- Modular design
- Great sound quality
- Excellent noise isolation
- Inconvenient fit
- Review Price: £139.00
- Detachable cabling
- Single-driver per earpiece
Foremost these changes mean that the SE315’s cables use a detachable MMCX connector, just like the SE535s and SE425s, so that the wiring and earpieces are replaceable individually if any particular part happens to break. As with their more expensive brethren, the SE315s’ Kevlar-reinforced cabling feels like it will survive the rigours of regular use, walking a fine line between bulky and robust; the over-the-ear design helps keep the earpieces securely in place and eliminates microphonics.
Curiously, the earpices of the SE315s are actually a touch bulkier than the SE425s, despite the latter set packing in an extra driver per unit. That’s not particularly astonishing – the drivers uses in each set are completely different – but it does mean that the SE315s aren’t quite as snug in the outer ear, and as such aren’t as comfortable when worn long-term; or, especially, when lying down.
Typically for a pair of Shure earphones the SE315s offer a great seal, isolating external noise, as well as giving a comfortable fit; especially with the hard foam tips – of which a choice of three sizes is provided. These are in addition to a pair each of soft foam and triple-flange tips, and three sizes of ‘normal’ silicone tips. The SE315s also come with an earwax cleaning tool, and a soft carrying case – complete with carabiner – but not the 3.5mm to 6.25mm adaptor that accompanies the more high-end models – no complaints here for that.
Little surprise can be found in the SE315s tone, which fits with the Shure tradition of balanced, detailed sound, with what could be considered a slightly lacklustre bass. However, where some listeners might want more low-end impact, and indeed the lack thereof is noticeable with a few genres of music, we don’t consider this a failing of the SE315s – we’ll take flatness over immediacy of impact any day.
The SE315s are in the territory where the reproduction is detailed enough to suffer from weak source material. Listen primarily to low bit-rate Spotify streams, therefore, and not only will you not be getting the best from your circa £140 investment, but moreover you’ll hear imperfections introduced by the down-sampling. Conversely listen to high bit-rate (or, heaven forbid, lossless) encodings and you’ll be treated to a tangible improvement in the sound coming from the SE315s.
From a play through of Kanye West’s Graduation through Peter Gabriel’s Scratch My Back and a collection of London Symphony Orchestra pieces, to the Strokes latest opus Angles, the SE315s never failed to sound great. Drums have a great kick to them, cymbals sound crisp without verging into sibilance, woodwinds reverberate nicely, guitars sear through with plenty of energy and vocals are reproduced with faithful aplomb.
There is, however, a however to this applaud. Because although the SE315s sound excellent, they do have a price tag that makes them significantly less obtainable than a number of alternative, also great-sounding, single driver earphones. Perhaps the most compelling alternatives are the Phonak PFE 012 earphones. Coming in at close to half the price, the Phonaks also offer almost unbelievably good sound quality for the money. And unlike the Shure’s, which come in a one size fits all configuration, the PFE 012s have interchangeable filters, so you can get a fuller bass if that’s your fancy.
Fortunately for Shure, the SE315s are in another league when it comes to build quality, thanks to the thick, replaceable, cables and reassuringly solid earpieces. We’ve seen a few comments from readers complaining of older Shure earphones have fallen apart, and have to admit we’ve had pairs of our own Shures needing replacement, so the step up in build quality is an important factor for the SR315s.
Couple the Shure SE315s’ modular, durable construction with the great sound quality and the result is a pair of earphones that go a long way to justifying their high asking price. If you only care about sound quality, then you can save money by looking elsewhere, but the overall package offered by the SE315s is arguably worth paying for.
Score in detail
Sound Quality 8