So I had been looking to replace my in-ears with something new because the cable was getting worse and worse. I was getting used to my 50 euro in-ears breaking down at roughly two years of age; I had gone to like three or four pairs in the past six years. But this time, I wanted to invest a little more money to get something good. Music is a big part of my life so it makes sense to get a good quality pair of in-ears.
Easier said than done. In shops, you can never try in-ears so I was thinking of just getting headphones maybe. I tried some Shure headphones in the price range of 100-140 euro’s and ‘liked’ the sound, wasn’t really blown away. In the same shop, I tried a Shure headphone of 400 euro’s and LOVED the sound. But the price and also the weight of the headphone (350gr!) was off-putting. And once you buy it, you can’t return it (hygiene).
So, for some weeks I did research on the internet and slowly realised that if I wanted to get a good headphone I would have to splurge. But I wasn’t sure if I still wanted a headphone. I’m not used to being so indecisive!
A colleague of mine told me he was trying to sell his in-ears from B&W: the C5 series 2. He thought they didn’t have enough bass and wanted to get rid of them. I could try them on and while I did like the sound I didn’t like the fit. They had this weird cord you had to put in your auricle and it just hurt a little bit after only 30 minutes of wear. So….that was a no go.
But then another colleague was telling me about his Shure SE535 in-ears and was willing to let me try them. And that was when I was sold. I was almost willing to order a pair at that instant, but common sense told me to wait a little bit. The price tag was a little hefty at 389 euro. It’s weird that we have expensive smartphones and computers and don’t mind splurging on that, but if you want to splurge on in-ears it feels…. difficult. And now that I own them I do get people gasping at me when I tell them how much these in-ears cost. But the money was worth it for me!
I don’t know why we have such an ambivalent attitude when it comes to investing in good sound equipment, albeit speakers or headphones or in-ears. I think many people would label themselves as music lovers, but yet they go through life with rubbish in-ears that came for free with their smartphone purchase or worse, they spent 200 euro’s on that Beats by Dr. Dre crap. Is it because most people don’t hear the difference? Or they just want lots of bass? (although I ridicule the Beats headphones here; if you’re happy with them: good for you!). I wasn’t any better until recently, with my 50 euro’s in-ears. If I listen to them know I shudder at the abysmal sound. It sounds so flat…almost like a blanket has been put over the music, it’s hard to describe.
It’s been a month now since I bought the Shure’s and as you can tell, I don’t regret it (although my bank account is still in recovery). The reason I love them so much is that the sound is very honest. Not a heavy amount of bass that so many people like (hence the success of the Beats series I guess), but enough bass, enough mid-range, enough high-range. If you want, you can turn up the bass as much as you want via an equalizer like Boom2 (I do like to do that from time to time for genres like dubstep/breakcore/drum ’n bass).
When I listen to music with the Shure’s I feel as though I am standing in a large room surrounded by music. The feeling is so awesome words do not do it justice. For 400 euro’s I have an A+ experience of music, and suddenly that feels very cheap. I don’t know how much money you have to spend to get that experience with normal speakers but I bet it’s not just 400 euro. Every genre I listen to has gotten a boost in listening experience. I like classical music and when turning on Mahler’s 3rd it was like I was there in the concert hall. I heard the musicians breathing, shuffling in their chairs, it was…so alive.
These in-ears also isolate very well, when music is playing you hear nothing else. That is a blessing for me in public transport. I have a slight case of misophonia and listening to music just helps me to keep my sanity. I don’t want to hear anything else than just my music.
If I have to name a downside of this all, it’s that normal speakers sound like rubbish now. I’m spoiled. Also, you can now truly hear the difference between a good and bad recording. Bad recordings are exposed: flat, no spacious sound. That’s a bummer, because among some of these recordings are my favorite metal albums (best ‘worse example’: Drudkh – Estrangement. It sounds awful with the Shure’s).
My favorite re-discoveries are:
Neurosis – The Eye of Every Storm
Mahler – Third Symphony (I listen to Wiener Philharmoniker with Claudio Abbado)
Agalloch – The Mantle
So yeah, if you’re a music lover and looking for a cheap way to get an A+ listening experience, you might want to consider these in-ears. Bax shop has them the cheapest if you’re ordering from the Netherlands or Belgium.
Update after three years of use (February 2018)
My google analytics tell me that people still read this post, so I thought it’d be fun to update it. I’m still a very happy owner of these Shure in-ears. The cable is just as robust after three years of daily use. The sound is still lovely and the comfort of wear is fine. Overall, the money I spent on these in-ears has been worth it for sure.
I dread the day that I have to switch from an iPhone 6 to something newer with no jack-plug. I did some research and saw that Shure makes a cable for the lightening socket. It will set me back another 100 euro, but at least I have an option to keep using these in-ears in the future too. That’s a big upside to being able to switch the cable!
Overall would still recommend these in-ears 10/10