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Shure SE115m+ Noise Isolating Earphones
While I await the arrival of Shure's latest high-end earphones with bated breath, there seems to be no harm in taking a look at the opposite end of the company's audio spectrum. As you might guess the SE115m+ earphones share more than a little DNA with the SE115 'phones we've looked at previously - though not without a little evolution.
Ostensibly the change is obvious: the 'm+' segment of their name indicates the addition of an in-line remote and microphone, making them compatible not only with the iPhone but also with the latest, control-less, iPod shuffle; in addition to every other recent iPod, of course. Less obvious differences include the loss of the modular design we've loved on Shure earphones for so long now and a slightly different sound signature from that of the SE115s.
The remote isn't as slim as that on Apple's own earphones; both those bundled with the Shuffle and iPhone, and the Apple In-Ear Headphones. Some may prefer the more robust feel that these Shures have, but it does result in extra weight hanging from one ear and I'm not a fan of the asymmetry that introduces. Maybe I'm just weird.
Shure trumps Apple's offerings considerably in the amount of periphery kit offered with its eaphones. With the SE115m+ 'phones themselves, Shure also supplies six different tips, three sizes each of foam and silicone, a cleaning tool and a soft carrying case with a carabiner attached to it. The hardened cases of old may have offered more apparent protection, but they weren't as comfortable in a pocket, which makes the softer variety more likely to be used so I'm in favour of the change.
Considering even the most ludicrously priced, polished stainless steel, iPod shuffle won't set you back more than £80 (worth every penny, from an aesthetic viewpoint), paying a fair bit more than that for earphone replacements to what many will consider a free accessory might be off-putting. However, I'm prepared to warrant that most iPod shuffle users don't use it as their primary MP3 player and, in fact, also have an iPod or even an iPhone making these 'phones doubly useful. If you have a non-Apple media player, though, the in-line remote will prove less than useful.
Back to those using an iPhone, iPod touch or iPod shuffle, then. The former two groups will find the middle play/pause button useful in varying degrees depending on which generation of device they own. The latest versions of each now offer Voice Control, accessed by holding the play/pause button and speaking your orders when prompted. I've found it to be temperamental at best but your mileage may vary.