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.
At the very top of the line, we have the Shure SE535. This $499 follow-up to the SE530 is definitely a luxury item, but anyone looking for stellar audio quality in a compact package should consider this investment.
Unlike the rest of the SE line, the earpieces of the SE535 are similar in design to those of its predecessor. In fact, the SE530 is where Shure originally implemented the contoured mold that's meant to sit inside the outer ear. The good news is the company did make some tweaks where it counts: the earbuds are now noticeably slimmer, which should help more users get a more comfortable and secure fit. That being said, the overall size of the SE535 earpieces is still large when compared with other in-ear models, so these won't work for everyone.
Due to the contoured earpiece shape of the Shure SE535 earphones, the earbuds need to be twisted in just right, with the cable then being 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 SE530s 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 SE535; 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 wire with Kevlar. Add to that a two-year warranty and the fact that the earpieces are detachable, and you have a setup that practically screams "durability."