Pros Sound fidelity, build quality, fit kit, isolation, modularity, comfort, style
Cons Price, slightly rolled high-end, cheap packaging
Summary Now, I'm no audio snob, but I do have good ears and I know what I like, and I like the Shure SE110s. They're a little pricey for what they are, which are single driver mid-range stock ear bud replacements, but for the extra cost I really think you get what you pay for.
I've read a lot of reviews and it seems the number-one complaint about this product is its lack of bass. This is usually a symptom of one of two things, the first being that the user is not getting a proper fit, which should be tight and slightly suction-y and actually quite easy to achieve with the included fit-kit. The second being that the user thinks bass is simply the thudding you get from sticking your head next to a subwoofer or effect of some guy driving by your house at 2am with his stereo too loud, which it most certainly is not, at least not all of it. These people tend to be the same people who think good vodka should burn.
These ear buds provide a well defined and warm low-end with adequate thud for the track being played. It's the music as it's meant to be heard. If you need to "feel it" use the EQ and kick it up to a gratuitously high level and rock on, they can put out the pain if you want them to. The high-end are slightly rolled off, but the midrange is so clear and defined you hardly even notice.
The build quality on these is some of the best I've had the pleasure to experience. The cable is THICK, two or three times that of the Apple ear buds, I feel very secure about using these every day and having them last. The buds themselves, while larger than your average bud, feel very solid without being heavy and stay securely in your ear when active.
The fit-kit provided almost certainly has a sleeve that will fit your particular ear and give you the seal and comfort that will both make your music sound great and allow for all-day wear. The isolation is so good that at even 40% volume on my iPod touch I can't hear myself snap right beside my head. The modularity gives you the option of listening to your source wherever it maybe with as little or as much cable range as you need.
They look good, and I'm not ashamed to admit that played a large part in my decision. The two-tone style is very modern without being geeky looking like some of the transparent alternatives.
They cost a little more than I would have liked to have spent and the packaging left a bit to be desired, you have to rip open a glued box! What are we? Animals? But maybe I'm just spoiled by Apple/Zune packaging. Other than that I have no complaints for these great earphones other than I wish I had bought them sooner.
Pros Low distortion
Very good sound isolation
Cons Poor bass response
Very hard to get sleeves off
Summary I cannot fathom how the CNET reviewer can say these earphones are "adept at delivering bass". The bass on these earphones is practically non-existent - even with an extremely good seal. To get even close to audible bass on these I must use the bass booster setting on my iPod Touch. Try pressing your stock iPod earphones into your ear canal and you will hear bass about 30dB louder than the SE110's.
On the other hand, the audible frequencies on the SE110 are very clear and free of distortion. And the sound isolation provided by the foam/rubber sleeves is fantastic: a lower tech but far superior solution to active noise cancelation, in my opinion.
My only other gripe is the earphone sleeves are nearly impossible to slide off. I feel like I am going to snap the speaker port off or tear the sleeve apart trying to remove them.
Although I expect to get good use out of these earphones for a number of years, I will look to a brand other than Shure for my next set of budget earphones.
Pros enough bass.
clear, crisp audio
great price for build and audio quality.
Cons a bit bulky.
not a fan of their 2 piece cable. however it does offer certain advantages...
Summary they sound great. paid 50 dollars for them and i LOVE them. having tried multiple Apple, Sony, Philips and even Klipsch earbuds i bought them but did not have high hopes. i plugged them into my iphone and at first i was dissappointed (not enough bass) then i changed the EQ and WOW big difference. i got home and plugged them into my notebook and as soon as i played the first song i was in love. amazing deep bass and incredible quality. love them.
Pros Best fit of any earphone i've used in the past
Great sound quality for the price I paid (49.99 plus shipping on tiger direct)
High level of in ear comfort with fit kit selection
Blocks out a lot of the outside noise.... like all :)
Cons No as of yet...
Need to update some music in my ipod to higher bit rate...
Most of my music is at 192 but the few songs that are lower you can clear hear the degraded sound with these phones
Summary I dont think I would buy these at the full price of 89 or 99 like i've seen at some places. Def great value at 49 though! People that complain that the bass is weak with these phones clearly are not putting them in there ears the right way or not putting the fit kit tips on right. One thing to remember quality in quality out... low bit rate music wont cut it with a quality product that goes in ear!
Pros Solid build quality
Accessories are nice
Fit Kit including foam and silicone earpieces insure proper fit
The Best sound isolation (Earplug Design)
Outstanding sound quality
These truly fit their professional in ear monitor label
Cons Price (I hate paying high prices for headphones, yes i admit it i am cheap)
Good bass response but could be better in the 20 to 80 Hz range, this is the side effect of having a balanced armature driver.
Summary I am an Audiophile and when it comes to headphones, I am very difficult to please the SE 110s however pass in my book. I Feel that the SE 110's are reviewed unfairly. They get too many poor reviews on many sites but I purchased them anyway because of I felt that the reviews were biased. Most people plug these things in their crappy Ipods and expect them to make their over compressed mp3 files sound good. What happens is good headphones like these are very accurate and reveal the poor sound quality of a bad player and/or bad audio files that the garbage headphones that come with most mp3 players hide. Ipods don't have good sound quality so you cant judge headphones with them. And if you are using these headphones to listen to mp3?s with a bit rate less than 250 kbps then you are an idiot for buying these headphones, you obviously don?t care about sound quality. You have to use good files and a good player to get good sound out of good headphones, there is no way around that. A bit rate of 250 kbps is typical for most download sites but 320 kbps is much better. Wav files are the best as they are used for the original digital recordings in the studio to be put on the CD, they are truly lossless. Another problem is that people don?t experiment with these kind of headphones enough to get the right fit and people usually don?t place these kind of headphones correctly in their ear to get the right seal required for this type of headphone to work properly.(continued from above)
Now that I have explained why a lot of the reviews are BS, I am going to give my review on the Sure SE 110?s. First Build quality. The Shure SE 110?s are built like a tank just as the cnet review states. They have thick cords and solid plugs. As a whole they feel and look like the expensive headphones that they are. Next I would like to point out the nice extras. In the box you get the headphones, extension cord, 3 foam earpieces (my favorite), 3 silicone earpieces, a handy earwax cleaning tool(never seen in other brands of headphones) and a nice carrying case with enough room for my Sansa Clip as well. I truly appreciate that even though these are Shure?s Cheapest headphones, they do not skimp on quality and features.
If you are looking for sound isolation (noise cancelation) then these headphones are it. No other headphones block out noise better than these period, and I?ll tell you why. These headphones use balanced armature drivers which don?t require ports in the headphone casing like headphones with dynamic drivers that typically do have ports, so these headphones are designed like earplugs (especially with the foam ear pieces)if placed in the ear correctly with the right size ear tip for your ear these headphones will make a complete airtight seal between your eardrum and the driver membrane and because there are no ports on the headphones, sound cannot leak in and affect the driver membrane. This greatly reduces outside noise. With these on you are in your own world I would not use these for jogging. Also these headphones are good for private listening, they don?t leak sound.
This Now brings me to sound quality. In short the SE 110?s performed as I expected. The Mids and Highs were produced exceptionally well and the bass was produced well but could be better. I?m not going to hammer the SE 110?s to bad on this one because they use balanced armature drivers which do not produce bass as well as dynamic drivers do. If you don?t know what balanced armature drivers are or how they work, look them up on Wikipedia. Dynamic drivers are simply speakers reduced in size to fit in headphones, because they can move more air than balanced armature drivers, however, balanced armature drivers are more precise and accurate than dynamic drivers when it comes to mid and high frequencies. So it?s a trade off on what you want with your sound. I usually like lots of bass in my music but it has to be balanced so that?s why I like these headphones. If you want lots of bass then get headphones with dynamic drivers. With Careful EQ settings you can squeeze quite a bit of bass out of the SE 110?s, also because balanced armature drivers cant move as much air it is very important that they are inserted properly in your ears and create an airtight seal.
When I review headphones I use my Sansa Clip and my computer setup with a 32 band EQ, the less I have to mess with the EQ to get the sound I want, the better. With these headphones I didn?t have to mess with the EQ to much except for the low frequencies 20 to 80 Hz. This range is where the SE 110?s need a little help. Most of the headphones that I have used had a problem with over enhancing the treble too much mostly in the 4 to 5 KHz range making the music sound too harsh unless I severely cut those frequencies in the EQ which made the sound unnatural.
Looks like I have run out of room. Review will be continued in the update below.
Updated on May 17, 2009
I am happy to say that the SE 110?s do not have this problem. They only needed a little boost on the 8 KHz to 20KHz range and a little drop on the 250 Hz to 1 KHz range to sound great. This is also because the SE 110?s have a canal design that creates some distance between the driver and your eardrum. Other headphones place the driver too close to your eardrum and this is especially a problem since most other headphones use dynamic drivers.
The SE110?s are also quite comfortable for in ear headphones. They will make your ears sore after wearing them a couple of hours but I have yet to find any headphones that don?t do this.
So in conclusion if you are tired of harsh cheap headphones, don?t mind a little sacrifice in bass in exchange for more balanced sound quality and if you want to eliminate the outside world from your music whether it be from other music, engine noise, or a crying kid sitting next to you then the SE110?s are an excellent choice for you.