Retailing at $199, the SE215 is the cheapest among other recent Shure offerings. Budding audiophiles could have been put off by the $200-$500 price tags of other earphones, so the Shure SE215 is the perfect opportunity to try out Shure. How it walks the line between affordability and sound quality will be the focus of this review.
Design and Comfort
Shure’s dedication to build quality is exemplary. The Shure SE215, which caters to a decidedly low-end market, has the same outstanding physical construction as the $299 SE425. A little on the bulbous side, it is available in the standard clear or a translucent black. The Shure logo and the name SE215 are inscribed on the ear pieces – nothing too showy. Since it’s cheaper than most of its brethren, the soft foam and triple flange sleeves are not provided. But no matter, the other sleeves – S, M, and L pairs of hard foam and silicone each – prove to be more than adequate. The hard foam particularly delivers an exceptional seal.
Other than the sleeves, there aren’t many differences between the SE215 and its more expensive counterparts, but the recurring, good points bear repeating. For one, the ergonomic design ensures that the earpieces lie flush with your ears. This means that you can lie on your side with the earphones on, and they won’t drill into your brain. First-timers may need to devote a little more time to the over-the-ear configuration, but with memory wire incorporated into the cable, subsequent use will be easier.
Secondly, at 64 inches, the cable has ample length for mobility. It’s also Kevlar-reinforced and able to withstand numerous tugs. Whilst a reedy cable makes you nervous everytime you put on your earphones, a sturdy one like the SE215’s makes you more carefree and able to concentrate on your music. A carrying case is also included in the set for you to store everything in.
Another similar theme across all recent Shure products is the detachable cable. This is certainly a point for celebration as it allows you to replace it and it alone (or perhaps, one of the ear pieces) should anything goes wrong with it. It’s also connected to the ear pieces via gold-plated MMCX connectors. This means that you can rotate the ear pieces up to 360 degrees when you adjust their positioning, without any untoward tangling. Most unfortunately, there’s no inline microphone and remote, but you can always buy a more equipped cable from Amazon.
The SE215 come fortified with dynamic drivers, rather than the balanced armature found in Shure’s more expensive earphones. While this was done to reduce costs, the SE215 still comes off loud and strong. The bass is noticeably more solid than the others – not overwhelming – but also sound a little muddy if the drivers haven’t had their burn in period. It may be a pain to wait 100-300 hours before having that fantastic low-end in your ears, but the end result is well worth it.
Another thing you can’t fault the SE215 with is the clarity. The reproduction of the mid-range is articulate and leads up to a crystallite treble (well, at this price point, it’s crystallite). It doesn’t distort, doesn’t leave your ears ringing afterwards, and tails off quite nicely. You’ll also get a satisfactory sense of depth, almost as if you’re able to follow where the music goes on each plane. This kind of quality at this kind of price is enough to make you spout poetry.
An added bonus to the package is the superior noise-isolation the SE215 provides. The seal from the hard foam sleeves isolate your music from outside distractions very, very well – making you question why Shure doesn’t attach “Noise-Isolating” to the name of their earphones, because they so clearly are. So much so, that it’s dangerous to put them on while you’re jogging. This possibly makes them more suitable for your air travels than some headphones marketed to drown out jet engines.
Aspiring audiophiles should set their sights no further than Shure SE215. With a great build, superior noise-isolation and comfortable fit, it’s a good starting point for those wanting high-quality reproduction without having to sell off a kidney. Whilst first-timers may have some gripes about the fussy configuration, once it’s done they’re pretty much set for a long time. Affordable definitely looks good on Shure.