Shure has been churning out impressive-sounding in-ear headphones for consumers for more than 15 years, and any new models from the company have featured mainly evolutionary changes from their predecessors. The latest update to the Shure consumer line is no exception, with the new SE models featuring a few fairly minor--but mostly welcome--tweaks.
We first checked out the Shure SE425 earphones, a $299 set that impressed us with a durable design and excellent sound quality. Now, we have our ears on the SE315, which is Shure's single-driver offering. At $199, this set falls in the middle of the SE line in terms of pricing. The SE315 is a follow-up to the SE310, and its earpieces feature a noticeable design shift from those of its predecessor. Rather than the bulbous teardrop shape that tends to stick out of the ear, Shure has moved to a contoured mold that's meant to sit inside the outer ear. We saw this originally with the Shure SE530, and--for most users--this design means a more ergonomic fit.
Of course, this newly contoured earpiece shape also means the SE315 earphones need to be worn a bit differently from their predecessor. Namely, the earbuds need to be twisted in just right, and the cable is then looped over the top of the ear. Shure has built in a few inches of memory wire right near the earbuds to help with this. Still, not everyone will like the feel of the cord over the top of the ear, and the initial tweaking to get the earpieces just right is tiresome at first; practice helps over time.
As for the cable, Shure provides plenty of length: 64 inches to be exact. However, those who had a pair of SE310s might be disappointed to learn that the design is no longer modular. That is, you can't split the cable at the Y-junction in order to make a shortened length for a player clipped to a lapel or worn in a shirt pocket. This is a bit of a bummer, because the cord is quite heavy and tends to pull at the earpieces with the entire length hanging free.
That being said, we appreciate the thickness and flexibility of the cable of the SE315 as it speaks well to the headphones withstanding the test of time. Plus, the Y-junction and L-plug housings are extra-rugged, and Shure now reinforces the cord with Kevlar. Add to that a two-year warranty and the fact that the earpieces are user-detachable, and you have a setup that practically screams "durability."