.
A while ago I bought the SRH840s, looking for a better budget closed headphone to replace my SRH440s, and they had a wild, boomy mid-bass emphasis and muffled, overly rolled-off treble. So I wondered if the SE215s would do much the same thing. Thankfully, the bass emphasis of the SE215s is not distracting or too mid-bass heavy, and the treble roll-off isn't overdone.
My lack of enthusiasm for the SRH440s and SRH840s makes you think, why does this guy keep buying Shure products? I've used their microphones for years and love 'em. And I guess I'm an optimist.
So the SE215 sound good overall, especially for $90 Canadian. On the negative side, the dynamics aren't amazing, so instruments don't really pop. They sound less live, less 3D, more like they're coming from a recording. Not a big deal, but noticeable.
Fit-wise, they seal as well as any earplugs I've used, and they're comfortable for an hour or so. The cord is a little bit weird. You run it up and over your ears, either to the back of your head or below your chin. There you have to tighten it, otherwise the wires around your ears pop up, things get unruly, the IEMs start to droop out of your ears, etc.
I find when I tighten them below my chin, the cord itches my skin for some reason. When I tighten it behind my head instead, it's much more comfortable but awkward to get in place. I guess I'll get used to it.
Overall, a great value from the perspective of someone who's used many full-sized headphones, but no other IEMs.
Pros - Comfortable, nice sound
Cons - Fit takes a bit getting used to
Well here's what I have to say about the SE215. I am a high school student so I don't have too much experience with hi-fi stuff but I am an semi-pro musician so I know what good sound is and that stuff. But then again, everything here in this review is purely subjective and should be left for you to decide when you buy
I picked up my SE215's at Best Buy for $99.99 which was a pretty nice deal. I was debating getting these or Klipsch S4's but I eventually caved into buying my first Shure earphones. I am not disappointed at all with my purchase. I have owned Shure mic's and turntable cartridges so I know that they have great quality and customer support.
These earphones are built quite sturdy with some tough looking plastic. At first, I thought the driver was encased in full arcrylic but it is only a plastic shell. The cable is thick yet soft and the stress reliefs seem adequate. The accessories included are enough for everyday use: carry case, 3xFoam tips, 3x silicone tips. I was a bit surprised though that there were no multi-flange tips included though.
The fit kinda took some getting used to for me. The primary IEM's I had been using before were the TF10 and SoundMagic Pl30. The TF10 is just weird and the PL30 sit fairly loose in the ear so the Shure fit was different at first since it actually fit inside my ear taking up all the space. It took me about 15 minutes to mold the memory cable into a position that suited me but afterwards it was fine.
The SE215's definitely sound amazing for their price. I burned them in for ~50 hours using various noises and music. I find the burn in balanced out the sound a bit compared to straight out of the box. The bass is definitely the strong point of these IEM's. The bass is quite punchy and feels accurate. I find there is a mid-bass hump though which gets kinda annoying in some tracks with vocals. Also, it might of just been me, but I find that the bass distorts a bit when the notes go low and the volume is turned up. The mids are adequate: not great but they don't suck either. I find that they just don't sound as smooth as I would prefer. The highs are nice and I find they are able to reproduce quite a bit of detail. I haven't found the high's to sound harsh yet. These IEM's don't have large soundstage and you definitely feel as if you are listening to a recording. But then again, you feel that way when using alot of IEM's.
I don't have too many IEM's to compare to so I'm just going to skip that part.....
Overall, I find these SE215's are excellent value considering their price point. They are now my new 'everyday' earphones so I hope that they will be able to withstand some abuse They definitely surpass Monster Beats and many other 'mainstream' headphones that may cost even more than these. They can't compete with multi-driver BA IEM's but are good for what they're worth.
Pros - Look awesome. Balanced sound. Bulletproof (jokes, it's just kevlar reinforced cable). Cheap.
Cons - Slightly dull >15KHz. Annoying to take off/put on. Feels like cable kinks easily with sharp bends (bit too stiff)
I use these mainly for when I'm on stage or when I'm mixing live, running around adjusting a muzo's in-ears/wedges.
These are perfect. For 100bucks anyway.
But the unique thing about these I've never experience before is that it makes me want to see how far I can turn down any track and see how far I can go before I lose those details I've never noticed before.
They simply sound capable of reproducing whatever you throw at them. Sounds are no longer squished together. I can now discern clearly what level instruments are relative to others as opposed to something sent through a compressor with a hard knee and ultra high ratio. i.e. it sounds very clear, linear and distortion-less.
They come with a perfect little flat oval case with the Shure logo stitched on. Very nice and pro-looking.
They do lack a certain brightness, making cymbals, etc. sound slightly distant. But they demolish listening fatigue. Hours of listening, and normal hearing
They don't lack space, they just don't shimmer as much. Which really reduces listening fatigue during long gigs and rehearsals.
When listening to music, it's very raw and clean. It doesn't try too add something that isn't there, but everything that's meant to be there is.
The cable is a little stiff (plus heavy and thick), and being an engineering student, I know that it is a little too stiff for massive amounts of bending, which a bit of a downer, because I needed a running pair, too. But it's all good, 'cos the cable is replaceable! Albeit a little pricey, it's ultra simple and easy with the snap connector. Some people have complained about the swivelness of the connector, but I find it makes it a whole lot easier to get them on, and it feels sturdy enough.
So that's about it.
Pros - Good sound, detachable cords, price
Cons - a little to much bass, i have heard people having issues with them breaking, annoying design
So after a month of debating weather I should spring for the Shure SE215 I went for it. I only went for it because Shure has a really good warranty and if I need to use it I can.
Regarding durability and looks I find they look good because you don't even notice them under my hair. But durability wise i have heard reports of one side stop working. They look solid to me so far so only time will tell. The design and way they fit in the ear is annoying at first but you get used to it. IT irritates me though because i always have to move my hair all the time just to put them on. But once they are on they are solid and stay in place. I also find they are wonderfully comfortable and i can wear them all day. Just make sure you select the right tips.
Here is the part everyone cares about the most. How do they sound? Well to answer that i will have to separate it into 3 categories.
This is where the headphones shine the most. They have plenty of bass and to me it is a little much but i think they would be good for bass heads. They tend to reach fairly low and seem rather fast in the bass.
The mids are rather scooped to the extent that vocals and guitars are a little faint. I have some issues with this but overall i am very satisfied with the mids on these. Just don't buy these expecting Shure's well known midrange.
Highs, what highs? Yes there is a somewhat high range here but it seems to be little. Although i am not surprised considering these drop off at 17khz but i feel the highs are very laid back and are very smooth sounding.
I find these are very bassy iems and not to be purchased if you want mid or high range performance. These would suit bass heads well imo. They are also very smooth and easy on the ears. Not harsh at all and that makes them very good for sensitive ears.
Overall Conclusion and Value
If your looking for sub $100 iems that are very easy on your ears are comfortable and have good bass get these. I feel they compare with my Shure SRH840 decently enough to justify the price. But be warned that these seem to have bad quality control.
Love them, better with a little amping
Pros - Great Quality of bass, comfortable fit, isolation, sleek look
Cons - mids and highs a little flat, the cord keeer.
Theses are fantastic! Absolutely Stunning.
The bass is clear and detailed. It extends well and has very good speed. There is just the right amount too. I would consider myself to be a basshead, having sought after bass themed iems constantly. i've owned the original turbines and sennheiser cx 150 and cx 475 (directly marketed for supreme bass.)
Compared to the original Turbines and the two sennheisers there isn't as much impact but the clarity and extension is far far far more superior and more than makes up for that. listening to dubstep with theses is a thrill. In my opinion, if you had to give up one attribute of bass i'd say impact is the one to sacrifice.
The SE215's mids are missing a little detail, but overall satisfying. the turbines very recessed mids were much more disappointing. the senns both fall short to the 215's and i would say come close to if not on par with the turbines mids.
highs sound a bit small or short. but the detail is there. i think that the highs being that way makes these have virtually no sibilance or hissing. although, listening to heavy metal i think needs better separation for that genre to my ears. acoustic, indie, soundscapes all sound excellent through these.
the comfort is just excellent. not tiring and your not fijiting or frequently adjusting these at all. once they're in, they're in. the shure foam tips are insanely good. i prefer them to the comply foams. one bad thing is the keeper on the cord is very difficult to move up and down. its pretty stupid. it feels like your gonna rip or something. i also think the cord could be made of better material. there are no microphonics at all though. oh yeah the isolation is some of the best i've expirenced. i was 10 ft from my wife in my living room without the tv on or anything and couldn't really hear her talking to me..lol.
Bottom line, these amazed me. i want to commend shure on their take on dynamic driver iems. owning the se530's i would say these are certainly behind them in the mids and highs( not nearly enough to justifiy the price jump) and miles ahead in the bass department. these smoke the original turbines, making them seem outclassed and silly. actually i do like the turbines styling and material choice better than the se215, but thats ALL.
Pros - Great isolation, high overal build quality
Cons - Disconnectable jack required a tweak to work 100%
Recently, I went shopping for a $100 pair of earphones to replace my aging set of UE MetroFi 220 earphones.
After much deliberation, I settled on the Sure SE215 series in the clear variant. They were purchased from Amazon.com directly from Shure. I am a Prime member, as such I paid the $3.99 and had them sent next-day air.
They arrived without incident and well packed in all manner of UPS-proof air based packaging.
The actual carton which contained the earphones was relatively standard fare and more or less unmentionable. Inside the carton was the usual wadge of manuals and warnings printed in every language I've heard of and a few that I haven't. Also, there was a small bag containing six silicone tips as well as four foam tips (the other two were already on the device) and a cleaning tool. Finally, there was a zippered pouch with an internal pocket that is just perfect for the bag containing the tips and the tool or in lieu of that a small player such as an iPod nano or shuffle.
The first impression on removing the earphones from the package was that they are a quality device. The cables, which in my case are clear, show off the braided metal sheathing over the signal cables which is interspersed with a copper conductor woven into it. The plug itself as well as stress reliefs on the cable appear to be much more stout than other offerings, the cable has a very durable look and feel.
The cable disconnects appear to be a relatively high grade coaxial-type affair with a signal pin on the cable end sliding into a tube on the headphone end. Some folks have had some problems with these, but we'll get to that in just a few minutes. The entire connector assembly was covered in what appears to be a very thin oil, which was removed with a q-tip so as not to present any potential problems.
Moving along to the earpieces themselves, the quality craftsmanship shines in their appearance. The shells are very solid, and inspection of the internal construction reveals meticulously soldered connections as well as a very substantial support for the single dynamic driver.
The first listen out of the box revealed good sound quality with a "punchy" quality to the bass, strong definition in the mid frequencies, almost to the point of roughness, and some attenuation in the high registers. They went for my standard 72 hour burn-in combining equal parts of white, pink and brown noise played at a high listening level. The burn in period didn't make a huge difference, but there were some minor changes to the sound quality in the form of lesser recession of the high frequencies and a smoothing of definition in the mids without a notable loss in imaging. Down low, the reproduction gained a bit of force but is still favors mid-bass over sub-bass.
In casual listening, they have a very "fun" sound to them. They are dynamic in their representation and don't tend to get overly sibilent at high listening levels unless the sibilent tendencies are present in the recording. The tradeoff here is that highs don't have much of any sparkle to them. That said, I feel they have more than adequate sonic capabilities and qualities. Listening to them for several hours casually has not been fatiguing or irritating in the least.
Moving over to critical listening, their sound tends to accentuate the full mid range with an excellent degree of accuracy across the board. The high end is rolled off enough to both avoid sibilient harmonics within the listening device itself unless otherwise noted above. The entire sound envelope of the Shures has a great deal of accuracy with regard to imaging. The sound stage is both wide and well defined and has more positional accuracy than I would have originally anticipated given the price point. Isolation while using the foam tips was second to none and provided a very clean sound floor in environs ranging from the office to my quiet living room. As far as bass reproduction is concerned, the lower frequencies were definitely there in complimentary fashion. Some feel that these earphones lend themselves to bass heads, however I do not agree with this viewpoint. While the mid-bass is certainly amazing with a moderate of impact and fantastic texture, I can't describe the sub-bass as anything aside from accurate and complimentary. To clarify, the entire bass spectrum is represented accurately but without an overpowering amount of presence with regards to the middle qualities.
The only issue that I've run into with the device is the oft-posted problem of having one of the earpieces drop connection periodically. The left ear on my set would cut to silence when turning my head a certain direction or holding the cable at that angle. I blame the connectors specifically. To remedy this, I used the tip of a knife* to exert very slight pressure on the pin in the cable-side of the connectors in order to bend it a less-than-readily-visible amount in order to facilitate better connection. After several tweaks of this type, I am having no more connectivity issues in either ear, and it is smooth sailing.
To summarize, I am completely impressed with the devices aural qualities and would definitely buy them again if I needed to. While they will not please the crowd which demands cymbal sparkle with their rock and roll, and they will not please a true bass-head, I believe that they will please folks who want accuracy, control and an overall fantastic musical reproduction with great isolation.
*If you do this modification to your pair, please disconnect them if using a conductive item to tweak the pin to avoid shorting the amp, and be gentle. To much of a bend and the headphones will not connect properly. It is better to have to tweak twenty times and do this right than tweak once and have a broken device.
List of music auditioned with this device:
Jon Schmidt - All of me (Piano)
Jon Schmidt - Micheal means Mozart (Piano and Cello)
Handel - Assortment of pieces from "Messiah" (Orchestra and Choir)
Mord Fustang - Lick the rainbow (Electro House)
Mord Fustang - Milky Way (Melodic Electro House)
Skrillex - My Name Is Skrillex (Dubstep)
Skrillex - Cat Rats (Dubstep Disco)
Pendulum - The other side (DnB)
Pendulum - Encoder (Vocal Percussive DnB)
All tracks were reviewed in all contexts using loss-less files obtained from reputable download sources or created from stamped CD.
Pros - Excellent isolation, terrific bass, decent mids, generally quite comfortable, magical/life changing cord, great sound profile
Cons - Slightly recessed highs, not the best case, occasional plug issues, I absolutely can't remove the tips
My last IEM purchase was a disaster; I bought the Turbines and ultimately returned them as they were literally destroying my ears. I figured I was done with the IEM game for good, and moved to great big full sized Ultrasones. But I just couldn't ride the bus with those, they were too cumbersome and didn't quite isolate enough. So, my wallet aching, I went with these.
I've gotta say, after a little over a month I have almost no buyer's remorse whatsoever.
I'm going to start with the bad, because that's easier to quickly explain.
-The high's aren't the best, music in which the lead singer has a higher voice sometimes needs to be EQ'd to sound full. Keep in mind I haven't formally burned these in yet, I've listened for maybe 20 hours total but that's all the use they've gotten. This issue may go away, and if not it's not always noticeable and it is not a huge deal as the overall sound profile is great.
-The case is not terrific; it works, but it's not quite large enough for the cord (more on that cord later) and it doesn't seem to do a ton to protect the headphones.
-When I keep my player in my pocket and the plug is partially in my pocket, and the connection between the cord and the plug bends, it occasionally causes a mild skip in the audio. This is very rare, but it has happened a few times in the last month and it's worth noting. Easily avoided by carrying my player differently.
-Finally, here's my only really big gripe: I cannot remove the stock foam tips. I have pulled, tugged, squeezed, twisted, frozen, scratched, manipulated... nope. Now, the stock foams happen to fit my ears rather well (most of the time) so it's not a tremendous problem right now, but 1. It would be if the tips didn't fit and 2. The foams will eventually get really gross, and I will have to probably cut them off gently to replace them. It's like the tips are glued on, I don't get it. Most of the time these stock tips fit me, but I would like to be able to try the additional tips included for a potentially better fit. The left bud sometimes feels awkward, so a different tip might be really helpful. And as I said, foam tips are gross. They're wonderful in many ways, but they get really gross. And I will have to remove them to clean them eventually, and if I can't I'll have to take scissors or a pocket knife and slice these tips off and buy new foams from Shure (maybe a warranty would cover that, though).
Ok now that the small number of complaints have turned into a huge wall of text, let's get on to the pros (which will surely turn into an even huger wall of text).
-I'm going to start with maybe the most exciting thing: the cord. The beautiful, magical, amazing, life-changing cord that is made out of pixie dust and concentrated joy and was gifted to mankind from heaven above. Yes, I'm speaking in hyperbole, but the cord really is awesome. It's long enough to really comfortably reach from my pocket to my ears, and then some. And it's thick to the point where it could take some SERIOUS punishment and absolutely never twist. Finally, I really appreciate it being removable in the event that it did break (I think it might, if I threw it into the fires of Mordor in Mount Doom).
-The bass is incredible. These little IEMs pack as much of a punch as any full sized I've ever heard, but in quality not quantity. It goes very deep and is very strong, but does not get muddy or overtake the mids (sometimes it does drown out the highs, though).
-A really nice warm, full sound signature. These really sound rich and full; R&B and wall-of-sound rock sound great, but thinner/strangely recorded oldies/classic rock also manage to sound really nice and not light or overly thin.
-Despite the tip issues, the fit is excellent. These do not fall out, ever, and the over-the-ear cord is a really nice touch that ensures they stay in place. The first time I put them on it took me about five minutes to perfect getting them in, but then I had no trouble. The fit is particularly great in that it blocks out probably 95% of ambient noise: my bus driver blasts Steve Harvey every morning on the way to school and I can't stand it, but the minute I turn my music on it blocks it all out. The headphones don't block as much when the music isn't playing (it's passive noise cancellation, so the headphones themselves don't do a ton to block stuff out. Better than nothing, but not great). Nonetheless, with music on a reasonable volume I hear nothing outside.
-Terrific value. I had a 30 dollar gift card that I do not remember receiving for Best Buy, where I bought these, which felt like found money so in the end with tax and fast shipping they ran me about $80. I think they're worth a lot more than that.
I mainly listen to rock (punk, alternative, prog, classic, light, pop), along with some R&B, rap, and jazz. Sometimes some EQing is needed to make the highs and lows balance, but in general these really sound great with everything I listen to. I won't do the description for a few different specific songs that I've done in the past because I feel like that's a little too specific, and these are very consistent.
So yeah, I pretty much love these. They're comfy, they block sound well, they sound great, and the cord is majestic. I would strongly recommend these to anyone, my only real issue is the ultra-stuck-on tips. An excellent intro to higher end ear buds for me, very satisfying. I'll probably upgrade within a year or so, just because, but I could see sometimes using these even after I upgrade and if I can't afford an upgrade these would probably keep me happy for a very long time.
TERRIFIC HEADPHONES!! Love them! you have to give them a few hours to let them record themselves to get use of the best quality...overall they are fantastic! The sound quality is amazing!
Pros - Isolation, value, comfort, overall sound, nice bass
Cons - Early units may have defects (resolved now)
I'm just going to say now that I'm not nearly an audiophile. So my evaluation of earphones is pretty limited to what sounds nice to me. I used to have a pair of Shure SE210s before moving to some Monster Turbines last year. While I discovered that I loved the sound of the Turbines, I was really missing the incredible isolation of Shure. Since I travel heavily for work, isolation is something that's really important to me! Then, of course, not long after I got the Turbines the SE215s came along. It was like the best of both worlds. The warm, full sound that the dynamic drivers give and the awesome isolation of the Shures. Actually the isolation on the SE215 is even better than the SE210.
As for the sound, I can say it just sounds so smooth and warm. I recently got a pair of S4s so I actually understand a little better what is meant by sibilance and these don't have it. To my ear there's very little difference between these and my Monster Turbines which is a good thing. They just sound fun to my ears and I can listen for hours without fatigue.
They take some getting used to with the thick wires but I can put them in very quickly now. There is no microphonics to speak of because of how they have to be worn.
Overall, I just love these. After I got them, while I still like looking at all the other earphones out there, I've really lost my desire to buy anything else for daily listening. Given their low price and fun sound, I think I got a real steal!