To call any of Shure’s earphones ‘entry level’ is a bit like describing the Aston Martin V8 Vantage as ‘bottom of the range’. But in comparison to the £360 SE530s, the SE210s are practically budget.
Still, in comparison to the relegation zone buds you get with an iPod, or even to Stuff favourites the Sennheiser CX300s, the 210s have just won the Premiership, FA Cup and taken home the Community Shield on penalties.
They take a bit of settling in – the ear intrusion can be a little daunting at first and the wires hook round the back of your ears for a more secure fit – but once they’re settled in you’ll be too engrossed with your tunes to notice they’re there. The rubberised foam earpieces also increase the sound-isolating effect, meaning that even without music playing you'll have to take them out to hear what people are saying clearly.
A dog’s life
What you will notice though is that most of your music is pretty poorly encoded – anything less than about 256kbps will sound flat and empty through these. When you hit on something that’s both high quality and well produced, however, you’ll wonder how you ever coped without them. Everything seems so full of life and vitality – kind of like a dog on Pedigree Chum in your ears.
With The Mars Volta’s post-prog monster, De-Loused In the Comatorium, drums and bass are punchy, and guitar riffs shred straight from the centre of your skull – that’s a good thing, despite how it sounds. Similarly, Radiohead’s OK Computer sounds as awesome as the first time you heard it. The SE210s pick out detail you never knew existed and really enhance the bits you already loved. It’s a veritable banquet of musical rediscovery.
It’s hard to find fault with the SE210s. Other Shure models can be quite fairly criticised for their price, but if you’re a heavy MP3 user, then for sonic luxury, and performance so brilliant that it’ll transform your listening, £60 really is incredible value.