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Shure SE210 sound isolating headphones review: Shure SE210 sound isolating headphones

The SE210s may seem expensive for headphones at around £80, but they're actually the entry-level model in audio expert Shure's new sound-isolating range, which uses foam tips to block out noise from the outside world

Nate Lanxon Special to CNET News
3 min read

The SE210s may seem expensive for headphones at around £80, but they're actually the entry-level model in audio expert Shure's new sound-isolating range.


Shure SE210 sound isolating headphones

The Good

All-round good performance; sound isolation; comfort.

The Bad

A little pricey; average bass response.

The Bottom Line

If you're used to budget headphones, the SE210s will completely revolutionise your listening experience. They're a great all-round set of headphones. If you can justify a little more money though, their more expensive cousins offer a significant advantage over this single-driver model

Unlike their more expensive cousins, which use two or three drivers, the SE210s utilise a single driver to drive the entire audio spectrum into your ear.

Building on the successful E series, Shure is promising better design and improved noise isolation.

The SE210s come with a short 0.5m headphone cable and a detachable 1m extension cable. This keeps things neat for those who prefer to keep their MP3 player in a jacket pocket, while not irritating those who need the full 1.5m.

The SE210s come complete with a useful fit kit. The kit includes different sized ear-shaped bits of foam, or 'sound-isolating sleeves'. When fitted properly, ambient sound is blocked to the point that it becomes close to impossible to hear voices even at conversational volume. On a train journey, ambient sound is noticeable but at a greatly reduced volume, resulting in a much improved listening experience.

As for audio performance, aided by gold-plated connectors, the SE210s are a good all-round performer, with noticeable strengths in defining mid-range frequencies. When put to the task of playing the powerful live rock performance of Endless Sacrifice by Dream Theater, the SE210s rendered John Petrucci's melodic guitar harmonies exceptionally well, while still letting Mike Portnoy's frantic drumming to pound into our skull like a war drum.

Cut to the instrumental climax of Endless Sacrifice and the guitar's distortion cuts into the skull with force, without taking anything away from the impact of the drums or the furious keyboard performance -- the screaming of the Japanese crowd can still be heard in the background. Even with the volume cranked up almost to the maximum, definition is almost unhindered, and although no frequency powerfully stood out, no frequency took a significant drop in clarity either.

Because the SE210s are driven by a single microspeaker, distinction between contrasting frequencies isn't as clear-cut as it is with multiple drivers. On bass-heavy tracks, such as Slam by Pendulum, the heavy bass line slightly drowns the high frequencies of the hi-hats and cymbals of the drums.

Also, the bass response isn't as good as it is on the more expensive models. For most styles of music, the bass response of 25Hz will be adequate though. Indeed, on our tests it was satisfactory on all but dance tracks. Hardcore electronica audiophiles may be left with a feeling of disappointment at the reproduction of their beloved deep drones and licks, though.

The SE210's may be the entry-level headphones in the SE range, but that shouldn't confuse anyone into thinking this is a budget model. 

Those of you who are used to a more high-end pair of headphones will want to pay still more for a higher-end model, but anyone simply looking to upgrade from the headphones bundled with their MP3 player will find that the SE210s completely revolutionise their listening experience.

Available from AdvancedMP3Players

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide