The Shure SE846 are noise isolating earphones. They're the highest-end earphones we've seen from Shure, costing more than double the amount of the Shure SE535 – themselves highly acclaimed earphones.
They're interesting technically and sound fantastic if you like your music with real bass clout.
The Shure SE846 are quad-driver earphones, adding an extra driver from the previous flagship SE535 model. They don't look hugely different from the other top-end Shures, though.
There a bit bulbous, and are designed to be worn over the ear, with a stiffened length of cable up by the join with the earbud. Build quality takes a step up with the SE846, and the earphone aperture is made of metal rather than the usual plastic.
This is really necessary as you're able to take the end of the earpiece off. Like the AKG K3003 and Phonak PFE 112, the Shure SE846 use removable filters that tailor the sound to your taste. You need a little tool to do so, and we wouldn't recommend doing it daily, but it's a neat idea. Shure explained that there are three different filters, and they alter the mid-range response, giving you a balanced, mid-heavy or slightly scooped sound that emphasises the treble and bass a little more.
Like the other high-end Shures, the SE846 cable is removable – a good job given how much these earphones cost.
Although it's easy to think of the SE846 as merely a four-driver version of the SE535, there's actually some different things going on inside. The output from the bass driver is sent through a maze of tiny little metal holes designed to filter out all the frequencies a bass driver isn't designed to handle – so the bass driver functions much like a hi-fi subwoofer, leaving out the top-end and upper-mid frequencies.
The result is immensely impressive bass. The comparison with a subwoofer is a good one too, as we've rarely heard bass this punchy, this low, this powerful, in a pair of headphones, let alone a pair of IEMs. It's seriously impressive, and is the characteristic that really separates the SE846 from the SE535. We only got to try the earphones with the 'balanced' sound filter, but we imagine that regardless these aren't for people who love truly trebly earphones.
The treble is excellent, though, with great detail and a smooth finish. These are world class headphones, and we'll endeavour to get a full review up soon.
Bass rarely gets better than this. If you have the cash to spend and want audiophile earphones that can pump out the low end, you need to hear the Shure SE846.
Next, check out our best headphones round-up