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In general, earphones tend to be bass-heavy; rarely does the mix of bass, midrange and high frequencies represent the full spectrum of sound. This is due to the inability to fit multiple drivers and adequate filters into such a tiny space.
The SE846, however, separately filters the low frequencies from the two drivers’ midrange and high frequencies. Filtering is generally absent from earphone technology.
To build the earphones, which officially launched last year, Shure used laser-cutting technology to create holes just 40 microns wide into the earphone’s stack of steel plates.
This is why the price is so high — the miniaturization of tech at this level wasn’t even available in 2012.
This is why the price is so high — the miniaturization of tech at this level wasn’t even available in 2012.The tiny components allow each earbud to contain a low-pass filter that’s said to create a “true subwooofer” experience by ensuring the low frequencies don’t down out the mid- and high-range sound. The tech guts of the earbuds are visible through the transparent shell.
The result? Besides looking pretty cool, it creates powerful — and yes, wonderful — low-reaching bass that doesn’t interfere with the clarity and precision of the rest of the sound. The Shure SE846 produces sound that’s easily the most realistic and detailed I’ve heard from any pair of earphones out there.
The tiny nozzle, which is needed for the miniaturization, fits comfortably into the ear, and it delivers sound isolation similar to custom-made models. But these are not earphones to strap on when going for a run or workout — each requires special attention to fit properly in your ear. It also takes a bit of care to wire over and around the ear. Meanwhile, it’s possible to hear ambient rustling noise if the earphones move around at all.
In addition, the absence of a microphone that can be used with smartphones precludes it from everyday use and talking on the phone and the limitations of compressed music (streaming or non-optimized downloads) are far too obvious with equipment like the SE846, anyway. It’s better to plug it into a speaker system or PC with uncompressed files to hear it in its full glory.
For the truly aurally sensitive, the SE846 comes with replaceable nozzles with filters to adjust the midrange and high frequencies. The “balanced” baseline option is what most listeners will prefer.
It comes with a ton of accessories too, including two kevlar-wrapped cables, nine pairs of eartips (including a Comply memory foam, silicone and rubber), an in-line volume adapter and two carrying cases.
Shure SE846 Earphones
Sound quality • Comfortable fit • Wide assortment of accessories
Not for running • Expensive • No microphone
The Bottom Line
The Shure SE846 earphones are steep in price, but they’re the best in-ear headphone set we’ve heard.’