The cable and looks of the Shure SE215 may be very similar to those of its more expensive siblings, but inside the differences are huge. The Shure SE215 use single dynamic drivers, the SE315 use single armature drivers, the SE425 dual armatures and the mac-daddy SE535 boast triple armature drivers.
Dynamic drivers are the kind generally used in lower-end earphones, while balanced armature drivers tend to deliver greater accuracy. Armature earphones are available at the price, but a basic comparison of the two doesn't result in a flawless victory for the balanced armature army. The word that's so-often associated with dynamic drivers is "fun".
They're great at creating a big, busty low-end, which can often sound great to less anal members of the headphone-buying crowd. Just as often though it results in a muddy mess that deserves a ladleful of scorn. No so here though.
The bass thuds and thumps along in the usual dynamic driver manner, but it's not the slow and bloated low-end offered by many rivals (admittedly usually lower-priced ones). What's more impressive than this though is how Shure has retained its core sound signature, giving an impressive level of consistency across the SE series. Primarily we're talking about the full, warm mid-range that is one of the main attractions of a Shure set.
The sound stage is also excellent at the price, giving the impression that your music's spread out across a wide sonic plain rather than just being crammed into your ears through a 1mm aperture - which it is. This helps to mitigate for the lack of treble sparkle compared to some alternative sets - primarily the Ultimate Ears 400 and Etymotic HF5.
There's a decent amount high-end detail audible here and there's no sibilance. It doesn't excuse the SE215 fully though - so if you're a fan if bright-sounding earphones these probably aren't the ones for you. The best bright earphones offer a smoother, much more insightful treble and some of these, such as the Ultimate Ears 700 and Jays q-JAYS, are available at a similar price nowadays.
However, it performs alarmingly well stacked up against the more expensive SE315 - in spite of using a different kind of speaker. The mid-range is a little more coherent in the more expensive pair, but these earphones win in the value stakes.
The Shure SE215 are the lowest-end models in Shure's prestigious new removable-cable earphone line-up. Aside from using dynamic drivers rather than balanced armatures, they offer the same quality construction as their more expensive series siblings, with the highest-quality cable system available at the price.
That famous Shure sound is present and correct here too, with rich bass and warm, full mids. The high-end is not quite so impressive, but the same can be said of higher-end models in the series. Shure's SE425 and SE535 soundly beat these on sound quality, but there's no denying this is a value-packed option.