Shure SE535 Review

Shure SE535 Review

Anyone looking for the best in in-ear headphones will find exactly that with the Shure SE535. It's forward-thinking design and incredibly high adaptability make them a premium choice for listening with a plethora of customization options to optimize your listening experience. When you get a pair of Shure earphones, you get years of support and reliability that most other manufacturers cannot match.

These headphones match the quality of any pair of in-ear monitors and have a lot to offer: whether you're a casual listener wanting to get the most out of your audio streaming at the gym, or a dedicated music fan looking for the perfect companion earphones for a portable DAC or audio player, the SE535s will not disappoint. With their twin bass and mid woofers paired with a tweeter in each earphone, you will find a precisely-balanced sound that allows for endless customization options. Whether you want more bass or crystalline treble when you listen, you can see that with the SE535s.

These Shure earphones provide endless options to optimize your listening. If you prefer silicone or foam ear tips, you can get either right out of the box. The Bluetooth adapter options allow for both Bluetooth 4.1 with SBC codec or Bluetooth 5.0 with apt X HD support. You can also switch out your cables for any MMCX cable available to fit your sensibilities or listening requirements. Replacing parts or switching out ear tips and cables as needed also extends the life span of these meticulously engineered earphones considerably, and the options for upgrading bring an even more premium experience to the table.

So, what all do the SE535s have to offer? Let's take a look.


When you unbox a pair of SE535s for the first time, you will find your earbuds, a variety of silicone and foam ear tips, also called "sleeves" by Shure; charging cables and adapters, and a rechargeable Bluetooth 4.1 module. You can also expect to see a small carrying case.

You can also find a wired Bluetooth adapter version of the SE535s: the SE535-CL. Because the earphones can be detached and replaced with another Micro-Miniature Coaxial Connector (MMCX) cable, this opens up the options you have available for Bluetooth connectivity. You can opt for the standard Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity built into the headphones, switch it out for a high-end 3.5mm MMCX cable to avoid sound compression, or spring for the RMCE-BT2 module to enjoy Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity with aptX and aptX HD codec support. MMCX is a universal standard among audio cables, so as long as it has the right tips, it can fit your earphones.

The variety of ear tips at your disposal will help you find a custom fit, while the clamshell carrying case makes for easy portable storage while you're on the go. You will also find a 3.5mm to 1/4" audio adapter and a 3.5mm to 3.5mm stereo adapter for use on airplane outputs. A USB Type A cable is also available for charging either of the Bluetooth modules.

Something that some users might find frustrating is a lack of documentation, especially on subjects such as the obscure location of the Micro USB charging port on the remote to charge any of the Bluetooth modules. Most headphones on the market today offer in-depth manuals and documentation for users, so it would be nice to see more detail provided, so it is easier to find otherwise obscure features on the SE535s. Other than that, there are few surprises until you put these earphones on and enjoy the brilliant audio engineering.

Comfort & Fit

Shure advertises the SE535s as sound-isolating because, with the right fit, you can get most of the benefit of any headphones that feature active noise cancellation without fiddling with extra tech. The plethora of ear tips that come with these earphones give listeners plenty of customization options. Many listeners are likely to opt for the foam tips because of the tight seal created when they expand in your ear after pinching, much like a quality pair of earplugs. This seal not only blocks out noise but optimizes bass production for quality listening.

It may seem paradoxical, but these headphones feature ear tips that stay clean, and it is nothing short of a miracle. While listeners not used to in-ear headphones that hook over the ear may find the slightly slower putting on and taking off process a little inconvenient at first, it is easy to get used to and quite secure in its fit. While most earphones that sport foam tips often get somewhat gross after a few days of wear, the SE535s' ear tips are both much more comfortable than most models' and incredibly easy to maintain. These tips are more comfortable than those of many other competing models like the Fender FXA7 or the Etymotic ER4SR.

A refreshing feature that many listeners will enjoy is the SE535's detachable, thick, Kevlar-reinforced cabling. Your cable will seldom tangle, and you won't get any annoying microphonics from contact with your clothes. Anyone looking for a smart, practical design that delivers quality in all respects will not be disappointed with these earphones. While there are plenty of metal-encased in-ear models now, such as the RHA T20i, or the Pinnacle P1, none on the market offer a more secure or high-end feel that the Shure SE535. Not only does it feel more secure, but the SE535s are lighter-weight and more comfortable to wear for extended periods as a result. The MMCX cable connectors are gold-plated to guarantee clean sound delivery.

Audio Quality

The most crucial aspect of any in-ear headphone is, of course, the sound quality. While most earphones either focus on bass or treble, the Shure SE535 is an exception to that general rule. The bass that these headphones exude is addictive to listen to, and perfectly balanced. Audiophiles looking for real impact when they listen will get exactly that with the SE535s. The finely-tuned audio quality creates a sense of realism and intimacy in listening that most on-ear cans could not hope to match.

Because of the flawlessness of the sound, you are likely to notice changes in quality regarding the audio source you're streaming from. Whether you're using a 320kbps MP3 file, listening to music on YouTube or Soundcloud, using a streaming service like Spotify, or enjoying a collection of lossless files on a USB DAC for listening, you will start to notice differences you may not have spotted previously with a less premium pair of earphones. Owners of high-end audio players like the Astell & Kern KANN will find the Shure SE535s to be the perfect listening companion.

With this audio quality differentiation in mind, these are more than just a good pair of earphones for music streaming on your phone. The SE535s are perfect for lossless audio listening or plugging in to listen on a high-quality DAC/amp. Even more affordable models like the DragonFly Black USB converter will still sport excellent lossless audio quality for you to enjoy. If you have a Tidal subscription, these are also the headphones for you.

On the technical side of things, you will find that these in-ear headphones fit just right for all the right reasons. The incredibly broad soundstage, supported by three high-powered audio drivers in each earphone, feels both intimate and powerful like you're front stage at a live show: close enough to feel the lead singer's breath hit the mic every time they sing. While preferences for audio vary, a listener seeking an intimate sound with a full stage and finely tuned audio balance will get exactly that with the SE535s.

Everything from the bass and treble to the mids packs enough punch to give you a satisfying primacy in the vocals as well as driving midrange instrumentation and trilling basslines to keep you listening for hours. Even podcasts, sports commentary, and audiobooks are elevated by the quality of the flawless realism crafted by the three balanced armature drivers in these earphones. You will find this perfect delivery holds up to their 19.5kHz maximum frequency response admirably.

All of that said, it is vital to find the right fit to get the most out of the audio quality here. Closing the gap properly between these headphones and your ear canal and creating a tight seal means you can get the most out of your listening. This is also why the SE535s come with so many different ear tips. If they ever need replacing, those who favor the foam ear tips will be happy to know that they can order replacement Comply tips explicitly designed for the SE535.

While Shure does not advertise the SE535s as such, you will find the design tailored to work in the same way in-ear monitors can and often do. The highly balanced frequency response allows for both a great deal of customization in EQ while maintaining the ability to listen to music as it was intended to sound.

Most in-ear headphones can block out sound to some degree, but listeners who are looking for active noise cancellation want a product that record noise and then put out a phase-negative copy of that sound to cancel it while listening. Many models that feature ANC also have some room for allowing ambient sound to optimize safety, especially while out on busy streets. The SE535s do not have ANC as a feature, but their fit is so snug that you can expect noise reduction as much as 37dB.

Our Verdict

All in all, if you are looking for a high-quality fit that can rival any IEMs, the Shure SE535 has got it. These in-ear headphones can be a little tricky at first, but the snugness of their fit and the secure wraparound cables keep them in place. The twin mid/bass drivers with dedicated tweeters on each side make for a premium auditory experience that outclasses the competition in depth and complexity. The broad dynamic reach also means playing at higher volumes evades the issue of losing quality. The carefully crafted tonal balance and long-lasting make these headphones a great value that will last a long time.

The SE535 packs a lot of punch that puts it at the top alongside other high-end competitors, like Sony, Sennheiser, and AKG. For those seeking precision and craftsmanship, they will find it from the audio engineering masters at Shure. When you get these headphones, the simplicity, comfort, and quality alone will be enough to show you that you are getting a premium audio experience every time you put these in-ear earphones in, whether you are headed out for your morning jog or getting prepped for the morning commute to work. If you want viscerally satisfying and heavy bass while still enjoying high-quality treble and mids, you can find it with the Shure SE535.