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Shure SE425 - Sound Quality and Verdict

By Hugo Jobling


  • Recommended by TR
Shure SE425


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Review Price £241.59

The benefit of getting a good fit is, as ever, two fold. First, the SE425s offer excellent exclusion of external noise; second, and because of that first point, they can be listened to at lower volumes than less isolating earphones which is good for your ears. Of course you can turn the SE425s up loud if you want, and they won’t show any sign of distorting – your ears will give up long before these earphones.

It’s at normal volumes the SE425s really impress though. Shure happily admits that the tone of these isn’t much changed over the SE420, and comparing the two sets back to back that proved to be the case – which is no bad thing. Like the SE420s before them, the SE425s work with just about anything you care to listen to, each earpiece’s dual-drivers reproducing music with almost uncanny delicacy and precision.

The low-end isn’t so strong as to kick you in the head, but the SE425s aren’t as flat at the Etymotic ER4 earphones, suggesting that Shure has erred on the side of how its earphones sound to a person, rather than a computer. So while the bass response might strike some as a little weak, to our ears it sounds about right. Even bass-heavy hip hop and pop doesn’t suffer if you can accept that the low end is supposed to underscore, not dominate, such music.

Shure reckons that the high-end is where all the changes to the sound of the SE425s come over the SE420s, with an allegedly improved frequency response on offer. We'll consider it a testament to the excellence of the SE420s, rather than a detriment of the SE425s that we couldn't really notice much difference. The high end reproduction is definitely fantastic; the SE425s making it possible to pick out an astonishing amount of detail even on frantic tracks such as The Who's Pinball Wizard.

Elsewhere, with artists as diverse as Mozart, Frank Sinatra and The White Stripes, the reproduction offered by the SE425s never failed to impress. Comparing to the more expensive SE535s and Grado GR10s we have to admit if we were spending our own money we'd have to seriously consider whether the step up in sound quality was really worth the cost.


The SE425s may not be the best sounding earphones in Shure's line-up, but they're almost certainly the best value. The audio quality offered by the dual-driver design is nothing short of astounding, and coupled with the excellent build quality, makes the SE425s an almost irresistible set of earphones.

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March 21, 2011, 12:00 pm

I've read that the cord on all the Shure SE models is 64" long. That sounds like a lot of cord to have wound up in your pocket when using these with a mobile device. Hugo please comment on this next time you moment in between snifters of courvoisier. Also, I hope you do a review of the Shure SE215 soon, as they have caught my eye. The SE435 are the Kate Middleton of IEMs. I'm more of Kim Kardashian kind of guy.


March 21, 2011, 1:15 pm

I'm not really a cognac drinker, but when I do I drink this: http://www.thewhiskyexchange.c...

I didn't have any problems with the cord and thus didn't mention it - on my not-overly-tall 6ft frame it was neither too long nor too short.

Energizer Bunny

March 21, 2011, 4:00 pm

I have always loved Shure sound quaility, but their build quality leaves a huge amount to be desired. My last two sets of Shure's have both died within 12 months based on the cabling. On that basis the removable cables appear to be a good move, although its disappointing to hear that Shure think its ok to charge £50 for a new cable.

Also, I really wish more high end headphone manufacturers included push to hear modules in their headphones. The ability to play/pause and skip tracks via a module on the headphones is hugely useful. Shure themselves provide a seperate module but per usual it costs a fortune and is of extremely questionable build quality. What's the big issue with just building controls into the headphone cables guys? Does it hurt the sound quality or something?


March 21, 2011, 6:55 pm

One friend of mine bought the Shure SE420 1-2 years ago and i was able to "test" them 2-3 times with different genres of music. I was not impressed at all, music had no "texture". They were better than cheaper single driver Shure SE headphones only at "wider", more open sound they had. Worse at all other areas of sound reproduction.
I guess 425 are the same.


March 21, 2011, 7:00 pm

@Energiser Bunny
I've had similar experiences previously (2 sets of SE210s went the same way) so the redesign is a move in the right direction.

What's disappointing is that for anybody with an old PTH (push to hear) module, you won't be able to use it with the new cabling arrangements. You could be forgiven for thinking that Shure cynically engineered the cables that way. Also, if we're being cynical, the standard headphone connection (L-shaped) is distinctly unfriendly to either older iPhones (recessed), or even just newer ones with almost any kind of case on them. iPhone 4 with bumper? Either look elsewhere, take the bumper off, or buy their "special" phone cable.

@Hugo, if you could include a comment with these reviews in future advising how iPhone friendly they are that would be great.


March 21, 2011, 8:08 pm

@Energizer Bunny: I think Shure have learnt their lesson when it comes to build quality. If my SE535s are anything to go by, this latest generation are far sturdier without any flimsy cabling or perishable rubber parts. In fact, build quality appears to be the main difference between this generation and the last. Little else has changed.

The PTH was always a clumsy, bulky device which might outwardly seem useful, but actually just confused anyone trying to talk to you while using it. Occasionally people would assume it was some kind of huge hearing aid and talk to me like I was an elderly citizen. I'm not particularly sad to see it go.


March 22, 2011, 2:02 am

@Chris: Yup, I have to agree. Never once used the PTH on my E500's. Simply not that big a problem to take an ear bud out temporarily.

I also didn't have too much issue with the build. Admittedly I lost mine within a year of owning them but they were already second hand and showed no signs of any wear. Not to say the perishing mount for the cable isn't a problem - I believe Riyad's set did go after three or four years use - but to call the build shoddy I think is overstating it.


March 22, 2011, 5:23 pm

@Ed - Yeah, I would never call Shure's build quality shoddy, just that there was room for improvement which has now been addressed.


March 22, 2011, 10:08 pm

For people with split cable out of warranty shures, the best way to salvage the situation is to send it for moulding it into customs. I believe Unique Melody do this as well as well as few companies in China. Cheaper than shelling out for a new pair with the upside of having custom iems.


March 24, 2011, 3:06 pm

I'd be interested to know how these compare to the SE530s...I have a pair of them and it looks like cable degradation is causing the right earpiece to cut out intermittently if the cable is jogged around too much. Can't bring myself to stump up the £349 which is the lowest I've seen the SE535's for and the SE425s are priced around the same range I paid for my SE530s three years ago.

Trouble is I've got so used to the sound from the SE530s that I'm reluctant to look at other brands (I remember back to when I tried my dad's £30 muddy sounding, bass heavy Sennheisers...bad...just...bad!). Just found that when I had some SE210s they really lacked bass compared to the SE530s, so I don't want to drop too far down the range, either.

Advancedmp3players actually have a sign on the product page for the 425's saying there's very little in it between these and the 530s.


March 24, 2011, 7:43 pm

@gdawg304: I'd look into Caleb's suggestion if I were you. I recently replaced a pair of dying SE530s with SE535s (£309 from SimplyElectronics, since gone up), but since then Unique Melody have started operating in the UK. I kinda wish I'd stumped up the money to get the 530s reshelled instead.


James Siggers

February 21, 2015, 3:10 pm

What about a comparison review of the Audiofly AF140 v Shure SE425?

Both seem equivalent price, but the AF140 has triple drivers and looks more comfortable.

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