Our ears are still singing the praises of the Shure SE535s we reviewed a few months ago, so we have high hopes of these -- the Shure SE115m+s. We're going to go ahead and leave the '+' out of the rest of this review. All you need to know is that this set of 'buds is almost identical to the SE115s we reviewed last year, but includes an in-line remote for the benefit of those who listen to their tunes through iProducts. They'll set you back about £100, but are they worth it?
Stick it to the man
In terms of design, there's no complicated ear-loop arrangement like you'd find on high-end Shure earbuds. Instead, these buds simply stick into your lugs, with no cat's-cradle-like ear-tangling required. On the plus side, this makes them simple to pop in and out. On the other hand, they're not as secure, so if you're doing a spot of jogging or something that involves vigorous movement, you might find they work their way loose.
We settled for the medium-sized rubber earbuds, and found they formed a comfortable seal inside our ears. Like any earbuds that create a rubbery barrier between your inner ear and the frightening outside world, the SE115ms offer decent sound isolation, rendering you more or less completely alienated from your fellow commuters/joggers/colleagues/family members.
These headphones come packaged with a selection of rubber and foam earbuds, plus a cleaning tool and a protective pouch. We've never been able to keep track of these bits and bobs for more than about five minutes, but if you're less prone to losing things than us, you might find these accessories come in handy.
As for sound quality, there's not much wrong with these 'buds. Hardcore audiophiles will find reason to grumble, but we didn't notice any glaring issues. Bass response is potent enough to deliver a decent thump and never drowned out the high end. You'll hear considerably more detailed sound with higher-end headphones, though -- listening to No Doubt's Just a Girl, we noticed some loss of detail on the cymbals and lead guitar. If we had to pick a flaw, we'd say the SE115ms sound just a little flat, and there isn't a great deal of brightness to the audio.
Just along the cabling on the right earbud you'll find the in-line remote. This features volume 'up' and 'down' buttons and a central button. Tapping this will play or pause the music, and holding it for a moment will bring up voice control, VoiceOver or voice memo recording, depending on what kind of device you're using. If you have an iPhone, you can take calls by tapping the central button once and speaking into the microphone, which dangles conveniently just below your mouth.
We've seen some headphones with an in-line remote where double-tapping the central button works as a skip-track function, which we found very useful for controlling playback. It's hardly a dealbreaker, but the same feature would've been welcomed on these 'buds.
There's very little to complain about with these Shure SE115m+ headphones. That said, there's also very little to set them apart from the rest of the crowd. Before purchasing, we'd recommend you check out our review of the rather wonderful Sennheiser OCX 880s, which are available for around £40 cheaper.
Edited by Emma Bayly