So before Thanksgiving, my beloved Sennheiser CX300's totally bit the dust. Gone. Cable yanked right out of the ear bud. Doing a little research I decided to put the Shure SE115-K Sound Isolating Earphones on my wish list, and surprisingly enough my Aunt totally hooked me up with a pair!
You're instantly struck with how well accessorized these headphones are. Packaging includes an extension cable (the SE's built in cable is a little on the short side), dual sets of ear pads (filled foam and hollow rubber), a surprisingly nice case (with carabiner!), and that little stick thingy? Yup. You guessed it. It's an earwax cleaner. Gross? Yes, but surprisingly useful. If I have to levy a complaint, it would be the exclusion of a quarter inch adapter, but I've got tons of those lying around...
The seal created by the foam pads is kind of incredible. Once you've locked them in place (it does require a little twisting). The foam expands to create pressure and seal. Some people might find that uncomfortable, so Shure also supplies hollow rubber pads which create a little less pressure.
People speaking next to me are rendered almost completely inaudible. The combo of passive noise reduction from the pads and large drivers in the buds allows me to listen to music clearly at a MUCH lower volume than with other buds I've used (Sennys and Sony Fontopias). While listening to modern recordings, turning my ipod up over 50% can be kind of painful on these things.
Which I guess would be the main question on people's minds. How do these things sound? Well, I like them. A LOT. I really hate it when people rave about audio equipment with intangibles like "warmth" and "richness" (How do you even quantify that??? "These earbuds have nine milliliters of "warmth" and that's... uhhh... good.") , so I'm just going to leave you with one last image of the SE115K's. Here are the Shure earbud drivers (on the right) next to my old Sony EX51's earbud driver (on the left).
For more information you can also check out Gizmodo's review of the Shure SE's, and here's my Mailbag response on earbuds and noise reduction.