Shure's new SE110 sound-isolating earphones take the 'entry level' crown from the earphones.and promise to let you 'hear music as it's meant to be heard'. This is a bold statement for a pair of £70
Can an entry level set of 'phones truly reproduce music the way the artist intended?
The term 'entry level' shouldn't be confused with 'budget'. The SE110s boast the excellent construction granted to the manufacturer's more costly alternatives. The body of each 'phone is built from a strong, lightweight plastic while the audio cable running into each earphone is secured by a section built from a smooth rubbery material. This strong yet flexible material ensures the cable doesn't break away from the earpiece during its lifetime of being wrapped around an ear.
The modular cable design allows you to disconnect the 18-inch earphone cable from the 36-inch extension cable. This is useful for iPod Shuffle users who clip the player to their jacket lapels and don't want a load of cable flapping aimlessly. The cable itself is extremely durable and connectors on each end of the modular cable are gold plated to ensure optimum carriage of audio signals.
A range of silicon, foam and triple flange tips of various sizes are part of the SE110s 'fit kit', itself contained inside the earphones' oval-shaped hard case. Each tip offers differing levels of comfort and performance -- experimentation is advised in order to discover which is best for each user. The foam tips offer the best sound-isolation and an enhanced bass experience. Safe to say if you like dance, pick the foam tips.
Performance-wise, the SE110s deliver impressive results for their price bracket. A pair of £70 earphones won't ever produce the hi-fi-esque fidelity of models several times their cost, but the SE110s offer a powerful experience with notably deep bass and punchy mids. The stomping bass lines and regimented, hard-hitting drum tracks of Rammstein's Rein Raus pounded through the 'phones with the force of a German Panzerkampfwagen.
KT Tunstall's delightful new track Little Flavours bursts with warmth and tight definition. The SE110s balanced MicroSpeaker does a great job at concurrently managing drums, three guitar layers, bass and vocals.
Every silver lining has its cloud and it's the high end that rains on the SE110s. There's a slight muddiness noticeable in the mids and highs. While this is justified by a low price, it may upset fans of acoustic music that their £70 doesn't give them the clarity they require in the higher end of the audible spectrum.