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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.
Scores In Detail
- Sound Quality