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Universal Fit item created by jdz2287, Mar 7, 2011
Pros - Sound
Cons - Quality Control... or defect in the design?
I barely used them... got one pair and a few months later the left earpiece started cutting sound. The retail shop opened them and did a messy job, were working and then stopped. Got a 2nd pair, same issue.
Please don't buy them. I got a SE535 and they don't seem to have any problem, time will tell.
I'm writing half star because so many people have this issue too... cannot write anything about the sound if they keep breaking.
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.
Pros - strong bass, detatchable cable , good resemblance of mids.
Cons - design - the thin plastic nozzle broke easily, very very uncomfortable for most ears
I dont want to waste my time writing an essay for something that lasted only 1 or 2 months.
My Rant and broken Shures in link above
The bass and mids were surprising for its pricepoint. There is a drop off in the higher frequencies such as treble for my music tastes.
Not reccommended as a purchase, as the durability of the actual earpiece is below par. Nozzle broke very easily (as mentioned in cons). I wish shure re-inforced the nozzle with at least a thin tube of metal if we are paying high price. Knowing that shure also uses these plastic nozzles in their higher end models is a disgrace.
Comfort of the earphones is terrible for my ears (they are not for everyone). So make sure you have your warranty prepared if the durabilty and comfort crap out for you. It would irritate my ears constantly (like piercing). When compared to the similar style RHA T20s that i have now, the comfort is far beyond shures and the T20s dont irritate my ears at all, even though they have the same design.
I would recommend the audio technica ATH-IM50s , RHA MA750is and RHA T10(for bass heads). And would reccomend ATH-IM70s and Dunu DN-1000 to the more mid and treble refined.
Pros - Bass detailing
Cons - Mids completely lack details, flat soundstage, harsh treble with a nasty metallic upper treble range
My rating may at first appear harsh but I just want to clarify up front that it is an absolute subjective rating not comparative.
I really thought these would blow me away given all I have read about these but once again Shure have failed to live up to the hype. I cannot argue that the price is very attractive given the build quality and fantastic comfort but that does not influence my feelings on the sound character of these.
In summary I found the following:
Highs - Nasty metallic 'piercing' sibilance with a lot of tracks not matter what was driving them (iBasso DX50, Xperia Z, FiiO E17, Denon MC6000 etc.) There is a good amount of detail but these were so fatiguing I could not listen for more than 20 - 30 minutes at a time.
Mids - Subdued and with certain tracks can completely disappear behind the highs/bass. Very disappointing. When the mids are there they lack deepth and width. Instruments fudge into one another instead of being nicely seperated.
Bass - For me this is the strongest point of the SE215s. Well extended but not 'mega bass' levels. Controlled, detailed and fade in and out nicely. Not too boomy. Very good overall.
I just want to reiterate my score is based on an absolute rating NOT when taking price into consideration. I personally do not like to include price into the equation as is muddys the results as prices of new/used earphones can vary so wildy.
Pros - seal, cables
Cons - comfort
I like these more than my Monster Turbines. Less good than the Shure e4c, different price point I know. They're more difficult to insert than the average IEM. Other users seem to find them comfortable enough but not me, not at all. Extended listening gives me a bit of pain. The ear tips are fantastic, it's the phones themselves & how they angle into my ear plus the cable. Initially I wanted to replace my broke e4cs with a current $300ish Shure IEM, I'm glad I picked these up so I know not to go with the current Shure designs on the pricier models. The sound is good but I've never "loved" these headphones like I have others in the past.
Being disappointed with three well reviewed $100ish IEMs (Turbines, SE215 & Bose IE2), I might save for pricier IEMs and stick with "out-ear" when there's only $100 in my pocket.
Pros - Warm sound, great seal with olives or comply tips, stock cables have very low microphonics
Cons - Connection between cable and IEMs deteriotate over time, requiring constant maintenance or replacement
These are great while they work. There are a bunch of methods to fix them when they eventually lose connection and start cutting out. I've had three of these in the past 5 years. They're pretty awesome while they work. So good, that put up with bending the cable pins back in place, tried to make the connection better by using conductive grease, but now, on my third pair in 5 years, I'm at my wits end with these. On to CIEMs!
Pros - Sound isolation, removable cable, confortable for long listening period, well built
Cons - not really, cables are bit too hard
The sound isolation is really good with the sponge ear pieces, IMO better than a few of Sony’s active noise cancelling in ears (maybe active noise cancelling work better for low frequency e.g. during fight) I can hardly hear people talking right beside me. It’s also quite confortable. I won’t comment on the sound since it has dynamic drivers, out of the box it sounds average, give it some time and the sounds should improve quite a bit. Real good earphones!
i thought these are going to sound better after burn in, but it dosen't, still sounds bit dark.
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 - 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 - Full mids and bass; fair soundstage; musicality; rugged design and detachable cable; value for money
Cons - Weak treble presence and extension; metallic sounding high mids; slightly boomy bass; average comfort
Design/durability: Excellent build quality as per always on behalf of Shure. The cable feels nice and thick, with a lot of strain relief, and is detachable which is a great feature in this price range. A good thing is that the MMCX connector feels rugged enough to withstand moderate use, unlike with some other brands. The earpiece is made of thick plastic, and the latter feels and looks sturdy. Overall a very good design and beyond expectation at that price.
Fit/comfort: Average. I am not fond of Shure's memory wire, as it tends to be pretty stiff and could hurt the ear. other than that, the earpiece is quite ergonomic (but could be bulky for smaller ears, not my case). The cable is also heavy, better use a shirt clip, especially for portable use.
Isolation: Very effective as expected. Low microphonics.
Sound: Having owned both the SE425 and SE535 (which I both returned) I didn't expect their little brother to actually sound that good. The sound signature of the SE215 is highly colored, but not unpleasantly so. It has full sounding bass, with good texture, but not the best pace/control, as expected with a dynamic driver. As a result, the low frequencies can sound a little boomy from time to time. Mids are typical of Shure: slightly forward, smooth with good definition. Excellent with vocals, saxophones, guitars,.. very silky and coherent overall. However the higher mids do sound a bit metallic and aggressive to my ears. Treble is alright. I didn't find them to be as annoyingly recessed and toned down as on the SE425/535, but this part of the spectrum clearly isn't Shure's biggest asset. It still seems to be lacking definition and presence. Detail retrieval isn't great, they do have a certain veil and can sound too compressed on certain complex tracks. Soundstage is better than most $100 competitors. It is fairly wide but has no 3D feel to it. Instrument separation is good.
Overall the SE215 have a quite enjoyable sound for most genres, especially jazz, acoustic, pop. They are very forgiving and do sound good should you listen to a 128kbps MP3s or a FLAC file. Funny thing is that I prefer these over the more expensive members of the SE family, and this is no sound signature preference as I equally like the cold and analytical ER-4 and the warm and bassy IE80. To me the SE215 just sound more coherent, natural and musical than many of its bigger brothers.
Bottom line: One can safely say that the SE215 are a good bang for the buck (got them for 40EUR). I am not a fan of the Shure house sound, but these earphones prove to have a pleasant, laid back sound coupled with good build quality.