Shure SE425 Earphone

General Information

Designed for the demanding audio specifications of live performance, the SE425 is engineered to provide reference quality audio. Hear all the details of your music with Dual High-Definition MicroDrivers that deliver an incredibly accurate and balanced listening experience. Featuring Dual High-Definition MicroDrivers, the SE425 uses a dedicated tweeter and woofer for an accurate and balanced sound. Detachable cable with formable wire enables easy replacement and secure, comfortable fit. Sound Isolating sleeves in multiple sizes provide up to 37 dB of isolation.

Latest reviews

Pros: Clarity and midrange
Cons: Bass...but let me explain.
I know this has been around for a while, and I've owned my pair for a while, but I pulled them out of the drawer recently to re-evaluate and thought it useful to share my impressions and explain why it is that I've ended up reverting to using the IEMs I bought the Shure's to replace.

I listen to classical music 90% of the time. There is bass in classical music. Not a lot, but it's there, and it matters. Besides obvious examples such as when there's a big pipe organ at work, orchestral or chamber music frequently has at the very least cellos that are beating out a rhythm, using their lowest notes. Sometimes they're doing much more. And of course there might be actual upright bass instruments, or basoons, etc. What they are doing should seldom be center stage, but it needs to be present.

Anyway, the Shure 425s, though excellent in many ways, are adequate in the bass department when it comes to rock or pop. There, there's a lot of bass, and the 425s capture it, though the sound might not satisfy bass heads. For example, I just threw on Bjork's Homegenic. Got Bass? Yes. Enough? Maybe? But when the quantity of bass in the music is small--like in classical music--the 425s come up short. So the music feels flat and anemic. Just slightly, but enough.

I recently was listening to Handel's Concerti Grossi. It's chamber music. There are cellos and at least one double bass. The 425s just don't do them justice, leaving the music without a measure of texture. The cellos and double bass need to bite.

Then I switched to my old Fischer DBA-2 MK2, which I bought years ago to replace the MK1s, which I bought because they were heralded as "neutral kings," and a great value for money proposition. At the time I thought neutral was what I wanted. Anyway, the Fischer's sound better, to my ears. What's the difference? The bass. No one's ever thought the bass on the DBA-02 was noteworthy, but relatively speaking, it's better than the 425, and it makes classical music more enjoyable; it also reveals what's lacking with the 425s.

I'd still like to up my game and improve on the Fischers, which have served me well. But the 425s aren't it.
DCofficehack
DCofficehack
Classical requires gear that can do the full range without unduly emphasizing any particular part of the spectrum. I think neutral is the way to go, which my DBA-02s validate. Mid-centric can also work given that so much of classical is relatively mid-focused, esp. if one's into voice. Anything described as particularly good for EDM or Hip Hop is not going to work. I think one bottom line is that classical--more than pop--requires good quality.
kdparnell
kdparnell
Thank you!
DatDudeNic
DatDudeNic
you guys forgot the most glaring fact about this iem. This is almost 10 years old.
Pros: Overall Fit, Midrange Quality, Signature (for some)
Cons: Cables, Lack of treble extension, Lack of bass (for some)
--Introduction--

I know this review is quite late, as this IEM has been around the market for at least 7 years now, dating back to late 2010-2011 when it made its debut. However, I also understand that audio is a hobby, and one way or another people might want to get their hands on this piece of kit even if it has reached its saturation point, so I thought I'll make a review about it, for good or for ill :)

Now there are some points I would like to address before going more in-depth. First, my preference in sound signature lies more towards neutral/bright rather than warm/full. Second, I use silicone tips that were provided by Shure and I swapped out the original cable in lieu of a thinner, more comfortable FiiO Cable. Okay now with those out of the way lets get into the review!

--Design & Build--

Shure is undoubtedly one of the best if not the best designed IEM when comfort and fit is put into consideration. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if I remember correctly Shure and Westone collaborated in their IEM design, so Westone comes at a close second when it comes to the overall body design. Even when compared to higher-end IEMs like the likes of Campfire Audio, Noble, 64Ears, and Dita, the Shures still stood out as the most comfortable IEM in my lineup due to its size and form factor. The shells are made out of plastic which keeps the body lightweight, and although I am quite disappointed since I got the silver version, I felt that plastic is better as it does not get cold in the winters and does not have rough edges that might irritate my ears. I give the Shures a thumbs up in this regard.

--Cables--

This section is where Shure gets its first yellow card. Cables.

Now I understand that Shure has always gone for this 'studio quality' thing as they claim that their IEMs are the industry standard used by musicians, sound engineers, and in studios all around the world. While I appreciate the addition of removable cables via the MMCX connection, I absolutely hate how the cable looks and feels. On paper, the cables provided are strong and durable, made with reinforced kevlar and a super sturdy, chunky wire splitter in the middle. However, on practice, I felt this to be quite uncomfortable, as the cable is quite stiff and they never 'relax' when worn, holding their shape over time, which makes it hard when you need to stuff your cable into your jacket or pants pocket if it gets too long. In addition, since the cable did not conform well, a change in posture (i.e standing to sitting) can also be a little awkward, as the cable stays stiff and you basically have to re-form the wires again.

Now I sound like I absolutely despise the cables, which is not true since I appreciate that Shure is one of the few mass-market companies that pays attention to cable quality, and the idea of imbuing kevlar into the cables is super smart. However, I value comfort and flexibility when it comes to cables, except if they sound amazing to the point that I can sacrifice my values. Shure sadly does not tick those boxes (for me), which made me swap my cables.

--Sound Quality--

Before we go here I want to quickly touch on the genres of music that I normally listen, and what I used to test this IEM. For my everyday, I am a J-Pop and Anisong fan (it makes up ~70% of my library). However, I also listen to others like Rock, Pop, Classical, and Smooth Jazz (~30%). I tested this IEM with all genres mentioned, with a couple of EDM tracks to test out bass.

Bass: Starting out with bass, people might have different views about it. Some will say the bass is just right in quantity and quality, but some will also say that the bass is lacking. Imho, I feel like the bass is really good when it comes to quality, but meh when it comes to quantity. Bass notes in tracks like Hidamari Days by SisterS and Break Free by Ariana Grande feel really tight and punchy, but is lacking in weight. Tracks like Miss You - Nick Talos Remix lack the rumble down low, which makes the track less pump-y. Overall, bass is just right for me, and it will for you, too, if you choose the right genre and tracks. I would also say that DAPs play a role in enhancing this region, as bass notes sound weightier and fuller out of my X5iii compared to my AK100ii.

Midrange: Mids is generally Shure's forte, and it is no stranger in the 425s. Midrange is very forward, grabbing all the heat and attention from the audience. It is also very smooth and silky, with full-sounding notes to give listeners a more intimate time, and make them feel like the singers are singing right there in front of them. This is the part which amazed me the most, as Shure is able to compete against the higher-tier JH Audio and the likes of Layla and Dorado when it comes to pure midrange smoothness. I never said they came out on top, though so keep that in mind :wink:. Detail is very good too in this region, with good micro-detail retrieval (this is where people say "I heard things I never heard before"). However, what Shure is offering in the plate here is intimacy and smoothness, not detail. Search too extensively, and you will be disappointed. Tracks like Beauty and the Beast by Ariana and John Legend sounded amazing, and it feels as if I am in a concert, standing front row center listening to their duo. Vocals shine beautifully and overflows with realism, while the other instruments dance around in the background. I believe by Il Divo sounds amazing as well, with the 425s reproducing the group's mesmerizing vocals with beautiful fullness and clarity. Finally, Deatta Koro no You Ni by Takahashi Rie's beautiful guitar rythms are presented with beautiful realism, and again vocals are reproduced effortlessly until the end. Overall, Mids are AMAZING here.

Treble: This is where I feel like again people have different opinions on, including me. In my opinion, treble is the weakest part on the 425's sonic signature, and honestly this is also the part that turned many people down when they first give this IEMs a listen. In terms of quality, treble is detailed, with a good sense of air and separation between the high notes. However, the quantity here is EXTREMELY lacking, and for me it brings down all that goodness the quality brings.*I need to apologize beforehand that I only have Anisongs and J-Pop music to showcase here* Okay so, as a general intro, Anisongs showcases midrange, treble, and air in an equipment. Gear that lack even one of those qualities will make Anisongs and J-Pop sound a little 'off'. Beautiful World by XX:me sounds okay with the 425, but it lacks the air and sparkle it once had when I listened even with my Orions. Asayake no Starmine by Asami Imai sounds a little off to me, with sparkles and synthesizers gasping for air, and sometimes even missing entirely in several sections of the track. When I listened to this track with the 425s, I feel like things are missing, as opposed to finding new details in the track. Overall, this is the dealbreaker for me, as I cannot listen to ~70% of my album at its fullest potential with the 425s. However, I am not surprised as well, as all IEMs in Shure's entire lineup never possess amazing treble. Not even the famed 846s.

--Soundstage & Overall Signature--

Soundstage in this IEM is good, not great, with better width than depth. Imaging is quite precise which is surprising, given the circumstances. However, due to the lack of air and treble, complex tracks tend to sound a little congested, and imaging alongside spacial accuracy degrades the more complex a track gets. I would say this IEM is more on the dark, thicker side, with smooth vocals, non-invasive bass and polite treble.

--Conclusion--

In conclusion, this is a niche IEM that will serve a specific group of people. You enjoy vocals and don't care too much about the instruments taking the backstage? go for it. You enjoy a more organic, full sound like the old times? buy it now. You a metalhead? plz stop. You listen to J-Pop and other genres that require great air and treble? don't come any closer. In all seriousness, this IEM will please a crowd but will turn others away. Similar to its bigger brother, the 535s, this is not a jack-of-all-trades IEM, and it favors a certain genre over the other. I would say get this for a specific purpose, but don't expect your entire library to sound amazing in these, except if its vocal-strict.



*Bonus Section: Cables*

I put this as a bonus because people who believe in this, read; for those who don't, the conclusion is up there :). So I tried a couple different cables with the 425s in hopes of getting a better treble response. Note here I am going to focus on adding treble, not warmth or bass so that is what I will focus on.

1. Lavricables Pure Silver: This cable has to be a quick, not too expensive fix for people who want higher quality cables than stock. In terms of sound, there is definitely an improvement in the treble region, with added presence and shimmer. The low end seems to tighten a tad bit too, but is barely noticeable as the 425's bass are tight enough. However, even if this is a good cable, I will not justify the purchase as the improvements are not night-and-day.

2. Effect Audio Ares II: This cable is copper, and oh boy does it add more warmth to the 425s. Treble is extended just a tiny bit, and the overall sound gets more intimate. A good pair if you want a very smooth and warm sound.

3. FiiO Replacement MMCX Cable: This is the oddball but I definitely recommend you to grab it if you hate the cable ergonomics. The FiiO cable is way softer and more flexible, and it also has a mic (yeah yeah interference, etc). To me it hooks to my ears better, and is very comfortable and does not feel stiff nor bulky. Does not change sound, but yea for 16 bucks what can you expect?

Thanks for reading!
Pros: Isolation, spacial expression,
Cons: subdued bass, too referential for some music genre like rock or metal
     Now, I own Sony MDR-EX800ST, Etymotic Research ER-4S, and Ultimate Ears Triple fi. 10PRO as daily use IEM. But still SE425 is my all time favorite for its accurate relaxing sound. I am a guy who always like to have music. I need music for walking, working, reading and forget about daily life. This is open like canal earphone. Sound is not too closed, bass is weak but deep, treble is transparent and relaxing. 
 
     I believe this SE425 has the best cost performance as your life partner through my 6 years of experience with this IEM. Of course, if you can afford over 300$, that is different story, but I know not many people can really dare to pay that much from their very first time to start expensive IEM. SE425 will be the good start for the wonderful audiophile world for who has first try high end model, and it will be the great reference IEM for all audiophile too.
 
     Ultimate Ears Reference or Reference Remastered have slimier sound tendency. They are all flat, accurate, and boring (with not negative meaning) . SE425 is just like them. It has typical referential sound with easy, and highly qualified beautiful mid sound. Probably I should paraphrase boring as relaxing or referential sound. I have learned a lot through this IEM about the sound of music itself. This honest IEM told me how quality of the audio source affect to my listening experience and overall satisfactions. This is the great IEM overall.
 
     I will still update in later when I get good word to describe this my favourite item.

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