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When we introduce the Shure SE846 to people who had never tried it, we play a little game with them. We asked them to guess the price of it. After a few wild guesses, we reveal the answer to the unsuspecting person.
They will almost always reply in disbelief. I don’t blame them. When I first heard about the price, my jaw literally dropped too.
The unassuming look of the Shure SE846 gave me no hint about the price tag.
Perhaps we are paying not just for the brand but also the technology powering it?
I navigated over to their official website and began researching.
Quad BA drivers with true subwoofer. Ok, multiple BA drivers cost more to manufacture. Hmm…true subwoofer. We shall see.
Patent-pending design for low-pass filter. It is supposedly able to reproduce low-end rolloff at ~3 dB at 90Hz. Human translation: You get better sub bass response.
Customizable Frequency Response. Wut.. what wizardry is this? The SE846 allows you to switch nozzle inserts to attain different type of sound signature.
Detachable cables with formable wire. Hmmm, a trademark feature of Shure. Nothing surprising there.
Available in clear, black, bronze, and blue finish options. Perhaps the gold finish would have exuded a more premium look. (Mine had the clear finish, therefore the “-CL” affix)
It seems like there was a lot of engineering work that had gone into the SE846. Blending four Balanced Armature (BA) drivers to precisely deliver the optimal sound is no small feat.
It also includes interesting features like customizable frequency response and low pass filter. Unfortunately, I was not able to test the customizable frequency response feature as the nozzle tool was not available to me at the point of the review.
Anyway, I was really pumped up to give it go on my “Headphonesty” playlist. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
- Excellent sound presenation
- Well-balanced sound signature
- Great sound separation
- Durable and sturdy build
- Stiff wire
- Price is not reflective of the overall package
Build Quality & Comfort
The cable of the SE846 is tough. It is unlike other rubber cables commonly found on IEM. In fact, it uses Kevlar reinforced cables. Kevlar is a strong and lightweight material that is commonly used for military equipment
There is a downside to this. The cable portion that runs over the ear is really ungiving. Despite claiming to have formable wires, I find it really hard to bend the wires around my ears comfortably.
At the aesthetic end, you can see through the plastic casing to find the compact design of the IEM’s driver unit. It inherits the traditional low-profile shape of a Shure headphones.
The overall sturdy build quality makes the SE846 a durable IEM. There are very few IEMs that I can call tough but the SE846 is definitely one of them.
The sub-bass response is really good. The rumbling sound from Intro by Yosi Horikawa was the clearest and the most obvious from all the other IEMs I had tried.
The cello sound from the opening of “Leave me” by Taska Black was harrowingly beautiful.
The mid-bass did not disappoint too. The tight and punchy bass was pleasing to my ears. There was no boominess and it did not try to overwhelm other frequencies.
Take note that we are talking from the perspective of a IEM and not an over-ear headphone.
The SE846 is capable of bringing out the details in songs. This is evident in tracks like Save The World by Swedish House Mafia where the multiple subtle sound effects can be heard.
Vocals sounded intimate and crisp. Listening to “Hide and Seek” and “Lost in Translation” was a pleasure.
The treble is able to sparkle and yet still stay in cruise control when the upper treble hits. The tricky electronic violin distortion segment in Rude by Daniel Jang came through without feeling scratchy or muffled.
The SE846 has a semi-wide soundstage with good sound separation. In songs with complex layers such as Dreams by Adventure Club, each layer is able to shine without getting into each other ways.
I love the well-balanced sound signature of IEM with multiple drivers such as the 1More Triple Driver. The SE846 further cements that.
Despite the awkward fit, the sleeve creates a good seal that blocks out much of the external noise. Shure calls this the “Sound Isolating Sleeve“. The sleeve is specially made from a selection of foam and flex sleeves.
It does a good job of preventing sound leakage. No audible sound leakage was heard even at almost a quarter to the max volume.
- Sensitivity: 114 dB SPL/mW
- Frequency Range: 15 Hz–20 kHz
- Cable Style: Detachable cables with wireform fit
- Cable Length: 46″ and 64″
- Detachable cable? Yes
- Colors Crystal: Clear
- Speaker Type: Quad High-Definition MicroDrivers
The SE846 has by far the best sound quality I had heard from a IEM. But is it worth the price tag of $999?
Probably not. At least not for me.
I can appreciate the amount of R&D that goes into the SE846 to make it sound the way it does. But ultimately the sound quality has to go hand in hand with the comfort level. But if you have spare cash after your purchase, get yourself a replacement cable that is more comfortable and you are set for audiophile nirvana.