The Shure E2c is a result of the company's experience designing in-ear monitors for onstage musicians. Wyclef Jean, Wilco, Jethro Tull, Everclear, Nikka Costa, Tricky, Herbie Hancock, and Oasis all use Shure products. Thanks to a bit of trickle-down technology, Shure is now offering a range of consumer in-ear models, of which the $99 E2c is the most affordable. It features a 62-inch copper cable and an adjustment tube that secures the wire comfortably behind your head. You also get a storage case with a cable spool.
To get any bass out of the E2c, you need to push the earpieces pretty far into your ear canals. Since human ears vary in size, Shure provides small, medium, and large pairs of disposable foam sleeves and reusable flex sleeves to ensure the best possible fit.
Now that those provisos are out of the way, let's get to the E2c's strengths. While these are not noise-canceling headphones, they block out ambient noise almost as well. We wore them on the New York City subway in our brute-force noise-cancellation test, and we came away quite impressed with the E2c's quieting effect. We didn't have to turn up our iPod's volume to overcome the high background-noise levels.
The E2c delivers a cleaner aural experience than most earbud models, so you hear greater detail without suffering excessive brightness or harshness. Bass definition and power are quite good. In fact, the E2c's sound quality compares favorably with that of our reference full-size headphones, Grado's SR 60.
While the deep-mounted earpieces may take some getting used to, the E2c sounds great. And since it's sold with a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can audition its comfort and audio quality for yourself risk-free.