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Reviewed on Jun 27, 2018

Shure SE215
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
6.6
Mixed Usage
6.7
Critical Listening
6.8
Commute/Travel
7.1
Sports/Fitness
6.6
Office
6.0
TV
5.6
Gaming
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.

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7.6

Design

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

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
Weight : 0.06 lbs
Clamping Force
:
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
Ease of use : N/A
Feedback : N/A
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : No
Microphone Control : N/A
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
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
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
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
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

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

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
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.

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6.4

Sound

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
Std. Err.
:
2.9 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
:
-1.25 dB
Mid-Bass
:
1.01 dB
High-Bass
:
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
Std. Err.
:
2.9 dB
Low-Mid
:
4.32 dB
Mid-Mid
:
0.25 dB
High-Mid
:
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
Std. Err.
:
4.79 dB
Low-Treble
:
0.91 dB
Mid-Treble
:
-4.86 dB
High-Treble
:
-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.

9.1 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
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
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.08
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.23
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
1.2
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
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
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
N/A
PRTF Distance
:
N/A
Openness
:
1.3
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
0.2
Correlated Crosstalk
:
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
Weighted THD @ 90
:
0.718
Weighted THD @ 100
:
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

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
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-24.62 dB
Bass
:
-15.13 dB
Mid
:
-22.63 dB
Treble
:
-36.73 dB
Self-Noise
:
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
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
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

Integrated
:
N/A
In-line
:
N/A
Boom
:
N/A
Detachable Boom
:
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
Recorded Speech
:
N/A
LFE
:
N/A
FR Std. Dev.
:
N/A
HFE
:
N/A
Weighted THD
:
N/A
Gain
:
N/A

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

0 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise : N/A
Speech + Subway Noise : N/A
SpNR
:
N/A

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

0

Active Features

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
Battery Type
:
N/A
Battery Life
:
N/A
Charge Time
:
N/A
Power Saving Feature
:
N/A
Audio while charging
:
N/A
Passive Playback
:
N/A

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

0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
N/A
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
N/A
Playback control
:
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

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
Bluetooth Version
:
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
:
N/A
NFC Pairing
:
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
OS Compatibility
:
Not OS specific
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
PS4 Compatible
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
:
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
Type
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
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
Obstructed Range
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
:
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
Default Latency
:
0 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
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 Headphones
  • Audio cable
  • Earbud tips (x9)
  • Wax removal tool
  • Carrying case
  • Manuals

Compared to other Headphones

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.

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.

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.

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

6.6 Mixed Usage
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.
6.7 Critical Listening
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.
6.8 Commute/Travel
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.
7.1 Sports/Fitness
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.
6.6 Office
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.
6.0 TV
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.
5.6 Gaming
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.

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