If you are not a Ferret or an Elephant, read on …..

Shure SE215 is not a new earphone, but an excellent set that just gets better. It has an interesting and different way of – over the ear looping the cord that you’ll get used to in no time. It is upgradeable if you really get into it. I’d say the sonic signature suites most people, except the two extreme ends of the spectrum. Those who need huge Tera Bass, and especially those who may be analyzing the minute  subtleties between different Zildjan cymbals on the drummer’s setup.

Shure SE215

Shure SE215

 

This is the best IEM (In-ear Monitor) below $200 I have ever heard. I actually prefer it to its bigger siblings like the SE315, that perhaps gets too bassy and less balanced for me.

Worthy competitor is B&W C5, but it lacks a little on the balance, and quality of finish.

 

  • Comes in Clear (pictured here) or Translucent Black
  • It has a wonderful 64” detachable wireform cable that you can upgrade to silver or whatever you want. Just like its big sister the SE846. I really do like the default cable. The Shure SE215 does not have a microphone like the B&W C5
  • Gold plated 3.5 mm (1/8”) L shaped Jack. I love it, but it may be a problem with certain thicker phone cases
  • Comes with three pairs of soft flex and three pairs foam sleeves (S, M, L) of ear padding / sleeves
  • A nice soft zipped carry pouch that has a belt/bag clip. The clip fell apart after its first outing on me 🙁
  • Box packaging is no Apple experience, but that experience lasts 60 seconds
  • it works wonderfully with iPhones and dedicated music players like the Fiio or my Sony Walkman NWZ-A17 Hi-Res music player. Most of this test was with the Sony NWZ-A17, and FLAC or ALAC file type music. Some standard iTunes files and MP3’s too
  • Lightweight for travel and very secure for sports
  • The speaker impedance is 20 Ω and they are single Dynamic MicroDrive
  • Sensitivity of just 107 dB SPL/mW and noise attenuation up to 37 dB
  • And a Frequency Range of 22Hz ~ 17.5kHz that we’ll talk about in a momen

 

Let’s get a little geekier …

Only elephants, goldfish, and ferrets hear frequencies in single digits – anything below 20Hz is really tough to call with our ears, though you could argue; we can feel it in our body.

Unless you are a porpoise / dolphin, or a bat, you will not hear much passed 20kHz.

Of the common animals we see everyday, cats have the widest hearing range and the most sensitive, followed by dogs.

Perhaps a more meaningful point of reference is the musical instruments: A bass guitar’s open B string is around 30Hz, bass drum is 30Hz – 50HZ, while the hi-hat is around 10KHz. The cymbal can still be strong at 100KHZ, hence the references to it in this review. Harmonics can be very high. A muted trumpet can exceed 80 kHz. Similarly, a violin range is typically between 190Hz to 10KHz, with harmonics exceeding 40KHz.

So, let’s try and make a little sense of why a Sony MDR-A1 over-the-ear headphone sound so much brighter, crisper and more fulfilling, especially once you tune your attention to higher frequency sounds like the Zildjans on the drum set. Amongst the long list of reasons why, let’s note the following  key items:

  • Number of drivers used to separate the sound channels for bass, mid (e.g. vocals), and high notes.
  • The form factor difference
  • The frequency capability of the headphones

The Sony MDR-A1 is remarkable in its range of course. Starting at single digit Hz for the elephants in the house, and finishing at 100KHz, for the dolphin upstairs in her bedroom.

By contras, the Shure SE215 is a Single driver IEM that has a specified frequency range of 22Hz – 17.5KHz. So, it is no surprise that a good headset like the MDR-A1 seems superior. Now, this doesn’t mean that every earphone you see hanging in the shop for $10, claiming a range of 10Hz-20KHz will outperform these Shure earphones. The most important thing is the performance within whatever range is claimed and to do it at a good Signal to Noise Ratio. Within the manufacturer’s specified range of 22Hz – 17.5KHz,  the SE215’s performance is truly exceptional , making these earphones a steal at $100!

Put it up against a fair completion this side of $200, like other IEM’s from Sony, B&W, and Bose, or an on ear monitor like those of Bose and B&O etc. some of which have a better frequency range at 10Hz – 22KHz or better, and the Shure SE215 holds its own and sounds by far the most competent.

Great Bass and Midrange, with OK high frequency. OK, only compared to much more expensive headphones or IEM’s. I wish it was a little brighter at the high frequency.

In the end, your sonic preferences depend on your taste, age (our hearing range changes by age), the particular music genres you listen to, and the device that is driving the music to ears.

All said and done, Shure SE215 delivers a tremendously balanced and posed sonic to your eardrums at an almost unreal price.

** Highly recommended

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