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A great pair of earbuds for the first time buyer of a sound isolating headset
Shure has had a reputation of having superior headsets, headphones, and microphones, and they continue this reputation with the SE115+ sound isolating headset. This new headset is a modification to the SE115 headset line wherein the m+ designation adds a microphone and a three-button remote to the right earbud line. I've always wanted to test a pair of Shure headsets because of the stories I've heard about their sound isolating capabilities and I'm excited to say that those stories were true. But there's always the good news and bad, and that same trend applies to the SE115m+.
Compared to the stock $29 Apple earphones with mic and remote, I found that the Shure's offered better sound reproduction without the ear ache that some complain about when wearing Apple's earphones. Fitting inside the ear canal helps with a better overall feel as well as great ambient sound isolation. Though that "stuffed" feeling can take some getting used to but you'll be happy you did in the end.
In the box the SE115m+ comes with a fit-kit that has 3 sizes of foam and rubber soft flex sleeves, a headset cleaning tool, some paper documentation, and a carrying case with a carabiner style clip. Inclusion of the carrying case is great for storing the headset when not in use, and the clip allows you to clip the case almost anywhere that is convenient. The 3 sizes of tips allows the earbuds to be fit to different sized ears, and the different materials offer different styles of sound isolation. The foam sleeves offer excellent blockage of ambient sounds and a good snug fit inside the ear. The soft rubber flex sleeves offer great blockage of ambient sounds but allow for easier insertion and removal of the earbuds on the fly, as well as a less "stuffed" feeling that the foam sleeves have.
With the three-button remote for volume and playback control and an inline mic, the SE115m+ offers full support and compatibility with the iPhone 3GS. The mic also offers support for the 2009 iPod Touch's Voice Control, the iPod Shuffle's VoiceOver features. These three devices are able to take advantage of the remote control and mic on the SE115m+. Of course besides the mic and remote the headset is also compatible with all iPod and iPhone models as well as other audio sources for audio purposes only. Although this headset is aimed at the mobile market of iPods and iPhones it's worth mentioning that the remote and mic are compatible with the new unibody MacBook Pro's as well.
Unfortunately paired with the good news is some bad news, although I should state that there are only a few things that I found as bad news. The first bit of news to report on is the location of the remote and mic in the right earbud line. When worn in the way Shure intended, with the cable wrapped behind the ear the remote and microphone rests right by your right cheek putting it in an awkward location not only for use but also for appearance. But when worn like other headsets with the cable dangling in front of the ear, the remote and microphone rests between your chin and chest, which is a much better location for use and appearance. The other part of the SE115m+'s that I found surprising is the physical size of the inline remote and mic. They're much larger than the one found on the standard Apple headset. Size gives the user great ability to find the remote and mic as well as the real estate for large buttons, but it is also a bit unsightly when hanging between your face and chest.
As for technical specifications for the Shure SE115m+'s have a 105dB SPL/mW at 1kHz, Impedance of 16O at 1kHz, and a frequency response range of 22Hz-17.5kHz. All of which offer great audio reproduction and fuller sound than other headsets. In testing I found that the SE115m+'s sound a lot better than a lot of headsets that I've used in the past. Bass I found is more present when using the foam sleeves than the soft flex sleeves but this is because of the better isolation the foam provides. Lows, mids and highs were all reproduced in great quality, though a little heavy on the middle range of audio. Instrumentals and musical theater music sound great, with other types of music sounding good as well.
One last thing to note comes of great benefit to the user during the life and ownership of the headset. Shure has backed the SE115m+ with a two-year limited warranty, which is great when compared to other headset companies in the market. The inclusion of the two-year warranty could be because of the remote and mic being in-line on the headset. With the mic and remote there is more wire cable being stuffed into a similar diameter cabling as the SE115 and other headsets. Extra cable means more chances for friction and cable damage during normal usage, so the 2-year warranty gives owners a little piece of mind.
Overall the Shure SE115m+'s are a great pair of earbuds for the first time buyer of a sound isolating headset. The inclusion of three different sizes of two types of ear sleeves offers great custom fits for the ear. And if you're one of those people who takes the product out of the box and throws it away, the carrying case helps keep all the pieces in one place. The MSRP of this headset is $119.99 USD but I'm sure you'll be able to find them for less both online and in stores.
Joshua Virata is a 2008 graduate of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA. He has been using computers since the age of 2 and is proficient in the areas of home wired and wireless networking, music creation, secure computing, cell phone communication and GPS navigation. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org