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Shure SE535 - Sound Quality and Verdict

By Hugo Jobling



Our Score:


The selection of tips available is as comprehensive as ever, with three sizes of Shure's renowned hard black foam tips, three pairs of silicone tips, a pair of softer yellow foam tips and a pair of triple-flange silicone tips. As ever the black foam tips provided us with excellent noise isolation and a very comfortable fit. While the size of the SE535 earphones precludes them from ever being as comfortable as the likes of the Klipsch X10i earphones they're certainly not going to cause any fatigue if you wear them for an extended period of time.

As ever this great isolation means that, as well as blocking out annoying external interference, you also don't have to turn your music up as loud; which is good for the longevity of your sense of hearing. While you don't have to, though, you may want to, because like the SE530 earphones, the SE535s sound, well, bloody incredible to be blunt. This is no surprise. We could hardly expect Shure's electrical magicians to make the SE535 earphones sound worse than their predecessors.

The triple-driver arrangement is unchanged from the SE530s, with two woofers still handling the low- and mid-range and a dedicated tweeter rounding out the mix with the high-end frequencies. The passive crossover once again does an entirely transparent job of sending the right sounds to the right drivers, without ever producing anything but a full cohesive sound.

The SE535 earphones exhibit Shure's characteristic balanced sound, free of any colouration or distortion. The silky smooth bass isn't as overt as on other headphones, but we always favour accuracy of presentation so this suits our tastes perfectly. Mid-range reproduction is equally detailed, and remains precise no matter how high you crank the volume up - even at painfully loud levels.

But where the SE535 earphones just about take the edge over the SE530 earphones before is their top-end clarity. We reckon there's just a bit more detailing to be heard in the very high notes, which have a delightful sparkle to them. It's not so much of a difference that we'd ever recommend anyone upgrade from a pair of E500PTH or SE530 earphones to the SE535, but the latter definitely maintain the Shure 5xx-series' legacy as the best universal-fit earphones to ever grace TrustedReviews.


If you have something over £400 to spend on a pair of earphones, cost be damned, then the Shure SE535s are without a doubt the best you can buy and we recommend them unreservedly. If you're constrained by budget, however, then the SE530 earphones, available for over £150 less, are a better buy - just hurry to grab them before they're out of stock.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 6
  • Sound Quality 10


July 28, 2010, 3:10 pm

I think you may have missed the most significant improvement these 535s offer over their predecessor. The 530s were prone to cable problems. The cable would harden (sometimes within months) and start to fray. I've gone through 3 pairs in less than 2 years. By having removable cables (as well as sturdier ones) they have now gotten rid of their weakest link.


July 28, 2010, 3:20 pm

I've persisted with the hardened cables and detached rubber strain relievers on my 3 year old 530s for some time now. I'm seriously considering replacing them just to be free from cable problems, but I'll wait for the price to drop.

The alternative is getting the 530s custom remoulded, but that invariably involves sending them to the US or China.


July 28, 2010, 3:31 pm

Best earphones you can buy for £400? You're treading on dangerous water here


July 28, 2010, 3:33 pm

I said best universal-fit (caveats always caveats), but please elucidate if you disagree.

Alex 11

July 28, 2010, 4:20 pm

I think it very much depends on the type of music. I had a Shure SE530 and now I have a Westone UM3X, they sound different, but neither is clearly superior over the other.


July 28, 2010, 4:47 pm

@Dagher, I'm just about to phone Shure to arrange a warrenty replacement for my se420's for that exact reason. The left cable near the ear is stiff and split. Maybe they'll send me some of these as compensation :)

Then again my biggest problem is the 2nd half of the cable between the device and the earphones, I'm on my 5th I think.


July 28, 2010, 4:59 pm

@Alex: Agreed, and perhaps you could add UE's Triple Fi 10s to that list as well as a couple others. In terms of sound quality, these high-end universal IEMs seem to be so close to each other. The law of diminishing returns in action I suppose.

However, if you're after a balanced, accurate sound without embellishment, I think the SE530s take the prize. Other 'phones might be better for impact or sheer bass.

A Scotland

July 28, 2010, 5:06 pm

Emperor's new headphones ;).


July 28, 2010, 5:10 pm

Not quite, we're reviewing this next: http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy...


July 28, 2010, 5:23 pm

I can definitely not justify spending this much on headphones but I really like the idea of the clip-in wires. I'm always breaking the wires on my headphones and its so annoying to have to throw away a pair of phones because a bit of wire has snapped or is coming loose and cutting out.


July 28, 2010, 9:30 pm

To be honest, I'm dissapointed with the updates (which are minor at best). And certainly not worth their asking money. I'm a big fan of the shure, I have the SE530's but it is showing its age and there are certainly other (better?) alternatives in the asking price range.


July 28, 2010, 11:32 pm


Not that I disagree (nor am I agreeing, I hold no opinion), all I meant was that if anyone from one of those high-fi websites, namely head-fi, saw this, they'd have a wholehearted argument, and there might be blood, hehe.


July 29, 2010, 1:04 am

Caleb - what alternatives? Not to sound facetious, but nothing I've used. Which makes me think I need to get to work requesting. :)


July 29, 2010, 1:41 am

Jiamenguk - I take your point. Everyone's got a different idea of what's 'better' or not. I'll eat a pair of IE8s before I concede they're even half as good as these, but you'll hear some folks calling them the epitome of in-ear audio. Obviously I'm right, but I'm happy for anyone fail to... sorry, try to, prove me wrong ;)


July 29, 2010, 8:02 am

Been waiting for aaaaaaaages for them to get round to detachable cables. I hope the cable toggle is a bit sterner now too, the SE530's was pathetic.

My SE530's are still in rude health after so many years and a wash at 60 degrees celcius. The only signs of wear are the faded gold-plating, a partially torn toggle and the rubber support at the end starting to disintegrate. The thick cabling is also going strong.

Well . . . it's a good excuse to wait for the price to come down I supppose.


July 29, 2010, 4:10 pm

Hugo - There are many alternatives. Earsonics SM3 is available for £299. Its a triple BA driver and it outperforms the Shure SE530 in every deparment, even in the famed mids. There are others as well, like Audio-Technica CK-100, Westone UM3 and all of them are well below the asking price of the new Shures.

Also, anyone willing to part with more than £400 for an IEM, should IMO go for custom IEM's.

JH Audio JH5 Pro is available for £50 more and that basically outclasses the SE530.

So yes, there are alternatives. You just have to look for them ;p


July 29, 2010, 5:44 pm

@Caleb: Yeah, the JH5's are well regarded, but you're looking at a solid £450 odd there, and that price won't drop like the SE535s will. You also have to factor in the time and cost of going to an audiologist to get ear impressions made, then it all goes pear-shaped if the impressions shrink or warp in the post, etc, etc...

I'm hoping the SE535s will drop to <£300 in time, at which point they'll be more competitive.

The SM3s are a true alternative, but perhaps they're a little hard to find and the ergonomics aren't quite as good. How about a review? ;)


July 30, 2010, 3:39 pm

Having owned the Se530s i'd say the Ortofon eq-7 would be a better buy than Se535s. Beats the shures in every department along with comparable mids//

Ala Miah

August 5, 2010, 2:13 pm

How come TR never reviews BOSE headsets or any of thier product line up?

They are meant to be one of the best manfucturers of audio products out there.

Is a bias or grudge against BOSE?


August 31, 2010, 8:24 am

I love these phones.Best sound and amazing materials.And I got them for 300£ hehe.:)Im really stunned by the sound quality :O.If you have the money to spend on them you'll not regret it.


October 11, 2010, 11:01 am

I like all audiophiles tweak our audio hifi systems to best sounds possible. I found a significant tweak that really worked for the Shure 530 & the 535.I wish to share this simple tweak with with you. Use the smallest earplug (Olive colour) and insert as far as possible into the ear canal. You will hear another higher level of performance from the earphones.

Just like many people out there, we think that earbuds sizes don't matter. Try the smallest and get a 25% increased in sound resolution especially like having a tighter bass , clearer mid and highs.

Please don't hurry. Take your time on a range of music, classical, jazz and vocals. You, just like my audiophile friends got a surprise- another higher level of performance from these great Shures. Please post your reply as to whether it works for you. Thanks.

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