Shure KSE1500 Unboxing – $3000 Earphones!


So, you want to buy the most expensive earphones in the world?  Shure has just released the Shure KSE1500 earphones (official release Jan. 25th 2016, which was yesterday) and I made sure to get my hands on them as quickly as possible.

These are not your over-the-counter earphones/earbuds, they are specifically made for studios, musicians, any anyone who wants to experience high fidelity sound without all the noise.

Starting with connection from your Android smartphone via USB OTG to its dedicated amplifier and electrostatic earphones, you will find Shure has eliminated any source of audio distortion and interference.  Upon my first try, I could really hear the clarity and pure sound out of these bad boys.   Of course, they are not perfect for everyone but for audiophiles out there, it might be the perfect earphones.

First off, you can connect the the Shure KSE 1500 via standard 3.5mm headphone jack or through its USB OTG. (It also supports iPhone through lightning connector.)  With the 3.5mm headphone jack, you can hear some hiss but if you use an Android smartphone that supports USB OTG (such as Note 5) or have a rooted smartphone with a custom ROM (most custom ROMs support USB OTG), you will be able to eliminate any hiss/audio interference completely.  That alone is amazing that these earphones eliminate any kind of analog interference.

As for sound quality itself, you will find no distortion up to maximum volume.  The only distortion I found was with bass, which does distort at the loudest setting on my phone but dial down one notch and everything sounds perfect.   Now, these earphones aren’t designed to deliver massive quantity of bass so if you are a bass head, you may want to look for other headphones that provide more bass.   In comparison to my Beats Studio Wireless (which I bought primarily for its loud bass), the Shure KSE 1500 deliver clearer bass but not the different levels of bass I am used to.   In other words, if you are a bass head, you may be disappointed.  However, if your concern is more with pure sound and vocals, these might just be the best earphones money can buy.

Although I haven’t tested, the Shure KSE 1500 use a completely different technology from regular earbuds, according to Shure’s website:

Electrostatic technology provides the fastest, most accurate transient response available. Until now, it has never been applied to Sound Isolating earphones.

Each earphone features a virtually weightless, massless diaphragm surrounded by an electrostatic field generated by back plates that manage charge oscillation. The result is unmatched clarity and detail with an extremely high correlation to the source audio.

Instead of having tiny speakers in the earphones, the KSE 1500 deliver sound through electrostatic field.  In situations like on an airplane, this may mean a night and day difference in comparison to traditional noise-cancelling headphones like Bose, Sony, etc…etc… in terms of reproducing sound.

Overall, in the short time that I have been using the Shure KSE 1500, I am very impressed in its abilities to give you that pure sound as if listening to music in a soundproof studio.  While I am not impressed with its bass qualities (again I confess I prefer bass of quality), these are definitely the nicest earphones I have tried.  If you are interested, you can order these on Amazon here or B&H here.

1 Response

  1. Boetie McBoetface says:

    Audio engineer and music producer here. Some stuff needs clarifying.

    That “lack of bass” you’re hearing is the result of these headphones having what is called a linear (accurate and balanced) frequency response. As for the audiophile thing, that audio sub-industry is pretty much laughed at in the actual pro audio world. Dropping the GDP of a small country on speakers and cables made from quantum unicorn tears isn’t going to sound any more accurate than the $1000 (on average) nearfield studio monitors that the content was recorded, mixed and mastered on. Audiophile equipment makes all kinds of bold, pseudoscientific and unfounded claims that leave studio engineers just quietly shaking their heads in disbelief, but in the supply-and-demand market this kind of nonsense will exist. Companies like Shure and Sennheiser, both manufacturers genuine industry-standard equipment, will also cater to that market because of the insane profit margins.
    Those $2000 HDMI cables that the manufacturers claim will make the 1s straighter and 0s rounder? Same thing. The next problem is that you’re using Beats as a reference. There’s an entire ecosystem of memes and in-house jokes in the pro audio world on these headphones as they are genuinely and utterly terrible on every level. Aside from the fact that they are made from such cheap and nasty components that they actually place metal weights in the casing to give them a more “premium” feel, their frequency response is so horribly inaccurate in terms of a grossly-exaggerated low end, almost absent midrange and a gigantic peak in the top end, that they are the equivalent of strapping a tweeter to a subwoofer and calling it a studio monitor. But for the kind of people who love celebrity endorsements, are happy to throw cash around and think that more bass = better sound, they’re perfect.
    Look, I’m sure (doh!) these buds are good, but to claim that they’re in a better than the likes of industry standard headphones such as Sennheiser HD 25 ($150) or Audio Technica M50 ($170), both of which have proven themselves countless times in studios and film locations around the world just isn’t very likely.

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Max Lee

Max Lee is the founder of Max makes Android tutorials and review videos for people who want to get high on Android over at his YouTube channel and Korean YouTube channel.