I like to protect my ears from excessive noise when I’m listening to my personal music for pleasure. Having an excellent pair of sound isolating earphones is essential to protecting my hearing which I’m sorry to say isn’t so good after all my years playing in a live band. Still, I’m extremely picky about how my music sounds and I like to hear it warm and clear when I’m listening for pleasure. Sound isolating earphones are important for me because I can keep the volume at a reasonable level and still hear every detail of the music.
I own a high end pair of Shure SE530 sound isolating earphones that I use for personal monitors with my live band. I also use them when I travel or simply want to listen to music when my Sennheiser headphones aren’t around. The thing is, they’re so expensive that I’m extremely careful with them and I don’t like to go running, biking or hiking with them. I love to be active and I’m a very serious runner so I wanted a really good pair of headphones that had high end sound but that didn’t cost $300.
I tried a lot of sports earphones because I need and earphone that will stay put in my ear while I run. Most of them wiggle loose and fall out and I’m constantly having to push them back into my ear. I knew my Shure SE530’s stayed perfectly still in my ear so I decided to look at some of the lower end of the Shure SE product line. That’s when I came across the Shure SE115 sound isolating earphones.
The ergonomic design is almost exactly the same as my high end SE530’s and the SE115’s have expanding foam tips that conform to the shape of your ear canal. The foam tips give you a virtual custom fit to your ear and you get almost perfect sound isolation with them. They come with several different types of tips so finding tips that feel good in your ears while giving you excellent sound isolation is very easy. When I have the SE115’s in my ears they don’t move at all when I run. I can lift weights, run or do the stairmill and the earphones do not budge!
The only thing I don’t like about the ergonomics is the cable design. The earphones have a very short cable attached to them that plugs into a longer extension. This leaves you with a big plug that bounces on your chest while running. The cable is long which is nice for setting the iPod on a table and listening but it can be unweildly when your MP3 player is in an armband.
As for the sound, they are better than any headphone that I tried in their price range. Do they sound as good as the SE530 earphones? No they do not but they sound about 60% as good and cost 1/3 the price so I think that’s an excellent deal! The difference between the SE115’s and the SE530 is in the speaker design. The SE530 earphones have a triple-speaker configuration with two woofers and tweeter in each earphone for excellent detail and bass. The SE115’s have a single speaker called a Dynamic MicroSpeaker II by Shure in each earphone.
The sound of the SE115’s is warm with good deep bass. They don’t have a lot of air, or extreme high end detail. That’s fine for me because I listen to a lot of rock and pop when I’m running and I prefer the warm sound for guitars and heavy bass beats. The SE115’s really put the music up against your eardrum and it takes a few minutes to get used to the sound being right in your head like that. The lack of an airy high-end does make you aware that you’re wearing earphones for a few minutes after you turn them on.
Bottom line is, I’m very satisfied with them 90% of the time. I do sometimes wish they had the airy quality that the SE530’s have but when I’m running and working out, I really don’t miss it at all. I absolutely love how well they stay in my ears when I’m working out and they sound many times better than any earphone in the $20-$100 range. I recommend the Shure SE115 sound isolating earphones for anyone that wants excellent sound while they’re active. They would make an perfect solution for any drummer looking for in-ear monitor earphones that will stay put while they’re drumming.
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