I've enjoyed my Shure SE535 headphones
for many years now, but towards the end of last year someone told me that Shure had released an even better model: the SE846
. They're not cheap, and I dwelled over buying them for a few weeks, but I simply had to have them. The more I've spent on Shure headphones the better they've sounded, but the law of diminishing returns suggests that isn't always going to be the case. I'm relieved to say that these are noticeably better, and are simply the best headphones I've ever used!
Should you get them? Maybe. I can't imagine that everyone needs or wants studio quality headphones with quad high-definition micro drivers and a true subwoofer. They're certainly not cheap either
, even if I did get mine from there for just under £700. They also reveal all sorts of mistakes and mastering problems that could spoil your favourite songs (for example, there are a few dodgy bass notes in Radiohead's Paranoid Android, which I spotted with my SE535 but never noticed with my E3c headphones). If you're an audiophile then I would seriously suggest considering them; although I'm sure that others will suggest alternatives such as active noise cancelling over-ear headphones (to better hide the sounds around you). Battery life has apparently improved, although we're usually talking a day or two before they need recharging, and I like being able to slip my headphones into my pocket, but I can see why other people prefer other headphones.
Some of you may be better off improving your source instead of buying more expensive headphones: replace those old 128-bit MP3s from your music collection with much better quality MP3s; turn on Extreme Quality on Spotify (as Auto won't use it when streaming songs); you may also find your phone introduces a lot less noise than your laptop's headphone socket.
As a fringe benefit, the SE846 comes with two different lengths of headphone cables so I should be able to replace the rather dirty looking MMCX connector cable on my worn SE535 with a shiny new one (worth £150
, that should be significantly better than the original £30 cable
). With a new set of black foam sleeves
(or one of the spare or alternative sleeves from the collection I've built up over the years) they could have a new lease of life. I'm sure they've been sufficiently "burnt in" by now, although Shure's engineers have reached the conclusion that the sound produced during final testing is the same as you’ll get in five years.