Since my last pair of ‘buds went to off to headphone heaven, I’ve been forced to return to the ostentatiously eye-catching white of my mp3-player’s included ear buds, but after a couple of weeks with those, I knew I needed a new set, enter this wonderful pair from that fantastic company that might more closely be associated with equipment at the opposite end of the music industry pipeline: acclaimed mic makers Shure. So time to get ears-on with this Shure SE 112 review!
Why not generic?
Well, there are a few reasons. The first is that I don’t think the majority of included earphones sound particularly great; bass extension seems a particularly light, and they seem to be a bit pushed in the sensitive presence region. All of this is great for intelligibility, but can cave in your timpanic membrane with an aggressive rim shot!
Another reason is that they just don’t fit very well; they’re very ‘one size fits some’. But not all. There, do you see how much I care about that? I was willing to start a sentence with a conjunction to emphasise my point. I just had to keep adjusting them all the time as I thought they were about to fall out.
Now, a poor fit gives rise to other issues. I also couldn’t use them to listen to music on the bus. As they didn’t fit very well, lots of sound got out, and that’s not great for the whole social conscious thing. Yes, like everybody else I think I have superb musical taste, but that doesn’t mean that the 84 year old or 14 year old sat next to me appreciates the finer points of Transfatty Acid or Kol Nidrei.
Of course – and the wide dynamic range of ‘classical’ music is a great illustration for this – it’s not all about sound getting out, it’s about sound getting in.
If you have poorly fitting ‘buds, lots of the outside world is getting through. That means you have t turn the volume up to hear your tunes over the noise of person sat next to you with the virus you don’t want to catch blowing their nose. When you turn the volume up, you not only let more of your own personal sounds out, you also increase the risk of damage to your ears. Point: nicely-fitting ear buds are good.
Onto a wee look at the Shure SE 112 noise-isolating earbuds then. Just to cut to the chase, I’ve bought these earphones. With my own money.
See?! Another poor excuse for a fragment of a sentence to illustrate my point. I like these ‘phones. And as I didn’t get the privilege of a review set – are you listening Shure? – I bought them on the basis of price and reputation alone.
Shure have always been known for their mics: it doesn’t get much more industry standard than the SM57 and SM58 now, does it? Their move into headphones though, showed that when you know about transducers, you know about transducers.
With great reviews for headphones from the SRH240 to the top of their range, Shure have shown they know as much about playing the sounds back as they do about getting them onto tape in the first place.
That – combined with the choice of three ear-fittings included in the box, gave me the confidence to buy these sound unheard.
I was not disappointed.
You first appreciate the quality when you remove them from the packet and feel, not only the incredible amount of included documentation, additional earbud sizes and cleaning tool, but also the weight and girth of the cables on these earbuds. Now, braided would obviously be nice to keep things tangle-free, but these give the impression of being ‘professional’.
After trying them in the ol’ ear holes, I decided to swap the medium fittings for the small option for comfort’s sake. The medium fitting certainly blocked out plenty, but I commute an hour each way every day, and I was willing to sacrifice a bit of aural snugness for some bleed and a bit more unobtrusiveness.
The first test was to walk into the breakroom, and ask our acoustic specialist to let me know when she could hear Brad Paisley’s Camouflage bleed through. By the time it did, my iPod was almost maxed out, and that was in a near-silent room. With the background noise of public transport, I reckon I could go all the way.
Not that I would need to, as my commute home demonstrated that the Shure SE 112 earbuds keep the outside out just as well, so there’s no need to risk your ears with extreme volumes just to block out the person sat next to you shouting into their mobile ‘phone.
Oh, and this is perhaps a bit of an over-simplification: they sound great.
Shure SE 112 review: wrapping up
The big thing for me is – unlike my previous non-generic ‘buds – the bass is there, and fantistically well-presented it is too, but it’s not ‘hyped’. My previous ‘better’ pair of earphones exaggerated the bass to impress Burial listeners with the boom. By the way, Burial is incredible. The Se 112s though, are great if you’re used to ‘properly’ listening to music.
If you produce, mix, record, engineer, or just enjoy a blast of your favourite album and have invested a few pounds in your music collection, chances are you’re willing to spend more than 1% of that investment to hear it properly. In that case, the Shure SE 112s are for you.
Or maybe more. Given the level of performance of this entry-level set, I can only begin to wonder at the sound-quality of the 215s, 315s, 425s and 535s. The mind boggles.
But if you love music, and you want to love it on the move, then Shure has a set of earbuds for you:
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