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.

The newest peer is Focal’s Sphear Wireless. They’re an excellent set of earbuds that can defeat even the Shure SE215 in audio quality. However, they don’t have a replaceable cable, which means they aren’t quite as durable long-term.

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.

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