In January at CES Shure showed me its new SE line of in-ear, noise isolating earphones and recently I’ve reviewed both the SE420s and the SE310s. The SE420s employed a dual driver design and produced superb sound across a whole range of music. The SE310s were considerably cheaper than the SE420s, but didn’t quite blow me away in the same manner. In fact the problem with the SE310s is that the price wasn’t quite low enough when compared to competing products, like the Ultimate Ears super.fi 5 Pros. But the SE210s that I’m looking at now could well be the best value, high-quality earphones out there.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that the SE210s sit at the bottom of Shure’s new range, because you need to put that fact into context. If you assume that the earphones that shipped with your MP3 player are completely useless, which most of them are, then even the entry level Shure SE units will give you a massive increase in audio quality. And comparing the SE210s to various bundled earphone sets that I have knocking around in the office, it’s fair to say that they’re in a completely different league.
The SE210s are very similar to the SE310s, in that they are based on a single driver model, so there’s no need for a crossover to direct upper and lower frequencies to discrete drivers. Instead the single driver provides the full range – much like the majority of earphones out there. However, the SE210s don’t have the Tuned Bass Port technology of the more expensive SE310s, which means that they shouldn’t, in theory at least, handle low frequencies as well.
Surprisingly though, after extended listening and comparison to the SE310s, I found that the SE210s provided decent bass performance that wasn’t too far from what their pricier siblings were outputting. Things are helped by the new, improved foam sleeves, which really do seal Shure’s new earphones into your ear canal, forcing every drop of sound directly into your eardrum and through your skull. Listening to a range of music on the SE210s left me feeling very positive towards these entry level earphones – OK, so they’re no match for the Shure E500PTHs, but at less than a quarter of the price, they really shouldn’t be.