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Review of Shure In-Ear Earphones

The Best Earphones for iPod, portable CD players, XM radios, MP3 players and home stereos.

If you prefer you can shop at our other website: where we carry nothing but the best earphones available today for your iPod and all other portables.

Comparison between the best earphones for iPod, Rio and iRiver MP3 players.

UPDATED 1/13/2004

Just posted: The detailed review of the NEW Shure E3 (grey) - same as Shure E3c (white).

Shure E1 ( E1c ) vs. Shure E2 ( E2c ) vs. Shure E5 ( E5c ) vs. Shure E3 ( E3c )

Comparison and Review of Shure In-Ear Earphones

Copyrighted Material is the legal owner of this article, and if you want to copy, reproduce or distribute this article, you must display as the legal owner of this article. Parts or the totality of this article cannot be reproduced, copied or distributed without mentioning the owner of the article as . Since I was paid to test all these earphones, and all earphones had to be actually purchased only for this test, please stick to this rule, under the penalties of the US Copyright Law.

Shure E1 ( E1c ) vs. Shure E2 ( E2c ) vs. Shure E5 ( E5c ) vs. Shure E3 ( E3c )

Comparison and Review of Shure In-Ear Earphones

First some clarifications: the Shure E1 and Shure E1c, Shure E2 and Shure E2c, Shure E5 and Shure E5c, and Shure E3 and Shure E3c are respectively the SAME EXACT products (except for the color on the Shure E3 that is GREY and the E3c that is WHITE). The letter "c" stands for consumer, and it was a way Shure found to market these products directly to the consumer, in an attempt to not upset their existing professional retailer's network.

Also note that will beat any price you find on these earphones, including Shure’s own website prices and any other Shure Authorized dealers (see details on website under "Lower Price Guarantee" and on the earphone pages).

On to the review / comparison:

This review does not intend to be too technical, but rather has a practical and simple approach to what simply SOUNDS BETTER and FITS BETTER. I will not get into technical details and I will limit myself to state the specs.

Also note that in-ear earphones performance will largely depend on the way they fit, and the way they fit will ultimately depend on the product and on the user’s ear anatomy. What could be a perfect fit for me may not be a perfect fit for you. My ears can be considered medium to small.

This test was performed with a portable Sony CD player, and 2 MP3 players: iPod 10G and Rio Karma. ANY of the Shure earphones available will BLOW (performance wise) any of the "earphones" included with your iPod, Rio Karma, iHP-120, Nomad Zen, etc. The earphones bundled witht these MP3 players are low quality earphones, when compared to the Shure earphones. No comparison here. The Shure earphones are true in-ear, high quality, precision instruments that were originally manufactured for professional stage monitoring. These earphones will be repaired or replaced at NO cost by Shure within 2 years of your purchase (when you buy from an Authorized dealer). You can't find a warranty like this on consumer products.

Well, about 2 months ago Playboy magazine nominated the Shure E5 ( E5c ) the Best iPod Companion. At $499.00 I thought the Shure E5 were a bit too expensive after having tested all other Shure earphones. See why.

I tested the Shure E2, Shure E1 and Shure E5. The new addition to the family is the Shure E3. It has just started shipping today (1/9/04). At first I thought these would have the same exact transducer as the Shure E1, however, after speaking with the 2 of the top engineers at Shure responsible for this project on 12/22/03, I learned that the Shure E3 has a slightly different transducer that incorporates the resistor today found on the cable of the Shure E1. They also told me that the cable on the Shure E3c has a better shielding than the Shure E1, therefore a bit thicker than the Shure E1 cable. Here lies a concern on my part. I always liked the way the cable of the Shure E1 worked. They are so flexible that they will literally lie on the back of the ear and they will not hold any shape or play no role in moving the earphones out of place. For example, in comparison to the Shure E2, the Shure E1 cable will disappear behind your ear because it’s so flexible that its own weight will bring it down, whereas with the E2, you will find that the cable will hold a bit of its own shape mainly because it’s a thicker cable in comparison. The Shure E3 according to Shure’s engineers should give a bit more punch on the low end. Just posted: The detailed review of the NEW Shure E3c (Shure E3). Today we just got the new Shure E3c. By the looks of it, the comfort should be improved, as the edges are round compared to the hard edges on the Shure E1. Impedance 26 ohms for the Shure E3, 29 ohms for the Shure E1; weight 28g for the Shure E3, 17g for the Shure E1;

Here's what I found:

The Shure E2 at $99.00, will blow any Sony, Sennheiser, and other consumer earphones, however, when compared to the Shure E1, you can clearly notice that the Shure E2 lacks the detail on the high end and the punch on the low end of the Shure E1. The Shure E2c is also bulkier than the Shure E3c, Shure E1c and the Shure E5c. Still for $99.00 it's a great high fidelity earphone.

As for the Shure E5c, at $499.00, I thought it was a bit too bright. It does sound richer overall when compared to the others, however the high frequencies would bother me sometimes, depending on the music. I was told by the engineers at Shure that the most probable cause for that was lack of isolation. To be fair, I will try different sleeves or use a custom sleeve and try the Shure E5 again for a future review. The engineers also told me that most of the customers (small percentage) that do not love the sound of the Shure E5 is due to the lack of isolation. The lack of isolation has to do with one’s ear shape and size not being ideal to accommodate the Shure E5 or/and the sleeve being too short or too narrow and the weight of the cable/wire moving the earphone up and out. The consequence is lack of low end punch, hence emphasizing the high frequencies. When it comes to in-ear earphones, isolation will play a key factor in performance / output quality. Without a good isolation, you will find them producing a thin sound. So as long as you can get a good isolation with the Shure E5 I feel you would experience the ultimate sound expereince, but in my case, with the foam sleeve, the isolation was not there.

The Shure E1, at $159.00, in my opinion, was the best performer overall. Isolation on the Shure E1 is WAY superior to the Shure E5 and noticeably better than on the Shure E2.

After inserting the Shure E1, even with the sound source still off, the outside world slowly muted, as the foam sleeve expanded inside my ear canal.

A quick word on comfort and consequent efficiency:

It took me 4 days to fully adapt and find the best spot for these earphones inside my ear. As a new in-ear earphone user, you will need some time to learn the best way of wearing them, depending on your own ear anatomy (e.g. more in, more out, twisted a bit up, a little bit outwards, inwards, down, etc.). You will also have to find out which kind and size of sleeves will proportionate the best comfort/performance combination. All the earphones come with a fit kit complied of all the different kind and sizes of sleeves (except for the triple flange PA755 that fits on Shure E1c, Shure E5c and Shure E3c – for me, the PA755 did not work very well). In my case, the best were the PA750 expandable foam sleeves. It might feel funny or uncomfortable in the beginning (just like the first time you wear a new pair of shoes) but after a few uses it will feel just fine and very comfortable, as if you were wearing nothing.

This is a total different and much better experience than with headphones. Actually, for some odd reason, headphones will give me a headache after a few minutes of use (talking about Sennheiser HD580 which is a high quality one).

If you are into sports such as aerobics, jogging, etc, these earphones are the best thing ever. Now be aware of the following: the first time I went out jogging, a garbage truck drove by me a couple of feet from the side walk and that scared the *$%#@ out of me! I could not hear a thing as if I were watching a movie with no sound effects but a beautiful sound track. Be aware that you will not be able to count on your hearing to avoid hazard situations such as traffic, or someone calling you really loud to alert you about something. You will be somewhere else, I guarantee. And believe me when I say it, you would not want to spoil that moment abruptly. So KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN, and before crossing an intersection (even around your nice 25MPH neighborhood), LOOK BACK FIRST.

Going back… - THE VERDICT

My feeling is that the Shure E3c will be the king, simply because I expect it to at least equal the performance of the Shure E1c, improve comfort level, and you can tell by the pics that it also looks better than the E1 (Just posted: The detailed review of the NEW Shure E3c (Shure E3)). The Shure E1c, sometimes, due to the sharp edges on the transducer enclosure, will hurt a bit the cartilage of my ear (depending on your ear size and shape), requiring you to re-accommodate the earphones in place. Still, it’s no big deal. The Shure E1 is the best overall earphones in my opinion even against the Shure E5 (at least until I can try the Shure E5 with different sleeves) which cost $340.00 more! Enough to buy you an iPod, Rio Karma or iHP-120.

REVIEW and Specification Comparison for Shure E1c, Shure E2c, Shure E3c and Shure E5c

Specification Comparison for Shure E1, Shure E2, Shure E3 and Shure E5

Shure Spec Earphones Comparison Chart
Impedance @ 1khz
Shure E1 and E1c 17g (0.6oz) $159.00 113.5db 29 ohms
Shure E2 and E2C 30g (1oz) $99.00 105db 16 ohms
Shure E3 and E3C 28g(0.9oz)$179.00115db26 ohms
Shure E5 and E5C31g (1.1oz) $499.00 122db110 ohms

Note the low weight on the Shure E1. Also as far as “stealth mode” goes, the E1 so far is the most “invisible” of the bunch.

Unfortunately the Shure E1 will be discontinued at some point in the beginning of 2004. It will be replaced by the Shure E3 which we expect to definitely perform equal or better than the Shure E1. Only thing we will have to wait and see is how the thicker cable will behave. Note that this is an overly stated concern on my part, since this cable will be thinner than the one on the Shure E2.

Custom ear molds: All Shure earphones will accept a custom earmold with the exception of the Shure E2. As of now I have not tried custom ear molds yet. You will need to go to an audiologist for that. Usually that's something that only musicians will do for stage monitoring but it's also an option for folks just listening to their MP3 players, to improve comfort and performance (a bit overkill in my opinion).

Note about the Etymotic earphones: I have not yet had the opportunity to test neither one of the Etymotic earphones. One thing that stands out though, is the difference in Warranties. Shure has a 2 Year warranty on all the earphones and Etymotic has a 1 Year for the ER.4 ($330.00) and 90 days for the ER.6 ($139.00). Etymotic told me that they should be increasing this warranty sometime in 2004. As soon as I have a chance, I will add them to our comparison.

This review is Copyrighted material. It cannot be reproduced, copied, nor distributed, unless in its totallity, showing the owner of the article as, under the penalties of the US Copyright Law.

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