Ignore (if you can) the ‘individual’ looks and the optimistic claims for battery life, and instead just listen. These are deeply impressive in-ear monitors
- Sound utterly positive and convincing
- Impressive control app
- Earbuds themselves are very comfortable
- ‘True Wireless Secure Fit Adapter’ is far from the most decorative thing you’ll ever wear
- No active noise-cancellation
- Battery life is less than Shure reckons
- Bluetooth 5.0With SBC, AAC and aptX support
- Modular designIn-ear hooks can be detached and swapped out for another module
It may not have the mainstream profile of some audio brands, but people who know Shure know what the company is capable of. The company’s microphones, for example, are spoken of in reverential terms, and its in-ear monitors aren’t far behind.
Great sound, though, will only carry you so far. Anyone with half an eye on the true wireless market knows the features have to piled on in order to compete – and that’s not something Shure has always been capable of doing.
With this second generation of its AONIC 215 True Wireless in-ears, though, Shure has managed to squeeze in a little more functionality and practicality. And it’s managed to do so without altering the unique aesthetic one jot. Is that a good thing?
The Shure AONIC 215 True Wireless Gen 2 are on sale now, and in the United Kingdom they go for £209. In the United States the asking price is $229 or so, while in Australia you’ll likely be asked to part with AU$379 or thereabouts.
You don’t need me to tell you the market is awash with very well-regarded true wireless in-ear headphones at this sort of money, from some of the biggest brands around. None of them has a more auspicious reputation than Shure, though – and, as we shall see, this sort of money put Shure’s way buys a fair bit more than other brands will give you.
- Comfortable, low-profile earbuds
- Large, ungainly earhooks for Bluetooth reception and touch control
- Modular design
I’m going with ‘divisive’ to describe the design of the AONIC 215 True Wireless Gen 2. Shure has made some worthwhile upgrades to the original AONIC 215 True Wireless, as the ‘features’ section will detail, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the modular design. Each big Bluetooth-adapter-cum-earhook (or TW2 for short) can be detached, thanks to its MMCX connection, so the earbuds themselves can be used with a cable or replaced by other compatible Shure models.
As far as delivering flexibility goes, it’s hard to argue with – but unfortunately it’s also hard to argue with the assertion that it makes the wearer look like they have some kind of obscure medical condition for which they’re receiving treatment.
Like every Shure in-ear monitor, though, the AONIC 215 earbuds themselves are low-profile and comfortable. The twist-to-fit action provides plenty of passive noise isolation, and the wide selection of foam and silicone eartips in the box makes getting the perfect fit straightforward.
The rather bulky, remedial look of the over True Wireless Gen 2 is carried over to their charging case. Naturally enough, given the size of the earbuds-plus-TW2, the charging case is a hefty number that will spoil the line of your jacket and won’t fit into a trouser pocket. It’s quite robust by prevailing standards, though, so it should prove quite resilient if you drop it. Just try not to drop it on your foot.
- Optimistic claims for battery life
- Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX codec support
- Useful and quite extensive app
For the second generation of its AONIC 215 True Wireless, Shure has quite sensibly left the earbuds themselves well alone and instead fiddled around the edges of practicality and usability. I’m all for this, if for no other reason than I always thought the AONIC 215 to be among the best pound-for-pound in-ear monitors of this century.
So in each light, ergonomically shaped earbud you’ll find a full-range dynamic driver, the size and composition of which Shure has never been all that keen on divulging. The earbuds click to the TW2 earhook (or to a hard cable) using a secure MMCX connection. The TW2s then hook over the wearer’s ear – each has a round, bulbous little termination that features a single, fairly large, push/push button.
Wireless connectivity is via Bluetooth 5.0, and there’s compatibility with SBC, AAC and aptX codecs. Shure suggests the AONIC 215 True Wireless Gen 2 are good for eight hours of playback, with another three full charges in their chunky charging case – but in all honesty, no matter how I tried I couldn’t eke more than six hours out of them at a time. Listen at big volumes and that number drops yet further – and here I was thinking ‘range anxiety’ was restricted to owning an electric car.
Shure has achieved an IPX4 rating with these Gen 2, which is very welcome – but more welcome still are the upgrades to the app and to operability. The ShurePlus PLAY app (free on Android and iOS) is now among the best around; at least as far as usefulness and stability are concerned.
In the app it’s possible to choose between six EQ presets or create a custom setting using the (carefully annotated) four-band EQ. It’s also where you can fiddle around the edges of the push-button controls: deploy different presses to handle play/pause, volume up/down, environment mode on/off (the app also lets you adjust the amount of external sound let in by environment mode), answer/end/reject call and summon voice assistant. It’s also possible to integrate your Apple Music account, although for other streaming services you’ll need the native app.
- Coherent, confident and endlessly informative sound
- Control and attack in equal measure
- Great focus and staging
It’s at this point that I can stop making excuses for the Shure AONIC 215 True Wireless Gen 2 and, instead, start rhapsodising about them instead. Because for all that they make the wearer look (at best) a bit weird, those lucky enough to be wearing them can revel in some of the most balanced, most engaging and most convincing sounds available at anything like this sort of money.
With EQs left well alone, a TIDAL Masters file of Camera Obscura’s Suspended From Class (which is downscaled to TIDAL’s ‘HiFi’ resolution) is presented with absolute assurance, positivity and realism. The walking bass and kick drum have substance and detail, but are controlled with the sort of certainty that makes the straight-edged attack and decay of individual notes or hits utterly naturalistic.
There’s a torrent of information available in the midrange, where the singer’s phrasing, breath-control and regionality are made completely plain – as are the harmonised contributions of her backing singer. Space and distance are given as much importance as the music itself, with the result that the soundstage as described by the Shures is both robust and believable. And at the top of the frequency range, there’s proper bite to treble sounds but substance to go with it – and, again, prodigious amounts of fine detail filling in the story where transient response is concerned.
Make a fairly fundamental gear-change to Aphex Twin’s Start As You Mean To Go On and the Gen 2 have no problem keeping a firm grip on the hectic percussion and rapid-fire low frequencies. Integration of the frequency range is seamless, and along with the completely consistent tonality it allows the Shure to present a completely unified, coherent overall sound.
These are dynamic earbuds, both in the sense of being able to travel quite a distance from ‘loud’ to ‘quiet’ and in being able to identify and deliver the small harmonic variations that even the most processed, mechanised music is full of. All of the minutiae of the grind and squelch Aphex Twin trades in is revealed but not in anyway spotlit or overstated.
Committed EDM listeners might find the AONIC 215 True Wireless Gen 2 slightly short of low-end extension, but that’s mitigated more than somewhat by the control, shape and punch the Shure impart. And in all honesty, that’s about it for audio downsides. These are very accomplished earbuds indeed.
Should you buy it?
You’re after the most convincing sound this sort of money can buy Despite some extremely capable rivals, the Shure are the most talented around
You like active noise-cancellation The passive isolation here is decent, but not a match for, say, Bose’s active alternative
Basically, you have to reach an accommodation. The AONIC 215 True Wireless Gen 2 sound the business, no doubt, but they look downright weird and their battery doesn’t last as long as the manufacturer thinks it should. Ask yourself if you’re prepared to compromise…
How we test
We test every headphones we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
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Tested over a few weeks
Tested with music streaming services
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No, but they do have an ambient mode (Environment Mode).