Shure are best known for their high-end in-ear headphones that come with a high price tag too. With the SE115 Shure are making a play for the aftermarket, coming in with a still fairly hefty price of £99.99. So are these worth the money?
When you start paying a little more for headphones you expect to find a little more in the box that just the 'phones themselves. In the case of the SE115 you get no less than six options of tip, three rubber and three foam, to help you get that all-important fit. You'll also find a small cleaning tool and a case to pack everything away in.
Like other Shure headphones these come with a two-piece cable arrangement, so the bulk of the cable separates from the business end. In practise you'll probably never separate the two again, but it does mean that if you catch the cable on something it comes apart rather than pulling your ears off.
Being Shure, these headphones are designed to be worn in an "over the ear" arrangement, so the cable passes around the back of your ear and over the top, with the bud inserted into your ear. The body of the headphone then sits in your outer ear.
This means that you can have a larger body and driver unit without it being so prominent. It is also partially supported by the cable and not just dependent on your ear canal holding the thing in place. A slider on the cable will tighten up the slack around your head making them secure.
After a few fittings the process becomes second nature. Fortunately you can easily hear the difference between ill-fitting and correctly fitting and with this sort of feedback you'll soon have the position of the headphones in your outer ear to get the best sound. The choice of tips means that you should be able to get the right fit for the size and shape of your ear canal, also providing a barrier against external noise.
The body of the headphone is constructed from plastic and rubber and neatly comes in a variety of colourways to suit your style. Our review set was pink. They say you have to be a real man to wear pink, but with headphones that look this good you'll probably not care what colour they are.
The sound performance is good, but at this price point you expect a lot from a set of headphones. Whereas some headphones give you a good all round performance, we found that the Shure SE115 gave a very natural sound which suited classical and acoustic music well. Mid and high tones are well defined and clear, which when supported by great noise isolation, gives a great sound.
However, these headphones are not as bassy as many at this price point, so we found that for music, such as dance, that calls for a little more bass, you have to turn up the volume to get the result you want which is a surprise given how well the noise isolation works on these headphones.
Overall we were expecting a little more from the SE115. It's not that the sound is poor, but it might not meet your requirements across all types of music. If you listen mostly to music where bass plays a big part, you might find that you are left a little underwhelmed. If, however, it is mostly acoustic or orchestral, then the SE115 are a little more suited.
In terms of build quality and design, however, there is no question that Shure are delivering to the high standards we expect from the company. Available in pink, red and blue, they can add a flash of colour to a world dominated by white, silver and black. Failing that, they are also available in black.
With plenty of competition around the £100 mark it is worth looking around before making your choice.