Coming from the Shure SE lineup are the Shure SE215’s! These nice little IEM’s feature the iconic Shure design molded to comfortably fit in your ear canal, and provide a stellar seal with their olive ear sleeves. They have a high quality finish, and the enclosure is made of a durable plastic. The included wire however does feel a little bit chintzy at the point they connect into the ear phone. Included in the box is a small carrying pouch that works well for protecting the SE215’s, and includes a nice little slot to keep the ear sleeves and cleaning tool in. The pouch also has a small carabiner to clip it onto a backpack for example. Speaking of ear sleeves, Shure included a ton of those in the box. Both rubber and foam olive ear sleeves are included in small, medium, and large sizes. I’ll include a couple of pictures at the end of this review that shows the case and the SE215’s themselves.
The fit is spectacular for me with the large foam olive ear sleeves. I simply flatten the ear sleeve by rolling it between my fingers, jam them into my ears and hold them there for a few seconds. The foam expands quickly and presto, insane isolation! The SE215’s are very, very isolating; as in I can’t hear anything from the outside world. I see this as a plus when it comes to IEM’s. You need a great seal to achieve the highest sound quality from them, especially the low end bass.
These IEM’s are quite comfortable even after hours of listening. However, I do get a little soreness around the ear canal after several hours of listening. It’s very minor though, and I hardly notice anything. The cable lays comfortably behind my ears without any issues.
Now, I’m going to split the audio section of this review into two parts; unamped and amped. I have a Schiit Modi DAC, Schiit Asgard 2 amp and a Fiio E17 portable DAC/Amp combo that I will be testing the Shure SE215’s with.
The sound quality and frequency response of the SE 215’s are quite interesting. The IEM’s have a pronounced low end without being too boomy. Now I’m not saying it’s amazing though in that respect, it can be a little boomy at times, and while reproducing certain frequencies can bleed a tiny bit into the mids. The mid range however is a bit recessed I felt, and slightly veiled as well. Vocals can feel a bit far back due to this. The high end of the frequency spectrum I felt to be very rolled off. For example; cymbals sound all jumbled together, and aren’t reproduced very well. Similar experiences can be heard in the higher end of vocals. Sound stage is very closed in and feels like the music is in your head, as to be expected from most IEM’s especially in this price range. The overall tonality is on the warmer side with these ear phones. I also found that I can have a bit of hearing fatigue from the sound signature of these ear phones. I think this is due to the lack of the higher end.
For me, this sound signature works best with EDM and hip-hop. Rock and metal I felt were lacking because of the slightly recessed mids and highs. Rap also suffered a bit again due to the slightly veiled and recessed mids. While in various types of EDM music you want a thumping bass, however I felt again the lack of highs detracted from the overall experience a tad. The SE215’s also fell short when listening to orchestral music and other types of classical; the high extension just isn’t there to have a very enjoyable experience.
The sound of the SE215’s changed DRAMATICALLY when amped using the Schiit stack! The highs were no longer muddy, and had far better separation and extension. The mids were more pronounced, and clarity improved. The lows seemed a bit tighter, and more controlled; if not even a bit laid back.
When using the Fiio combo, I found the mids were more pronounced and clarity improved, and the lows were cleaned up and more punchy. However, the highs were not changed as much as being unamped, and nowhere near the improvement brought by the Schiit stack. That’s not to say there was no improvement however. I found the Fiio combo brought the highs more forward, however clarity and separation were still lacking slightly. I was able to use the treble EQ settings on the Fiio to help boost the highs a bit. This helped with certain tracks, however it sounded artificial on others.
The sound signature when amped using the Schiit stack works with a lot more genres of music. I would say rock and metal are far more enjoyable while amped due to the clearer, more pronounced mids. Orchestral music is also far more enjoyable while listening on the Schiit stack due to the farther high end extensions.
Using the Fiio combo, I found the sound signature to be more enjoyable with rock and metal due to the forward and clearer mids. Orchestral music I found to still be a bit lacking as the high end is not as extended as they are while amped using the Schiit stack.
EDM, hip-hop and rap are similar on both DAC/Amp setups as the two helped clean up the low end about the same. There is still a nice low end though, just not boomy and more punchy. The more pronounced mids, and high extension while amped complemented these genres.
Overall, I believe the Shure SE215’s are a good set of IEM’s in their price range. I walk away from a listening experience wanting something more then they provide if I listen to them unamped though. I’m missing the high ends a lot, and also a more pronounced mid would be great. However, hook them up to a nice DAC/Amp and it’s a whole new experience. Everything is just brought into focus in terms of the audio quality.
My final verdict for the Shure SE215’s are a very good 8/10.
Below are the technical specifications as stated by Shure:
Sensitivity 107 dB SPL/mW
Impedance 20 Ω
Frequency Range 22Hz – 17.5kHz
Cable Style 64” Detachable (at ear) with wireform fit
Colors Available in Clear or Translucent Black
Speaker Type Dynamic MicroDriver
Here are the images I promised:
Source: Shure Incorporated