Shure SE315 Sound Isolating Earphones Review

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Shure's SE315 Sound Isolating Earphones ensure your jam sessions are never interrupted. They block out noises from the world around you and lock in all your music, playing it with top-notch audio quality. While I do have some reservations about the buds' over-ear design, the $199 SE315s are quality headphones well worth the premium price.


The Shure SE315 Sound Isolating Earphones have a premium design that's understatedly unique. The smooth, oval backs have a narrow nozzle that feeds into the ear insert. The backs also swivel 360 degrees at the hinge where they meet the cord.

The cord is reinforced with Kevlar, so it's durable, but can be replaced if necessary. It's also more structured than the average earbud wire, making it easy to roll up, shove in a bag, and pull out again with little tangling.

The SE315s come in black and clear - my review unit was the latter, which was both cool and unsettling. It was like looking into the skeleton of the earbuds, since I could see the inner guts through the clear plastic.

Comfort and Fit

Shure gives you a lot of different ways to fit the SE315s into your ears. The earbuds come with three sizes of domed silicone inserts and four sizes of domed foam ones. There's also one pair of three-tiered silicone inserts long enough to fit deep into your ear canal, and one pair of yellow foam inserts with flat tops.

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I settled on the largest-size dome foam inserts, as they blocked out the greatest amount of ambient sound. Every time I put them in, I could hear and feel the tips expanding to mold to my ear shape. I also found them more comfortable, and better able to block noise than the foam inserts that come with the $199 RHA T10i Noise Isolating In-Ear headphones.

The SE315s use a wire over-ear design, meaning the wire drapes over the back of your ear.

However, I found this uncomfortable, and often played with the wires to make sure they wouldn't fall off. Shure isn't the only one to use this method: the RHA also recommends draping the wires of the T10is over the backs of your ears for the best fit. I prefer the semi-rigid over-ear grip on the Beats Powerbeats 2 wireless, which felt more natural -- and more comfortable.

Audio Quality

Shure delivers well-rounded audio with the SE315s. Train's "Bulletproof Picasso" resonated with melodious pianos and a chorus of harmonious Pat Monahan vocals. It was balanced and strong enough that I could pick out the drums and the pianos clearly.

The buds played Panic at the Disco's pop-rock-gospel song "Hallelujah" with clear, robust highs, letting Brendon Urie's crazy falsettos shine in all their glory.

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Overall, the mid instruments were a little muddy, but the track was loud and powerful. By comparison, the $199 RHA T10i Noise Isolating High Fidelity In-Ear headphones played the same track with shriller highs and less robust mids.

Both the Shure and RHA earbuds played Thomas Rhett's "Get Me Some of That" with balanced highs and mids, with the Shure's having slightly stronger bass. The SE315s were also consistently louder than the RHA buds.

Bottom Line

The Shure SE315 Sound Isolating Earphones are a solid choice for those who want to invest in quality music makers. These buds block out most ambient noise while locking in loud, well-rounded sound, and, with their numerous ear inserts, you're bound to find ones that fit your ears best.

While I'm not a fan of their wire over-ear design, it's a small price to pay for great audio quality. If you're looking for the freedom to customize your sound, the $199 RHA T10i Noise Isolating In-Ear headphones give you bass, reference and treble tuning filters you can switch out at your leisure. But for $200, the Shure SE315 Sound Isolating Earphones' excellent sound is worth every penny.

Follow Valentina Palladino at @valentinalucia. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide and on Facebook.

Valentina Palladino

Valentina is Commerce Editor at Engadget and has covered consumer electronics for a number of publications including Tom's Guide, Wired, Laptop Mag and Ars Technica, with a particular focus on wearables, PCs and other mobile tech.