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Shure SE215 Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Reviewed Jun 27, 2018 at 11:51 am
Shure SE215 Picture
6.1
Mixed Usage
6.6
Neutral Sound
6.1
Commute/Travel
6.4
Sports/Fitness
6.3
Office
4.1
Wireless Gaming
6.1
Wired Gaming
2.6
Phone Calls
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 Shure SE315 and Shure SE425 but don't 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.

Our Verdict

6.1 Mixed Usage

The Shure SE215 have an average-to-decent performance for mixed usage. They have a comfortable in-ear fit and great passive isolation that is on par with some of the best noise cancelling headphones we've tested. They have minimal leakage, are compact enough to carry on you at all times, and have a stable ear-hook design, making them a decent choice for commuting, sports, and the office. Unfortunately, their short audio cable won't be ideal for most home theater setups. Also, the lack of in-line controls and a mic makes them inadequate for gaming.

Pros
  • Minimal leakage and great noise isolation.
  • Durable build quality.
  • Stable and portable design.
Cons
  • No controls.
  • No extra cable in the box.
6.6 Neutral Sound

The Shure SE215 are alright for neutral sound listening. They have a surprisingly more balanced sound than the higher-end Shure SE315 and Shure SE425. They have 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 slightly inconsistent and will sound 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 neutral listening focused open-back over-ears.

6.1 Commute/Travel

The Shure SE215 are passable for commuting. They block noise better than some noise cancelling headphones, have a compact design that will fit into your pockets, and are fairly comfortable for an in-ear. Unfortunately, they have no in-line remote or control scheme.

6.4 Sports/Fitness

The Shure SE215 are 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 don't have a control scheme, which is not ideal when working out or running.

6.3 Office

The Shure SE215 are mediocre for office use. They barely leak and block a lot of passive noise. This makes them suitable for a quiet and loud office environment. They also have a number of connection options, but no mic for making calls. Despite having a comfortable in-ear fit, they may not be the ideal headphones to wear for your entire work shift.

4.1 Wireless Gaming

As these are wired headphones, they aren't suitable for wireless gaming.

6.1 Wired Gaming

The Shure SE215 are 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.

2.6 Phone Calls

These headphones aren't suitable for wireless gaming.

  • 6.1 Mixed Usage
  • 6.6 Neutral Sound
  • 6.1 Commute/Travel
  • 6.4 Sports/Fitness
  • 6.3 Office
  • 4.1 Wireless Gaming
  • 6.1 Wired Gaming
  • 2.6 Phone Calls
  1. Update 2/17/2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.
  2. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  3. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Shure SE215 look identical to the higher-end Shure SE315 and Shure 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 Shure 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
Design
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 don't come with as many tip sizes as the more premium Shure SE315 and Shure SE425. If you're not a big fan of in-ears, they may get a bit fatiguing after wearing them for a while.

0
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
No Controls
Ease Of Use No Controls
Feedback No Controls
Call/Music Control No
Volume Control No
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls No

Update 12/03/2019: Shure offers a SE215 variant with an in-line remote and microphone. However, we can't comment on the performance as the model we've reviewed didn't include these at the time of testing.

These headphones don't have a control scheme and don't come with an extra cable with an in-line remote.

9.1
Design
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 don't 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 Wireless.

8.6
Design
Portability
L 2 "
W 2 "
H 1.5 "
Volume 6 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

The Shure 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
Design
Case
Type Soft case
L 4.2 "
W 3 "
H 1 "
Volume 13 Cu. Inches

These headphones, unlike the Shure 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 Shure SE425.

8.0
Design
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 make 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 AS10 if you want equally well-built in-ears, with a slightly more unique look.

7.5
Design
Stability

The Shure 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 Wireless. 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.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

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

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-0.43 db
Treble Amount
-4.85 db
9.1
Sound
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.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
8.1
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.71 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
16.34 Hz
Low-Bass
-2.33 dB
Mid-Bass
1.27 dB
High-Bass
4.25 dB

The Shure SE215 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.

8.4
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.07 dB
Low-Mid
3.2 dB
Mid-Mid
-0.79 dB
High-Mid
-0.02 dB

The mid-range of the Shure SE215 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.

5.7
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
5.79 dB
Low-Treble
-1.62 dB
Mid-Treble
-7.09 dB
High-Treble
-11.59 dB

The Shure SE215 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.

7.4
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.65 db
Dips
1.36 db
9.3
Sound
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 Shure SE215 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.

0.4
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
1.5
Acoustic Space Excitation
0.3

The soundstage on these headphones 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 1 Truly Wireless 2017, Google Pixel Buds 2017 Wireless, or the Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No App
7.9
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.305
WHD @ 100
0.100
Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
No Firmware
Power
Passive
Connection
Wired
Codec
PCM, 24-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Silicone (small)
Microphone
No Microphone
Isolation
8.5
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-24.62 dB
Bass
-15.13 dB
Mid
-22.63 dB
Treble
-36.73 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
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
22.36 dB

The leakage performance of the Shure SE215 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.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
0
Microphone
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 don't have a microphone so the recording quality has not been tested.

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

The Shure SE215 don't have a microphone so the noise handling has not been tested.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
No Battery
Continuous Battery Life
N/A
Additional Charges
N/A
Total Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
Passive Headphone
Charging Port None

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

0
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

The Shure SE215 don't have a compatible app or software support for added customization options.

Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
No Bluetooth
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
N/A
PC Latency (SBC)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
N/A
Android Latency
N/A

Update 12/03/2019: Shure offers SE215 variants that are Bluetooth-capable. They come with a Bluetooth 5.0 clip with detachable MMXC connector cables. However, since we didn't get this model, we can't comment on how they perform.

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

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
9.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable Yes
Length 5 ft
Connection 1/8" TRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
0 ms

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.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
Audio Only
PC/PS4 Wired USB
No
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

These headphones don't 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 Wireless 2017.

Compared to other headphones

Comparison 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 cancelling headphones we've tested. Their sound quality is also a bit better than the higher-end models in the same lineup, but they're 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 over-ear 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 Sennheiser, 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 Sennheiser have a better treble range reproduction as the Shure have a broad dip that affects the detail and brightness of those frequencies. However, the Sennheiser have a significant lack of low-bass.

KZ ZS10

The KZ ZS10 are a better sounding critical listening in-ear than the Shure SE215. The KZ have a slightly more premium-looking design and a better-balanced sound. The Shure, 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 Shure.

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 MEE, but won’t be as sharp. On the other hand, the MEE have an in-line remote and an in-line microphone, which the Shure are lacking. However, our MEE unit seemed to have a mismatch in phase.

Shure SE425

The Shure SE215 and the Shure SE425 are very similar in design, but they have completely different sound profiles. The SE425 lack bass and over-emphasize frequencies in the mid and treble ranges, making them sound rather boxy and harsh. The SE215 sound significantly better-balanced in the mid-range but they lack detail and brightness, so they have a darker overall sound profile.

KZ AS10

The KZ AS10 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 KZ in an in-line remote and mic, which the Shure lacks. However, the Shure are more comfortable and offer slightly better noise isolation. The better sound quality and cheaper price make the KZ a better choice over the Shure.

1More Triple Driver

The 1More Triple Driver and the Shure SE215 are both reasonable choices for audiophiles, each with their pros and cons. The Shure are much more comfortable for long listening sessions and are significantly more durable. However, their sound signature is rather dark, lacking detail and brightness. The 1More have a more present treble, but also have stronger bass for a slightly more V-shaped sound profile. They also don't isolate as well as the Shure.

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. They also have a detachable cable like the TIN, and you can find third-party cables with an in-line remote and mic too. However, they are more expensive than the TIN.

Sennheiser HD1 In-Ear / Momentum In-Ear

The Sennheiser HD1 In-Ear/Momentum In-Ear are slightly better and more versatile headphones than the Shure SE215. The Shure 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 Sennheiser 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 Shure and have a slightly more compact design.

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 Shure. The Westone also come with a better case and a lot more accessories than the Shure. On the upside, the Shure 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 Research HF5

The Shure SE215 are slightly better critical listening headphones than the Etymotic Research HF5. The Shure have a more comfortable design with angled earbuds that better fit the contour of your ears. The Shure 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 Shure. They also have a more lightweight and straightforward in-ear design that some may prefer over the thicker cables of the Shure.

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Shure SE215 Price

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