The Push To Hear module is a truly inspired idea, and anyone that uses in-ear headphones like this will fully appreciate how useful it is. Unfortunately, the PTH unit itself doesn’t exhibit the same level of quality as the rest of the package. For a start the module is very large – to be fair, Shure has had to make space for a battery and microphone, plus all the circuitry, but I still feel that it could have been smaller. Also, there’s a wheel to increase or decrease the gain on the microphone, but this is set so far into the housing that it’s almost impossible to turn, unless you have frighteningly long fingernails. Lastly, the belt clip doesn’t snap tight, so it just hangs from your belt or pocket, without ever feeling that secure.
Unfortunately I can’t really comment on what comes in the box, since the review sample that I was sent didn’t come with any packaging or documentation. What I did receive was a set of silicone tips that were too large to fit in my ears, but thankfully I also got a few pairs of disposable foam tips, which I used. According to the Shure website, you get three pairs of silicone tips (small, medium and large), a set of triple flange tips and a single set of foam tips. You should also get a mini-jack to full-size headphone adapter, a carry case and a level attenuator – to stop you blowing your ear drums by mistake.
Now, Shure headphones have never been cheap, but the company has really raised the bar with the E500PTH set, with a retail price of £419.99. That’s a staggering amount of money for a pair of headphones, especially when you consider that you could buy three pairs of Ultimate Ears super-fi Pros for that money. However, fantastic as the Ultimate Ears headphones are, these Shures are better, but how much better depends entirely on the sort of person you are.
There’s no doubt that Shure is going after the serious audiophile with these headphones. There is no way that this type of user would ever touch a lossy compression method, so it’s likely that the E500PTHs will be fed a steady diet of losslessly encoded, or uncompressed files, which will show off their talents admirably. It’s also worth remembering that you also get the Push To Hear module, which is very cool, despite its size and build quality issues. Ultimately though, if you find yourself flabbergasted at the price, you’re not Shure’s target customer.
These are the best in-ear headphones I’ve ever used and the innovative PTH module is a great addition. Unfortunately, the high price means that these fabulous headphones will only be available to a select few, but if money really is no object for you, you won’t be disappointed.