Shure has several models in its SE line of in-ear headphones, starting with the SE102s and moving all the way up to the SE530s. The SE115s are the company's newest model for 2009. At around £70, they're a step-up from the SE110s but they're still something of an entry-level model in the Shure line. The SE115s feature Shure's signature sound-isolating design and 'dynamic microspeaker' technology, which purports to offer a 'warm, detailed audio listening experience'. We're not sure we agree with the last part of that statement, but, if there's one thing the SE115s do deliver, it's bass.
The SE115s are Shure's most colourful set, available in a choice of black, red, blue and pink. Like all Shure earphones, they come with a collection of foam-tipped and silicone eartips that let you find a snug fit for your ears. The SE115s also feature an elbow-style plug that helps prevent shorts in the cord from having it yanked on or bumped when it's plugged into your MP3 player. Another plus is that a protective carrying case is included.
The SE115's forte is bass -- there's plenty of it (just make sure to really get a tight seal in your ear or you'll lose some low-end). While the bass sounds full, however, these earphones aren't terribly detailed, and sound rather lifeless (that is, not incredibly dynamic) compared with some competing models that cost slightly more. The potent bass definitely pumped up the reggae and hip-hop tracks we listened to, but, overall, these earphones just don't sound very open. As audiophiles like to say: the sound feels stuck in your head.
We compared them with Etymotic's hf5 earphones (around £80), and, while the hf5s didn't deliver as much bass, they offered more detail. We prefer our music with the level of detail offered by the hf5s.
Overall, we were slightly disappointed with the Shure SE115s. The big caveat here is that our tastes lean towards having more detail rather than huge bass (of course, if you can have both, that's even better). But, if you listen to hip-hop and other bass-heavy material, the SE115s should appeal to you.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet