Preferred headphones store
Reviewed on Jun 27, 2018 , Marc Henney, Yannick Khong

Shure SE215
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

Test Benches:

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
6.6
Mixed Usage
What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
6.7
Critical Listening
What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
6.8
Commute/Travel
What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
7.1
Sports/Fitness
What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
6.6
Office
What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
6.0
TV
Score components:
5.6
Gaming
Score components:
Type : In-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

The Shure SE215 are decent critical listening in-ears that perform better than the higher-end models in the same lineup. They have almost an identical design to the SE315 and SE425 but do not come with as many accessories. On the upside, they have a better-balanced sound, and they isolate a bit more in noisy conditions. They also have stable ear-hooks and a comfortable in-ear fit which makes them a decent option for commuting and sports. Unfortunately, the lack of in-line controls is a bit limiting.

Test Results
Design 7.6
Sound 6.4
Isolation 9.1
Microphone 0
Active Features 0
Connectivity 4.8
Pros
  • Minimal leakage and great noise isolation.
  • Durable build quality.
  • Stable and portable design.
Cons
  • No controls.
  • No extra cable in the box.

Check Price

7.6

Design

Score components:
Shure SE215 Design Picture

The Shure SE215 are well designed wired in-ears, with a durable build quality and a comfortable fit. They do not come with as many tip options as the more premium SE425, but their angled design and decent foam tips make them more comfortable than typical in-ears. They're also worn like an ear-hook design, which makes them a stable option for the gym although they are wired, and the cable could get tangled in your clothes or yank the earbuds out of your ears if it gets hooked by something. Unfortunately, they do not come with an additional cable in the box, and they have no control scheme so they won't be the best option to use with your mobile phone while exercising.

Style
Shure SE215 Design Picture 2

The Shure SE215 look identical to the higher-end SE315 and SE425. They have the same angled earbuds to better fit the contours of your ears, and a pseudo-ear-hook design that makes them a stable choice for sports. The earbuds look and feel premium and the audio cable is thick, heavily rubberized and detachable. Like the SE425, they have a transparent variation that stands out a bit more than the all-black color scheme, but both schemes are fairly understated and will work for most listeners.

7.5 Comfort
What it is: Adjustability and degrees of freedom, pressure, stiffness and weight.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used for long durations.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Shure SE215 Comfort Picture
Weight : 0.06 lbs
Clamping Force
What it is: The force that the headphones exert on your head, once you have them on. This is purely a measurement of the force applied, which does not take into account the earpad's surface area and the resulting pressure you will feel, on or around your ears.
When it matters: The tighter the headphones, the more force they put on your head. This can get uncomfortable or cause pain and soreness during long listening sessions.
:
0 lbs

The Shure SE215 have a comfortable in-ear fit. They come with multiple tip sizes to help you find the right fit, and they have an angled design to better fit the contours of your ears. This makes them more comfortable than typical in-ears, although they do not come with as many tip sizes as the more premium SE315 and SE425. Also, if you're not a big fan of in-ears, they may still get a bit fatiguing after wearing them for a while.

0 Controls
What it is: The control scheme of the headphones, the number of functions provided, button layout and ergonomics as well as the quality of tactile feedback.
When it matters: If you want to control volume, pause your music or make phone calls without directly interacting with your audio device.
Ease of use : N/A
Feedback : N/A
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : No
Microphone Control : N/A
Channel Mixing
What it is: Being able to mix audio channels directly on the headphones.
When it matters: This is most useful when using a separate chat software so that you can mix in-game audio and chat audio depending on your needs.
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
What it is: A transparency feature that uses the mics of the headphones to let you hear what is doing on around you without removing them.
When it matters: If you want to be aware of what is going on around you without removing your headphones or while still listening to your audio. This is typically a feature for the noise canceling headphones and passively isolating in-ears that block a lot of noise.
Good value: Yes or adjustable.
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : N/A

These headphones do not have a control scheme and do not come with an extra cable with an inline remote.

9.1 Breathability
What it is: How hot the headphones get when you wear them for an extended period of time.
When it matters: If you often have long listening sessions or use your headphones while doing physical activities like running or working out.
Score components:
Shure SE215 Breathability After Picture
Avg.Temp.Difference : 0.9 C

These headphones, like most in-ear models, are very breathable and will not make you sweat more than usual even during more strenuous activities. They have an ear hook design, but the hooks are thin and do not have as many points of contact with your ear as some of the other similarly designed headphones we've tested, like the Anker Soundcore Spirit X.

8.6 Portability
What it is: The volume of space occupied by the headphones when folded into their most compact format.
When it matters: If you're often on the move and need to carry your headphones in a bag, purse , or pocket.
Score components:
Shure SE215 Portability Picture
L : 2 "
W : 2 "
H : 1.5 "
Volume : 6 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

The SE215 are as portable as most in-ear headphones. They will easily fit into your pockets and aren't much of a hassle to carry on you at all times. They also come with a decent carrying case.

7.5 Case
What it is: The provided carrying options to protect your headphones when transporting them.
When it matters: To prevent damaging your headphones, if you often carry them in your bag or pocket.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Shure SE215 Case Picture
Type : Soft case
L : 4.2 "
W : 3 "
H : 1 "
Volume : 13 Cu. Inches

These headphones, unlike the SE425, come with a decent soft case instead of a sturdy hard one. It's decently portable and protects the headphones from impacts and drops but will not shield them from water damage. It also adds a fair bit of bulk, but since it's a soft case you can more easily squeeze into tight spaces than with the hard case of the SE425.

8.0 Build Quality
What it is: Durability, material quality, cheap/expensive feel.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used by multiple users (classes/studios), by children, in tough conditions, on a daily basis, or for exercise.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Shure SE215 Build Quality Picture

The Shure SE215, like the rest of the SE lineup, have good build quality for an in-ear design. They have a thick, durable cable, and decently dense earbuds. The cable is also removable which is relatively rare for in-ears and makes the headphones a lot more durable since you can always buy a replacement if the cable gets damaged by regular wear and tear. You can even purchase an adapter cable to make them wireless. Unfortunately, no extra cables are provided in the box which is somewhat disappointing. You can also check out the Tin Audio T3, BGVP DM6 or KZ AS-10 if you want equally well-built in-ears, with a slightly more unique look.

7.5 Stability
What it is: How the headphones are designed to prevent them from slipping off your ears or falling off your head.
When it matters: If you plan on using the headphones while doing sports or other physical activities that requires a lot of movement.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Shure SE215 Stability Picture

The SE215 are stable, wired in-ear headphones. They have a pseudo-ear-hook design that's flexible and not as stiff as other ear-hook models like the Anker SoundBuds Curve. This makes them stable enough for sports and working out since they will rarely fall out of your ears unless you physically pull them out or the audio cable gets hooked on something.

Cable
Shure SE215 Cable Picture
Detachable : Yes
Length : 5 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

These headphones come with a detachable audio 1/8 TRS cable with no in-line remote.

Top
Headshots 1
Headshots 2
6.4

Sound

What it is: How accurately the audio is reproduced. The tests are performed with the headphones' most commonly used features enabled (noise-cancelling, wireless, etc.)
Shure SE215 Frequency Response

The Shure SE215 are an average sounding pair of closed-back in-ear headphones. They have a very good, deep, and consistent bass, an even and well-balanced mid-range, and an average treble. However, they tend to sound muddy and cluttered in the upper bass/lower mid-range which will negatively affect vocals by making the sound too thick, and they lack a bit of detail and presence in the treble range. Overall, they would be a decent choice for most genres, especially bass heavy ones, but not ideal for vocal-centric music. Also, like most other in-ear headphones, they don't have a large and speaker-like soundstage.

Surprisingly though, the sound of the SE215 is noticeably better-balanced than the more expensive SE315 and SE425.

8.0 Bass
What it is: Frequency Response from 20Hz-250Hz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on bass frequencies, such as those of kick drums and bass guitar.
Score components:
Shure SE215 Bass
Std. Err.
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in bass frequency response (20Hz-250Hz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) bass performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.9 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
What it is: The lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: Shows how extended the bass is.
Good value: <40Hz
Noticeable difference: 5Hz
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 20Hz-60Hz.
When it matters: Kick drums and low frequency effects get their 'thump' from this range. Mostly felt than heard.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-1.25 dB
Mid-Bass
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 60Hz-120Hz.
When it matters: Melodic bass instruments have most of their fundamental frequencies in this range. This is where the 'body' and 'punch' of the bass sits.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.01 dB
High-Bass
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 120Hz-250Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments get their warmth and full-ness from this range. When over-emphasized, mixes tend to get muddy and boomy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
5.0 dB

The bass is very good. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, which is excellent. Low-bass, responsible for the thump and rumble common to bass-heavy tracks is within 1.3dB of our target, which is great. Mid-bass, responsible for the body of bass guitars and the punch of kick drums is also within 1dB of our neutral target. However, high-bass, responsible for warmth, is overemphasized by 5dB which makes the bass quite boomy and muddy sounding.

7.8 Mid
What it is: Frequency Response from 250Hz-2KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on mid-range frequencies. This is the case for the majority of audio content.
Score components:
Shure SE215 Mid
Std. Err.
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in mid frequency response (250Hz-2.5KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) mid performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.9 dB
Low-Mid
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 250Hz-500Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments have their fundamentals or low harmonics in this range. Over-emphasis in this range sounds muddy and cluttered. Under-emphasis, thins out the vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
4.32 dB
Mid-Mid
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 500Hz-1KHz.
When it matters: This range is occupied mostly by upper harmonics. Over-emphasis sounds forward and boxy. Under-emphasis pushes instruments to the back of the mix.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.25 dB
High-Mid
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 1KHz-2KHz.
When it matters: Most instruments, especially vocals, get their intensity and clarity from this range. Over-emphasis sounds honky and harsh, under-emphasis sounds weak and distant.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.71 dB

The mid-range of the SE 215 is good. The 4dB bump in low-mid is actually the continuation of the high-bass overemphasis. This tends to thicken the vocals and lead instruments and make the overall mix sound cluttered. However, mid-mid and high-mid are much better balanced, meaning the upper harmonics of vocals/leads will be reproduced properly.

6.4 Treble
What it is: Frequency Response from 2KHz-20KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on high-range frequencies, such as voice, cymbals, and any other material where brightness, brilliance and airiness is desired.
Score components:
Shure SE215 Treble
Std. Err.
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in treble frequency response (2.5KHz-20KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) treble performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
4.79 dB
Low-Treble
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 2KHz-5KHz.
When it matters: Almost all instruments rely on this range for their presence, detail, and articulation. Over-emphasis can sound harsh and painful. Under-emphasis hurts the comprehensibility of vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
0.91 dB
Mid-Treble
What it is: The average amount of over/under emphasis in frequency response from 5KHz-10KHz.
When it matters: This is the sibilance range. Cymbals, vocals, and lead instruments rely on this range for brightness and presence. Over-emphasis sounds piercing and painful, under-emphasis sounds dull and lispy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-4.86 dB
High-Treble
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 10KHz-20KHz.
When it matters: This range gives brilliance and airiness to the sound. Over-emphasis sounds hissy, under-emphasis sounds closed-up and lifeless.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-6.84 dB

The treble performance is mediocre. The overall response is a little uneven throughout the range. Low-treble is decently balanced, but the narrow peak around 5KHz could make certain sounds a bit too intense. The relatively wide dip around 7KHz negatively affects the presence and brightness of certain sounds, especially S and Ts. Conversely, the peak around 10KHz could make some S and Ts a bit sharp and piercing. For headphones that sound clearer and sharper in the treble range, check out the similar Sennheiser IE 40 Pro.

Raw Frequency Response
What it is: The average uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. For in-ears and earbuds, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the dummy head (HMS). For over/on-ear headphones, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the HMS (Head Measurement System) for the mid and treble ranges, and 5 measurements/re-seats on 5 human subjects for the bass range.
When it matters: This is for those who want to see the raw and uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. Some of the more advanced users, are able to read and evaluate headphone frequency response in its raw form and without compensation. This will be especially useful to them if they have their own headphone compensation/target curve, which may differ from the compensation curve/target response used by RTINGS.com.
9.1 Frequency Response Consistency
What it is: The amount of deviation of each frequency response pass, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Score components:
Shure SE215 Consistency L Shure SE215 Consistency R
Avg. Std. Deviation
What it is: The average amount of deviation in frequency response of 5 re-seats, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.19 dB

The frequency response consistency is excellent. If the user is able to achieve a proper fit and an air-tight seal using the assortment of tips that come with the headphones, then they should be able to get consistent bass and treble delivery every time they use the headphones.

9.3 Imaging
What it is: Imaging qualities are inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'reproduce' them rather than 'create' them. They determine how accurately the objects are positioned in the stereo image, and how transparent the imaging is.
When it matters: When accurate positioning of the objects in the stereo image, and clear and transparent imaging is desired.
Shure SE215 Group Delay Shure SE215 Phase Response
Weighted Group Delay
What it is: The average amount of group delay calculated based on a perceptual weighting filter. Group delay indicates how long it takes for each frequency to reach their maximum amplitude. This is a monaural quality and can be perceived even with one ear.
When it matters: Headphones with lower group delay have more transparent imaging and a tighter bass. Headphones with higher group delay in the bass range tend to have a wimpy and loose bass, and headphones with higher group delay in the treble range tend to have a less transparent imaging.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.08
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
What it is: The Left/Right balance of our test unit, that is, the amount of amplitude difference between the left and right drivers. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When a properly balanced stereo image and low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates a noticeable difference in level between the left and right drivers.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.23
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the frequency response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance, is desired. A poor score indicates there may be 'holes' in the stereo image at certain frequencies.
Good value: <2
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.2
Weighted Phase Mismatch
What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the phase response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates there may be inaccuracies in the stereo image reproduction at certain frequencies.
Good value: <16
Noticeable difference: 3
:
1.51

The imaging performance of the SE 215 is excellent. The weighted group delay is at 0.08, which is very low. The GD graph also shows that the entire group delay response is below the audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were very well-matched, which is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (instruments, voice, footsteps), in the stereo image.

0.8 Soundstage
What it is: Soundstage qualities are not inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'create' them rather than 'reproduce' them. They determine whether the sound is perceived to be coming from inside or in front of the head, how open and spacious the soundstage is, how much the headphones acoustically interact with the environment, and how strong the phantom center is.
When it matters: When an accurately produced, large and spacious soundstage, similar to that of a stereo loudspeaker setup is desired.
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
What it is: The standard deviation of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: An accurate pinna activation is mainly responsible for how natural and speaker-like the soundstage is perceived to be. The less error in the shape of the PRTF, the more natrual and speaker-like the perception of the soundstage will be. High amounts of error may indicate a soundstage that is unnatural or odd.
Good value: <2.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
What it is: The average amplitude of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to that of a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is responsible for the perceived size of the soundstage. The higher the value, the larger the perceived size of the soundstage. However, values above the reference (5.0dB) could result in a soundstage that is perceived as unnatural or odd.
Good value: >3.7
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
N/A
PRTF Distance
What it is: The depth of the "10KHz notch" of the headphone's PRTF, which is caused by phase cancellations at the concha. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is mainly responsible for the perceived distance and elevation of the soundstage. A small distance value may result in a soundstage that is perceived to be located inside the head. Larger values may help pull the soundstage out from inside of the head and bring it to the front.
Good value: >13
Noticeable difference: 1
:
N/A
Openness
What it is: How open the headphones are, and how open and spacious they sound. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test differentiates between acoustically and electronically produced crosstalk and only takes the acoustically generated crosstalk into account. This value is the inverse of the Noise Isolation test score, and could be indirectly related the acoustic impedance of the headphones.
When it matters: When a headphone with a sense of an open, and spacious soundstage is desired. A value of 10 indicates a fully open headphone, and a value of 0 indicates a fully closed headphone.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
1.3
Acoustic Space Excitation
What it is: How loud the headphones are, and how much they excite their environment acoustically. If the headphones are loud and open enough, the sound leaking from the headphones will be affected by the environment (reflections/reverb) before reflecting back into the open headphones and to the listener's ears. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This value is the inverse of the Leakage test score.
When it matters: Headphones with higher excitation values, similar to openness, tend to have soundstages that are perceived as more open and spacious.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
0.2
Correlated Crosstalk
What it is: How strong and solid the phantom center is. This is mostly a stereo quality and its effects on mono content are minimal. This test is sensitive to the phase of the crosstalk and whether it is produced acoustically or electronically.
When it matters: When a true reproduction of the stereo image is desired. A value of 0 indicates no crosstalk, or that the existing crosstalk is not correlated enough to affect the phantom center. A negative score means the crosstalk is out of phase with the original signal, resulting in a slightly wider stereo image at the expense of creating a 'hole' at the center of the stereo field. A positive score means the crosstalk is in phase and positively affecting the phantom center.
Good value: >1dB
Noticeable difference: 0.3dB
:
0.0 dB

The soundstage is poor. This is because creating an out-of-head and speaker-like soundstage is largely dependent on activating the resonances of the pinna (outer ear). The design of in-ears and earbuds is in such a way that fully bypasses the pinna and doesn't interact with it. Also, because these headphones have a closed-back enclosure, their soundstage won't be perceived to be as open as that of open-back earbuds like the Apple AirPods, Google Pixel Buds, or the Bose SoundSport Free.

8.1 Total Harmonic Distortion
What it is: The subtle, unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Score components:
Shure SE215 Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 90dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at moderate listening levels.
Good value: <0.100
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.718
Weighted THD @ 100
What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 100dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at loud listening levels.
Good value: <0.300
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.188

The Shure SE 215 have a very good harmonic distortion performance. In the bass range, they show very little THD, even under heavy loads. This suggests that the Shure could take a few dB of EQ boost in the bass range before distorting. The peak in THD around 1KHz, however, is rather elevated and could make the region sound a bit harsh and fatiguing.

9.1

Isolation

Score components:

The Shure SE215 isolate better passively than some of the active noise cancelling headphones we've tested. They will be suitable to use in loud, noisy environments and while commuting and traveling, especially if you have a little music playing. They also barely leak, which makes them great headphones to use in quiet settings like an office or when you don't want to distract those around you.

8.7 Noise Isolation
What it is: How much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on.
When it matters: If the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
Score components:
Shure SE215 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
What it is: The simulated noise isolation of the headphones, demonstrating how much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on. This recording is created using an EQ and is not an actual recording. For headphones with ANC (active noise cancellation), the playback simulates the isolation with ANC enabled.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
:
Overall Attenuation
What it is: The overall amount of environmental noise reduction in dB.
When it matters: In loud envinronments like planes, trains, offices, etc.
Good value: <-20dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-24.62 dB
Bass
What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the bass range (20Hz-250Hz).
When it matters: When the outside noise is bass-heavy, like in airplanes.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-15.13 dB
Mid
What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the mid-range (250Hz-2.5KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is mid-heavy, like in an office.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-22.63 dB
Treble
What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the treble range (2.5KHz-20KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is treble-heavy. Although uncommon, areas with sharp sounds fall under this category.
Good value: <-30dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-36.73 dB
Self-Noise
What it is: The amount of noise created by the active electronics of the headphones (if applicable), measured from 300Hz-20KHz. Applies mostly to wireless and noise-cancelling headphones.
When it matters: If too loud, it could become distracting when listening to quiet material like podcasts and audiobooks.
Good value: <16dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
0 dB

The isolation performance of the Shure SE215 is great. Although these in-ears don't have an active noise cancelling (ANC) system, they provide an impressive amount of isolation. In the bass range, where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sits, they achieve 15dB of isolation, which is good. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they isolate by more than 23dB, which is excellent. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, they reduce outside noise by more than 36dB, which is very good. However, like most other passively isolating headphones, they aren't very effective around 200Hz.

9.8 Leakage
What it is: The amount of sound bleeding out of the headphones.
When it matters: When the listener doesn't want people around them (in office, recording studio, etc.) to hear what is being listened to.
Score components:
Shure SE215 Leakage
Leakage Audio
What it is: The simulated sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal. This recording is created using an EQ and is not an actual recording.
When it matters: When you don't want people to hear what you are listening to.
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
What it is: The amount of sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal.
When it matters: When you don't want people hear what you are listening to.
Good value: <35dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
22.36 dB

The leakage performance is excellent. Like most other closed-back in-ears, these headphones don't leak in the bass and mid-ranges. The significant portion of their leakage is in the treble range and between 4KHz and 6KHz, which is a very narrow range. The overall level of the leakage is very quiet too. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 22dB SPL and peaks at around 34dB SPL, which is lower than the noise floor of most offices.

0

Microphone

What it is: The microphone section shows the quality of speech capture and transmission by the mic, as well as how well the microphone under test handles noisy environments.
When it matters: For your speech to be transmitted to and understood properly by the listener, the microphone needs to have a good recording quality. If the environment the microphone is being used in is noisy, a microphone with a good noise handling performance would be needed as well.
Score components:
Integrated
What it is: The microphone integrated in the ear cup or ear bud of a wireless headphone.
When it matters: For calls, gaming and voice over IP software or for any other use of the microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
In-line
What it is: The microphone inside the in-line remote of audio cables for wired and wireless headsets.
When it matters: In-line microphone are usually better than integrated mics. If you need better recording quality and noise handling for calls, gaming and voice over IP software then use the audio cable of your wired or wireless headphone if it has an inline microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Boom
What it is: A typically better microphone, that's also adjustable and extends so that the mic is closer to your mouth.
When it matters: Much better recording quality and noise handling than in-line or integrated mics. Primarily used for gaming and voice over IP software.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Detachable Boom
What it is: A boom mic that is detachable from the headset.
When it matters: If you want to use your headphone outdoors without the bulk and hassle of the Boom mic.
:
N/A

The Shure SE 215 do not come with a microphone. For a wired headphone with a good in-line microphone, check out the Bose SoundTrue Around-Ear II, the QuietComfort 25 or the Apple EarPods.

0 Recording Quality
What it is: Microphone recording quality shows how natural, neutral, extended and intelligible speech would be with the device under test, in a quiet environment.
When it matters: A microphone with a good recording quality ensures that the person listening to you would hear a full, clear, and easily understandable speech. Therefore, it is important whenever a good quality of speech transmission and intelligibility is needed.
Score components:
Recorded Speech
What it is: Actual audio recording of the headphone's microphone, recorded while placed on the dummy head, with speech being played back through the dummy head's mouth simulator.
When it matters: When a clean, full, and intelligible speech transmission is required.
:
N/A
LFE
What it is: Low-frequency extension shows how deep the bass response of the microphone is, and therefore, how deep and full your voice would sound to the listener. It is the lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: LFE is not a big factor in speech intelligibility and even speech recorded with a mic that has an LFE of 500Hz could still be easily understood. Therefore, it is mostly important if you are concerned with how deep and full your voice would be heard.
Good value: <150Hz
Noticeable difference: 30Hz
:
N/A
FR Std. Dev.
What it is: Frequency Response Standard Deviation shows how accurately and balanced sound is captured by the microphone at each frequency. FR Std. Dev. is calculated between LFE and HFE, and the rest of the spectrum is ignored.
When it matters: A good frequency response is desired when a natural and neutral speech quality is desired. As opposed to HFE which is more a metric for speech intelligibility, frequency response could be considered as a metric for a natural and neutral sound.
Good value: >3.5dB
Noticeable difference: 0.5dB
:
N/A
HFE
What it is: High-frequency extension is the highest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response. It shows how extended the treble response of the microphone is.
When it matters: HFE is one the most important factors in speech intelligibility. The higher the HFE, the brighter, more open, and more extended the speech quality will be which makes it a lot easier to understand by the listener.
Good value: >8KHz
Noticeable difference: 1KHz
:
N/A
Weighted THD
What it is: The unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies, which cause deformation of an output signal compared to its input.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 1.0
:
N/A
Gain
What it is: Shows how much louder the microphone can go above our reference loudness level. The gain value is reported relative to our reference level, which is 94dB at a distance of 5cm from the mouth.
When it matters: A microphone with a high gain is important when the input signal (speech) is very quiet. For example when whispering, or talking on the phone in a library.
Good value: >18dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
N/A

These headphones do not have a microphone so the recording quality has not been tested.

0 Noise Handling
What it is: How well the microphone is able to separate speech from background noise, so that the transmission would include more voice and less noise.
When it matters: When a clean and intelligible speech transmission is desired in a noisy situation like talking on the phone on a busy street or on the bus.
Score components:
Speech + Pink Noise : N/A
Speech + Subway Noise : N/A
SpNR
What it is: Speech to Noise Ratio is the difference in level between speech and background noise as heard by the listener
When it matters: If the microphone is going to be used in a noisy environment, it is important for it to be able to separate the speech from background noise, so the voice would be easily audible and understandable.
Good value: >24dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
N/A

The SE215 do not have a microphone so the noise handling has not been tested.

0

Active Features

What it is: Headphones with active components that require a battery. This includes noise cancelling and wireless headphones that actively reduce noise or transmit audio via a wireless connection.
When it matters: How suitable the power and wireless specifications of an active headphone will be, depending on your listening habits. The range and/or discharge time of the active headphone you select will be important if you're often on the move or have long uninterrupted listening sessions.
Score components:

These headphones have no active features and therefore do not require a battery. They also do not have a dedicated app or software support for added customization options. 

N/A Battery
What it is: The power source of your headphones. All headphones with active features have a battery that will deplete over time.
When it matters: To continue using the active features of your headphones. Some models lose features or switch off completely when the battery is drained, which limits what you can do with them until the next charge.
Battery Type
What it is: The type of battery that the headphones use. Usually AAA or embedded, Li-ion rechargeable batteries.
When it matters: When your headphones run out of power. Rechargeable batteries usually charge via the headphones Micro-USB port whereas AAA batteries have to be replaced or charged with an external device.
:
N/A
Battery Life
What it is: The amount of time it takes for a headphones' battery to be completely drained. Battery life will vary depending on the active features used and volume level.
When it matters: For active headphones that connect wirelessly, have noise cancellation or other audio-enhancing features, that cease to work once the battery is dead.
Good value: >10hrs
Noticeable difference: 0.5hrs
:
N/A
Charge Time
What it is: The amount of time your active headphones have to be connected to a power source to charge from 0 to a 100%. However, charging time will vary depending on your power source.
When it matters: To be able to use the active features of your headphones. Especially, wireless ones that completely switch off and need to be recharged when the battery is dead.
Good value: 2h or less
Noticeable difference: 0.25h
:
N/A
Power Saving Feature
What it is: A feature that turns off the headphones, after a set time, when they're not in use.
When it matters: To prolong battery life when the headphones are not being used, or if you forget to manually turn off your headphones.
:
N/A
Audio while charging
What it is: Some active headphones remain usable while charging. They continue to stream audio and do not disable other active features.
When it matters: This makes sure that your headphones's battery are not being drained when you're relatively close to a power source. However, this means wireless headphones will need a wired connection to the power source during the charging process.
:
N/A
Passive Playback
What it is: Active headphones that still work when all their active features are turned off or out of power.
When it matters: If you run out of power and do not have spare AA/AAA batteries or access to a power source to recharge your headphones.
:
N/A

These are passive headphones with no active components and no battery.

0 App Support
What it is: The additional app provided to enhance your listening experience. They typically deliver a set of practical features that give you more control over the sound, noise cancelling and effects that the headphones produce.
When it matters: An app with a lot of features allows you to customize your listening experience to suit your taste and preferences. For example, additions like an equalizer can give you more bass or treble and room effects can simulate a bigger Soundstage in closed back headphones.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
What it is: Parametric, graphic or preset sound profiles that slightly alter the frequency response.
When it matters: If you want to tailor, your listening experience. Depending on what you're listening to you may want more or less bass for some tracks or more mid-range for vocals-heavy audio.
:
N/A
ANC control
What it is: Control over the Active noise canceling technology. This could be either a simple on/off button, and adjustable slider or even adaptive self-regulating noise cancellation.
When it matters: If you're in an environment where you need to monitor your surroundings or completely isolate yourself from ambient noise.
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
What it is: Room effects that enhance the audio quality to make it more immersive.
When it matters: If you want to further tweak your listening experience. Adding room effects, can simulate a more spacious Soundstage or deliver a surround sound-like feel.
:
N/A
Playback control
What it is: An in-app player that gives you access to play/stop, track skipping or volume controls directly with the app.
When it matters: It's a shortcut that allows you to control your audio without leaving the application.
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

The SE215 do not have a compatible app or software support for added customization options.

4.8

Connectivity

What it is: The inputs and outputs of wired and wireless headphones, as well as their latency performance and range.
When it matters: To know how compatible your Bluetooth device, console or PC will be with your wired or wireless headset.
Score components:

The Shure SE215 are not Bluetooth headphones and do not come with a base or dock. They have a wired 1/8TRS connection with no in-line remote so they will only provide audio when connected to your devices or consoles. Unfortunately, since they're wired, they won't have the range and convenience of wireless headphones for gaming or watching movies, but on the upside, they have practically no latency like most wired headphones.

0 Bluetooth
What it is: Bluetooth support for wireless headphones.
When it matters: To connect wirelessly to Bluetooth sources like your phone, tablet, console, PC and TV.
Score components:
  • 80% Multi-Device Pairing
  • 20% NFC Pairing
Bluetooth Version
What it is: The version of Bluetooth that the headphones support.
When it matters: Newer versions of Bluetooth, when paired with devices that support the same version, may have improved latency and wireless range performance.
:
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
What it is: A Bluetooth profile that allows some headphones to be simultaneously connected to multiple Bluetooth sources, and have full call and media support on both/all devices they are connected to.
When it matters: To quickly switch between your Bluetooth sources. For example, switching from your phone to your home or work PC and still have call and media support on both devices.
Good value: 2 devices.
:
N/A
NFC Pairing
What it is: Near Field Communication technology that allows you to quickly, pair your headphones with your Bluetooth and NFC-enabled device.
When it matters: This makes pairing with an NFC-enabled device a lot easier than the typical and often tedious hold-to-pair procedure that most wireless headphones have.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A

These headphones are wired and do not have a Bluetooth connection. If you want a good Bluetooth headset for more casual use, check out the Sony WH-1000XM2.

7.2 Wired
What it is: The type and compatibility of audio cables for wired and wireless headphones.
When it matters: For all devices with a regular audio jack (line-out) and also compatibility of the in-line remote/boom microphone with consoles and Personal computers.
Score components:
  • 13% Analog Audio
  • 9% USB Audio
  • 26% PS4 Compatible
  • 26% Xbox One Compatible
  • 26% PC Compatible
OS Compatibility
What it is: Testing the headphones' cable to see which operating system it works with.
When it matters: Some wired headphones don't support all operating systems so this allows you to check if the headphones will work with your device.
:
Not OS specific
Analog Audio
What it is: When your headphones can play analog media using a standard 1/8" TRS audio jack. Includes using a 1/4" or 1/16" TRS with a 1/8" TRS adapter.
When it matters: For listening to music with devices that have a standard 1/8" TRS audio jack, like an MP3 player, tablet, smartphone or PC.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
USB Audio
What it is: When your headphones can play digital media using a standard USB connector.
When it matters: For listening to music on a PC. A digital USB adapter can offer some advantages over a regular audio jack, like a DAC or added software support.
Good value: Yes
:
No
PS4 Compatible
What it is: PS4 compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PS4 controller.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
What it is: Xbox One compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your Xbox One controller.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
What it is: PC compatibility with a regular 3 or 4 pin 1/8 TRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PC.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio Only

The Shure SE215 have a simple 1/8" TRS audio cable with no in-line remote or mic so they will only provide audio when connected to your phone, PC or console controllers.

0 Base/Dock
What it is: The base station, dock or dongle transmitter of wireless headphones that receive data/audio via a specific frequency range or wired headphones that have a proprietary amp.
When it matters: Knowing the inputs and outputs of the base/dock/dongle as well as its compatibility with consoles and personal computers. Also whether the base supports dock charging to easily recharge the headphones without any cables.
Type
What it is: The type of base/dock the headphones use, whether a USB dongle, charging case or docking station. Wired or wireless.
When it matters: Larger docking stations tend to have more controls and sometimes even customization options while smaller USB dongles are more portable. Charging cases allow you to keep your earbuds charged on-the-go.
:
N/A
Optical Input
What it is: Optical input for audio.
When it matters: Optical can carry a bit more data at faster speeds than typical wired connection which allows for more high quality, lossless audio.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Line In
What it is: The regular wired input via a 1/8" TRS audio jack.
When it matters: For any device that has a line out for audio transmission.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Line Out
What it is: A regular 1/8TRS audio jack output.
When it matters: If you need to share the audio source with other devices. A line out lets you connect other headphones or speakers to the dock/base station.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
USB Input
What it is: A digital USB input instead of a typical 1/8 TRS line-in.
When it matters: A USB connection can provide both an audio input and power to the Dock or Base station.
:
N/A
RCA Input
What it is: Audio input using via an RCA connectors.
When it matters: Provides better stereo audio to the dock/base that's then transmitted to the headphones.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the PlayStation 4.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the Xbox One.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
:
N/A
PC Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with your Personal Computer.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Power Supply
What it is: The connector type of the power source for the base/dock/transmitter.
When it matters: The accessibility of the power source. For example a power supply with USB/USB-C connects to multiple devices, PC , PS4, Xbox One or even with your regular phone charger whereas a A/C adapter is less common.
Good value: USB/USB-C
:
N/A
Dock Charging
What it is: Charging the headphones via the dock/base station instead of a charging cable.
When it matters: It makes charging your headphones easier and gives you a sport to store your headphones when they are not in use.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A

These headphones do not have a dock. If you need a headphone with a dock that also has a wired connection for gaming or watching movies, then consider the SteelSeries Arctis 7.

0 Wireless Range
What it is: Headphones that offer a cable-free listening experience over a wireless network, typically via Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: If you don't want to be limited by the length of an audio cable. This means having the freedom to move around in your home or office with a much greater range than an audio cable could provide, especially, if the Bluetooth source is heavy or difficult to carry. Note that wireless range also depends on your Bluetooth sources' signal strength which may vary from device to device or depending on your phone model.
Score components:
Obstructed Range
What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room. We test our obstructed range with a Moto E4 Plus. Results may vary depending on your phone model or Bluetooth source.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in an indoor environment. Although, the obstructed wireless range will slightly depend on your home or office layout. Note that wireless range also depends on your Bluetooth sources' signal strength which may vary from device to device or depending on your phone model.
Good value: >35ft
Noticeable difference: 5ft
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when in direct line of sight of the Bluetooth device.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you, while listening to your audio in a large and open environment.
Good value: 170ft or more
Noticeable difference: 10ft
:
N/A

These are passive headphones that do not have a wireless range since they're wired. If you want a good wireless headphone for critical listening, consider the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2.

10 Latency
What it is: How long it takes for audio to play through your headphones once the audio signal has been sent from a source.
When it matters: When gaming or watching movies. High latency means you will hear the audio much later than the images you see on screen.
Score components:
Default Latency
What it is: The Base RF latency or the default sub-band coding (SBC) of most Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos a high latency can cause sync issues between the images you see and the audio you hear.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
0 ms
aptX Latency
What it is: An audio coding algorithm (Codec) that improves bit rate efficiency. It reduces latency and improves sound quality over Bluetooth.
When it matters: For better sound quality if your often streaming music over Bluetooth. Also it slightly improves latency when watching videos with wireless headphones.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15ms
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
What it is: Low latency variation of aptX that significantly reduces sync issues between video and sound when using Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos or gaming latency is a lot more noticeable than just listening to music.
Good value: 50ms or less
Noticeable difference: 5ms
:
N/A

The Shure SE215 have a simple wired connection with practically no latency. Unfortunately, this also means that they're limited by the range of the provided cables.

In the box

Shure SE215 In the box Picture

  • Shure SE215 Headphones
  • Audio cable
  • Earbud tips (x9)
  • Wax removal tool
  • Carrying case
  • Manuals

Compared to other Headphones

Shure SE215 Compare Picture

The Shure SE215 are decent critical listening in-ears, versatile enough for most use cases thanks to their simple wired design. They have a more comfortable fit than typical in-ear headphones, and if you get the right combination of tip size and proper placement, they will passively isolate better than some of the best noise canceling headphones we've tested. They have a durable build quality with a detachable cable you can replace if it gets damaged. Their sound quality is also a bit better than the higher-end models in the same lineup, but they are not the best sounding in-ears within their price range, especially when compared to some of the cheaper options below. See our recommendations for the best earbuds, the best headphones under $100, and the best budget earbuds and in-ears.

Sennheiser IE 40 PRO

The Shure SE215 and Sennheiser IE 40 PRO are pretty similar in-ear headphones, but each are slightly better in different categories. The Shure are better-built as their detachable cable isn’t as loose as the IE 40 PRO’s, and the buds feel a bit better-made. Also, they fit better inside the ears, making them more comfortable and creating a better seal for excellent isolation. On the other hand, the IE 40 PRO have a better treble range reproduction as the SE215 have a broad dip that affects the detail and brightness of those frequencies. However, the IE 40 PRO have a significant lack of low-bass.

KZ ZS10

The KZ ZS-10 are a better sounding critical listening in-ear than the Shure SE215. The ZS-10 have a slightly more premium-looking design and a better-balanced sound. The SE215, on the other hand, have a slightly more comfortable fit and better noise isolation than the KZ. However, while both headphones are well-built in-ears with no in-line remotes, the better sound quality of the KZ makes them the better option, especially since they are a lot cheaper than the SE215.

MEE audio M6 PRO

The Shure SE215 are better critical listening in-ears than the MEE Audio M6 PRO. They are noticeably better-built and also feel more comfortable for long listening sessions. Additionally, their isolation performance is great and will allow you to concentrate on your audio content. Sound wise, they’ll be boomier than the M6, but won’t be as sharp. On the other hand, the M6 PRO have an in-line remote and an in-line microphone, which the SE215 are lacking. However, our M6 unit seemed to have a mismatch in phase.

KZ AS10

The KZ AS-10 are better sounding headphones than the Shure SE215. They also look better and have a better build quality, thanks to the braided and replaceable cable. You can also find a variant of the AS-10 in an in-line remote and mic, which the SE215 lacks. However, the SE215 are more comfortable and offer slightly better noise isolation. The better sound quality and cheaper price make the AS-10 a better choice over the SE215.

Sennheiser HD1 In-Ear / Momentum In-Ear

The Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear are slightly better and more versatile headphones than the Shure SE215. The Shures have a better sound quality overall, and they're more comfortable thanks to the angled earbuds. They also have a much more durable build quality than the Momentum. However, the Momentum have an in-line remote, which provides control for iOS devices and has a microphone for taking calls, making them more versatile for everyday casual use. They also come with a better case than the Shures and have a slightly more compact design.

TIN Audio T2

If sound quality is your only or most important factor, the TIN Audio T2 are better headphones, but otherwise, the Shure SE215 are more comfortable, come with a nice case, are more stable, and isolate a lot more noise than the TIN Audio. They also have a detachable cable like the T2, and you can find third-party cables with an in-line remote and mic too. However, they are more expensive than the TIN Audios.

Westone W40

The Westone W40 are slightly better-wired in-ears than the Shure SE215. The Westone have a mic and in-line controls, which makes them a bit more versatile than the SE215s. The Westone also come with a better case and a lot more accessories than the Shures. On the upside, the Shures have a better bass, mid-range, and a slightly better treble. They also have a slightly better noise isolation performance but it's heavily dependent on the tip and fit in your ears. Both headphones should have about the same performance for isolation and leakage.

Etymotic Etymotic Research HF5

The Shure SE215 are slightly better critical listening than the Etymotic HF5. They have a more comfortable fit with angled earbuds that better fit the contour of your ears. The Shures also have a better-balanced sound quality with a stronger bass and a better mid-range. They also have a thicker, more durable, and detachable audio cable. On the other hand, the Etymotic isolate passively a lot better than the Shures. They also have a more lightweight and straightforward in-ear design that some may prefer over the thicker cables of the SE215.

+ Show more

Conclusion

6.6Mixed Usage
What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
Average-to-decent performance for mixed usage. The Shure SE215 have a comfortable in-ear fit and great passive isolation that is on par with some of the best noise canceling headphones we've tested. They also barely leak, they're compact enough to carry on you at all times and they have a stable ear-hook design which makes them a decent choice for commuting, sports, and the office. Unfortunately, their short audio cable won't be ideal most home theater setups. Also, the lack of in-line controls and a mic is not ideal for gaming.
6.7Critical Listening
What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
Decent for critical listening. The Shure SE215 surprisingly have a slightly more balanced sound than the higher-end SE315 and SE425. They have a good bass and a decently balanced mid-range, although the slight overemphasis in the lower frequencies makes them sound a bit boomy and cluttered. Their treble range is also a bit inconsistent and will sound slightly sharp on certain frequencies but a bit recessed overall which makes instruments and vocals a bit less detailed. Like most in-ear designs the small closed back earbuds cannot create a soundstage as spacious as more critical listening focused open-back over-ears.
6.8Commute/Travel
What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
Decent for commuting. They block noise passively better than some noise cancelling headphones. They also have a compact design that will fit into your pockets and they are fairly comfortable for an in-ear. Unfortunately, they have no in-line remote or control scheme.
7.1Sports/Fitness
What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Score components:
Above-average for sports. They have a stable ear-hook design that will not move much during exercise. They're also decently comfortable lightweight and compact enough to carry on you at all times. Unfortunately, they do not have a control scheme which is not ideal when working out or running.
6.6Office
What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Score components:
Decent for office use. They barely leak and block a lot of noise passively. This makes them suitable for a quiet and a loud office environment. However, they have many connection options and no mic for making calls. Also despite having a comfortable in-ear fit, they may not be the ideal headphones to wear for your entire work shift.
6.0TV
Score components:
Mediocre for home theater use. They're comfortable, they have a decent sound, and no latency thanks to their wired connection. Unfortunately, their cable is relatively short so unless you watch most of your movies on your PC or tablet the short cable will not be ideal for all home theater setups.
5.6Gaming
Score components:
Sub-par for gaming. They have a decent sound, a comfortable design and a no latency wired connection. Unfortunately, they have no mic or in-line controls. They're also not as customizable as typical gaming headphones, and their relatively short audio cable won't be as convenient for gaming as the some of the wireless gaming headsets we've tested. On the upside, they will provide audio when connected to your Xbox one PS4 controller.

LOG IN

JOIN RTINGS.com

Be part of the most informed community and take advantage of our advanced tools to find the best product for your needs.
Join our mailing list:

Create Discussion