A Flagship Reborn
September 20th, 2010 -- by Chris Martens
Shure SE535 vs. Sennheiser IE 8
- The MSRP of the Shure SE535 is $549, while the Sennheiser IE 8’s retail for $449.95.
- The IE 8 offers a user adjustable “sound tuning” feature, where the SE535’s do not. Some listeners might question whether adjustable sound tuning is really a useful feature in the first place, given that the IE 8’s—when heard in a quiet environment—tend to sound best with their bass controls set in the “Flat” position. However, if you do much listening in environments where there is a lot of low-frequency noise present, you’ll come to appreciate the fact that the IE 8’s allow you to temporarily dial-up their bass balance to help overcome background noise.
- Tonal balance for the IE 8’s and SE535’s is similar (at least when the IE 8’s bass tuning control is set in the “Flat” position), though the SE535 offers a somewhat smoother and more coherent sound overall. In comparison, the highs of the IE 8 tend to sound extremely extended, but also a tiny bit “dry” or “wiry.” In contrast, the SE535’s highs consistently sound revealing, yet silky smooth.
- Both headphones offer an excellent array of eartips, though you may find you need to do considerable trial-and-error experimentation with either model to find out which eartips work best for you.
- On the whole, the SE535 is easier to fit and more comfortable for very long listening sessions than the somewhat more awkwardly shaped IE 8’s. Again, the SE535’s new signal cable design works wonders here.
Shure’s SE535’s arrive in a brushed aluminum packing case which contains the earphones themselves, plus a plethora of accessories. Specifically, the SE535 comes with:
- A sturdy, fabric covered clamshell-type case with a zipper closure;
- A variety of eartips (or “sleeves,” as Shure calls them) including one pair of cylindrical compressible foam sleeves, three pairs of bell-shaped “Soft Foam” sleeves (sizes S, M and L), three pairs of pliable rubber “Soft Flex” sleeves (sizes S, M, and L), and one pair of triple-flange sleeves;
- An airline adapter;
- A mini-jack-to-1/4-inch-phone plug adapter,
- An inline volume control, and
- A cleaning tool.
The SE535’s are compact and easy to position for a good fit, and their swiveling, detachable signal cables make them much more comfortable than the original SE530’s.
Building upon the rock-solid platform of Shure’s classic SE530 in-ear headphone, the new SE535 takes subtle yet sonically significant steps forward in terms of improved openness, treble extension, transparency and soundstaging. It is also much more comfortable to wear and offers the convenience of user replaceable signal cables (meaning you won’t be out of action for long even if—heaven forbid—you should happen to break a cable, which happens from time to time). In short, the SE535 is nothing less than a flagship reborn, and as such I count it as a surefire winner.
SPECS & PRICING
Shure SE535 In-Ear Headphones
Type: 2-way, triple balanced-armature-type drivers (two vented bass drivers, one treble driver)
Accessories: See above
Frequency response: 18Hz – 19 kHz
Weight: 1 oz.
Impedance: 36 Ohms
Warranty: 2 years, parts and labor