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Shure SE535 review

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With apologies to Shure, the SE535 earphones don't really need to exist. Frankly, the outgoing model which this upgrade replaces, the SE530 earphones, in turn an update to the E500PTH earphones, which have been with us for nigh four years now, were good enough.

In the technology world, where one month's time often seems to have produced one decade's worth of new products, it's a rare product that stays at the top of its game for four months, let alone four years. Nevertheless that's exactly what the SE530s have done; ever since we reviewed them, and declared them as such, they've remained the best universal-fit earphones money could buy, they've remained so.

The SE535 earphones have a lot to prove, therefore. Admittedly that they are the SE535s and not the SE540s, or any larger a numerical increment over their predecessor, should indicate the nature of the improvements. The SE535 earphones aren't meant to be a radical overhaul, but rather aim to offer a number of small tweaks which should add a new level of refinement to the flagship of Shure's range.

There's no denying that the SE535 earphones have their work cut out in one particular. Over the past years the SE530s have fallen in price dramatically. The drop from about £420 when we reviewed them, to under £250 as of now, has only cemented their position of being an incredible buy. The SE535 earphones are entering the market at a much less compelling price; the cheapest we could find them was a little under £420. That was expensive in 2006, and it's no less so now.

By anyone's reckoning, Shure needs to have produced something very special to persuade anyone to spend £170-plus more on its newer model. At least while any stores have an inventory of the SE530 earphones remaining.

Dagher

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.

Chris

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.

Jiamenguk

July 28, 2010, 3:31 pm

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

Hugo

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.

Chris Beach

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.

Chris

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 ;).

Hugo

July 28, 2010, 5:10 pm

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

Malderon

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.

Caleb9ce

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.

Jiamenguk

July 28, 2010, 11:32 pm

@Hugo:


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.

Hugo

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. :)

Hugo

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 ;)

Hedgeporker

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.

Caleb9ce

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

Chris

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? ;)

bcstyle

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?

DiamondHead

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.

richtan

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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