Top positive review
16 people found this helpful
New highs, or the ultimate low?
on 14 September 2012
I've had a fair number of different in-ear headphones over the past couple of years. My first journey in to miniature headphone technology started many years ago with the almost instant realisation that the bog-standard iPod headphones supplied with the before mentioned article where beyond heinous. Having been a bit of a hi-fi aficionado in my youth I found these headphones to be truly offensive. I moved on to bigger and better (Apple iPod In-Ear Headphones) but they were not really much better. The sound quality improved but only if I walked down the road with my fingers pushing the 'phones into my head, or they would fall out after a few dozen steps. The first in-ear headphones I bought that I liked where Sennheiser CX-300's. They fit, they sounded great. Trouble was I found them a bit boomy. Great bass thump but not too much definition. For only £35 a masterpiece, but I wanted more.
With sound equipment, as with so many other things in life, the law of diminishing returns can quickly become apparent. My next set of headphones where double the price. The Phonak Audéo Perfect Bass Earphones are quite simply superb with regards sound quality, but I've found them unreliable. My second set in six months have just failed! I've reconciled myself to the fact that another quantum leap will require an equally impressive jump in the amount of money I'm willing to spend to achieve perfection. The conclusion to this decision was the purchase of the Shure SE425-V-EFS Sound Isolating Earphones.
To say that I was disappointed with the purchase when I first received the 'phones is an understatement. The bottom end was almost non existent and top end sibilance was dreadful. I preferred my £35 Sennheiser's to the mess of sound that the Shure earphones offered. However, having listened to any number of in-ear headphones I knew that there are three basic caveats to getting the best out of this design: The fit, the fit and... the fit! The first rule of in-ear headphones is that you must achieve a perfect fit. The second rule of in-ear headphones..... You get the idea.
The Shure SE425-V-EFS 'phones come with an impressive array of ear buds. Having tried them all I found the best fit to be the medium sized soft rubber spheres. Having achieved a perfect fit however, the base was still woolly, with no depth at all and the top end was all fizz and no tsss! I was about to come back here and write a truly awfully review of the kit as a result, but then I had an epiphany.
It appears that my poor little iPod just isn't capable of driving the dual-driver Shure headphones to a level sufficient to burn in the headphones with any speed. It was certainly true of the Phonak headphones that they matured as they got used. The Shure 'phones are no exception, but it seems that the burn-in process needs to be pushed if you're using a low-power source. I was wondering if the huge sum of cash I spent on these apparently rubbish phones was cause for concern, so I decided to plug them in to my computer and hear then off the back of the PC Realtek sound card to see if it was the source - my iPod - that was the problem. I still wasn't much impressed, but being aware that the burn-in process can take a little while I left the headphones on at quite a good volume all night. This morning I didn't get the opportunity to try them out as I was chatting on the phone most of the way in to work. On the way home though, oh my!
I didn't want to get home. The bass is now driven and punchy. It doesn't have the massive all encompassing impact of some 'phones I've listened to, but it's controlled and in perfect balance with the rest of the frequency range. Unlike many big-bass phones I've had experience of, the bass on the Shure doesn't swamp everything else. The top end has lost all of the fizz that was so depressing before, and has become clean and clinically crisp in reproduction. For me, one of the biggest features I'm looking for is noise isolation too. I travel to work by train every morning and I want to listen to my music, not the rattle of locomotives or the incessant drivel from my fellow passengers screaming at their colleagues, friends and relatives down mobile phones. With these babies in place you'll think you've moved to the moon.
In summary then, I can feel confident in praising the Shure SE425-V-EFS in-ear headphones to the hilt. Give them time to burn in properly and ensure that you have the best fit you can possibly achieve with whichever ear-bud's in the supplied collection suits your ear shape. You'll be rewarded with a marvellously musical experience.
Now I'm a happy bunny.