The Shure SE846 is one of the most outstanding pairs of in-ear headphones you can find on the market today, even years after its initial release. There is an impressive amount of audio engineering inside the plastic casing: everything from the four armature drive units to the twin bass drivers work in tandem with three interchangeable filters to craft the ideal tonal balance for your listening and enjoyment.
The real test of a good pair of IEMs is the fit in the ear. Without a tight seal between the ear tips and the ear canal itself, it's almost impossible to get the best sound quality. You get a wide variety of options straight out of the box, so it is vital to find the fit that best suits your ears to get the most out of these premium earphones. The smooth, curved fit around the shell of the ear is comfortable and hard to notice after a few minutes of wear and makes this ideal for all purposes, whether you're onstage playing a show, going out for a run, or commuting to and from work.
The overall design, like many Shure models, emphasizes utility over style, but it delivers in spades in audio quality, which is what matters. While the design is not unattractive, those looking to make a fashion statement may be unsatisfied with the simplicity of the case design. Not only are these sleek and practical, but they deliver immense comfort while wearing them.
So, what sets these earphones apart from the rest? Let's take a look.
Right out of the box, you may be surprised by how much the Shure SE846s have to offer. Not only are all of the accessories included made of high-quality material, but they are practical tools to extend the utility and lifespan of your product. Why upgrade to the next best model when you can pick up a pair of high-end earphones that are built to last?
In the box, you will find your earphones, as well as a replacement cable; two cases, one Pelican style and one small, soft case; a Shure brand cleaning cloth, an airplane converter and 1/4" converter, a shirt clip, tons and tons of ear tips in both silicone and foam, an inline volume control unit and a cleaning tool for nozzle removal. Few headphones, even at the high end, can match this number of accessories. It is a real treat to have everything you need in one box instead of having to pay for individual upgrades, tools, or cables at a later date piecemeal.
The tonal balance tool is pretty neat. The effect they create is a subtle one but does pack a punch in terms of quality. The standard option is great for a neutral balance of tones, but the bass option delivers an endearing warmth and smoothness in its presentation. The other option boosts treble which might be a bit overwhelming for some listeners, and not ideal for imperfect recordings or mixing, where the highs can be especially shrill if left unchecked.
In terms of visual design, the SE846 looks similar to other Shure in-ear models, but it has been refined and honed. The transparent carapace also makes it fascinating to see the inner workings of the machinery, which is a pretty neat aesthetic in and of itself. If you look carefully at the etching on the drivers, they are each numbered 1 through 4 and list the frequency responses that each one covers.
Shure's extensive research and development budget ensures that the technology inside each pair of earphones is well-made and high-quality, built to last for years to come. While many other companies may rely on marketing to push their products, Shure's practical, no-nonsense approach focuses on quality assurance and hardware development, making it both functional and long-lasting. Not only that, but comfort is emphasized so listeners can spend hours enjoying their music in total luxury.
When you let a product like this speak for itself, its positives can truly shine. Shure is most well-known for its in-ear monitors and microphones, meaning their team is experienced in crafting high-end gear. For the SE846, however, it's easy to see that they were able to take this experience and throw in everything possible to guarantee listener satisfaction.
The focal point of development with the SE846 appears to have catered to optimizing lows and helping them work in tandem with mid and high-range frequencies to create an immersive balance of sounds. In-ear earphones present a lot of challenges when crafting drivers, mainly due to size and design limitations. As a result, most companies opt for standard dynamic drivers or balanced armature models, but neither is perfect.
Dynamic drivers can be tuned to emphasized one range of frequencies, but it is seldom able to respond in a way that perfectly balances all three. Balanced armature models, meanwhile, are quite sensitive, but are often lacking in the low end while producing beautiful mids and highs for listeners to enjoy.
Instead of employing standard techniques here, the SE846 uses 4 Shure in-house balanced armature drivers explicitly developed for this model. This setup lets the earphones deliver frequencies on their own drivers to maximize clarity and dynamism. While other companies do this, it's a difficult feature to find in a universal earphone, as this type of move if more common among custom models. The adjustable tonal filters add the custom feel of these in-ear headphones considerably.
When taking a look at the casing itself, there is little to no unused space, and the style is still very sleek for housing all of that engineering. Listeners worried about creakiness, or flimsy materials will find neither with the SE846. The cable is very sturdy and comfortable and shows that Shure has found a solution to the cracking cabling on their older headphone models. The over-ear fit eliminates both tangling cords and irritating microphonics from contact with clothes, so such inconveniences are nearly impossible.
Audio & Sound Quality
As any audiophile--or layman--can tell you, the most critical aspect of any earphone is the audio quality. From the moment you put on the SE846s, you will be enveloped and immersed in utmost comfort, from the design of the earphones to the well-built drivers pumping out your favorite tunes and bringing out micro-details that beautify your audio. These can compete with many on-ear cans, and provide intimacy in sound quality that can only be found in earphones.
The SE846 is an earphone that won't leave you feeling like you are listening to earphones. The soundstage on these IEMs is enormous, and listening to your audio through these is much like hearing your favorite songs for the first time all over again. The clarity and depth these headphones have achieved are impressive, especially among in-ear models. Binaural recordings are especially potent with Shure 4-driver setup. Overlap bleed is minimal, and the entire experience is enjoyable from start to finish. Every frequency stands out in its own right without overwhelming you as you listen.
Mids pull forward with a warmth and intimacy that is jaw-dropping, even on the most neutral tonal settings. Vocals and treble pop with renewed vigor, even on old favorites. The forward mix allows notes to float toward you as you listen, so you get the most out of every detail, from the grain of old recordings to the action of dampening pedals and instruments being played.
The bass on the SE846 proves that there is nothing these earphones cannot handle, especially when it comes to the lows. Shure has successfully addressed the age-old issue with balanced armature drivers lacking in lows with smart engineering, and the results are nothing short of brilliant. Even deep, long-lasting bass drops are handled elegantly, and the SE846s still give you the in-ear equivalent of the satisfaction of a drop on a proper 12-inch subwoofer. No matter if you want to listen to EDM, trap, chillstep, or other bass-heavy genres, they will never have muffled or congested lows on the SE846s.
All in all, the four in-house drivers created by the Shure team have delivered unbeatable sound packed into an inconceivably small package. Their hard work is truly a testament to how the limits of audio engineering can be pushed to create equipment that is well ahead of its time. The lows are punchy and delightful and beat out other in-ear models with balanced armature drivers--and any with dynamic drivers--on the market today. The SE846's midrange and high frequencies are cleverly packed into their own drivers and emphasize clarity and impact to create a completely immersive audio experience, no matter if you're using lossless audio, listening to podcasts, or enjoying your favorite YouTube videos.
Whether you need high-end headphones for enjoying your favorite high-end DAP, or want to elevate your musical experience with a premium pair of headphones, the design and implementation of the SE846 are, in a word: flawless. The comfortable, over-ear fit, combined with the high-quality engineering and customization options, means you can enjoy these premium Shure headphones for years to come, whether for personal or professional use.
The Shure SE846s are worth every penny in terms of comfort, durability, sound quality, and longevity. Not only do these earphones offer fantastic audio quality, but their comfort and reliability are second to none. Even years after its release, the Shure 846s are the top of the line when it comes to in-ear monitors. Whether you plan to use them at home or for professional application, these in-ear headphones offer such quality that other earphones may sound inadequate in comparison.
Compared to other models like the Campfire Audio Lyra, which offer a different set of perks for listeners, these headphones are incredibly well-balanced, especially among universal models, and offer a lot of the same perks unique to custom headphones. It's safe to say there's nothing on the market, even years later, that meets the same needs as the Shure SE846. Their years-long durability means minimal maintenance aside from perhaps changing out cords or ear tips to suit your needs. These in-ear-earphones can't be beaten, and it goes to show how forward-thinking the audio engineers at Shure are when it comes to building high-end audio hardware.
If you judge these earphones just on their audio quality alone, you'll be sold. It would take thousands of dollars to find speakers that deliver the same natural, nuanced delivery of audio. Better still, the hardware is built to last and easy to customize to fit your needs. Vocals are precise and crystal-clear, supported by driving, powerful mids and thrumming lows that make your heart skip a beat. You've never heard music until you've listened to it through a pair of the SE846s.
Shure not only offers mind-blowing quality in their earphone quality, but their customer service and warranties are second to none. The SE846s offer the best of all worlds, in both quantity and quality, and they will not disappoint.