Shure announced its new E500 Sound Isolating Headphones, and they gave us a lot to shout about. These are serious audiophile earphones, for those who like to listen to uncompressed or lossless digital audio formats, so they’re not cheap at $499 a pair, but they’re worth every penny.
First off, they’re triple-driver in-ear canalphones. That means that the lows, mids, and highs are divided up among three tiny microspeakers—two woofers and a tweeter–in each earbud, making the sound incredibly tight, punchy, and full. The drivers are all midsize, so the earbuds aren’t bulky and you get a full kit of silicone, foam, and triple-flange tips that can block out quite a bit of noise.
Like other models in Shure’s E Series, the E500s are worn with the cables over the ear so they won’t fall out and so the cables won’t conduct sound when they move or bump against something. The cables that come out of the earbuds connect about where your sternum is and terminate in a 3.5-mm gold-plated plug. From there, you can attach one of the two included modular cables (one is 1 foot long, the other is 3 feet long) and then plug that into your audio player.
Shure included one more component with the E500 that has upped the ante in the noise isolation category—a push-to-hear control module. This inline piece can be connected between the earphone cables and the modular extensions and features a built-in microphone. When you push a button on the module, the microphone picks up ambient sounds and transmits them at a normal volume directly into the earbuds, allowing you to hear what’s going on around you without removing the earbuds, which has been a significant concern of users of this type of earphone. Furthermore, the module is compatible with all Shure E Series headphones as well as headphones from other manufacturers. Shure thinks this is a good enough idea (and so do we) that the company will also make the push-to-hear module available separately for $59.