Shure SE115 Noise Isolating Earphones - Shure SE115 Earphones

By Hugo Jobling


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While the SE115's undoubtedly produce plenty of bass, it's by no means overpowering and doesn't compromise clarity. For listening to the like of Wagner's Die Walküre the Shure SE115s are nigh-on perfect, offering the level of detail the music deserves, alongside the power and presence demanded. Likewise, the vocally driven Fountains of Wayne - yes, of Stacy's Mom fame - cover of Britney Spears' …Baby One More Time is a joy to listen to. Partly just because it's a fantastic track, but also because it sounds great through the SE115s.

With a decent source, such as a Sony S-Series or Creative Zen, plenty of detail can be eked out from a halfway decent MP3 rip. Lily Allen's Alright, Still was reproduced as well as one could hope from a set of single-driver 'phones; Smile and Everything's Just Wonderful come across with presence and cohesion that are the marque of Shure earphones.

Admittedly, clarity isn't quite up there with the Etymotic Research hf2 headset. Cymbals can sometimes sound a tad muddied and while I am generally a fan of the cohesive soundstage the SE115s offer, throwing more complicated tracks at them - Mindless Self Indulgence's Due and Never Wanted to Dance, for example - can make things sound a bit woolly. It's not fatal, bit it is noticeable.

As I suggested a couple of pages ago; the price point Shure has tried to hit is a ruthless one. Not only are there plenty of newer, rival 'phones available in that bracket, but a number of Shure's own older models are also available for similar money. Two years ago, a pair of Shure SE310s cost around £170; now they can be picked up for just under £110 - only £10 more than the SE115's MSRP. Okay, they don't come in pink, but they do sound better.

If you have an iPhone, Etymotic Research's hf2 headset arguably sounds better and has the added bonuses of an in-line remote and microphone as well as being upgradable with custom tips!


The Shure SE115 earphones are a sad victim of their market's success. There's no doubt they're a great set of 'phones, but competition is fierce in their price range and there's better value for money to be had elsewhere right now.

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May 14, 2009, 6:51 am

where do the shure se102's fit into their range? are they better or worse than these?


May 14, 2009, 7:08 am

I bought a pair of the SE110's for flying and have to say they didn't sound that much better than 2 cheap Phillips noise cancelling earphones previously purchased, used without the electronics on - the hiss was so annoying switched on. also I don't think the sound isolation is that good, they don't mask the hiss of airflow over the plane anything like industrial earplugs/headphones I use for work. agreed they sound much better than bundled earphones but I think I need to try some of the top end earphones to see if they are that good but I could never justify paying that kind of money. p.s. they don't include that stupid airplane adapter, have only flown one airline with just the standard 3.5mm jack plug.


May 14, 2009, 9:02 am

Same question, Shure 115+102=what's the difference?


May 14, 2009, 1:28 pm

Sorry, but mine is the £50-£70 area. I really don't want to spend more than £70 quid for something that I know I'm going to use nearly every day, and wear out the thin wiring before the warranty's up. I hate that balancing the weight of the earpiece forces a trade off with the cable build quality.


May 14, 2009, 2:07 pm

@GoldenGuy: That's precisely my argument for why it is worth spending lots of money on headphones. If it's something you use everyday then they quickly pay for themselves in terms of satisfaction. Unfortunately, if you're like me it also means you become complacent about having them with you all the time and end up losing them but that's really a whole other issue.


May 14, 2009, 2:14 pm

The SE102s aren't as good as these. Whether they're £30 or so 'not as good' I'm not so sure.


May 14, 2009, 2:39 pm

"the shure se 115 fit between the se 110 and se 210 in name and price" that is definitely wrong as I got my se 210's for £60

Luan Bach

May 14, 2009, 6:02 pm

Hugo, where did you get that Baby One More Time cover from ? I think I heard it on an episode of Life and it sounded good.


May 14, 2009, 7:32 pm

Andrew - I was talking MSRP at that point.

Luan - Out-of-State Plates (

The cover in Life was Travis, incidentally, but it's not as good a version as FoW. Bowling for Soup have a good rock-ier version which I like, too.

Luan Bach

May 14, 2009, 10:04 pm

Thanks Hugo. I'm watching a bid on ebay for the cd at the moment. :-)


May 15, 2009, 3:27 am

spotify it ;)


May 15, 2009, 4:09 pm

I see your point Ed and I certainly won't argue with the differences in sound quality. I trade up on my mp3 player earphones ASAP. (I currently have some humble CX-400's, though I did have CX-95's before that, that I quite liked.)

No my point was that in my experience, there isn't a big enough improvement in the build quality, and I end up wearing out the 30 quid phones just as quickly as the £60-£70 ones, just before the warranty is up. I should also add that it's not like I drive over them or anything! For some reason earphone wiring just hasn't been perfected in my view - at least with anything in the mid range that I know of. Perhaps trading up to the beginning of the top end might see some build quality improvements, but I have my doubts.


May 17, 2009, 1:58 am

It still applies as the MSRP for the white se 210's are £99.99 as are the pink se 115's.

I personally can't see the market for these earphones to be honest, even taking into account the other colours, as if they do indeed slip in between the se 210' and se 110's in price as in theory they should, but probably won't to it being a new model, which suppliers usually charge more for than older models, then there will be an actual price difference of £10 max which when spending £50-£70 on earphones isn't really an issue. Also the black ones look the same as the rest whilst the other colours would merely attract attension to the unfashionable (large and strange over ear cable method) earphones themselves.

I personally would prefer them to make a cheaper version of the se420's - same quality, to replace my se 210's which whilst superb for the


May 17, 2009, 2:00 am

opps err PS my se 210's are good but do lack bass, quite noticeably at time, however judging by numerous reviews (including yourselves) the se 420's do step it up a notch or two, which would be just right.

Hans Gruber

December 23, 2010, 2:20 am

Advanced MP3 Players are selling these in pink colour only for £39.99 (you can get a further 10% off using voucher code avlover). Even if they are pink, it's still a bargain. Functionality over um, looking a bit, um, girly? Gonna paint mine and walk around with black ears instead...

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