- Robustly built
- Replaceable parts
- Sound great
- Fairly expensive
- Bulky cable
- Review Price: £226.00
- Refined sonic signature over previous model
- Detachable cables and earpieces
- Dual-drivers per earpiece
As such the SE425s party piece is the use of detachable cables. Each earpiece attaches to the wiring with a gold-plated MMCX connector. The benefit of this is twofold: first, should you need to replace the cable or a single earpiece you can do so without having to buy a whole new set of earphones; second the connector lets the earpieces swivel around, helping you to find a good fit.
We might mention, however, that although the modularity of the design is in theory a good thing, the reality is that replacement components are pretty expensive. We found a new cable on sale for just shy of £50 and a single earpiece will set you back about £115 – more than half the price of a new pair of SE425s. Obviously these individual pieces are cheaper than buying a new pair of earphones, but don’t go thinking they’re an inexpensive solution.
Still, the attachment method is also particularly useful away from replacing a broken set of earphones. The couple of inches of wire before the earpieces are reinforced and the rotatable earpieces stop the cable from becoming tangled when inserting the SE425s. This section gives the rest of the cable – itself reassuringly thick and sturdy – a good degree of support when hanging from your ears, reducing microphonics and ensuring that the earpieces stay securely in place.
One of the smaller differences between the SE425s and the SE420s lies in their comfort. The casings of the earpieces have been tweaked to better fit in the ear, so if you do want to wear them while lying in bed, or perhaps under a pair of earmuffs, you can do so without issue. On a purely aesthetic level, it’s possible to get the SE45s with either silver or clear casings, and we can’t help but be enticed by the transparent model – call us crazy but being able to see the inner components is just plain cool.
The downside of the secure over-the-ear fit is that the SE425s aren’t the type of earphones you’ll forget you’re wearing. Not to say that the SE425s are uncomfortable – far from it. The SE425s are pretty much impossible to dislodge in normal use, so where you’ll find yourself readjusting other earphones from time to time, the SE425s require no such attention. Moreover, Shure’s foam eartips – already much praised on these site over the years – make getting an extremely snug and secure fit a breeze.
Notably, where the SE535s were considerably more expensive than the predeceasing model, the SE425s don’t incur too high a premium over the SE420s. The latter can be had for around £185, making the £226 SE425s around a fifth more expensive, which is significant, but not prohibitive. The build quality of the SE425s is definitely better than the SE420s and if you plan on carting your earphones about in a pocket regularly that’s an important consideration.
Those wanting to be a bit more protective of their investment – and we can hardly blame them – will welcome the inclusion of a hard carrying case with the SE425s. Additionally the earphones are accompanied by a 3.5mm to 6.25mm adaptor, an earwax removal tool and more tips than you could shake a stick at. There are three sizes each of silicone and hard foam tips, one set of soft foam tips and a pair of triple-flange tips.
The benefit of getting a good fit is, as ever, two fold. First, the SE425s offer excellent exclusion of external noise; second, and because of that first point, they can be listened to at lower volumes than less isolating earphones which is good for your ears. Of course you can turn the SE425s up loud if you want, and they won’t show any sign of distorting – your ears will give up long before these earphones.
It’s at normal volumes the SE425s really impress though. Shure happily admits that the tone of these isn’t much changed over the SE420, and comparing the two sets back to back that proved to be the case – which is no bad thing. Like the SE420s before them, the SE425s work with just about anything you care to listen to, each earpiece’s dual-drivers reproducing music with almost uncanny delicacy and precision.
The low-end isn’t so strong as to kick you in the head, but the SE425s aren’t as flat at the Etymotic ER4 earphones, suggesting that Shure has erred on the side of how its earphones sound to a person, rather than a computer. So while the bass response might strike some as a little weak, to our ears it sounds about right. Even bass-heavy hip hop and pop doesn’t suffer if you can accept that the low end is supposed to underscore, not dominate, such music.
Shure reckons that the high-end is where all the changes to the sound of the SE425s come over the SE420s, with an allegedly improved frequency response on offer. We’ll consider it a testament to the excellence of the SE420s, rather than a detriment of the SE425s that we couldn’t really notice much difference. The high end reproduction is definitely fantastic; the SE425s making it possible to pick out an astonishing amount of detail even on frantic tracks such as The Who’s Pinball Wizard.
Elsewhere, with artists as diverse as Mozart, Frank Sinatra and The White Stripes, the reproduction offered by the SE425s never failed to impress. Comparing to the more expensive SE535s and Grado GR10s we have to admit if we were spending our own money we’d have to seriously consider whether the step up in sound quality was really worth the cost.
The SE425s may not be the best sounding earphones in Shure’s line-up, but they’re almost certainly the best value. The audio quality offered by the dual-driver design is nothing short of astounding, and coupled with the excellent build quality, makes the SE425s an almost irresistible set of earphones.
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