Shure SE112 Headphones Review
Loads of performance for a reasonable price
This year, we've found no shortage of dynamite deals on in-ear headphones. From sleek design, to pleasing price tags, to premium performance, there are piles of products to choose from in this category.
Shure's SE112 Sound Isolating headphones (MSRP $49) aren't best in show, but they deserve special mention anyway. Travelers won't find a microphone or remote with this in-ear headset, and its noise isolation is average at best, but those are the only big complaints I have about the high-performing SE112.
Bass-forward, distortion-free listening
In a word, the SE112 faced a slew of tests in our audio lab and survived to tell the tale. This isn't the best performance I've measured all year, but it's definitely toward the top of the heap.
The bump bump bump of low-down tones on bass and kick are really showcased. Happily, so is most everything else. Too often, overly prominent bass comes at the expense of details in the middle and high end, but the SE112 does a decent job of maintaining proper emphasis throughout. Generally speaking, middle and upper notes on vocals, brass, strings, and everything else are perfectly audible. If anything, certain high notes sound too loud here and there—which will have you ticking down volume to keep from wincing at a cymbal's tsh tsh tsh. In a word, the SE112 produces very full, detail-rich sound.
Best of all, aside from the occasional abrasive high notes, there really isn't much to shake your fist at here: The headphones balance volume evenly between the left and right speakers, and I couldn't find even a sprinkle of audible distortion.
The SE112 tested well in terms of noise blocking, too—but not as well as you'd think for a product that includes the phrase "Sound Isolating" in its title. To put it bluntly, the SE112 has absolutely nothing on AKG's K323 XS model. Where the SE112 blocks a decent amount of middle and high-pitched outside noise, the XS absolutely obliterates external sound.
A demure ensemble
Aside from a few useful extras, Shure's SE112 takes a very modest approach to design. You won't find anything flashy or extravagant here. The product's gray plastic and black, rubber accents make for a very muted scheme.
Lightweight and portable, this headset is easy to take on the road, but unfortunately, busy users won't find such luxuries as a microphone or remote control. That's a shame—for nearly 50 dollars, many will likely resent this omission. The cable seems quite durable, though, and Shure includes a drawstring carry case for added protection during transport.
While you won't find a variety of shapes, the SE112 in-ears do include three speaker sleeves in small, medium, and large sizes (I found myself longing for extra small). Users will also notice a tiny cleaning tool, which makes clearing out lint and other unwanted dirt from each speaker a much easier task.
The Bottom Line
High performance you can reach
With big, balanced sound, decent isolation, and distortion-free audio, Shure's SE112 (MSRP $49) in-ear headphones make a convincing case for themselves. The quality parts and extra sleeve sizes make the deal even more attractive.
Alternatives are never far. Panasonic's dirt-cheap RP-TCM125 is made with cheap materials, but its dynamite sound quality bites enthusiastically at the heels of these Shures; id America offers a product with cooler extras and similar performance; and perhaps most fearsome of all is JBL's excellent Synchros S200i model.
Still, there's no denying that these sub $50 Shure headphones are toward the top of the dog pile—that's simply where you wind up with great audio and quality parts.
News and Features
These in-ears are small on size but big on style.
Technics, Sony and Audio-Technica come out with next-gen turntables.
An introduction to our newly refreshed headphone scoring methodology
These earbuds are a soundboard for your ears.
The Prizm Music Brain knows what to play in any situation.
Fashionable style and bluetooth headphones are a winning combination
Bluetooth "GPS" makes it impossible to misplace these wireless buds.
Old-school audiophiles rejoice, Panasonic is sticking with Technics.
From high-end studio cans to affordable earbuds, these are the best headphones of the year.