Shure SE215 Wireless in-ear headphones review

Shure’s versatile SE215 Wireless cut the cord, but keep the great sound.

Shure’s versatile, comfortable SE215 Wireless will draw you deeper into your favorite tunes.
Shure’s versatile, comfortable SE215 Wireless will draw you deeper into your favorite tunes.
Shure’s versatile, comfortable SE215 Wireless will draw you deeper into your favorite tunes.

Highs

  • Vibrant, detailed sound.
  • Earbuds fit securely and comfortably
  • Replaceable cable
  • Intuitive controls

Lows

  • Neckband can be slightly awkward
  • Securing or taking off earbuds is time consuming

While Shure is world renowned in audiophile circles, the brand is also beloved among budget-conscious listeners for offering products with excellent sound-to-dollar value. Shure’s popular SE215 in-ear headphones are widely considered among the best you can get in the sub-$100 range when it comes to sound quality. It makes sense, then, that the company would look to the SE215 when taking its first leap into the world of banded wireless in-ears, creating the SE215 Wireless.

After spending several weeks with our review pair, we are impressed with these simple and elegant in-ears. With great sound, superb passive noise isolation, intuitive functionality, and a manageable $149 MSRP, there’s plenty to love about Shure’s SE215 Wireless headphones.

Out of the Box

The SE215 Wireless arrive in a white box with a plastic window that gives you a glimpse of the earphones through the font. Inside, the earbuds are bundled with a small carrying case, a short micro USB charging cable, and six pairs of eartips — three rubber and three foam. You’ll also find a small clothing clip to secure the headphones’ connecting band during workouts or other activities, and a small manual.

Features and Design

The earbuds themselves look identical to their wired predecessor, with curved plastic housings that come in be black, blue, white or clear (our review pair was black). Just like the wired model, detachable cables emerge from the top of each earbud and twist around the ear for a more secure and professional-looking fit than what’s offered by most earbuds in their class.

As we alluded to above, the SE215 Wireless’ earbuds are connected by a thin rubberized cable, with a small black battery section in the center, and traditional three-button in-line controls on the right side. The center button turns the headphones on and off, initiates pairing, and plays and pauses music (depending on how long you press it), while the other two adjust volume. At the bottom of the battery section is a micro USB charging port. Shure’s claimed eight hours of battery life played out dead on in our testing, which is slightly above average for the segment.

One major draw of the SE215 Wireless is the available wired audio cable which turns the buds into traditional in-ear headphones for just $30. This also means the SE215 will be more future proof than most tethered wireless headphones, as you can swap out cables or wireless bands as tech changes, or in case of an accident. In fact, those who already own wired SE215s (or other higher-end Shure in-ears) can even purchase the exact same band seen on the SE215 Wireless for $100 from Shure’s site to take the Bluetooth plunge.

Detachable cables emerge from the upper portion of each earphone and twist around the ear for a secure fit.

In terms of fit, we loved the passive noise isolation and long-term comfort offered by the included foam eartips, but weren’t totally thrilled with the way the band sits around your head. Without using the included clip (which quickly became more of a requirement than an accessory) the small battery pack and thin cables tend to end up on either side of your head, rather than remaining in the middle.

That said, after attaching the clip — which hooks the battery pack to the back of your shirt collar or neckline — the SE215 stayed firmly in place, allowing easy access to the controls. Because of their wire-over-ear design and the fact that you have to squeeze the foam eartips before inserting them, the SE215 also aren’t super easy to take on and off in a jiffy, which can be a small annoyance in work or home situations in which you’re routinely interrupted.

Setup

Initiating pairing mode on the SE215 Wireless requires one long press of the center control button when the headphones are powered off, at which point a pleasant voice will tell you they are ready to pair. From there, pair from your phone’s Bluetooth settings and a voice will tell you you’ve connected, as well as how much battery life is left — a nice touch for the heavy users among us.

Audio Performance

The audio quality offered by the SE215 Wireless is absolutely the headphones’ biggest selling point. Excellent passive sound isolation pairs with an extremely expressive sound signature to provide among the best wireless listening experiences available in their class.

Shure SE215 BT earbuds review battery box
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

On subtle jazz recordings like those from the recently released album of New York-based supergroup Hudson, cymbals shimmer at the edges of the sound, with warm upright bass offering just enough punch to help fill in the gaps left by bright piano and guitar in the center. Every note played by the quartet is easy to identify, with a clear separation between instruments that’s hard to find on many in-ears.

The SE215 wireless show an innate ability to draw you deeper into whatever you’re listening to.

The dense, poppy mix of Grandaddy’s Way We Won’t is presented with exceptional definition, full of warm guitar distortion and tight drum sounds, but with subtle guitar and vocal doubles remaining easily audible from within the wall of sound. That kind of clarity is rare at such an affordable price point, and absolutely ranks the SE215 Wireless among the best affordable in-ears we’ve auditioned.

Day to day listening is tremendously enjoyable, and the headphones bring a vibrant energy to all music they tackle. From classic soul cuts to the most art-laden noise music, these headphones never sound dull or lifeless, instead showcasing an innate ability to draw you deeper into whatever music you’re listening to at any given moment.

Warranty information

The SE215 Wireless come with a two year limited warranty that covers workmanship or material flaws.

Our Take

Excellent sound, a great fit, and detachable cables help rank Shure’s SE215 Wireless among our favorite wireless earbuds in their class.

Is there a better alternative?

There are a few excellent competitors to the Shure SE215 Wireless for those in the market for banded wireless in-ears to consider. If you’re looking to break a sweat, you should take a look at the V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless, which offer even more comfort and comparable sound at a similar price point. Another close competitor is the Phiaton BT 150 NC, which offer noise-canceling and a more comfortable band for the same price, but don’t sound quite as good overall.

How long will it last?

Given their detachable cable, multiple ear tips, and long history of manufacturing quality products, it’s safe to assume those who purchase the SE215 Wireless will be enjoying them for many years.

Should you buy it?

Yes. If you’re in the market for an excellent sounding pair of wireless in-ears — and especially if you are hard on your headphones and may need to replace a cable now and then — the SE215 Wireless are a tough option to beat.

Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Buying Guides

Block the outside world, tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones -- there's a model for every user and every budget.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

With sleek form factors, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.
Deals

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Home Theater

Roku adds automatic sign-out mode, for those with regular houseguests

Being able to use a Roku device while staying at a hotel or Airbnb is awesome. What is less awesome is leaving yourself signed in after you leave. With a new automatic sign-out feature, Roku is making it easier to relax.
Apple

Apple may be developing a new iPod Touch to woo younger users

Apple may be developing its first new iPod touch model since 2015 as it aims to capture younger users who are not yet ready for their own smartphone, and expand its overall listening base in the future.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.
Home Theater

Cord-cutting has grown by 48 percent in 8 years, according to Nielsen

People are continuing to ditch cable but not all cord-cutters are the same. In fact, there are two distinct groups within the cord-cutting universe, with a very small, yet growing third group that's worth paying attention to.
Home Theater

All of the TVs getting Apple’s AirPlay 2 in 2019

This year, Apple made it clear it was done keeping its AirPlay wireless streaming technology to itself. With an open API, the way is clear for a plethora of third-party devices, including this growing list of TVs.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Movies & TV

New trailer for 'The Punisher' season 2 teases a bloody showdown

The Punisher is getting a second season on Netflix, with Jon Bernthal returning to play Marvel Comics' gun-toting antihero Frank Castle. Here's everything we know about season 2 of The Punisher so far.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best true wireless earbuds around.