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Shure SE846 Impressions Thread

  1. BramblexD
    I do find that people tend to go either "meh" or fall in love with the 846. Had a whole horde of people telling me it was a bad purchase and to go for the andromeda instead, but also quite a few who swear by their 846s.
    Anyone got experience with the sensaphonics sleeve vs snugs? Still debating whether its worth it, I have the snugs 3d scan on file, so that would be more convenient than having to book an audiologist and sending the impressions to sensaphonics.
    Currently using the yellow foams with the modded blue filter, isolation is fine but when I walk or move my head sometimes the sound passes through the gaps when the foam shifts and thats annoying.
  2. overgang
    Yes, I know. That flexibility was one of the reasons for choosing the SE846 in the first place. But it's unlikely that playing with the inserts and filters will change the sound dramatically. What effect would those tweaks have? 20%? For me it's the other 80% that was missing. After paying EUR 800 I expected to be blown away on the first listen. One doesn't pay that price to "improve" the goods.[/QUOTE]

    I fully agree. I'm all for open standards. I even think that after Jobs's death, Apple is doomed. But that iPhone SE of mine is a recent buy, and I want to exploit it for some time. I like the idea of a dedicated audiophile device. I even considered a EUR 1,000 Astell&Kern Kann. But I mostly stream my music, and smartphones are just better in that department.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  3. overgang
    Yes. I'm not here to denigrate your favourite headphone, guys. Just to air personal disappointment maybe. :)

    As to giving the ears the time to adjust, I'm afraid of convincing myself that I like the SE846. If I had kept them, then instead of re-listening to my whole music collection as many happy SE846'ers say they do, I'd be re-reading this thread for confirmation of the superb sound quality I don't hear. Maybe my ears are deficient.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  4. phthora
    @overgang Generally, earphones with multiple balanced armatures will have wide swings in impedance, making it crucial to their sound to match them with a low impedance source. Even at a relatively low output impedance of of 0.5 ohm, you will begin to see a small dip in the measured frequency response. At 1 ohm and above, it becomes very noticeable and detracts from the quality of sound. There is a graph somewhere on this thread that measures the effects of source impedance differences.

    Anyway, my point is that you may very well experience the same sorts of issues matching any multi-BA with your phone. A single dynamic driver earphone would be a safer bet in this regard. It would also be worthwhile for you to find the output impedance of your phone before your next purchase.
  5. csglinux
    You might be surprised. Take a look at some of the measurements I linked to. The filters can change things dramatically. Within a given frequency range, the amplitudes will change by several hundred percent or more - even on a log scale. The effect of different tips can be even stronger than that of the effect of different filters. This can absolutely make or break your experience with an IEM.

    Very wise. And consider yourself lucky you didn't buy a Kann. That's not a great-sounding DAP. And it's expensive (obviously, coming from A&K!).
  6. csglinux
    @phthora makes a good point about impedance. @overgang, you might want to consider the Xelento. Single dynamic driver, better treble extension than the SE846, better ergonomics than the Andromeda. (It just isn't tunable, other than via eartips, and doesn't isolate as well as the SE846).
  7. overgang
    But how will I know that the magic comes from the earphone and not from the amplifier? And besides my main reason for getting SE846 was that their low impedance made amplification unnecessary.

    "True" not. Just habitual. The *idea* of audiophile sound still attracts.

    I felt this yesterday evening when I passed my verdict on the SE846s. I switch from QC35 to SE846s: 'No magic. I hoped for more.' I switch back to QC35: 'What's this crap?' :)

    I wanted to believe that. I liked the idea of Bose being nothing but shrewd marketing and psychoacoustics, that Bose is Apple of the audio world, that 'no highs, no lows, must be Bose'. I paid dearly for the SE846s. But damn, no kick. That marketing spell must be tenacious.
  8. csglinux
    Kudos to you for not falling for the psychology of a high sticker price. All of us are prone to thinking a $1000 bottle of wine tastes better than a $5 bottle. Neuroscientists have even measured differences in how the pleasure centers of the brain light up. We can't avoid this effect, even if we know we're supposed to. I respect the fact you've pushed back against the price tag and the best efforts of the combined peer pressure on this thread :wink:

    I'm not going to bash Bose. I own their SoundTrue Ultra IEMs, and love them for their comfort. They aren't as bad as Beats. (In fact these days, even Beats isn't as bad as Beats :wink: Beats are getting better. With all the financial backing behind them, they might even one day produce the next killer headphone, who knows?!) I wouldn't say the SoundTrue Ultra SQ is miles behind the SE846. But the SE846 is a very good headphone, and to not hear any improvement over the QC35, I still wonder if you didn't have a proper fit or seal, or the tips were doing something that didn't work for you in terms of frequency response. I still think that's a strong possibility. Also, it depends on what you're looking for. The SoundTrue Ultras don't isolate at all and even the active noise cancellation of the QC35 is no match for the passive isolation you'll get from the SE846 using something like Comply P-series foam tips. Plus, you can't easily carry a pair of QC35s in your pocket.

    It sounds like it's too late and you've already returned your SE846. What I would suggest is, whatever you choose for your next pair of IEMs, spend at least a week going back and forth with various ear-tips. I was lucky and had an immediate euphoria with the SE846. Other IEMs (that I now prefer to the SE846) took a bit more time to appreciate and one IEM in particular (the FLC8S) sounded like junk out of the box with its default tuning - it's now become one of my favorite IEMs. Your ears are different from everybody else's, so other people's reviews of IEMs and ear-tips (and tuning filters?) only get you so far. There's no substitute for doing your own due diligence in testing with various ear-tips.
  9. overgang
    After the SE846 let-down I have my sights set on Etymotic ER4XR. My reasons in random order:
    • Quirky, non-consumer look – audiophile gear, yay!
    • Good isolation – shrieking kids around.
    • Price 50% of SE846 – if they don't enchant me on the spot, I'll let them grow on me with a lighter heart.
    • Higher impedance reduces the risk of hiss, or so I've learned.
    • Old reputable American brand.
    • Good reviews.
    What do you think? Can they theoretically wake up an audiophile in me? Must I arm myself with a source better than the iPhone before testing? If yes, will Fiio X5 3rd gen be a good match? I think of that particular player because it can stream from DLNA via Wi-Fi and do Bluetooth too.
  10. csglinux
    I also own the ER4XR :) Every one of your points is correct. I love them for their isolation and complete lack of occlusion effect (no booming sound in your ears if you walk or talk with them in), because they require very deep insertion.

    But, IMHO, they are several steps behind the SE846 in term of sound quality (even in the treble, where the SE846 is supposedly weaker).
  11. phthora
    For me, it's emotional transfer from having gotten a good deal. If I score something for less than I rightfully should have, then I typically think more highly of it. I wonder if there are studies on that...

    At this point, the only, and I mean one and only, gear I've purchased at full price has been the 846. Buying at MSRP is the highest form of flattery from me.
  12. overgang
    And what about SE535? Are they SE846 less the subwoofer, i.e. assured deception in my case? I can have SE535 for EUR 300 and ER4XR for EUR 400. Both seem like a deal after SE846, although non head-fi'ers will give me a strange look either way.

    One thing that also irked me about SE846 yesterday was the insertion ritual. Of course, it takes a habit, but I had a hard time telling the right one from the left, more so deciding what goes where. Etymotics seem to be a more straightforward, manlier, affair.
  13. BramblexD
    Maybe you're looking for a more "fun" signature? The 846 are only moderately bassy with the black filters and the ER4 series even less so.
    A good more V shaped iem would give you that immediate "wow" impact
  14. tbritton
    When I got my SE846's, I was coming from a Shure SE215. The SE215 is considered a "fun" item. I really enjoyed them and thought they were fantastic! My "real" headphones are Ultrasone Proline 750's, and excel in the bass dept.

    When I tried my shiny new SE846's, WOW WAS I UPSET!!!!!!!!!! :-O

    I really thought they sucked. Plain and simple - I thought they sucked. Hugely. Muddy, globby, yucky, blobby. Pathetic.

    I did not have a good fit with the tips that came with it -- until I tried the yellow foams and later the tri-flanges. For certain, the greys and the olives did not work for me. They still don't.

    I then got some of the Westone tips (the kit) and tried a bunch of them and was getting happier and happier. Eventually, I found the "tri-flange modded into a duo-flange" worked fantastically for me. Still to this day, the blue filter is my favorite as it delivers the best "punch" in the bass to my ears, though I've recently tried the trishd mod (pushing the foams far inside) and like it.

    Now I'm having fun with the new duo-flange SpinFits. Each time it is a new experience of bliss. If I try the grey or olive Shure tips, that goes away still, every time.

    So, this is an adventure. What can I say - I love these things!!!! :)



    P.S. - I can barely listen to the SE215's anymore...
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  15. csglinux
    Trust me, ER4 insertion is a ritual too. Plus (depending on eartip), because they require deeper insertion, their comfort ranges from anything between ok-for-a-while and absolute agony. Both the ER4XR and SE535 lack sub-bass. If you're ok without sub-bass, I'd lean toward the ER4XR. But, to my ears, the FLC8S is better (and quite possibly cheaper) than either.

    Yes, and you can tune the FLC8S to whatever you want. It has separate filters for mids/highs, lows and ultra-low frequencies. So you could tune it to give a V-shaped wow factor, if that's what you're looking for; if you want something more neutral, it can do that too. Because of its tuning options, it's technically (at least) 36 headphones all in one.

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