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Universal Fit item created by jdz2287, Mar 7, 2011
Pros - Sound, comfort, great value, long life
Cons - Replacement cable price (complaint is specific to UK). Case not as good as older Shures.
I bought these in February 2012 for £75 at amazon.co.uk and have used them every day except for about one week when I was awaiting delivery of a replacement cable. Typical use is with a variety of personal players (iRiver H140 and H340, Sansa Clip+, Archos A43IT) as well as with PC audio and occasionally with home audio. I listen to many kinds of (usually lossless) music but most often orchestral, choral, vocal, instrumental, rock, pop.
Price and value:
These are very decent value and the price in the UK is close to the US price. This is quite unusual as UK consumers are typically ripped off to the tune of 1.5 to >2 times the US price for the same Asia manufactured products. Shure UK get some goodwill for not playing that game with the price of the SE215. They lose a sliver of that goodwill because in the UK they maintain super high prices for aftermarket products such as tips, cables, and replacement left/right phones. After 14 months I needed a new cable. UK price is £45! That is US $69. I bought the same genuine cable from a Canadian retailer for about half that price including international delivery. And when I need new tips I can save about 35% by buying from North America, or by buying a 3rd party replacement.
These things are built to last. I haven't been particularly careful with them. They have been sat on, snagged, dropped, trodden on and once even immersed in salt water (I fell in the sea with them in...whoops) and I often sleep with them in. I needed to replace the cable after 14 months as the thicker "memory" section cracked, leading to sound dropping out and wires actually being exposed. In the last few years I've had two pairs of Sennheiser IEMs fail (cable), some Klipsch IEMs fail (?), and a pair of Sony headphones fail (cable). Being able to replace the cable on the Shures is a massive plus point.
My SE215s have kept working and been maintainable while several other IEMs and headphones have died on me. That makes them better value than every other 'phone I've ever bought except a pair of Sennheiser HD 500 which worked for over 10 years before blowing a driver.
Very comfortable. They sit flush in the shell of the ear and cause no irritation or pressure and can be worn all day or night without discomfort. Having the cable route behind the head is ideal for me. In daily use these are as comfortable as smaller, lighter IEMs such as Sennheiser CX series, and if you need something suitable for sleeping in or wearing under a hat/helmet then the Shures are surely as good as it gets without paying for a custom fit.
Very good but depends on good fit and on choice of tips to a small degree. With the supplied tips the isolation should be good enough for most people most of the time. You don't get quite the isolation as with long, thin IEM that sit relatively deep in the ear canal but it is far superior to Senn CX type tips which sit at the entrance. Triple flange tips aren't part of the retail package but are available. They do offer more isolation but many will find them irritating to the ear canal. Tips that fully seal the ear probably aren't ideal because these Shures aren't designed with any tiny breather hole to relieve the pressure, which can be obvious if using triple flange tips. The regular silicone and foam tips are very nearly as good.
Slightly emphasised bass, good midrange, slightly rolled off highs. To me this is a fine combination. I don't want bass heavy IEMs but I do want slight emphasis to make up for the lack of bone conduction or air being moved or whatever it is that goes missing with neutral IEMs/headphones compared with speakers. The highs might be slightly rolled off, probably to avoid harshness. With really powerful high tones (soprano voices or similar) you might occasionally be reminded that these cost £75 and not £175 as some harshness can become evident, but overall it's very hard indeed to fault these IEMs. I've used them for many hours almost every day for 14 months and they aren't tiring or irritating. That in itself is probably better compliment than any description of their sound quality or technical analysis (which I can't offer anyway).
If worn as recommended by Shure, with the cable held snug to the back of the neck/head by the keeper, then there is no annoying noise from the cable. Because the IEMs sit flush in the ear there is no wind noise or whistling effect when used outdoors.
The supplied soft case was a little disappointing. I used to have a pair of Shure E2C IEMs and they came with a really tough little case. The new soft case is made of heavy cordura but isn't of the hard clamshell type and I think it doesn't offer enough protection.
Overall it's hard to find fault with these IEMs at £75. Criticisms are few, small and qualified while positive attributes are plain and abundant. You get the same mature design, easy comfort and good build as with the most expensive Shures, and sound quality that doesn't feel in any way modest. I would unreservedly recommend these to anyone who wants to spend a moderate amount to get a huge sound upgrade over the buds supplied with their player/tablet.
Pros - Good value. Built like a tank. Decent overall sound quality.
Cons - Not so comfortable. Very narrow soundstage. Fatiguing in long listening sessions.
This is my first review here on Headfi, so I'd like to apologize in advance if I make any mistakes or unwillingly break any rules with this post.
I am not going to do a very thorough review of my SE215, just wanted to give anybody who's interested my impressions on these IEMs after roughly three years of use, now that I am letting them go for something (hopefully) which better suits my taste (Sennheiser IE80).
I came to buy these IEMs essentially because of Headfi, and because of the very good reputation they have among audo-specialized websites and youtube channels. It has not been my first pair of good IEMs, as I came from a pair of Beyerdynamic DTX 101 ie, which I loved and broke too soon for my taste. I've also owned a number of good quality headphones (Shure SRH440, Philips Phidelio, Beyerdynamic DT 770 pro, Sony MDR 7506). I listen to many kinds of music, ranging from hard rock to classical, from acid jazz to blues, from instrumental (mostly acoustic guitar) to pop. My main sources are my smartphone (currently a One Plus 3) and my PC (no special audio device here, just a Fiio Olympus 2 to help driving my DT 770 pro).
My overall experience with the Shure SE215 can be called positive, with some flaws. Here are my impressions, divided in sections.
Comfort (and Design)
This is one of the main reasons (together with the fatigue, read below) for which I've finally decided to move on and replace the SE215. Right from the start I've had issues with the fit of these IEM into my ears. The fit problems were not so much related to the eartips, as after an initial period of experiments I've found the M-size silicon tips to be the best choice for me. What has put me off right from the beginning with these IEMs is the actual shape of the earpiece. They are in fact just a tad too big for my ears, which means that they constantly press against the outer cartilage when I'm using them. This has limited my listening sessions to no more than 45-60 minutes each, as I had to remove the earpieces to let my ears rest from the (slight) pain every time. I'm well aware that this issue can be virtually non-existent for someone else, but I wanted to give you my eperience nevertheless.
Another slightly annoying feature of these IEMs are the memory-foam parts of the cable, the ones which go over your ears, just to be clear. Not one time in these three years I could put the SE215 on without having to adjust the cable, being it just a bit or completely. No deal breaker here, but to me there's room for improvement.
Nothing much to say here, other than the fact that these SE215 are built like a tank. Simply put, you cannot break them with normal (and even a bit careless) use, and it looks like they won't fail on their own, at least for a very very long time.
Some good and bad here for me. I am no proper expert, so bear with me if I don't use the correct terms. The sound from the SE215 is overall pleasing enough, with very flattering mids, enough bass (a bit muddy and slow, though), and present trebles. The treble itself is where I've found weakness on these, as to me they tend to sound a little bit too harsh sometimes, making me turn the volume one notch down, and sometimes making me take a pause from listening, as my ears felt a bit fatigued after a while. Equalizing them is out of the question for me. I like to listen to my headphones and IEM as-they-are-made.
Other than that, soundstage appears to be quite narrow. You can of course distinguish the various instruments pretty well, but it's very difficult to locate them in space, and the SE215 sound comes from inside your head, if you know what I mean. I'm aware that the construction of these earbuds makes them prone to low soundtsage, but that's my impression from them anyway.
Hope this is of some help to someone.
Pros - Easy to listen to, good comfort, solid looks and build
Cons - Cheap case, not the most resolving
If you frequent my blog or The Sound Apprentice Instagram, you know that I’m a fan of Shure headphones. So it should come as no surprise that I intervened with a set of Shure in-ear monitors (IEMs) when I found out that my dear friend who loves everything music has been “blowing” cheap earbuds like crazy (and probably going deaf at the same time). Enter the Shure SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones.
To me, with its inviting Shure house sound and moderate price of entry ($99 MSRP), the SE215 is a no-brainer. Performance-wise, you get a lot of bang for the buck, which is why I have no qualms recommending this IEM to friends that really want to enjoy their music, the veteran audiophile that’s only a passing IEM user, or the beginner audiophile that’s looking to step up to hi-fi sound without the high-end price tag (while still getting near pro-level build quality). After all, the SE215 evolved out Shure’s line of professional monitoring products that are used by some of the most acclaimed musicians around the world.
Like most IEMs and earphones in this price range, the SE215 arrives in a minimalist no frills box and inner plastic tray that displays the IEMs while keeping the accessories securely in place. It's nothing fancy, but at this price point, I wouldn’t expect anything more. Despite the cheap packaging, when you first handle the SE215 I am certain you will be impressed. The styling, fit and finish of the SE215 is very pleasing, particularly the clear models that let you see the inner workings. It’s a solid IEM with a detachable high-quality cable with gold-plated connectors, a feature not often found among the majority of Shure’s consumer-level competitors.
The SE215 comes with a reasonable assortment of accessories. I say reasonable, because even with bargain-price Brainwavz offerings (see my XF-200 review) and entry-level Westone earphones (see my ADV Beta review) you get a few more accessories and a wider assortment of tips. But let’s focus on what you do get. The SE215 comes with a soft zippered case, a small cleaning tool, and 6 sets of Sensaphonicssound-isolating ear tips (S, M, L in flexible silicone and foam). I personally would prefer a hard case to be included, as well as a shirt clip, a 1/4” jack adapter and some spare tips, but maybe that’s nitpicking.
Fit and Finish
Accessories may not be the SE215’s strongest suit, but performance is. Shure packs a lot of bang for the buck in the fit, finish and sound of the dynamic SE215.
The SE215 is considered a universal-fit IEM, meaning that it’s intended to sit comfortably in the ears of most users to ensure good stability and sound isolation. I find the shape to fit well in my ear, and the low-profile nozzle and light weight helps with comfort quite a bit. My ears are very sensitive to earphones and IEMs, but I was able to wear these throughout most of my workday without ever feeling a real need to take a break from them.
I particularly like their over-the-ear cable routing, which moves the cable away from my face and chin so I don’t get snagged up as easily. What’s more, the portion of the cable that wraps over the ear has a flexible wire inside that allows you to bend and twist it to your liking, offering increased stability and a custom fit. The fact that the cable connector at the IEM swivels 360 degrees also helps with insertion and removal from the ear. Just a further note on the cable—I think it’s one of the nicer IEM/earphone cables I have experienced to date. Being detachable/replaceable is a huge plus, and the heavier gauge, braided internal shielding, and gold-plated connectors and termination exude quality and lead me to believe that it'll hold up to some abuse without fail. Some may complain that it’s not as flexible as others, but it seems to loosen up a bit with use.
Moving on, the ear tips come in two options: Foam or silicone. Then you decide which of the three sizes fit best. As with most earphones/IEMs, tip selection is critical. I strongly recommend taking the time to test the different sizes to determine which tip fits best—emphasis on “best” and not just one that “fits”—because the audio quality, comfort, and noise isolation improve greatly when the ideal tip is used. (For me, the medium foam tips worked best and offered better sound quality, bass impact, and isolation over the silicone version.) The foam Sensaphonics tip is similar in look and feel to a traditional foam earplug. These particular tips claim that they block out 37 dB of ambient noise. I think they perform better than the Comply foam tips that I've previously tested with Brainwavz earphones. This makes the foam option on the SE215 great for commuting, noisy offices or use in professional music environments. For me, the silicone tips didn’t offer the same level of comfort or sound quality (I think the highs were more emphasized and the bass a little less controlled), but your results may vary.
Speaking of results, that’s probably what you're really here to find out about. As I opened with, the SE215 has a very inviting sound. If you’re familiar with Shure’s SH840 (see my review) or SH1540 headphones (see my review), I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear that the SE215 isn’t too far off in its overall sonic signature. It’s got that traditional Shure house sound—warm, a bit dark, a bit forward in presentation at times, with highs that roll off well before ever getting sibilant or harsh. In other words, it’s just really easy to listen to.
The SE215’s sonic signature falls somewhere right between the SRH840 and SRH1540, and it also reminds me a bit of Sennheiser’s famed HD650. With the SE215 you get a clean, rich midrange that emphasizes the twang of tom toms and acoustic guitar strings and puts your favorite vocalist front and center. Mids are where I’ve always thought that Shure shines. For an IEM, I find the mids to be fairly smooth and full-bodied with enough texture and air to get my ears really immersed in the music. No, you’re not going to get the same 3-D soundstage of a full-sized headphone, but the SE215 doesn’t disappoint with its ability to position instruments in space. I also think it does a good job of handling music with lots of layers, like much of Moderat’s album III.
If you’re like me and use the SRH1540 at work all day and then switch over to the SE215 for the commute home, the transition will be relatively seamless. The treble of the SE215 is certainly rolled back a bit and the soundstage compresses in comparison, but the mids and bass are very similar.
About that bass, the SE215 delivers fairly weighty bass with ease, depending on your source. When spinning tracks off of my Spotify Electric Vibes playlist I find that my Droid Turbo delivers a pretty full bodied performance, maybe a bit sloppy in the sub-bass at times, but certainly well via a smartphone. With a Hidizs AP-100 DAP my buddy at CTC Audio hooked me up with, I found I needed to tinker with the EQing quite a bit. I don’t know what it is about the AP-100, but I’ve never been happy with it with any earphones/IEMs, so I am just chalking this up as the Hidizs’ fault. The SE215 really comes to life when hooked up to my ALO Audio The Island headphone amp/DAC. This sweet little desktop unit has the SE215s absolutely singing. So despite the SE215’s 20-ohm rating that should help it sound good out of most devices, using a dedicated DAC/amp definitely takes it to a higher level.
While it’s undeniable that the SE215 has a bass hump that bleeds into the midrange, it manages to do so smoothly enough that the overall sound of the IEM isn’t too dark or bloated. In fact, it’s not the bass at fault as much as the treble (to some).
One thing I can’t live with is peaky, edgy treble—especially in an IEM. The SE215 doesn’t have that, not even close (unless you listen to terribly recorded music or don’t put them in your ears right). The SE215’s treble is admittedly dark and relaxed compared to many earphones/IEMs, and that’s part of why I like it so much. Sure, the soundstage closes in when there isn’t enough sparkle in the highs, but much like the SRH1540, I think the SE215 manages to strike a nice balance between the dark and the bright. The SE215 has pleasing, grain-free treble that’s not the least bit fatiguing during long listening sessions, even with the volume cranked up. Detail retrieval is compromised, but still good. All in all, it’s just a very easy IEM to listen to and enjoy.
Overall, I really like the SE215. It’s easily the best of the earphones/IEMs I have owned to date. No, it won’t replace my preference for obnoxiously big headphones, but it takes what I liked about a lot of my headphones and packages it into a totally portable unit that I can toss into my work and travel bags without worry.
While the Shure SE215 isn’t a glitzy newcomer to the portable audio world, it’s a no-nonsense IEM that simply sounds damn good. Shure consistently puts out quality products that I think go underrated in the audiophile world. Yeah, the SE215 could be more neutral, and maybe a bit more refined, but to Hell with that. The SE215 has sound you can be Shure of. Get it? Shure’s signature house sound is safe, it’s easy on the ears, and it performs well with a wide range of music. So do yourself a favor and spend a few extra Andrew Jacksons and get yourself a pair of the high quality SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones. As my buddy Phil says, “For everyday bangers, the 215s are perfect. The best hundo you can spend on earphones.”
Insider tip: Check eBay and audio forums like Head-Fi.org for deals. While the SE215 retails new for $99, new open-box, refurbished and used sets can be had for around $60-80.
Pros - Smooth sound, strong isolation, good build, detachable cables, decent accessories
Cons - Questionable value due to "underwhelming" sound performance
I wouldn’t use the word hate (it’s a rather strong word) but I can definitely say that I used to have a heavy dislike for the Shure SE215.
At its price, I’ve always felt it simply underperformed in terms of sound. The Audio-Technica ATH-IM70, ATH-E40, Vsonic VSD3S v2, OneMore Triple Driver, the list goes on – what all the mentioned earphones have in common is that subjectively, in my humble opinion, they all sounded leagues ahead of the underwhelming SE215.
Simply put, I felt the SE215 sucked for audio enthusiasts. I thought it was only a safe option for beginners and/or people looking for a gift for non-audiophiles.
And then I, self-proclaimed headphone nut, received the SE215 as a present myself.
I couldn’t sell it or give it away, so I thought, “What the heck. Let’s keep an open mind, first impressions from demos be damned, I’ll try this.”
Now, it’s the earphone I use on the train every morning when I’m off to work.
How did this happen? Let’s take a look.
Edit Notes: this used to be a review of the Shure SE215 Special Edition that was not only posted to the wrong product page, but I later realised my SE215 Spe, while very close to the real deal, was likely not authentic. Since receiving the standard SE215 as a gift, I have re-purposed this review to reflect both the correct model and thoughts on the authentic product. Apologies for past and future confusion – I was very new to audio and Head-Fi when I first posted the original review. Since I can’t delete reviews, I hope this effort to edit my past mistake would suffice. Cheers!
Packaging & Accessories
Within a standard windowed cardboard box, you get the SE215 with a pair of foam tips along with 3 Shure olive silicon tips. You also get a soft zip case with a clip, and I really wish the case were stiffer or more substantial but otherwise, the accessories are pretty fair in my opinion. More foam tips would’ve also been nice too.
One of the championing characteristics of the SE215, many owners will tell you the build on the SE215 is great. Not gonna lie, I feel the same way too.
I could go on and on to describe what hundreds of others have already, or I could give you a succinct summary – the SE215 isn’t flashy or even particularly pretty, but it’s practical, its proven to be durable for a majority of users, and I generally like its construction quality.
One notable weakness lies in the thin earphone nozzle, which some users have noted to have had snapped off on them. All I can tell you is to be careful when swapping out tips. Also, I personally would not use this earphone at the gym if you’re looking for absolute longevity, since sweat and watery wax could clog up those same thin nozzles. In short, ymmv.
Isolation and Comfort
Another Key plus on the SE215, isolation is pretty good. Hands down, I cannot name any other IEM at and below the SE215’s price point that has equal or better isolation. I’m sure there’s some floating around here and there, but certainly not from the big boy brands *ahem Sennheiser Momentum and its giant ass vents*.
Also, the earphones conform rather well to my ear, though some reports from owners have suggested that the ear pieces were a little too thick to fit in their ear comfortably. I will admit that Shure did improve the fit and comfort on the SE215 Special Edition models, but in general, I’d still say the standard SE215 is pretty solid in the comfort department.
With good isolation and decent fit, I don’t think it’s hard to imagine why the SE215 is my preference while commuting – it works, end of story.
Since the SE215 are often touted as “good value” because of a solid combination of rugged build, good comfort, strong isolation, and great sound performance–and the earphones have been doing good so far–the sound is what’ll make or break this highly regarded earphone here.
For a $100 earphone, the SE215’s bass digs surprisingly deep, deeper than my handful of first impressions from demos at various stores would’ve suggested to me personally. Sure, sub-bass is slightly rolled off from the comparatively meaty mid-bass, but lo and behold, this earphone does actually have some sub-bass rumble and authority. Emphasis on the word “some”, due to the slight roll-off mentioned earlier. Still, the deep bass is a definite plus.
Moving up in frequencies, the mid-bass and upper-bass are not overbearing or muddy, actually being very controlled in quantity. Managed, but present, thick and meaty, but not wild or flabby. The only gripe I’d have is that it’s a little wooly and lacking resolution, but it’s still what I’d call defined, controlled, and absolutely acceptable – there are definitely worse at this price and beyond. The flabby low-end of the Sony XBA-N1 comes to mind.
As a result of good bass presence, the SE215 fares quite well when it comes to bass guitars, drumming impact, and even the thumping beat on some synth-pop, but I wouldn’t say the resolution of the bass nor the sub-bass authority would make it jaw-dropping enough for fast, hardcore EDM. My personal preference would be for more defined bass, even if it had to come at the cost of lower quantities, but of course, this is just my opinion.
Many proclaim that the Shure “house sound” is liquid smooth and clear mids. Though “clear” is most definitely up for debate when referring to the Shure product line-up in its entirety, it’s very fair to say that the SE215’s mid detail presentation is incredibly smooth, even forgiving.
While not quite muffled or unclear, the SE215 does have a distinct lack of sparkle or presence in the upper mids section, creating a mild sense of mutedness to the sound. I have stated that this is what I find much more preferable to blare or splashy-ness in my Panasonic RP-HTF600-S review, and this still holds true here.
Especially when commuting, when the volume does need to be louder, this is a very favourable signature. Electric guitars, brass instruments, and other mid-band instruments lose quite a bit of bite when compared to something like the MEE Audio M6 Pro or the much more expensive Etymotic EX4XR, and vocals can sound a tad dull. That said, when outdoors, this is a small compromise when considering the alternative is losing my sense of hearing.
Similarly, the treble on the SE215 is noticeably rolled off, though I wouldn’t quite say the SE215 is undetailed. Sure, strings, cymbals, harmonicas and other shrill/sharp-sounding instruments can sound relatively clear though a little distant and blunted, but again, the lack of piercing highs is favourable when listening outdoors.
Sound Stage and Separation
Both the width and separation of the sound is pretty much in line with the price competition, neither being compressed or tiny in image, but not impressing with outstanding performance either. Imaging and positioning is similarly fair, and I never got the sense that I couldn’t place instruments – that said, it’s not anything that’ll floor me like the Sony XBA N3, for example.
The SE215 is flat, a tad hazy, almost dull and boring sounding. These, however, aren’t necessarily bad traits.
Critics would say the SE215 is “undetailed”, “not worth the money”, and “over-rated”, pointing their fingers towards other options like the Vsonic GR07 and the OneMore Triple Driver as better value propositions that present more excitement and detail.
Fans of the SE215 will say this is “balanced”, “low distortion”, and “safe”, the latter point referring not only to sound, but the build, accessories, Shure’s renowned customer service, and overall product likability – yes, people like safe products, and the SE215 is likable because it’s super super safe.
I personally think both have a point, so this is what I personally tell most people who send me inquiries of the SE215: it’s a good earphone, a tad expensive – a good overall package that isn’t the best absolute value. It’s safe, it’ll please the majority of people, but for some, this sound signature would simply not do. Ultimately, sound is highly subjective, so give as many earphones as you can the chance to demo and decide for yourself.
There’s plenty of new entries at and below the SE215’s price point that have been threatening its position as “king of value”. I’ve mentioned a few at the start of the review, and have, in fact, owned some of these supposed SE215-killers.
On the other hand, the SE215 remains a good balance of alright sound, good build, nice comfort, solid isolation, and excellent retail distribution. This is why even today, the SE215 still comes recommended.
And yes, I’d recommend this IEM now. Time with it has slowly changed my mind.
I definitely have gripes with the SE215–it’s not perfect-sounding in any stretch of the imagination–but would consider the sound good enough to pass, especially given it’s a clear winner in other categories.
Not the most resolving, competition-defying, or even awe-inspiring sounding IEM, it’s easy to see why some people, past me included, would abstain from recommending this product. Simply put, it doesn’t sound very impressive against the other excellent sounding alternatives these days.
That said, the SE215 still does have a unique selling point – it’s uniquely still the only IEM that ticks every single box handily in sound, comfort, isolation, price, and availability. This is why the SE215 persists in popularity, and this is why it is a great product.
Are there better values? Absolutely. Will sound improve dramatically if you pay more (or less)? Yes, I’d say so. Plenty of other IEMs sound much better.
That said, the SE215 is practical, easily obtained, and doesn’t really make a fuss, which is why despite its questionable value, it’s still a great overall package that’d make most people happy.
So, Shure, I hope you’re working on an entire refresh of the SE line, because if you want to retain this position, you’ve got to work for it. Competition is catching up.
But for now, the SE215 is what many will continue to enthusiastically or begrudgingly recommend, and it’ll be what many–like me–will simply live with.
Pros - Built to last, very comfortable, luxurious mids, lows are detailed but not overpowering.
Cons - Pricey (specially with emergence of it's competitors costing well below 99$) , rolled off treble.
SHURE SE215 REVIEW
Notes: This is my first review in the head-fi community and I'm just starting my journey as an enthusiast. So please be kind to my mistakes. Thanks!
Accessories: IEM and detachable cable,
Soft carrying pouch (Does not provide adequate protection, hard clamshell cases would be appreciated),
Foam and silicone tips (Each of them come in small,medium,large sizes),
Build: Sturdy shiny plastic. These were built to last years,Specially if just a little care is taken. My pair has been thrown inside backpacks, front pockets, almost got stepped on, dropped from a few feet several times for the past 16 months and it's still running. Detachable cables are quite useful, the one's that came with it are just beginning to wear down and replacements cost about 20-25$.
Isolation & Comfort: Put both in the same segment because, both of them are excellent. Foam tips block more noise than silicone tips, maybe hybrid tips will help in getting isolation and treble. The IEM's very comfortable to wear. I've fallen asleep with them many times and my ears didn't hurt. The cable has slight microphonics , but I noticed them only when the cable above the Y-split brushed against cloth. The cables do become stiff after long storage periods so it is a bit hard to wear , but it relaxes soon as the cables warm up from your body heat.
Sound: This is the most essential part of the review, eh? It might vary person-wise.
Highs: Highs are recessed. Cymbals lack the "Fizz and fun factor" that you might get from something a lot more cheaper. It is highly recommended to use the silicone tips to get a bit more out of the highs. The foam tips just absorb the higher frequencies leaving it blunt. Treble isn't all that bad, but if you like treble these won't impress you.
Mids: Say hello to the sound signature which is known as the "Shure-house-sound". Warm, wonderful, detailed mids. Guitars and other string instruments sound amazing. In one word the SE215's "Shure" emphasizes on it's mids without being obtrusive.
Lows: This is where things get interesting. To some it may lack bass, others may think bass a bit of thump. To me, there was ample amounts of bass,The silicone tips also help clear out the confusion by making the bass a tad bit tighter and detailed.
Vocals: Both male and female vocals sound smooth,crisp and have a fullness to them that gives that "live" reproduction. I found sibilance in only a few songs and can not confirm if it is because of the way it was recorded or because of the IEMs.
Long story short : If you want the best isolation and comfort in this price range, go for them.
Competition and recommendations: While comparing sound quality the Ostry KC-06 and the TTpod T1e are highly recommended for the price. SQ wise, the fiio EX1(90$ish on amazon) is one of the strongest competition the SE215 has.
Pros - Cheapest IEM I've seen with a removable cable, great bass and vocals; full, dynamic sound. Ultra durable, excellent isolation. Option for mic cable.
Cons - Treble lacks extension, fit not for everyone due to bulky connectors and so-so memory wire (not a problem with mic cable)
I will report back for a more in-depth review of the sound, but for now suffice to say that I love the SE215 and it is my go-to beater IEM when I'm not willing to risk my UM3X. It does bass and vocals exceptionally well, which are my two biggest desires from any headphone. Durability is unparalleled, especially for the price. I take these everywhere: workouts, running, beach, etc. and never feel like I have to worry for even a moment about anything going wrong. They are isolation monsters, too; they made great commuting companions when I took the train and bus to work. They are usually my first recommendation to non-audiophiles who are sick of crappy Skullcandies giving out after a month or two of regular use, unless the person in question has small ears and/or is after a cleaner sound.
Overall these have my full support; if you don't have small ears, and want an IEM with great bass and awesome isolation that is built like a tank, you can't go wrong here.
Pros - FUN, Isolation, Price, Removable cables, Build quality
Cons - Cord a bit long, Other IEMs in the same price range may outperform it by now
INTRODUCTION & ABOUT ME:
I started getting into audio about a year ago; I got my first headphone, the Shure SRH440, shortly after, and have since picked up a FiiO X1, FiiO E1 (used with my iPod Touch 4), an Optimus CD-3450, and, obviously, the Shure SE215. I mainly stick to the cheaper side of things, being a student and not having a job. I listen mainly out of my X1, though I used to mainly listen straight from the iPod Touch. A large majority of my listening on the SE215 was done on the X1; almost none has been none on any other sources, so for this review, all impressions of the SE215 will be from having it paired with the X1. The SE215 has had no modifications (original cable), and is using the small Shure Olive tips. I listen mainly to rock (almost all forms of it), metal, and rap, though I do sometimes listen to a little pop and electronic. Some artists I have on my X1 and may use for my review include Slipknot, Led Zeppelin, Porcupine Tree, blink-182, Jason Mraz, AWOLNATION, and Train. I will list some songs throughout, but I have no particular group of test tracks; all files are CD rips in WMA Lossless, ALAC, AIFF, or WAV. I listen to the SE215 for at least an hour or two a day; I would say there has been at least 20 hours put on them, possibly more. Unfortunately, I cannot provide pictures for this review; I have no camera of my own, so any pictures will not be mine. Also, this is my first review.
PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES:
Packaging was simple; just a small box holding the headphones, which were on display through clear plastic. Nothing special, but everything was well-packaged, nothing just floating around and everything securely in place. For accessories, you get a pack full of tips, a cleaner, and a small carrying pouch. I found the tip assortment appropriate for the price. The SE215 has the medium Olives on it, with small and large Olives, as well as small, medium, and large flex tips in the bag. For $100, this is pretty good; two sets of tips, of all sizes, and a strong, but soft case is included. Again, nothing special but appropriate for the price, like the packaging. There's not much to say here because there's nothing special about the packaging and accessories; it's simply appropriate for its price. Design is where things start to get special.
The SE215 is made out of very solid plastic. I'll admit, I actually slept on them and had them shoved in the side of a recliner, with me shifting around on top of them for a whole night. There was absolutely no damage to anything. It's shape fits well, even in my small/mediumish ears; it's actually pretty comfortable. I've heard others say that the memory cable is a bit short, but I think it's fine; I find nothing wrong with it, and I believe it works very well. The cord is my only complaint, and it's a very small one: it's just a bit too long. I don't find it being a large problem, as I'm used to longer cords, having a long coiled cable on my SRH440, but a shorter cable would be nice. One of the great things about this IEM is it's removable cables. I believe it was the first in it's price range to have them, and if one found the cable much too long, another cable could be purchased. Some say the design where the cables connect to the IEMs was bad due to connection issues, but I've never had any. I have twisted them all the way around, while listening, to see if any problems would arise. None did; I believe Shure has made some small changes over the years, this being one, as well as one to the headphone jack. It's no longer very bulky where the gold-plated jack goes into the plastic, it has a thin section, allowing the jack to fit better though some device cases. This helps a lot for my X1, allowing me to leave the case on. I also enjoy my SE215's clear design. It's pretty cool to look inside and see the wires and components that it contains. Some have claimed that the plastic wasn't incredibly clear, possibly somewhat foggy, but mine are very clear, and look good. Overall, the design is very good.
I'm making isolation it's own category, separate from design, because it deserves it's own category. Simply put, with the Shure Olives, insert the IEMs, turn on your music, and you hear nothing. I ride possibly the loudest bus I've ever had the displeasure to be on every day, and the SE215 will totally separates me from it. Without music, you'll obviously hear a little sound; I doubt any headphone would block out absolutely everything with no music playing. But turn on the music (between 20-35 on my FiiO X1) and you're encapsulated in your own world, full of music of your choosing. Put in the IEMs, and suddenly your friend, a couple feet away, becomes Freddie Mercury, putting on a personal concert for you, but for some reason mouthing the words wrong. I doubt you could get any closer to total isolation, and for only $100, isolation is incredible; in fact, I think the isolation would be incredible for any price.
This from Shure's SE215 page:
Sensitivity107 dB SPL/mW
Frequency Range22Hz – 17.5kHz
Cable Style64” Detachable (at ear) with wireform fit
ColorsAvailable in Clear or Translucent Black
Speaker TypeDynamic MicroDriver
These are very easy to drive. I'm sure just about anything could drive them, including a Sansa Clip (not tested by me though).
Obviously the most important part. I'll put a couple songs that show my feelings for each section after I review them. Let's work backwards:
Yes, the highs are somewhat recessed compared to the bass and midrange. No, it's not the most resolving treble you'll ever hear. But it's not bad. For the price, I'm sure you could find something with better treble, but the treble is and never will be a main feature of this IEM. Some cymbals can sound recessed and missing some detail. When there's a lot going on, like in AC/DC's "High Voltage," cymbals are certainly in the background. For this reason, I normally bump up the treble a little on my FiiO X1, though I have not when writing this review. Overall, highs aren't bad; just okay.
The Black Keys - Little Black Submarines
Porcupine Tree - Blackest Eyes
AC/DC - High Voltage
If you're interested in the SE215, I'm sure you've heard of the famous Shure mids. The mids on these are wonderful. Guitars sound great. Good texture, and pretty forwards. You MUST listen to Porcupine Tree's "Trains" with the SE215. The acoustic guitar seams to be speaking to you. It's addicting. Great detail, incredibly clear. With something like "High Voltage" by AC/DC, guitars are in your face, and the riff being right there in front of you while the rest of the instruments play is very fun and enjoyable. They'll full and powerful, much like the bass, and are addicting to listen to with a good guitar riff.
The Black Keys - Little Black Submarines
Porcupine Tree - Trains
Led Zeppelin - Living Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman)
AC/DC - High Voltage
Please listen to Slipknot's "Snuff." It's a song everyone should hear at least once. It's one of my favorite songs and I believe it's a masterpiece. Corey Taylor's vocals are incredible. Now, imagine the vocals being right there in front of you. Imagine the emotion of his voice being displayed privately, only for you, strong and speaking to you. That's what the Shure SE215 does. Vocals have good body, a fullness that surrounds you. Vocals on the SE215 are a joy to listen to because of this. They're very clear, and I would call them detailed. Nothing sums up vocals more than the words absolutely excellent.
Slipknot - Snuff
Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
RHCP - Snow (Hey Oh)
This is a fun IEM. It's not meant to be totally neutral. Hence, when you put on "Dani California" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, you're given a strong drum line; that's right, with these headphones, you can actually hear the drums! (Okay, maybe it's just because I'm a drummer, but headphones that are precisely neutral don't bring the drums up enough for me. These do.) The thump of Chad's drums is there with the rest of the music; it's not overpowering in any way. Let me repeat that; bass IS NOT overpowering. I stress this because I was afraid that it would be, and that everything would be smothered by bass, like they were in an older Monster Beats Solo I tried. The SE215's bass isn't like that. It's very much there and it has power, but it isn't shoved to the back. It's certainly not left behind. I find bass to be present enough, while still being tame enough to let everything else be heard clearly and allowing other pieces to still stand out. It's not the most detailed, but it does have pretty good control. It's not muddy or all over the place. Overall, bass is very good on the SE215.
Paul McCartney - Alligator
RHCP - Dani California
The Black Keys - Gold On The Ceiling
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
This being a single dynamic driver IEM, separation isn't going to be the best. Things can get congested on the SE215, but it isn't terrible. I find Porcupine Tree's "Blackest Eyes" to do very well on the SE215 during the heavier parts, but the instruments don't sound like they're in totally different rooms; just in their own space, while only occasionally spilling over into another's.
The Black Keys - Money Maker
Porcupine Tree - Blackest Eyes
Overall, I think the Shure SE215 is a great IEM for the price, if it fits your needs. If you want an exciting sound, something that can use bass to pump some fun into you or use vocals to speak to you, and doesn't cost much, this is it. Could you find something with better sound quality for the price? I'm absolutely sure you could. But could you find something with tank-like build quality, near-total isolation, an overall great design, and a fun sound signature for the price? I think that would be a challenge. The Shure SE215 meets my needs perfectly; I needed isolation, I needed good build quality, and I needed a more fun sound, and this IEM delivered that. If you want something perfectly neutral, with tons of detail, this isn't your IEM. If you want a good, fun, isolating IEM for not much money, I highly recommend the Shure SE215.
Pros - Amazing sound (for the price) flat profile, value for quality, good cable connector, removable cable
Cons - Expensive acessories, hard to fit (takes a few moments of stupidness to fit them to ear after storage), thick cable splitter
I bought the SE215ltd from Headphonic.
Cost me $139.00.
This almost completely knocks out my V-MODA M100 and V-MODA XS out the water.
If you fit them improperly, they're amazingly uncomfortable. This is probably where the bad reviews come in, because they don't read the manual.
Songs used (with a FiiO E17 DAC.
Flume & Chet Faker - Left Alone [FLAC]
Everything I just said. But 10 times better. The vocs shine, I can't really find fault in the treble at all. There's a bit of clipping, I turned it down and it seems to have stopped. I just wish the E17 was as slim as an iPod touch so I could carry it everywhere.
Chet Faker - Cigarettes and Loneliness [FLAC]
Chet's vocals came out clean. The intro is my favorite bit, with the intro vocs, and the Shure / E17 combo nailed it.
PALMCO - SALT [FLAC]
The DAC doesn't really do much but make the sound cleaner and smoother for this track. It makes it less fatiguing and easier to sleep to.
Melech - Hate God [FLAC]
Melec's vocals shine. Amazingly. It sounds almost like I'm hearing the live recording of his voice. I love it.
I don't have much energy to write a full review on the DAC side, but basically almost everything said was subsidized and all the problems disappeared with the DAC. Next up I'm going to buy a good DAC, as the E17 is okay but clips due to the quality.
The guy who served me was great and it was a nice drive down to pick them up. I'm so happy with my SE's as I went from mid/low end in ears to an actual canalphone. Couldn't be better, can't get over the comfort and the sound!!!!
I prefer IEMs now over headphones. I hate the effort it takes to wrap cables, carry cases when you can have the IEM and be done with it. There's so many cables you can get for the SE215, you wouldn't really need over or on ear phones again with this quality of IEM, talking about mid-range headphones but everyone's preference is different.
Pros - Deep bass with long decay, decent mids, cheap, good fit, durable, accessories, noise isolation.
Cons - Treble roll off, fatiguing during long listening sessions, bass can bloat at times, narrow soundstage.
The Shure SE215 is a nice introduction to Shure's SE line of in ears. They have a fairly low impedance (box says 17 ohms, but online websites state 20 ohms). Amps aren't necessary as a result for these in ears.
I bought these at around $89, and I will say that these are wonderful for the price I paid for them. They are a great bang for the buck so to say.
The Shure SE215 comes packed with an abundance of accessories. It includes around 6 pairs of ear-tips, a cleaning tool, and a carrying case. The Shure Olive tips and silicone tips are decent, but I prefer to use the Westone Star-tips as I find them more comfortable and less fatiguing. Build quality is very nice, and they have lasted me for almost a year now.
What I liked about the Shure SE215:
The things that stand out from these in ears are: the deep bass, lushes mids, and noise isolation. The noise isolation of these in ears are among the best when compared to the other in ears that I have tried. Once you get a good fit with these, you'll be isolated from the world around you. The bass on these in ears are also really good once you get a good seal. I also loved the mids on these in ears.
What I didn't like about the Shure SE215:
The one thing that I feel the Shure SE215 lacks is treble. This in ear monitor does not extend too high in the frequency range which results with a dark and rich sound. Soundstage is also lacking, but I didn't expect too much from a closed in ear.
Overall the Shure SE215 is a decent in ear monitor and a nice introduction to more expensive in ear products. It is definitely a great value for $99.
Note: The tips on these are the thin and long Westone Silicone Star tips.
Pros - cheap, emphatic mids
Cons - poor isolation, narrow soundstage, recessed treble, not clear, sluggish bass
I bought these for a friend for Christmas based on positive reviews, price point and that my friend wanted IEMs that didn't stick out (with a negative or neutral profile.
Mostly my friend's fault to start off with but also design and packaging has to have had some impact, she was wearing them incorrectly, didn't realise they rotated and didn't realise that the stock tips were memory foam. The way she was wearing them there was no chance of giving them a fair shot.
So I don't use around the ear IEMs myself on a daily basis, I use a pair of ER4Ps with silicone tri-flange tips (I hear a difference in sound between the silicone tips and foam plus I must be one of the rare people who can stand the tips and feel they provide a comfortable fit).
Insertion and Design
I tried putting them on and realised how obnoxious they would be to a beginner, I worked it out in a minute or two and showed her how to put them in. Once they're in they don't feel snug like Etymotics do but they don't fall out either. The bendable memory wire seems to need adjusting every time i put them on but I guess with time people would get good at it. These were the medium tips which work for me in other IEMs and 3rd party sellers. The large was too large.
Whether the ear phone fits the way your ear cartilage is more than a coin flip, it can be too large and apply pressure where the driver casing sits, it can be too lose and move about or apply pressure inappropriately.
Terrrible, like there is barely any isolation it's a hair better than ear pods. It cuts out very high frequency noise like on old electronics that make a buzzing noise but that's about it, I literally hear everything else going on which interferes with the music. Etymotics (I've used ER6's when they were around and then moved up to ER4P and 4S usually means I almost can't hear anything outside of very high frequency very loud sounds, it dampens these lound sounds too or blocks them completely.
While I was expecting it to be a bit less refined than I expected, I didn't think it would be too bad considering all the reviews, but these IEMs are definitely overpriced for what they put out, I guess in Shure's mind they sell as many 215's to people who don't expect audio quality and rake in the cash when you start spending over $300 - 500 or more.
Ok so mids are really good, great for spoken words, rap anything our ears are specifically attuned for as humans and they are jammed right in there.
Bass is there, some would say too much, it is indeed far warmer than my Etymotics or Beyerdynamics almost as much as Sennheiser 650s however the bass is not clear, punchy or fast, it is slow laid back and to my ears sloppy.
Trebles seems to have an insane drop off there is no sparkle let alone any extension. There is literally a bunch of high end detail in songs that are missing.
Sound stage is narrow, like super narrow, are these supposed to be good? Maybe I'm spoiled by Etymotics and full sized open back headphones but these were inside my head and anything that would otherwise be imaged outside of the head in a head phone was imaged correctly but just incredibly recessed.
When combined, EDM tracks were not enjoyable the lack of treble and sound stage just gave an incredibly narrow bassy sound signature with the spatial presence of tracks that I love just muted to the point where it was so distant that I could barely here it.
Rap and hip-hop was initially enjoyable with the bass and the emphasised mids but as soon as you put in the treble from the underlying track or a female vocals were introduced I was reminded how poor the quality was compared to what these tracks should sound like.
The above could be the trash stock ear tips so I applied as much pressure to the IEMS to both block exterior sound and pressure the drivers closer to a better position and I could hear what the expected sound should be but the trash isolation and fit could have been the issue.
Oh yeah to actually drive these things the source was dialled to 5/10, this is 5 times higher than any other IEMs I've used. Even on ear headphones are driven at half the volume required for me to hear.
So it's comfortable once you finally have it in position but at the massive cost of audio quality and isolation, might as well be using earpods. On top of this pumping the volume too high to hear any detail can cause some insane wear with loud mids.
3rd Party Eartips
Tried out Spinfits, these improved isolation and fit, they don't feel like they're about to drop out and music can be driven at 3/10. The sound signature was moderately better, the music sounded closer to how it should, a bit more treble but I don't think there is too much more to get out of this IEM.
Tried out Comply Isolation tips, better isolation, better security, about the same as the Spinfits but a tad warmer than the Spinfits.
I can't recommend anyone buy these for audio quality or isolation. They may also be uncomfortable to begin with and may just not be great for your ear shape.
This IEM is for the person that wants to blow an unnecessary amount of money as an upgrade to earpods. Just buy better earpods for $20 or buy Westones or Etymotics.
Very warm sounding, narrow sound stage, lacking detail, treble cut off with bloaty bass and boosted mids. These IEMs have been engineered to produce sound that is comfortable for the general populace rather than reproduce the music as it should be and results in some thing dull. If they were excitable to do something different that would be great but they're not designed to be exciting different or neutral they are designed to be bleh.
Don't buy these for yourself, your friends or enemies.