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For a full-on aural assault, I turned to Battle Flag by the Low Fidelity Allstars. If you’re familiar with this track you’ll be aware that the heavy beats and bass line can often overpower the vocals when you’re listening on poor quality headphones, but there were no such issues with these Shures. Every beat reverberated through my head, but not at the expense of clarity – every syllable of every lyric was clearly distinguishable over the cacophony of sound washing through my brain.
Toning things down a bit I sampled the haunting vocals of Anika Moa. Everything’s The Same, from the album Thinking Room is a favourite track of mine; always reminding me of the months I spent touring New Zealand. When you’ve listened to something as often as I have this song, you can instantly appreciate how well rendered it is, and with the E500PTH headphones plugged in, it sounded like never before – Anika’s vocals and harmonies just seem to float above the music creating a sound that I can only describe as beautiful.
The quality doesn’t just extend to the sound though. The cabling is thick and heavy, and feels like it can withstand the rough trials of life that befall portable headphones. If there’s one chink in the armour, it’s that the mirrored coating covering the headphones themselves had already started to chip away on my review sample when I received them.
Despite the triple driver design, these Shures don’t feel heavy in your ears. That said, the cable running from the headphones is fairly short and ends at a 3.5mm jack, which then plugs into an extension cable – the result being that the jack and socket make the cable quite heavy, although Shure does provide a cable/shirt clip in the box which deals with this issue.
The reason that Shure has gone for a short cable from the headphones is that instead of using the extension cable, you can plug them into the Push To Hear (PTH) module. When I first saw this I thought it was an active noise cancelling module, which seemed a little pointless considering how much ambient noise these headphones cut out, but in reality, it’s the superb noise isolation that makes the PTH module so cool.
The problem with in-ear, noise isolation headphones is that if you want to talk to someone, stopping the music isn’t enough, since you’ll still barely hear the person in front of you unless you physically remove the ear buds. However, with the PTH module, you simply flick the switch and the volume of the music is dropped back, while a microphone in the PTH lets you hear everything around you without removing the headphones. In practice, the PTH works brilliantly, and saves you the hassle of removing your headphones whenever anyone talks to you.