Shure SE846 Impressions Thread
Aug 3, 2013 at 3:44 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 22,773


Headphoneus Supremus
Jul 11, 2009
Could only find an announcement thread, and since they're here in my hands and I appreciate them, therefore this thread.
Driving them from the headphone out of my HM801 (GAME card), I immediately hear the bass I've been hoping for. It extends very deep, and is extremely punchy in a way my UM3x and JH13 could never quite reach. The bass is not overpowering/ muddy though- it's just real tight and hits hard. This is like a portable version of my Hifiman HE6- not a basshead's choice by any measure, but the bass really can hit home. 
The SE846's ability to sound refined yet dynamic at the same time also reminds me of my Hifiman HE6. They're musical and fun, yet they're just so effortless and polished. I could never say the same about my UM3x- the JH13s were closer to what I like, but still, that bass. Perhaps the JH16 would have been more for me, but when I bought the 13s, the 16s didn't exist yet. Ah well.
PS, the comparisons with my Hifiman HE6 only go so far. Timbre is on an entirely different level on the Orthos.
I listen to a lot of genres and look for different things in each- I like warmth tubey sound in my jazz (eg. Diana Krall, Michael Buble, etc), I like clarity in my pop/rock (Vampire Weekend, Phoenix, Decemberists, etc), and I like heart-thumping club-like bass in my dance music (David Guetta, Flo Rida, and so on). So far, the SE846 deliver on all accounts. I've been in this hobby long enough to know that there's no such things as 'best', but this earphone performs extremely well with all the genres I like to listen to and are now my first choice for all music. 
Below are some impressions from the bright and warm filters (the above are all with the balanced filter):
The bright filter removes the punchiness of the bass (and in that way sounded more like my UM3x). The treble certainly had more energy, but I didn't find the treble energy of the balanced filter lacking either and so I moved on from the bright filter after just a few minutes of listening.
The warm filter did not improve the quality or impact of the bass vs the balanced filter- there was just more of it. It did not really affect the treble as drastically as the bright filter affected the bass, though. So I could see myself listening to the warm filter from time to time too. But nonetheless, I'm not a basshead, and so I think most of my listening will be with the balanced filter.
Other random thoughts:
I've recently started to use my HM801 headphone out more than my Protector because the latter has bass that's just that bit less impactful. With the SE846, I can go back to enjoying the superior soundstage and aggressiveness of my Protector. Yummy.
The housing of the SE846 is bigger than my UM3x, so using longer tips like the Westone Star Tips help me get a better seal (since I can't insert them as deeply). The SE846s kinda look like an overweight UM3x. Comfort wise, pretty good still.
The filters definitely don't just sound like EQ, which can frequently degrade sound. This sounds like the same sound quality, just different signatures. Very interesting, and certainly not what I was expecting- I thought they'd just be a gimmick.
Aug 6, 2013 at 12:08 AM Post #3 of 22,773
No I did not, not long enough to get any impressions with stock anyway. The ergonomics were horrible- extremely stiff.
So I went straight to my Protector + Balanced Silver cable. FWIW, the SE846 also sounds wonderful out of my HM801 headphone out.
Aug 6, 2013 at 1:14 AM Post #5 of 22,773
I think that it's pretty clear they're both top-end stuff. At this level of audio I don't really believe in 'improvements', rather changes in signature. Both the SE846 and Protector keep that sense of refinement, are never sibilent, and have good levels of clarity and separation.
Signature-wise is where things get interesting. My Protector has a bigger soundstage but a more fuller warm sound than my ultra-clear HM801 headphone out. Because of that clarity with the HM801, bass can sound tighter- but less lush.
On the other hand my SE846 has much bigger changes to sound signature because of it's potential to roll filters. Put in the warm filter and you get lush. Put in the balanced filter and you get musical. Put in the bright filter and you get toned down bass and more sparkly highs.
I wish amps/sources came with more 'configurable' options like that- would help me save a lot of money!
Aug 6, 2013 at 6:33 AM Post #6 of 22,773
I sold my E500 few years back, but I remember, that I loved the sweetness of the mids. Is there anybody, who can compare it to SE846?
Aug 8, 2013 at 10:34 PM Post #9 of 22,773
Someone asked me in a PM about these so I thought I'd post further impressions.
The shure se846 have very soothing vocals. I can only imagine this is what people mean by the delightful liquid mids of the shure house sound. Would be my first choice for vocals. Then take that and literally add a subwoofer to the sound- and you have the se846. I can't explain it really the closest analogy was when I first added a quality subwoofer to my speaker setup.. This is what it sounds like. Bass is slightly heavier than other phones I've owned, but impact is just as tight, and it has so many layers and details in the bass, it's an amazing experience on the go. Balanced filter is still my favourite.

Both pair very well with my hifiman hm801 headphone out. I'm waiting on an adaptor to try my shure balanced with the hm801. Also acquiring a hm901 so more comparisons may be on the way soon 

Aug 8, 2013 at 10:49 PM Post #10 of 22,773
Interesting.  Good info.  Ety fans....move on....
I would like to think these impressions flat out disqualify at least 1/2  of head-fi crowd.  The SE535 has very decent and deep bass.   More bass than W4 and UE900.  To SIGNIFICANTLY add to that would be way over the top for many out there.  But not me.
But I would like to hear it as I could see the SE535 having a little more underlying fullness of sound which it sounds like SE846 does.  Just wonder if the added bass is worth $600 over a $400 IEM?
Aug 15, 2013 at 3:51 PM Post #12 of 22,773
Thanks Jelt2359 for the review. Looks like more and more high end phones play around filters to improve sound quality or change sound signature. I believe the move from SE535 to SE535LTD turns mostly around the discovery of the power of the filter.
Anyway, I was wondering how does the SE846 sounds like if you don't put any filter at all. Just curious   
Aug 16, 2013 at 12:12 AM Post #13 of 22,773
This quite possibly might be my end-game for portables... We will have to see once my Frogbeats C5 come in.
It really seems like Shure was listening to enthusiasts all around. According to other ears, the bass presence is improved with the 846 with retaining the Shure mids. If that's the case, I think I might give Shure another try.
We need some measurements of these.
Aug 16, 2013 at 8:47 AM Post #14 of 22,773
Just to add, The Single-Ended SE846 > RE600 Balanced, run out of the Hifiman HM901 balanced card. The former is just more musical, full-bodied, and lush. The latter are quite special too- so tiny and so comfortable, and nice big sound that has zero veil.
But the SE846 remain as my go-to phones. I acquired the RE600 at the same time for comparisons, but haven't quite been able to tear myself away from the Shures enough... Will do that soon. Also got the UE900 as part of the SE846 bundle, really need to give them a proper listen soon. 

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