Shure earphones
Shure Incorporated
Shure E4c earphones raise the sound quality coming from your portable music devices.
By Columnist
msnbc.com
updated 6/1/2005 9:24:46 PM ET 2005-06-02T01:24:46

You are probably making a big mistake. If you think you’re getting the best sound from the earphones that come with your portable electronics — you’re not even close. Whatever you listen to, whether it’s an iPod or other MP3 player, an AM, FM or satellite radio, or maybe a CD, MiniDisc, Walkman, DAT, portable DVD player or even your laptop computer you need to trash the cheap, crappy earplugs that came in the box and get yourself something worth listening to.

That’s where the wizards from Shure Incorporated come in. Shure has been in the music business for years. From microphones to phono cartridges and earphone monitors used by musicians and performers on stage Shure knows what sounds good.

I’ve told you about their earphones before. I found that they sound great. They're even comfortable. I’m usually not a big fan of little devices stuck in my ears but, because they give you a big choice of sizes and types of earpiece sleeves (the part that actually goes into your ear) I think the Shures are the best. This goes for their entire line of earphones but especially for their brand new model, the E4c.

First, a little history. The top-of-the-line E5c actually has separate woofers and tweeters inside each earphone (left and right). The sound is truly superb. Then again, it should be: They sell for $499 a pair! The 5’s have long been the top choice of many reviewers.

All the other earphones in Shure’s line have one driver per ear. At the low end, the E2c sells for $109 and, like the rest of the line, comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and 2-year warranty. It sounds a whole lot better than anything that comes packaged with your gear.

One step up, the E3c has been the bread and butter of Shure’s line. Priced at $199, the E3c is a good balance between great sound and price. Until they announced the E4c, the 3s were my number one recommendation for upgrading.

Now, there’s the E4c. Somehow, Shure has improved both the treble and bass response of these tiny sound reproducers. Highs are smooth and extended and the lowest bass sounds come through loud and clear. I think Shure has done a fantastic job at voicing the single-driver 4s to come amazingly close to the sound of the two-driver E5c.

All Shure earphones also excel at something other than reproducing music — they’re also great at sound isolation. Unlike other manufacturers’ relatively bulky electronic headphones which actually generate noise to mask outside sounds, Shure earphones are placed inside your ears.

By creating a secure fit between the sound source and your ear canal, unwanted background noise is blocked out while the music comes in. And, by selecting from an assortment of included soft, flexible sleeves, you’re able to personalize the fit of the earphones. The sleeves conform to the unique shape of your ear, creating a seal that isolates you from ambient noise.

Shure's "Fit Kit"
Shure Incorporated
This is what Shure calls a "Fit Kit".  These are the plastic and foam sleeves for the E2c's.
I always thought the rubberized plastic sleeves were the best, until recently, when a Shure expert taught me how to squeeze, insert and use the included foam rubber sleeves. The result was maximum isolation and comfort (for me) and blissfully perfect sound. Give all the sleeves a try to see what works best with your ears.

The new Shure E4c retails for $299. It’s now my number one choice for anyone to wants to hear what’s really coming out of your portable device — but you can’t go wrong with any of the Shures. They are all highly recommended.

One last warning, when using any kind of earphone, headphone or even loudspeakers please go easy on the volume control. Any of these devices are capable of generating sounds that can permanently harm your hearing if you refuse to listen at reasonable levels. In other words, turn it down — and enjoy the music!

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