Pros:clean, clear, crisp sound; high quality construction
Cons:expensive; tough to tell left from right
The Bottom Line: Highly recommended if you want a clean, clear sound. Ideally suited for performing or for listening to jazz and classical. Not cheap but well worth the price.
Recommend this product?
In the past, I owned a set Shure E2Cs and was very happy with them. Apart from some construction issues, I was impressed with the overall sound and so when it was time to find a replacement, I decided to check out the Shure products. I also considered the Klipsch S4 headphones but ultimately decided on the Shure SE315 (clear version).
My primary use for these headphones is as in-ear monitors while performing on stage. On occasion, I might plug them into my computer or iPhone but 99% of the time, it's for performing. I've had the SE315s for over two months and have been using them regularly.
More than anything else, I am very impressed with these headphones. The SE315s are in-ear "noise-reducing" headphones so once you get a proper fit, you get an excellent sound. There's no distortion of the sound and you also can hear high trebles and low bass without any problems. In my opinion, the sound is clean and pretty close to being equal to hearing "naked ear". Because of the sound isolating design, you can decrease the volume and hear things very clearly because you don't have any sound pollution from other sources. The only bad thing is that you can't actually hear things outside, so don't go running with these things on.
Whenever I get a chance, I like to listen to some jazz recordings using these headphones because I can often hear notes that weren't detectable previously. I have to admit that these are probably the best speakers/headphones that I own.
Compared with the Klipsch S4, I thought the SE315 were truer to the actual sound. The S4 seemed to overemphasize the bass too much. Although the S4s were about $100 cheaper, I still liked the sound more on the SE315s and thought the price difference was worth it. If you're just listening to music, I think the S4s are a great option to consider.
Compared with my E2Cs, the SE315s are a significant improvement. While the E2Cs were great for every day use and for the iPod, there's just more detail you get with the SE315s which is amazing to me.
CONSTRUCTION & FIT
As mentioned above, getting the right fit is key. Some people might complain about the in-ear buds being uncomfortable, but I haven't had any problems. When I first got them, I had some trouble getting them on, but once the sales person helped me out, I had no problems getting them on and in my ear after two tries.
The headphones have an in and above ear design. Unlike the E2Cs that I previously owned, I found the shape and angle of the ear buds a bit different. After experimenting, I found that putting the bud in your ear first was the key to getting the cable to loop over the ear properly.
In terms of construction, Shure made some significant improvements that are noticeable immediately:
- cables are now detachable and can be replaced- the ear-bud swivels
Also, I noticed that Shure has used a reinforced "memory" cable by the ear-bud. It seems far more durable than previous E series models I've seen. I like how the cable "remembers" the shape of your ear to make it easier to use in the future.
Overall, the construction quality seems to have improved from the past and I have concerns so far about these headphones lasting
ACCESSORIES & OTHER
The SE315 comes with the standard "fit" kit (detachable and replaceable buds) to help get as tight a fit as possible.
Also included in the box was a small black case. This case is much improved compared with the past cable "turtles" that Shure used. For my E2Cs, I got so frustrated with the case that I basically threw it out after a week (the ear buds didn't even fit in the case then). The case now is a simple oval shape with an easy to use zipper. There's also a small mesh section so you can keep either an alcohol swab or other small things. I keep the fit kit in the mesh webbing.
I do have one complaint and I think Shure made a mistake here. The right ear bud is distinguished by a very small red-dot which can be very challenging to see in low light conditions. In the past, the right had a black coloring which made it very easy to determine left from right.
I think the biggest complaint people have with Shure products is getting the right fit. If you can get the buds to fit in your ear properly and get a good tight seal, these are great. I know some people don't like the ear-plug feel of these and so they might consider other alternatives. Experiment with these in the store for a few moments and see if you can get used to them. I think it's worth the time and effort to test them out given the investment you will be making.
There's a two year warranty on these headphones and Shure is pretty good about service. With my E2Cs, I had some problems and they replaced the headphones twice without any hassle.
Overall, I've been *very* happy with the SE315s. As mentioned, the sound is clear, clean, and accurate and is a great choice for listening to music (especially jazz or classical) or for when performing. You get a very balanced sound that doesn't overemphasize any aspect of the sound spectrum. It's pricey (~$300) but I would buy these again if I needed to replace them. If you aren't so picky about the sound, I would suggest the S4s as a possible alternative. I just didn't like the huge bass I got.