Next I turned to the infinitely talented Ian Brown and FEAR. Here the SE310s gave a good account of themselves, but for the first time I found them sounding slightly thin, with this undoubtedly powerful track losing some of the drama that I’m used to when listening to it. OK, so I’m usually listening to this track on my Shure E500PTH earphones, but plugging in the Ultimate Ears Super.fi Pros also produced a far fuller sound, without the loss of any clarity at the high end.
I did extensive back to back testing with the SE310s and the Ultimate Ears, and there’s no doubt that the latter offers a more powerful sound with stronger bass response, which isn’t surprising considering the dual driver setup. Does that mean that the Ultimate Ears produce better sound? Well that’s all a bit subjective, as is always the case when listening to earphones. In isolation, the SE310s sound superb in almost every instance, but there’s no getting away from the fact that the dual driver Ultimate Ears Super.fi Pros are more flexible across a wide range of music, while also being cheaper than the Shures.
If your budget can stretch to the excellent Shure SE420 dual driver earphones, don’t think twice, just buy them. But if you really can only spend around £160, you’re going to have to make a tough choice. I’d say that the Ultimate Ears Super.fi Pros have the Shure SE310s beaten in the sound quality stakes, but I also know that some listeners may find the extra bass a little overpowering and prefer the slightly dialled back sound of the Shures. Also, the Shures feel far more robust than the Ultimate Ears, so if you’re rough with your earphones, that’s worth considering.
The Shure SE310s are a definite improvement on the E4c earphones that we tested a year ago. These earphones will totally transform the way your MP3 player sounds, but with an RRP of £169.99 they’re more expensive than the dual driver Ultimate Ears Super.fi Pros. If it was my money, I’d probably go for the Ultimate Ears, or better yet, I’d save a bit harder and buy the Shure SE420s instead.
If Shure had a set of earphones that performed almost as well as the SE310s, but managed to hit that magic sub-£100 price point it could have a real winner on its hands. Hang on, that sounds a lot like the SE210s that are sitting on my desk right now – stay tuned for a full review!