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The biggest problem with portable music players is that they only sound as good as the headphones you plug into them. If you’re a regular reader of TrustedReviews, you’ll know that the best thing you can do with the bundled headphones that came with your player is throw them in the bin. Although some bundled headphones are better than others, I’ve never encountered any that I’d want to listen to for more than a few minutes.
The difference that a good set of earphones can make to an MP3 player is staggering, but as with most things, you get what you pay for. I maintain that the Shure E500PTH earphones are, quite simply, the best that money can buy – but you are going to need a lot of money to buy them. Most consumers will find it hard to justify spending twice as much on earphones than they actually spent on their MP3 player, and I can accept that.
Shure is also well aware of the fact that not everyone can afford the E500PTH earphones, so its new SE range covers a broad price range. The dual driver SE420s that I reviewed recently were very impressive indeed, and produced a sound that eclipsed even the award winning Ultimate Ears Super.fi Pros. Of course the SE420s are still pretty pricey, with a retail price of £249 – that’s enough to put off many prospective buyers, despite the fact that, in my opinion at least, they’re worth every penny.
So today, I’m looking at the next step down the pecking order from the SE420s, the SE310s. The Shure SE310s carry an RRP of £169.99, although I would imagine that the street price will be a little below that when they hit the retail channel. That pricing puts the SE310s directly up against the aforementioned Ultimate Ears Super.fi Pros, which isn’t an enviable position when you consider that the Ultimate Ears are dual driver earphones.
The SE310s use a single driver solution, but they also incorporate Shure’s Tuned BassPort technology, to increases the bass response. This is something that proved to be an issue with the Shure E4c earphones that we reviewed about a year ago – although the clarity was superb, they lacked bass, which sometimes robbed music of some of its drama. Thankfully the SE310s are a definite improvement on the E4c set, and there’s a far more balanced sound on offer.