Shure E500PTH / SE530PTH Sound Isolating Earphones | iLounge



Hey, I'm a guy who won a pair of the E500's in iLounge's iPod 2010 Contest. I was soo eager to get these seeing that they cost more than the iPod I'm using them with. First impressions: brushed metal two-tone casing- ooo these things must really be that awesome. They're not as dark as the pictures Shure has. iLounge's pictures are what they really look like, but I think they look cooler this way. These shiney little gems fit in the ears a little differently (behind ears), and they take longer to put in, but they're really comfortable. I use the foam or medium sleeves. The audio quality is very good. Some people say you can hear sounds you've never heard before with the three speakers, but I haven't (maybe I pay too close attention to the music). The good audio quality reminds me of the time before I quit using the Apple In-Ear ones (I quit because were way too uncomfortable with all the suction, yet always falling out). I get to hear all the guitars, basses, and backup vocals clearly. Seriously, I can set the iPod's volume all the way off, and you still faintly hear music! I don't really use the PTH or the volume attenuator, they seem a little clunky to carry around (or squeeze into the case) and I'd rather pause the music and take out the phones (it's more polite too). All in all, I was thinking, maybe I could sell these on eBay and buy that Canon SD630 I wanted, but that's not happening b/c these are too awesome. It's all good.

Posted by lilimacmike on July 26, 2006 at 7:10 PM (PDT)


I wonder how these compare with ER•4 MicroPro™ Earphones from Etymotic research. I've used those for years and love them. The only (slight) issue I have with them is their cabling which needs to be secure.

Posted by organic_cloud on July 26, 2006 at 7:22 PM (PDT)


How are the microphonics? The cable looks pretty thick. The microphonics on the old-cabled UE 5 Pro was one of the reason I decided to sell them.

Posted by rhythmicmoose on July 27, 2006 at 3:20 PM (PDT)


Ahh.. one day... if only I had the money...

Posted by fyfir on July 28, 2006 at 2:19 AM (PDT)


I'm a high end audio geek so i can understand people buying pricy audio gear. But before i'd buy earphones for >$500, i'd buy a better sounding player (i love my ipod though). It's like heaving speakers for $10k and a cdp for $500.

Posted by Yidaki on July 28, 2006 at 3:42 AM (PDT)


Microphonics - I've got e3c and e4c which probably have similar standard of cable construction - no microphonics at all. Incidentally I use Etymotics big pinky-brown foam sleeves - fit both the Shures (and surely the E500s) giving increased isolation and improved sound. The Shure yellow foamies also give great sound but don't isolate as well. Thanks for nothing for the review, iLounge - now I've got to save up the £500 they'll inevitably cost over here ... !! Seriously, keep up the good work.

Posted by drevo_uk in UK on July 28, 2006 at 4:32 AM (PDT)


still wondering about a comparison of the sound quality between ER•4 and the Shure E500s.

BTW, I thought the same things re: why use phones that cost more than player, but I proved myself wrong.

The iPod might not be the highest end player, but better head phones definitely make a huge difference with it . You don't need up grade the player to hear / take advantage of / justify? getting high end phones for it. Of course, it is nice to have this as excuse to avoid spending the dough!

Posted by organic_cloud on July 28, 2006 at 6:17 AM (PDT)


how do these compare to the e5c? is it a noticable difference?

Posted by cjhobbies00 on July 28, 2006 at 10:36 AM (PDT)


A couple of things...I would hold of purchasing these at the moment, unless you HAVE to have them. They'll soon be available without the PTH, and be substantially cheaper without it--most people won't need it anyway.

Also, UE has a new triple driver, universaly IEM coming out in the near future, and supposedly it's substantially cheaper than 500 dollars. So, if you can wait, it'd be worth it--you'll have two choices of a triple driver IEM instead of one, one which should be substantially cheaper. The Shure may end up being the better of the two--ergonomically it looks like it's going to be much better, as the UE's are reportedly going to be similar in appearance to the UE 5PRO--but even if you get the Shure, I suspect they'll drop the price once the UE's come out.

My only concern on the Shure's is by the looks of the frequency response curve, the treble may be a bit recessed. The bass looks perfect (Shure has on occasion made their phones bass heavy, such as the E2 and E5C, this doesn't appear to be the case with the E500). Of course the only way to know for sure is to listen to them, which I haven't had the opportunity to do as of yet. Overall looks extremely promising; it'll be interesting to see how UE's offering compares.

One thing that I find laughable in this review--the Ety 4P's, while great, and arguably the best IEM for the money (bang for the buck), they do not come anywhere near the UE10's, as the article seems to suggest. The UE'10 have more than "a little" bass, the highs are even more accurate and detailed than the Ety's, without any of the harshness and sibilance of the Ety's. I own both the UE10's and the Ety's, and they simply aren't comparable.

Posted by dmt1 on July 28, 2006 at 12:53 PM (PDT)


These phones sound good, but I wonder how they compare to Sensaphonics' in-ear monitors. I have a pair of their ProPhonic 2X-S ( and they are freakin incredible, both in terms of sound and comfort, though after paying an audiologist to take impressions of your ears + the higher price for their product, the cost is nearly double. IMHO however, they're better than the UE-10s. Jeremy, have you heard of or tested Sensaphonics' product??

Posted by eben on July 28, 2006 at 4:21 PM (PDT)


The sensa's have had some serious issues with cracking both of the cords and the monitors themselves, and the customer support has been spotty. I'd be careful with Sensa's at the moment...Westone or UE looks better.

What are you basing the Sensa's as better than the UE10 PRO on? Have you heard the UE 10 PRO? From what I can tell, the UE 10PRO has proved to be better from both a durabliity and customer support standpoint than the Sensa's; sound is subjective (But the Sensa is only a dual driver, versus the triple in the UE's).

Posted by dmt1 on July 28, 2006 at 5:26 PM (PDT)


why use phones that cost more than player

Same mindset often happens when people buy speakers. As with speakers, cans probably influence the most the final sound that a listener is going to get. Most iPods are at least good-sounding designs, and I've found that the premium headsets I've tried and owned do seem to get the best out of them.

Sibilance with the Etys? I guess my ears aren't good enough anymore; I've NEVER experienced any hardware-sourced sibilance issues with my EP-4s set, and thought it's not identical to the 4p, I can't imagine Etymotic getting them that far different from one another.

I was NOT a fan of the sound of the E5c, but I'm still curious about Shure's latest. At the very least I think I'm going to have to pick up a set to try.

Good to find out about the Sensaphonics. It's a fair chunk of change to plunk down only to have them go crumbling on you.

Posted by flatline response on July 29, 2006 at 11:44 AM (PDT)


I've had my Sensaphonics phones for over a year & a half. I use them nearly every day. To date, I've had no problem whatsoever with any cracking of either the cord or the monitors. I can't speak for the quality of their customer support simply because I haven't needed to call them.

To my ears, they bring out the nuances in whatever I'm listening to, while the isolation is such that I only need to have the volume set at around 25-30% of capacity. And I live in NYC -- not exactly the quietest place on the planet! If I had to describe the sound, I'd say it's like having an audiophile-quality pair of speakers inside your head.

Which, technically, I suppose, is what it is.

I've heard the UE10s before. While the fit was far from perfect (was checking out a friend's CLEAN pair) they felt noticeably harder than the Sens. The sound wasn't perfect but obviously neither was the fit, so I can't judge them fairly. The difference in comfort, however, was enough for me to justify getting the Sensaphonics instead.

I'd be very curious to hear the difference between the Shure E500s & the Sensaphonics.

Posted by eben on July 31, 2006 at 12:42 PM (PDT)


I just got my E-500's and boy are they good. I also have a pair of UE10 Pro's, ER4P's, and K701's. None of them sound better, they all just sound different, but for some reason I seem to enjoy extended listening periods more with these than the others. My only complaint is you can't quite get that perfect seal as you can with custom UE10's. Very annoying.

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 25, 2006 at 2:15 PM (PDT)


Well my pair of Shure E500PTH 'phones arrived today and I picked them up this evening.

I am even more impressed with these than I was when I first heard them at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco in January.

I had spent a prety frustrating time trawling around the various stands auditioning phones of all makes and Jeremy said "have you listened to the Shure E500's?"
We headed back to the Shure stand where a pair were 'installed' and I plugged them into my iPod.

I was pretty impressed then, finding the sound rich and detailed and not too bass heavy ( a problem with many of the other 'phones I had tried). I made my mind up there and then these would probably be on my wish list.

So here I am, eight months later, and I finally have my E500's. I'm not going to go into all the high falutin' descriptions of how these things sound except to say I think these will very quickly become my favourite earphones.

Actually I think I can say that now......

Posted by Bob Levens in UK on August 25, 2006 at 2:21 PM (PDT)


I have just received my Shure E500PHT from and I am extremely disappointed.
I also own a pair of Ultimate Ears 5 Pro and the 5 Pro are much better.
The 5 have much deeper bass and richer trebles.
Mr. Jeremy Horwitz ranked the Shure E500PHT much higher than the top of the class from Ultimate Ears, so I figured that the Shure would definitely be better than my middle of the line 5 Pro.
Well that’s not the case. I’m no little homeboy that wants bass and highs until my ears bleed. I know Hi-Fi when I hear it and the Shure E500PHT are trumped by the Ultimate Ears 5 Pro
Can anyone confirm this???
The Shure are going straight back to Amazon on Monday morning.

Posted by GianlucaM on October 6, 2006 at 12:05 PM (PDT)


I'd advise people to not conclude about these earphones after a few hours of use. Right out of the box, they sound abominable - undetailed and with boomy bass. However, the e500 needs "burning in" and will get better and better during maybe the first 50 hours. After that period, they're like anything you expect from audiphile equipment: very neutral, but with a slight softness in the highest part of the freq. range (a good thing in my book), very natural sound through everything from symphonic to vocal to hard rock to... Exceptional quality, and yes, it does do a good job for the basically limited iPod sound quality even at a mere 128 kbps. Goes without saying 128 is not recommended with these IEMs.

Posted by iRich on October 15, 2006 at 2:47 PM (PDT)


These earphones sound great, but I have a couple of questions for anyone who owns them. Firstly, all of my music library is encoded at 128 kbps and although I can redo my CD's I've also purchased a lot of tracks from iTunes that I won't be able to improve, will I suffer for having such an accurate pair of earphones? Secondly, I previously owned a pair of Super.Fi 5 Pro's, which had excellent bass but tended to suffer if the original music track hadn't been produced to emphasise this. As most music producers play down bass assuming that the listeners hifi would be set to increase it, the Super.Fi's often lacked bass because they tried to reproduce the music accurately. Am I also likely to have this same problem with the E500's?

Posted by matt1974 on December 3, 2006 at 12:43 PM (PDT)


I just got my E500s (for Christmas which comes early here). While all the bits are nice they're mostly superfluous for me, especially considering my wife has the E4Cs. Anyway something that hasn't been pointed out is that the pre-mounted black ear inserts are made of similar material to the yellow foam inserts - this is different to the E4s where the pre-mounted large black ear inserts are the very soft rubber ones. I prefer the triple flange inserts while my wife prefers the yellow foam. It is nice to have the (extensive) choice. I'm still getting used to the earbuds but they certainly insulate from external sounds very effectively and are much clearer than my old over-the ear Sony 'phones. Oh and they're comfortable but I'm still getting used to positioning them correctly so the chord runs over my ears. Most of my music is coded at 160kbps (fortunately) and I haven't noticed any compression issues.

Posted by TruckeeLocal on December 15, 2006 at 8:56 PM (PDT)


Fellow reviewers, it is natural to either defend a product we've enjoyed and be over the top with comments about a new benchmark procuct like the Shure E500's. We are all aware that our ears are exactly that and we all hear music uniquely. All we can really contribute is our feelings as neutrally as possible. To my ears (frequency range narrowing with age) these are the best sounding phones I've heard since my Koss ESP-9's electrostatic headphones and their 50 times lighter and smaller! Thank you,

Posted by Herbert on February 24, 2007 at 3:00 PM (PDT)

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