We’ve owned 3 sets Shure IEM’s in the past 6 years. The first was a pair of EC2’s which we loved. They had some short comings though, clunky in size and you had to work on getting that seal just right which was mostly only possible with the foams rather than the flanges. You also looked pretty weird with these things sticking out the side.
The next two pairs were both SE215’s. We purchased the first pair and loved them. Then we lost them *insert tears and weeping here*. But we loved the first pair, didn’t have loads of cash, so we went around for a second pair.
We’re musicians but not once have we used them as IEM’s for live music monitoring. Only listening to music via iPod, iPhone or similar.
The SE215, in our opinion, are one of the best sets of IEM earphones on the market under $150. Really really really. When we say that though there are a couple of things of note. The first is inline controls. If you love your iPhone and need access to volume up and down, pause, play and microphone controls all the time you’ll need to buy the additional cable which attaches to give you those controls. Buying the separate Cable which attaches to the in-ears has the inline controls. These 215’s are best worn like a rock star – that is over the ears and down the back. If you wear them front it’s perfectly cool, we only say this if you want a little American Idol rock star factor. You’ll can still put them over your ears and then down your front which gives you access to the inline controls (if you purchase the extra cable with iPhone/Mobile phone controls). We usually just use these as pure audio IEM earphones and use the controls on our phone.
NB: The inline controls model is different to the standard SE215 so don’t buy the standard assuming you get iPhone controls. The extra cable is available – let us know if you want it.
The benefits of running the cable down your back, inside your jacket or shirt, is that you never catch the cable on anything. You feel safe, secure and audibly awesome. Equally, you can run the cable down the front of your shirt or top, the microphonics are almost zero so there is no risk of scratchy noises coming up the wire.
These typically fit most people but if your ears are really small you you want to try some of the other earfoams in the pack, these are included and you’ll be able to find one to fit. You be able to get the audio foam in so the sound will be great – the beauty of these IEM’s is the snug fit in the ear. it’s a great feeling. We expect over 95% of people will have no problem at all.
Single drivers can’t compete with double, triple or quad but these still have a really great soundscape and with the right seal they produce a sound so typical of Shure IEM’s, and that is they sound alive – the music makes you feel it. It’s not a perfect soundscape but for lack of a more audiophile correct description, we can only say they make the adrenaline kick in and sound real. The problem with the SE215 is that they make you wonder how much more wonderful the SE315’s, SE425’s, SE535’s and SE846 must be.
The sound from the SE215’s with the addition of comfort and a good seal make these the best all round IEM’s in the under $150 category for us.
There is a real tightness in the sound while still allowing for sweet acoustics. We’ve put almost everything through these things from Oh Sleeper to Damien Rice, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Eminem and Florence and the Machine, Dire Straights to Al Di Meola. All are represented well. Some say the Bass in these is too heavy but we have to disagree, rather for the price the bass is impressive.
Compare to competition
We’ve compared these to the Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) C5 and Ultimate Ears UE600. The C5 feel too heavy in the bottom end and are better compared to a Bose set. The UE600 didn’t sit well and the sound didn’t grab us like the SE215’s did. Both good earphones sonically but didn’t have the alive feel of the SE215.
These are not new to market. In fact they have been around a while, but they stand up and demand to be counted. Shure do well to make sustainable earphones just like their SM58 microphone is still a standard in live music microphones. Being older means you can also get these a little cheaper which is good for consumers. We still think these IEM earphones stand as a great buy.
The SE215 we’ve been using have been in real world use for 3 years and are stilll going strong. For all the high end earphones we are lucky enough to review we still often come back to the SE215 and smile and the value for money.