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Shure SE315 - Sound Quality and Verdict

By Hugo Jobling


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Review Price £153.74

Little surprise can be found in the SE315s tone, which fits with the Shure tradition of balanced, detailed sound, with what could be considered a slightly lacklustre bass. However, where some listeners might want more low-end impact, and indeed the lack thereof is noticeable with a few genres of music, we don't consider this a failing of the SE315s - we'll take flatness over immediacy of impact any day.

The SE315s are in the territory where the reproduction is detailed enough to suffer from weak source material. Listen primarily to low bit-rate Spotify streams, therefore, and not only will you not be getting the best from your circa £140 investment, but moreover you'll hear imperfections introduced by the down-sampling. Conversely listen to high bit-rate (or, heaven forbid, lossless) encodings and you'll be treated to a tangible improvement in the sound coming from the SE315s.

From a play through of Kanye West's Graduation through Peter Gabriel's Scratch My Back and a collection of London Symphony Orchestra pieces, to the Strokes latest opus Angles, the SE315s never failed to sound great. Drums have a great kick to them, cymbals sound crisp without verging into sibilance, woodwinds reverberate nicely, guitars sear through with plenty of energy and vocals are reproduced with faithful aplomb.

There is, however, a however to this applaud. Because although the SE315s sound excellent, they do have a price tag that makes them significantly less obtainable than a number of alternative, also great-sounding, single driver earphones. Perhaps the most compelling alternatives are the Phonak PFE 012 earphones. Coming in at close to half the price, the Phonaks also offer almost unbelievably good sound quality for the money. And unlike the Shure's, which come in a one size fits all configuration, the PFE 012s have interchangeable filters, so you can get a fuller bass if that's your fancy.

Fortunately for Shure, the SE315s are in another league when it comes to build quality, thanks to the thick, replaceable, cables and reassuringly solid earpieces. We've seen a few comments from readers complaining of older Shure earphones have fallen apart, and have to admit we've had pairs of our own Shures needing replacement, so the step up in build quality is an important factor for the SR315s.


Couple the Shure SE315s' modular, durable construction with the great sound quality and the result is a pair of earphones that go a long way to justifying their high asking price. If you only care about sound quality, then you can save money by looking elsewhere, but the overall package offered by the SE315s is arguably worth paying for.

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March 23, 2011, 12:42 pm

Would these be a good replace for my EC2's, the cables of which died recently? Nothing else I've tried has been anywhere as good :(

Denis iii

March 23, 2011, 4:24 pm

"If you only care about sound quality, then you can save money by looking elsewhere".....where?


March 23, 2011, 4:30 pm

Did you read the review?

"Perhaps the most compelling alternatives are the Phonak PFE 012 earphones" - http://www.trustedreviews.com/...


March 23, 2011, 5:24 pm

I do hope Hugo Jobling is making his way down the Shure range and will soon be reviewing the cheapest of the SE models the SE215. I think the SE215 are one of the cheapest IEMs to be compatible with the foam tips from complyfoam.com. Which I hope give a better fit than my old Shure SE102, which are disintegrating after about a year of use.

The Doctor

March 23, 2011, 7:21 pm

I thought Shure's new cabling system was a big step up from their old one but I've had problems with my SE535s. If you use them while exercising, sweat makes its way into the connector and over time builds up so it sounds like you have a loose connection. Although you can clean them with some cotton wool and the supplied earwax tool, I managed to break the connector on the earbud doing so and had to get a replacement from Shure...

Suffice to say, I now have a cheapie pair of earphones for when running.


March 23, 2011, 8:18 pm

I just got my SE 215 this week and already very fond of them. But i would say the review more or less applies to the 215's aswell, if you're after sound quality go for the 425's if you want the shure feature set. I bought mine cause of the feature set and a good sound quality but not in any way super. I have to say the sound insolation is very good and the overall build quality is very good.


March 24, 2011, 2:58 am

I think the SE215 must be the best of the SE series. I imagine that the SE535 must be the worst in sound quality (never heard it).
All these foams and no game make headphones dull.

Sunny 1

March 24, 2011, 4:41 am

Have the SE315's (got it through quidco for £13 on cashback) for a month now.
got it as a replacement for my cable damaged SE210, which I used for 2.5 years.
Was waiting for SE215, but my headphone broke recently before 215's due to hit the market and the god awful ipod headphone was a pain my ear.
with the cash-back diff between 215's R.R.P. and 315 was only coming up £27 didn't wait to click "buy now".
Got the clear version if you all are wondering. lol


August 18, 2011, 2:16 pm

just got my se315's have to say it was a frustraiting start as i found that the different size ear plugs provided are very difficust to get on and off and can easily be broken if to rough, but when you get the techniwue right and find the right plug for you the sound is absoloutly amazing, i amhearing things on songs i didnt know was there, the mids lows and highs are well balanced with a good bass which is great as im a drummer and will be using these for when im on stage, so frustrating start but amazing sound


October 9, 2012, 10:30 pm

I've used these o and off for over a year, and had to return them 3 times now due to poor build quality.
It's such a shame as they are such great sounding earphones and so comfortable.
They are definitely not worth the price for the quality.

John Hailes

February 9, 2014, 5:31 am

Having bough these as the cheaper alternatives to the 325 series and not a believer in burn in, am quite pleased. Initially i did not like them. Thought they lacked bass. Isolation of instruments was good but did not feel the music when listening to already recorded and mastered music. However what i found these did was make me tweak my eq setting on all my devices and what i can say is these do deliver fantastic sound when the eq is right. My preference(all by bell curves - peak db at the middle of the curve) is the boost at 31-80 by 3db. Dip at 125 -400 by 1.85db,Dip at 500-1.6 b by 1.85db.Boost from 1.6 to 3.1 by 1.11db Booost 1.6-3.1 by 1.5db. Total rogue dip at 4htz by 1.56db for this freq only. Long bell curve from 5 -20 boostin by 1.56db..... all couresty of Fidelial Musc player and apples own graphic EQ......

Sounds magic (no... fecking oustanding). Everyone will have there own magic curve depending on their ear.EQ is meant to shape the sound to your preference. Dont get hung up on how they sound out of the box.They are quality headphones with fantastic capability.The isolate sounds really well. I dont record live instruments but i think they would be fantastic for that. Devices used for listening.. Focusrite Saffire pro 14, apple mac air 2013, Samsung Galaxy S with voodoo sound and Galaxy note 1. Incidentally the Galaxy note sounds magic with them which completely surprised me as i regard this as the weakest sounding item in my devices.


December 9, 2014, 11:05 pm

Excellent sound and I mean excellent but be very careful when buying these head phones as the unless the vendor is an authorised shure dealer shure will not repair and replace under it's two year warranty scheme. I purchased a pair and found a fault with the left earphone I tried to contact the vendor but got no reply, eventually the left earphone failed completely and the right side was flakey at best

I contacted shure uk and they told me as the seller was not an authorised dealer they would not honour their 2 year warranty.

Caveat emptor ...


September 8, 2015, 9:53 am

I can confirm this as well. Always use a Shure dealer.

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