Shure SE530 Review: A Guilty Pleasure – For Your Ears

Shure SE530 Review: A Guilty Pleasure – For Your Ears

November 9, in Hi-Fi Systems Reviews

Specifications:

  • Speaker Type: Triple-balanced armature – single tweeter & twin woofers) Sensitivity (1mW): 119 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance (1kHz): 36 ohm
  • Frequency Range: 18Hz – 19kHz
  • Cable Length/with Extension: 18 in. / 45cm (54 in. / 136cm)
  • 




MSRP:
$499
/
$549
(with
PTH
device)

In 2006, the Shure E500 universal in-ear monitor was introduced as the first ever triple-driver armature earphone oriented toward consumer use. Although the E500 is no longer commercially available, its replacement, the SE530, is nearly identical to its predecessor in both build and design. The only differences that stand between the E500 and the SE530 are their respective model numbers and packaged accessories. So if you feel like you missed out on the opportunity to acquire a set of E500s, no qualms, the SE530 is designed to give you the same fantastic performance that put the E500 on the earphone map.

Accessories:

There’s a great deal be said for presentation, and Shure goes the extra mile by encasing the SE530 in an impressive aluminum box. It’s a small detail that goes a long way in communicating to the customer that they are dealing with a quality product.

The Shure SE530 comes packaged with a myriad of accessories. Along with the earphones, Shure provides a broad assortment of goodies, which include: an airline adapter, a volume control, 6.3mm jack adaptor, an earphone cleaning tool, extension cable, a microfiber clamshell-design hard carrying case, and a substantially generous kit of IEM (in-earmonitor) tips. So just how generous are we talking? You’re given three pairs of grey silicon tips in S, M, and L sizes. You’re given a single pair of white triple flange silicones, which are built to provide excellent isolation, and then, you have four pairs of black “olive” foam tips in S (2x), M, and L. This gives you sixteen tips, and a total of eight pairs. The Olive tips are similar to memory foam and will retain their shape even when force is applied. They are also reasonably durable and washable, meaning that you won’t have to worry about restocking your headphone tips anytime soon.

Shure includes a variety of tips to help ensure that there will be a good fit for each and every customer. Not only does this help provide the customer with a good overall fit in terms of comfort the right tip is also paramount to achieving the best sound possible. Personally I found the black olive tips to be the most comfortable. I also feel that these particular tips provide the best overall mix of great aural performance and solid noise isolation.

Ultimately, the Shure SE530 was built for providing top-notch sound quality as well as isolating external environment noise. Noise isolation is something that they do extremely well, so caution is always recommended when having them on while near a busy street or in any potentially hazardous situation. For an additional $50, Shure offers a Push-to-Hear (PTH) device along with the SE530PTH. This device is essentially a portable microphone that picks up external sound that will allow the listener to hear everything that is going on around them without having to go so far as to physically remove the earphones. Not only is this good for safety, but it also means that you can have a conversation with another person without the inconvenience of actually having to constantly take the earphones off your ears.

Overall, I found Shure’s attention to detail towards providing the customer with a first-rate presentation along with a laundry list of accessories to be, in short, stellar. In fact, I can think of no other earphone or headphone package that gives such a great first impression, one that makes you feel like you are getting everything you are paying for and then some.

Build Quality/Fit:

The SE530 is quite a looker, sporting a sleekly finished bronze/chrome housing that reeks of high-end quality and luxuriousness. The SE530 also stands as Shure’s lightest triple-driver model yet. Don’t let this lightweight fool you however, as they are put together well and suffer no compromise in build quality.

There is however, a puzzling issue in regards to the modular cabling configuration of the SE530. The 20cm cable is simply too short to use in most practical applications, including usage with an mp3 player in your pants pocket. Meanwhile, the 90cm cable is comparatively too lengthy for most users. Nonetheless, the quality of the cabling itself is very good and solidly built. Surprisingly, it is among the thickest that I’ve come across for an in-ear-monitor and seems to be largely microphonics free. The jack plugs also seem to be of high quality, and are well-implemented to handle stress relief and accidental disconnections.

I feel that the SE530 is one of the most comfortable in-ear monitors that I have come across to date. It’s designed efficiently and ergonomically, the earphones themselves retain a very snug fit in my ears, and the earphone housing themselves are actually shaped closely to the contour of the ear canal with minimal protrusion. I have actually fallen asleep with them several times and I have fairly sensitive ears, so that can attest to how comfortable I find them to be.

Sound:

Virtually all earphones have a sound signature or character of some kind. In this case, the Shure SE530 maintains a generally well-balanced sound that leans towards the lush and laid back side of town.
I found that the SE530’s main forte resides in midrange reproduction. By that characterization, listeners who are particularly fond of male or female vocalist-oriented music will fall in love with the way the Shures reproduce the human voice. Simply put, vocals are stunning.

Shure SE530

It’s not uncommon for manufacturers of earphones to recess the midrange frequency a tad and then emphasize the extremes by bumping up the treble and the bass. Not only does this make for an impressive quick listen, but it can also make for an effective, albeit musically insincere way in obtaining a wider soundstage. The SE530 reaches for the other direction by maintaining the midrange all throughout the sonic presentation. Impressively, this is done without compromising the integrity of the soundstage. Though the SE530 does not possess the most spacious soundstage I’ve heard, everything within it sounds open and allows for the music to breathe with a more natural sense of ebb and flow. I would describe it akin to sitting several rows back in a concert venue, not farther away but at the same time also possessing a simultaneous intimacy with the music.

When it comes to the treble, the Shures have some of the smoothest, most silky highs that I’ve ever heard from an in-ear-monitor. Many earphones that I’ve encountered so far can easily be classified as forward and bright sounding in the upper frequencies, which will ultimately induce listening fatigue, particularly on poor recordings. The SE530 by pleasant contrast, is laid back and easy to listen to. However, there isn’t as much treble energy and liveliness as with other earphones I’ve heard, and the Shures do not completely capture the high frequency sparkle that is inherent to certain acoustic instruments such as strings or guitars. The SE530 highs sound spectacular with genres of music that have an affinity with more lenient highs, such as pop, dance, electronic, hip-hop, and trance, but some listeners may find them to be slightly too mellow for rock or classical. Hilary Hahn’s performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor is rendered wonderfully, with the sweet melody of her violin solo emerging through the SE530, lacking all traces of harshness, instead, with a pleasing, detailed sound that I could listen to for hours.

Mere words cannot describe the sheer midrange beauty of the SE530. Simply put, the mids are the reason why I hope to keep these for a long time. Much like the treble, the SE530 possesses an exceptionally smooth and sweet sounding midrange, it delivers a rich and very liquid sound that gives a sense of refinement and honesty in tone that I feel is lacking from most other in-ear-monitors. There is no thin and hollow void in the music. Instead, everything is fully fleshed out and very natural sounding.

Lush is perhaps the best adjective I can come up with to describe the Shure’s vocal performance. Vocals simply float through the air with an amazingly velvety quality that captures every minute nuance of the artist’s voice. It almost seems as if Shure imbued the SE530 midrange with some sort of magical dust that enables them to reproduce the human voice in a way that constantly impresses and even astonishes at times. With the SE530, I could get lost in the splendor of Priscilla Ahn’s lovely, angelic voice. From her debut album, spinning tracks like “Dream” and “Wallflower”, I marveled at the Shure’s ability to portray her voice with such candor and natural texture. With the SE530, I could hear, and even feel her breathing, the movement of her lips, and these minutiae of details brought on a whole new level of enjoyment for me.

Armed with two woofers per earpiece, it’s no surprise that the Shures uphold very respectable low frequency heft. Every bass line that the SE530 reproduces is amply tight, controlled, and rarely suffers from unnatural bloom or bloating effects. Although I’m confident that most listeners would be satisfied with the Shure’s bass performance, odds are likely that bass-heads will find the SE530 lacking in terms of raw bass output as well as lowest frequency extension. Even though the SE530’s bass is well-rounded, those who prefer a grittier, more aggressive, in-your-face sound might find the Shures to be a bit too laid-back. Ultimately, what you do get with the SE530 is taut, dynamic, and rich bass with the same organic tonal shadings found throughout the midrange and treble.

Shure SE530 review2

Conclusion:

Overall, the SE530 is a versatile, balanced, and coherent sounding earphone that instills a lush warmth and relaxed character to the music. They possess enough detail and refinement to resolve the nuances and finer distinctions that come with higher-quality sources without sacrificing the ability to enjoy less than perfect electronics or recordings.

Their strong balance of virtues and rich tonal qualities form a melodious balance that is so aurally gratifying that I must admit to having become addicted to their sound. In fact, it’s become a small battle just to take them off. Not only do you get top notch sound quality with the SE530, but you also receive a plethora of accessories and customizability. When you add it all together, it seems as though Shure has hit this one out of the ballpark. If they can manage to straighten out the quirks with the modular cable design, as well as a few other sonic nitpicks, I’d likely shower them with hugs and kisses. For now, it’s just praises, and many praises at that.

from affordableaudio, By Paul Fang

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