Shure SE210 Earphones: Pure Audio Delight
Product Category: Earphones Manufacturer: Shure
Where to Buy: Amazon [Affiliate]
System Requirements: Any MP3 player with a 3.5mm headphone jack
Specifications: Headphones have a frequency range of 25Hz - 18.5kHz with a 26 ohm impedance. They come in black or white and have an 18 inch cable with a 36 inch extension. The headphones pack up easily in a small travel case and come with a deluxe fit kit of 7 different tips to easily fit almost any ear size.
- Amazing sound, it blew me away;
- Lots of fit options, ensuring a comfortable, tight seal;
- High quality construction that should stand up to long term use.
- Somewhat expensive;
- In-ear design takes getting used to.
Summary: No matter what you use as an MP3 player there is a universal law that applies to your device of choice. The included ear buds suck. Sure, there’s different levels of suck, but in the end they’re all pretty horrible. There was a brief period of time when the Zune came with the premium sound isolating earphones and those were certainly a step up from the usual throwaways you get. Still, to really appreciate your Zune or "other" MP3 player you only have two avenues to really get the most out of your music.
What's In The Box?
Figure 1: The unassuming box for the Shure SE210 headphones.
If you’re using that "other" brand, your first avenue is to get a Zune. (I’m kidding!) No, what I’m talking about is depositing your freebie ear buds in the garbage and going to your retailer of choice and buying something that will really deliver music to your ears. I was going away on a long vacation a couple weeks ago and my Sony NC-40s had just bit the dust. I had to buy something before I left so I spent some time at Best Buy the day I was leaving and decided to splurge a bit and picked up a pair of Shure SE210s.
Shure is a name I’ve long associated with high quality sound. The SE210s aren’t exactly new at this point as they’ve been out for around 2 years now. But the SE line is Shure’s current consumer level earphone line, containing the SE110, SE115, SE210, SE310, SE420, and SE530. That’s a lot! Let’s start with what’s in the box. Shure gives you a really good package with these earphones. In the box you’ll get:
- SE210 Earphones
- 3 sets of replacement foam earpieces
- 3 sets of replacement silicon earpieces
- 1 set of triple flanged earpieces
- Extension cable
- Cleaning tool
- Carrying case
Now, if you can’t find a way to get these earphones to fit with seven different options you probably have some tough to fit ears!
Figure 2: The headphones, all 7 sizes of earpieces, cleaning tool, carrying case and extension cable.
The extension cable is a bit misleading. The earphones really only have a short cord coming off of them that’s about 18 inches long. The extension cable adds another 36 inches onto that for a total of 54 inches. Obviously the short cord isn’t nearly enough in almost any imaginable situation so why would they do that? Shure split the cable so that you could, if you choose, add in accessories. The two options are a "Push To Hear" system and a mic to let you use the earphones with a cell phone.
The earphones are constructed out of hard plastic and a rubber covering. The cables are nice and thick, lending to the overall feeling of quality. The last two pairs of headphones I had both eventually needed replacing when their cables wore out. I really feel like these will withstand the rigors of daily use.
They can be worn with the cables hanging down or looped over your ears. I prefer the over-the-ear configuration since it makes it a little harder for pressure on the cables to pull them out of my ears. Since a tight seal is ideal with this style of earphone I find this gives the best listening experience.
A major concern I had when I bought these was comfort. I’ve never found ear buds to be comfortable. These aren’t ear buds but the thought of having something stuck in my ears for long periods of time didn’t seem like it could possibly be comfortable. I was wrong. This is the most comfortable set of earphones I’ve ever had. Even more comfortable than the supra-aural style I’ve always preferred up until now. I can wear them for hours with no discomfort.
So Shure gives you a great package for your money and I can wear them for hours on end. The question is, do I want to? All of this is academic unless these earphones deliver on their promise of high quality sound. Does Shure live up to its name? In a word, yes. Read on for my impressions on what the listening experience itself is like.
From Digital Bits To Audio Bliss
The SE210 uses a type of driver called balanced armature. Balanced armatures are excellent when it comes to tight sound reproduction. To be used properly, though, you have to have a tight seal or it will sound awful. But when you achieve that seal you’ll hopefully experience two things. The first is a rich, detailed listening experience. The other thing you’ll discover is that you have been entirely shut out from the world. Active noise cancellation has nothing on passive sound isolation like this. You won’t just dampen outside noises...they will practically vanish.
This has the benefit of allowing you to listen to your music at much lower volumes than you are probably used to. I’ve always been someone to listen to music around volume setting 3 on my Zune anyway but now I can listen at the lowest settings and not lose any clarity. Since we're listening to music for much longer periods than ever before, safety is important and these earphones will help ensure that I will be enjoying my music for many more years to come.
I’m not going to bother beating around the bush: the SE210s sound really good. They are, by far, the best earphones I’ve ever had. I compared them to the Zune Premium ear buds and there just wasn’t any contest. The Zune Premiums sounded thin and bright compared to the deep sound I get from the SE210s. I can't emphasize enough though the importance of wearing these properly. A tight seal is the difference between a tin can radio and feeling like you're at the concert.
I used several different tracks off of my "Ghost in the Shell" soundtracks to test the sound reproduction of these earphones since those songs all have a lot of great instrumentals and really let me test a pretty wide range of sounds. "Inner Universe" has a lot going on but the vocals and highs came through very crisp all while the deep beats were thumping in the background.
Of course I mostly listen to rock so I had to test the earphones with some of my favorite artists. I really like Third Eye Blind and their song "Non Dairy Creamer" off of their "Red Star" album has a good bass drum beat in the background. I could really feel the beat of the drum and the bass guitar also came through really well. Again the bass really made itself felt and known without overpowering the rest of the song. The vocals and lead guitar still came through perfectly. Towards the end of the song there is a section with violins that really shines.
Everything I threw at these earphones sounded great. After using them for two weeks now I’ve listened to everything from Metallica to Dave Matthews. I haven’t found the sound to be lacking in any of the genres I’ve listened to. The sound is just very well tuned for today’s listening experience. That means these phones favor the bass range a little but they are definitely not overwhelming and do it without much sacrifice of the higher ranges.
If you need to blow your ears out with bass you can probably buy a much cheaper pair of earphones. But if you want to hear your music how it was meant to sound and hear things you’ve never heard before, the SE210s are outstanding. Deep lows and crisp highs all contribute to an enjoyable listening experience.
Despite these phones being significantly more expensive than most of the other options out there, the SE210s are a very good price for high end earphones. You get a pair of earphones that will blow away your ears without blowing away your wallet. So go treat your ears to this outstanding pair of earphones and you'll start enjoying music on an entirely different level!
David Tucker is a software developer who lives in Tampa, FL. His hobbies include all things technology with a healthy bias towards Microsoft products. Since the fall is here you'll often find him traveling to Gainesville or hosting a game day party to support the Gator football team.