All three of the E-series earphones use the same ear tip design. Paradigm supplies three pairs: small, medium, and large. According to Paradigm Shift’s sales literature, the tips were audiologist-approved. I ended up using the largest set of tips, which made a comfortable seal in my outer ear canal. When the cables hung straight down I did have to periodically re-adjust the earphones to retain an optimum seal. When I ran the cables above my ears and behind my head the E1s stayed in place without needing further adjustment even during an active workout.
I was somewhat disappointed by the paucity of eartip style choices with the Paradigm Shifts. Since all three eartips are the same soft outer ear canal design, if this style doesn’t work for you there aren’t any other manufacturer-supplied options. I would have liked to see expansion-foam, flanged, and foam-reinforced tips so there would be more choices for those users. As with most popular earbuds, you could try a third-party option, such as the Comply brand of compression foam tips available on Amazon.
I’ve often complained about how poorly marked the left and right indicators are with some earphones. The E-series gets high marks for right left differentiation: the right hand eartip has a big red center section while the left hand tip’s center is white. Even a colorblind audiophile should be able to tell which tip goes where from five feet away. And if you happen to remove both tips, the E1s have an “R” in tiny 2-point type on their right earpiece housing. On the E2m and E3m earphones there are no channel markings on the earphones themselves, so I recommend NOT taking off both tips simultaneously unless you relish a 50/50 opportunity to reverse your channels, or until you’ve marked them first.
While all three earbuds have a sliding adjuster you can use to snug the headphone cables when they are behind your head, only the E1’s adjuster could slide high enough to make a good fit. With the E2m and E3m the sliding piece can only go partially up the cable before reaching the volume/mute smartphone adjustment module which prevents the slider from going any further.
The permanently attached E-series cables are fairly microphonic, especially for the first twelve inches from the earphone itself. If you wear the earphones with the cabling hanging straight down this could be an issue, but if you wear your earphones with the cables over your ears and down your back the cable’s microphonics will be well damped by your head. The cable itself is soft and flexible, covered by a cloth outer layer that slides easily.
• Big bass.
• Smooth but recessed midrange.
• Sweet but hooded high-end.
• Good imaging specificity.
• Fair dynamic contrast.
If you look at the specifications for the three Paradigm Shift earphones, they appear to be very similar. Except for a bit more sensitivity and a slightly extended low frequency response from the E2m and E3m, they don’t change much. The specifications do not indicate that the three earbuds offer different harmonic balances and amounts of bass, but in the field the three were certainly different from each other.
Of the three earphones in the E-series, the least expensive E1s were the pair that came closest to being harmonically neutral. Yet compared to my reference in-ears, the admittedly much more costly Etymotic ER-4P ($299) and Ultimate Ears In-Ear Reference Monitors ($999), even the E1 had a warm harmonic balance with an over endowment of upper and mid-bass energy coupled with a noticeably hooded upper range. Except for the extra dollop of bass, most of the E1’s colorations were subtractive rather than additive. The top-end roll-off meant that cymbals lacked their last bit of top-end sizzle and on live recordings room ambience cues were harder to hear.
Moving up the Shift line, the principal harmonic change was more bass. Low frequencies through the E2m and E3m were big, bodacious, and in the case of the E3m, sometimes completely over-the-top. Bass-heads will enjoy the power and impact of the E3m’s, but this basscentric performance comes at the expense of both pitch control and definition. On some songs, as the bass notes go lower, they got louder, which was NOT the intention of the original mixer. Compared with the bass performance from the Audio Technica ATH-W3000ANV over-ear headphones, the E3ms had a greater quantity of bass energy, but low-frequency energy that was delivered with less precision and control.