Shure SE535 In-Ear Headphones

The Shure SE535 has rapidly become one of my top 3 in ear headphones. The new replaceable cables are nothing like the problematic Ultimate Ears I own so I felt compelled to write about my experience with these.

I received my SE535 earphones early October of 2010. The packaging was very similar to the now discontinued SE530 but once I got them out of the box it was clear that these were not a make over or a "version II" of the SE530. They looked much sharper and better finished. Specially the build quality of the cables and the singular snap on connection with the gold ring. Very different than the SE530 cables.

The metallic bronze earpieces are probably one of the best finished earpieces I've seen and very different in shape when compared to the SE530. The snap on cables come with the memory wire which is inside the cables enclosure and allows you to mold the cables behind the back of your ear. For those that have tried the Shure SCL5, these memory cables are similar but better. The cables are smooth and soft to the touch although a bit on the heavy side. Some will appreciate it though.

I tried the Shure SE535 first with the eartips they were shipped with but could not get a good seal (therefore not much bass) on one ear. So I went on to replace the eartips. This should be a simple task but it quickly became mission impossible. The ear tips would not come off. Squeeze, pull, grab again, twist, no luck. But I couldn't let the sleeve win. I then decided to go for it and rip the foam off the earphones and then deal with the core of the eartip that would be left behind in the earphone nozzle. Once the foam was ripped off I could get a better grip on the plastic core. First I tried the fingers but since I'm not very patient nor a good handy man I decided to use my teeth and that did the trick. I read that Shure has told a couple of people to put the earpieces inside the freezer for a while and then try to remove the ear tips then. I'm not sure, but I understand the stickiness of the ear tips that ship with the SE535 is due to temperature change between factory, warehouse, transportation, etc.

The fit and comfort of the SE535 are simply awesome. Once you get them right, nothing pokes, nothing seems out of place and more importantly, you don't feel like they are intruding like most lower quality earbuds. Again, the Shure SE535 is quite better than the SE530 in comfort and fit. The new cable snap on system works like a charm and the earphones can actually swivel. It requires a firm pull to remove the cables but nothing like the first set of eartips. You can then replace them with Shure's iPhone cablewhich includes a microphone and an "Apple" 3 button inline control. By far the best iPhone ready solution we tested. This cable will only work with the new Shure models SE535, SE425 and SE315.

The accessories included were the same and I posted a picture here of them. The PTH accessory is no longer included as it has been discontinued by Shure.

The Sound - every time a company launches a new top of the line within a product category, there is always the risk of screwing things up, specially if the previous model was a champion of sales, performance and solid positive feedback from thousands of owners. The Shure SE535 had very big shoes to fill and in the process of improving on existing aspects of a product, a project can always fire back by killing what they got right in the first place. In this case, the sound of the SE530 was the one thing Shure had to be very careful to not screw up that sweet mid range hay became Shure's most praised sound signature. At the same time they had to at least try to improve on a project of this magnitude where everything changed, except for the drivers. So how change the sound, for the better, using the same drivers and crossover design? Aside from crossover design and performance and the drivers themselves, the placement of the micro drivers inside the earpieces has a tremendous effect on the final sound. With the completely new earpiece design, Shure had to rearrange those balanced armature drivers to fit and sound their best on the nee enclosures. And that's exactly what they did. 

At the end, the Shure SE535 is indeed a completely different product. From looks, finish, detail, cable, fit, comfort and sound, I found the SE535 to outperform the SE530 by a long shot. So much so that would call this product something else other than SE535. The mids were precise, forward and smoothly delivered. Tight bass, not overpowering and crispy highs. I wasn't expecting the SE535 to be this good and look that good. My final verdict is a solid 5 Star rating for the Shure SE535. Songs tested were Cello Concerto in A Minor, Take Five (Dave Brubeck), It's a Beautiful Day (U2), Viva La Vida (Coldplay), Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash), One More Drink (Ludacris) and Iron Man (Black Sabbath).