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Ears-on with the Shure SE102 earphones

We've been examining the budget-conscious world of Shure's latest entry-level earphones -- the SE102s. Let us explain why we were so surprised by them

Shure surprised us when it released the SE110s. They were an even more entry-level version of the previous entry-level earphone in the SE series, the SE210s. But now it's gone one step further with the entry-entry-level SE model, the SE102 -- a £50 pair of sound-isolating earphones.

At first glance these offer some characteristics of higher-end Shure earphones: thick cabling, gold-plated plugs and connectors, and an over-the-ear design. But they're distinctly bulkier than other Shures, with lightweight plastic enclosures that understandably reflect the SE102's affordable price tag with a lower-cost feel.

But what surprised us initially is how enjoyable these 'phones are to listen to. They offer a much clearer sound than we expected, with a really balanced mix of bass, mids and treble. They seem to have a particular talent with vocals (for this price point at least), with a shimmering high end that gives sound an open, transparent quality, which many earphones at this price lack.

Bass is good, with decent clarity. But this is the area in which Sennheiser probably achieves a little more with the CX 95s. We'd argue that the SE102s are terrific all-rounders, if a little bulky, but dance-music fans or bassaholics would benefit from investigating one or two other Sennheiser offerings.

We're really looking forward to giving these earphones the full review treatment, with long-term comfort being our only initial concern. Expect the complete lowdown next week. They'll be on sale from next month.