Shure has been a consistent contender in the earphones market for at least 15 years. A company that prizes evolution over revolution, each Shure product is designed to be an improvement over its predecessor rather than introduce a novel design. 2012 saw the release of the Shure SE315, touted to be the SE310’s better brethren. Is Shure’s evolvement strategy the winning formula this time around?
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Design and Comfort
The SE315’s bulbous design is definitely a tad more pleasing to the eye compared to SE310’s more elongated body. It’s available in black and clear; the latter’s distinctive, translucent housings allowing you to see all the bits and pieces inside. A great seal and comfortable fit is characteristic of all Shure earphones, and SE315 is no exception. A whopping total of eight pairs of sleeves are included in the set, comprising different materials and sizes.
Three of those pairs are made of hard foam and three made of silicone, both of which carry sizes S, M and L. The other two pairs are the universal fit soft foam and triple-flange sleeves. Out of them all, the hard foam sleeves score the most points for comfort and fit. They expand to fill up the entrance of your ear canal and don’t budge easily save for an intentional extraction. If these sleeves don’t float your boat, custom ones can be ordered from Sensaphonics.
Because the ergonomic design causes the earphones to align with your ears rather than jut out, the SE315 can be used even when lying on your side. Although this may vary for different people, it’s wonderful for relaxed movie or listening sessions at home. The thick, Kevlar-reinforced cable prove to be more than durable at withstanding deliberate tugs and jerks, and at 64 inches more than adequate for easy movement.
The SE315 is meant to be worn over-the-ear instead of cable-down, and a few inches of memory wire near the housings allow the cable to stay looped. Luckily, there was no unwanted friction felt behind the ear. The set also comes with an earwax cleaning tool and a zippered, soft carrying case. No adapter is included, though.
The most well-received feature of SE315 is probably its detachable cable. No one wants to have their earphones completely unusable should something happen to the cable. However, unlike some of its forerunners the entire length has to be replaced instead of only the straight stem (which previously is connected to the Y-shaped portion via a connector). Nonetheless, it is detachable.
Sadly, the cable does not have an in-line remote and microphone. At $199 this is rather disappointing, but you do have the option of purchasing a CBL-M+-K cable at about $45 to $50 from Amazon. It might not be as good as the original cable quality-wise, though.
Like many other earphones, the SE315 require some burn-in time – about 200 hours – before giving you your money’s worth. Traditionally, Shure has always provided balanced and detailed sound instead of concentrating on bass. This is funny considering most of the artists endorsing Shure make bass-heavy music, such as Imagine Dragons and Fall Out Boys. If you’re looking for anything with low-end impact, you could be put off by the lackluster bass quality of SE315.
The trebles come off crisp with a fair amount of oomph, and the mid-range has a livable amount of warmth that is noticeable only at certain times. Nevertheless, the sound is hollow and not quite there, especially for rock and pop tracks. In comparison, Klipsch’s Image S4 has great mid-range and bass, performs substantially better across a wider range of music, and cost about $120 less.
Isolation-wise, SE315 is very effective in blocking out noise – perhaps a little too effective. When the hard foam tips are on, you could hear practically nothing of the outside world, not even the shrill subway announcements or the screech of tires. Whilst that equals to more clarity, it’s advisable to switch to the silicone ones when you’re jogging or doing anything that requires awareness of your surroundings.
The SE315 is graced with an intuitive design that makes putting them on a pleasure rather than a painful process. The construction is top-notch – from the sleeves to the housing to the cable – and durability is a given. However, audio delivery is the chief concern and at $199, it doesn’t quite live up to the promise. It’s good on some genres and better in others, but if a well-rounded pair is more your thing, consider the much cheaper Klipsch Image S4.