Shure's new high-end, high-priced earphone will appeal to audiophiles with money to burn. The SE846 runs on four balanced armature micro drivers and features a low-pass filter that mimics a subwoofer electronically. Shure claims that with this, the SE846 has the ability to reproduce deep bass without affecting clarity and details in the mid and high frequencies.
The SE846 has winsome looks, thanks to its transparent shell that showcases its high-tech innards. It comes with lots of accessories too - there are two pairs of Kevlar-reinforced detachable cables (45 inches and 60 inches long), an airline adaptor, nine different types of earbuds, a detachable volume control, a 3.5mm to quarter-inch jack converter and a pouch.
The first thing that struck me when I listened to the SE846 with my CD player and headphone amplifier, as well as my MP3 player, was its deep bass reproduction. Its low-pass filter is not just marketing hype - I could actually feel the energy of the bass in Jamiroquai's dance tracks and yet hear the details clearly in the mid and high frequencies. This is not the type of boomy bass that you sometimes get with lesser cans.
High frequencies, such as the triangle beats in Craig David's Seven Days, came across bright and clear, without sounding too jarring. But one of the things I like best about the SE846 is that it plays creamy smooth vocals that are free of sibilance, so it was a perfect match for my Michael Buble and Tsai Chin CDs.
In fact, it sounded great with all sorts of genres that I threw at it, from Red Hot Chili Peppers' bass-driven funk, to classical music such as Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.
And I was pretty happy with the default "balanced" nozzle that came preinstalled in the SE846. The "warm" nozzle made music sound mellow, while the "bright" nozzle sounded slightly too tinny for me. Sound isolation is very good - I could hardly hear the noise around me when I put them on.
All in all, I must say that the SE846 is pretty addictive. But its price tag will limit this pair of excellent in-ears to serious audiophiles.
The Shure SE846 in-ears are exceptional earphones that promise deep, energetic bass while producing warm vocals and clear highs. Highly recommended if you have the cash to burn.
Melvin Seah is a freelance writer
Frequency range: 15Hz to 20kHz
Drivers: Quad high-definition balanced armature drivers
Noise attenuation: up to 37dB
Value for money: 6/10
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