No stranger to the scene, the Shure SE215 is almost a necessity in the starter pack of the budding audiophile. In fact, if you google around for a good entry-level In-Ear Monitors (IEMs), the Shure SE215 is bound to pop up in the top five recommended list.
Created a couple of years ago, before the influx of cheap Chi-fi, the SE215 was one of the first few professional headphone labels to offer an affordable option for consumers looking to upgrade their listening experience. And to kick things up a notch, the Shure also released the Shure SE215 SPE with enhanced bass to improve the listening experience.
- Affordably priced
- Great Driver Fit
- Punchy Bass, Smooth Mids
- Durable Cables
- Excellent Noise Isolation and No Sound Leakage
- Narrow Soundstage
- Over-ear memory cable can be more pliable
- Black cables look inelegant
With the new release of the Bluetooth version of the SE215, we decided that it is time to revisit this old classic and see if it has withstood the test of time or it has paled in comparison to other new offerings, leaving it more as a product of its time.
Packaging and Accessories
Priced at $99, the SE215 SPE comes together with a minimal amount of accessories:
- 1x detachable cables
- 6x ear tips in varying sizes (3 foam, 3 silicone),
- 1x cleaning tool
- 1x soft carrying case.
It’s the standard package with most IEMs nowadays, so nothing to be surprised or delighted by.
We could be nitpicking, but a hard carrying case should have been offered instead, and not only would it protect your IEMs better, but it would make the SE215 SPE look more premium as well. Just because it is cheap, doesn’t mean it has to look cheap.
Build Quality and Comfort
The SE215 SPE comes in the limited edition colour: Lucent Blue. This translucent driver casing creates a sleek feeling despite its plastic build.
However, the same cannot be said for the detachable cables. The cables are thick and inelegant. Additionally, the cables also don’t come with any inline controls, meaning you will have to reach for your music player to make any volume adjustments.
The only saving grace of the cables is the durability. This is a pair of IEMs that will survive being thrown around carelessly in your bag without being placed in a case.
Going back to the drivers, it can be a little fiddly to get at first, but once you find the right angle, the fit is one of the best out there. It’s comfortable and you barely feel it even after hours of using it.
The over-the-ear cable design means that the cable is kept neatly out of the way and the microphonics is minimised. However, the memory cable could be more pliable to ensure a better fit around your ears, and the free spinning cable attached to the driver proves to be more troublesome than it’s worth.
Trust Shure to deliver a good sound signature, it is pretty balanced and has a nice punchy bass with Shure’s signature great mids. Nothing to wow the EDM lovers out there, but the enhanced bass is enough to provide that extra kick to your normal songs.
However, while the SE215 SPE takes care of its bass line and smooth mids, it misses out on the clarity of the treble. The brights often end up sounding a little distant and blunted and which makes listening to both classical music and pop songs much less fun.
The soundstage of the SE215 SPE is more on the narrow side in comparison to the other affordable EDMs out there like the MEE Audio M6 Pro for instance. While it works well enough to paint a much bigger picture and make you feel that the sound is coming from more directions than the two single points in your ears, it is still unable to paint the whole stage placement for orchestral pieces for example.
The SE215 SPE soundstage is great for acoustic pieces where you can feel the intimacy of the singer and guitar players or for simpler pieces where directionality doesn’t matter.
Noise Isolation and Sound Leakage
You can’t talk about Shure without mentioning its noise isolation and sound leakage properties, and the SE215 SPE simply blows other competitors, like the VSonic GR07 and ATH IM70, out of the water.
The sound isolating foam ear tips can block up to 37 dB of ambient noise, which means it is perfect for the early morning commute when you just want to drown out the noise rush hour crowd but not so entirely that you won’t be able to hear the frantic beeping of a closing train door or incoming car horns.
The sound leakage is virtually non-existent, even at louder ear throbbing volumes or rave music, meaning you can keep your party entirely just to yourself.
- Sensitivity: 107 dB SPL/mW
- Impedance: 17 Ω
- Frequency Range: 21 Hz – 17 kHz
- Cable length: 127 cm
- Sound Isolation (up to): 37 dB
- Driver Type: Single Dynamic MicroDriver
- Cable type: Detachable
To be honest, there is a reason why the SE215 was recommended for so long. Introduced way before any other high-end brands ventured into affordable quality headphones, the SE215 SPE is a great entry-level IEMs. It is a step up in terms of sound quality, offering the budding audiophile a taste of what it is like to titillate your senses. The impressive noise isolation gives you that sense of privacy and intimacy.
However, with time and the influx of Chi-fi, it is getting increasingly hard for the SE215 SPE to remain at the top of the charts for affordable entry-level IEMs. The narrow soundstage is apparent compared to its competitors and even its sound signature can be rivaled by slightly cheaper brands to varying degrees. Smaller companies are coming up with more elegant products to capture a bigger market share at a way cheaper price.
If Shure wants to keep its lead, it needs to bring more to the table, and it needs to bring it fast. Hopefully, with the new re-release of the Bluetooth SE215, we can find more reasons to love this classic again.Buy “Shure SE215 SPE” on Amazon
Shure SE215 is still the overall best headphone at its price. Why? IEMs are for convenience, and SE215 delivers that better than any other iem at this price. Durability- legendary; Comfort – again legendary, you can sleep wearing them; Isolation – Best in class; Sound Quality – quite well put as it is non offensive to everyone, no treble or upper midrange peak, not bloated with bass, does not sound technical. So, my point is, since iems are not for critical listening and actually used for their convenience factor, Shure SE215 still triumphs over the competition.
For sound only, there are better iems in the market, one of them would be my beloved Vsonic GR07BE. But GR07 lacks in isolation, comfort and build quality/durability. So, iems like GR07, 1more triple driver, RHA MA750, Ostry KC06 etc for one reason or other are not as well rounded as the SE215. Therefore, below $100, the overall best in the market is still the SE215.