16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Actually worth the money., 9 Mar. 2011
It's a long review, but for a pair of headphones that launched at £, it should be!
A bit of background to where I'm coming from: I am very frustrated music lover, sick and tired of having to replace headphones once a month due to something within the cable snapping. While I had never delved into triple digits in a headphone before (can you blame me?), I could definetly tell what sounded good and what sounded cheap.
The best pairs of earphones I have had before these, are the Creztive Zen Aurvanas (which would have been great if they had lasted more than three weeks), and the Shure E2Cs, which had as much bass as a mouse on helium... and also died within weeks (due to a now-fixed common problem with Shure headphones - the cable splitting).
I was entertaining the notion of spending more this time around. I was personally looking at the Monster Turbine Pro Golds, whih were well reviewed. I nearly made the leap when I discovered the existence of these puppies. While I initially laughed at their launch price of £450, once I saw that the cable is completely detachable and replaceable, I immediately fell in love.
I felt trepidation at the prospect of getting Shures again - the E2Cs were a massive disappointment to me. But, after searching professional reviews, they were unanimous - these were the best headphones you could get. Their only alternative was to get the previous model, as at the time they were down as low as £ while these were being reviewed at £][ - so when I saw the opportunity to buy these for £.. despite being a student, I only held out for 24 hours!
So, they arrive - in the meantime, I nearly take a panic attack once I've realised exactly how much I had spent! However, I can tell you, that, without a doubt, these headphones sounded so good that I no longer felt bad about spending so much! They were that good! Unlike the E2Cs, these have three individual drivers - two of which are dedicated woofers. Get an airtight seal with these phones, and you will not hear bass like it. Rather than artificially boosted bass in cheaper headphones I've had before, like Sonys or Skullcandys, the bass sounds like it has genuine substance - less "turning the bass up to 11", more "plucking a bass guitar yourself".
I'm not a certified audiophile by any means, but I can appreciate the quality of these things by a mile. Listening to Ride the Lightning by Metallica, it sounds less like they're playing into recording equipment, and more like Kirk Hammett is shredding right at my ear! While I initially cringed at the ad blurb describing the drivers as "high-definition", I actually think that it's an accurate description of what they sound like, compared to cheaper headphones. To use a gaming metaphor, it's like owning an Xbox 360 with an older telly, only to get a new TV and play in HD for the first time - the clarity is absolutely outstanding! I'm currently listening to an HTC Desire HD, and I had absolutely no idea MP3s could convey such amazing sound!
Having different components within the earbud dedicated to different sound ranges makes all the difference. Even on the heaviest electronic tracks, the hardest shreds and fastest guitar solos, you can clearly hear every layer of music, where even slightly lesser headphones would just produce a disorted mess. Sometimes I thought it was artistically intentional - turns out it's not!
Everything from UNKLE to Eminem, Metallica to Sleigh Bells, Justice to Nirvana, even quieter stuff like Phil Wickham, Coldplay, Radiohead and Phoenix, sound completely different and so much better. Tracks that I've listened to until I've gotten sick of them sound as fresh as the first time I heard them!
At the end of the day, if I had went with cheaper in-ears, such as IE8s or Moster Turbine Pros, and heard these, I'd have felt regret for a long, long time. They may be cheaper, and have artificaially enhanced bass catering for modern tastes... but that's exactly what they would be - cheap alternatives with the bass shoved up. These SE535s are designed to be *accurate* - you can modily the sound to your tastes with equalizers AFTER, if you wish. I personally have SRS WOW HD enabled on my Desire HD, which is basically an amp built straight to the phone, and to my ears it seems to enhance the sound further and add an extra load of punchiness.
Also, the fact that I can just replace the (kevlar reinforced) cable easily is great (in fact it's what sold these to me). Don't feel like these have an expiry date!
At the end of the day, there are many, many voices that say that these are actually worth the money. I concur. It still sounds partially insane that I would be labelling £300 for these a great price, but... well, I am. They're that good. Go figure.
Also, I'd rather not listen to music, and go without, than use the bundled HTC ones. In fact, I did go without, for a month. They're very crap, even compared to £15 Sonys. So for the guy that believes that they sound better, well, power to ya. Some people like pain, some people are into coprophagia!
If you're on the fence, get off the fence and buy them, if you're affluent enough to do so. Or, in my case, if you can justify four weeks worth of part-time wages! (No regrets after hearing them)