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Shure E3c Sound Isolating EarphonesGreat sound, small package represents excellent value
Little earphones like these that cost $179 might sound too expensive, but I think theyre well worth their relatively steep price tag. And theyre great for using with a video editing setup when you dont want to bother those around you, letting you notice sounds you wouldnt otherwise hear in your audio tracks. Whatever use you find for them, I think theyre about as good as you can get for ultra-high fidelity listening to any audio source.
The E3c is the newest entry in Shures line of precision earphones whose lineage can be traced back to hearing aid technology, which has been miniaturized and honed over the past century to near-perfection. This type of equipment has certainly come a long way from the ear-horn days of days past. Into these micro-monsters are packed the result of those long years of steady evolution, with Shure stoking the E3c with teeny-tiny high-tech transducers that let you hear things youve never heard before.
The idea for such high-quality earphones was brought about by rock stars and touring musicians who needed to hear an isolated, clean, feedback-free audio mix as they performed on stage. At the same time, they needed the phones to be unobtrusive. Shure answered this need, providing an early, high-end version of these earphones that were compatible with custom ear molds to insure a perfect fit. The Shure E5c ($499) is now available thats very much like those first on-stage monitoring earphones, with two low-mass high energy transducers inside each earpiece instead of the E3cs one.
An advantage the E3c (or the exact same model in a gray color, the E3) shares with its more-expensive brandmate is that ability to accommodate custom-made earpieces so that the seal is perfectly tight. Its imperative to get a secure seal when wearing the E3c, because if you dont the sound is pretty feeble, with hardly any bass response. Another advantage of both is their extremely small size, with a weight of slightly less than an ounce (28g). Theyre so tiny, you can put these babies in your ears, and isolate yourself completely from the rest of the world without anyone knowing youre doing it.
And that isolation is a key factor when using these earpieces. Their complete obstruction of your ear canal lets these headphones do two things very well: One, they cut out outside noise almost completely, so you can hear exactly what youve recorded (or what youre listening to) and nothing else. Two, that tight seal makes these some enormously hot-sounding earpieces. When listening to a high-quality music source, they give you startlingly fat bass notes interspersed with wide open midrange without even a hint of hollowness, and smooth, crystal-clear highs that make you feel like you just had an ear transplant using the virgin ears of a kid whos never been to a rock concert before. The sound is so dramatic it makes you feel like crispy-clean sound is being pile-driven straight into the middle of your skull. But thats not a bad thing, no, no.
But then maintaining that all-important seal is a slight drawback to this product as well. The earphones include a ?fitting kit, which goes a long way toward solving that problem of obtaining a tight seal. But even though the kit includes small, medium and large sleeves of two different types and expanding foam sleeves, too, its difficult to find just the right size of sleeve for your particular ears. Once you do, it takes a bit of practice to learn exactly how to insert the things into your ear canal. As the well-written and illustrated instructions note, the phones are designed to fit well into your ears, with the cords going over and behind your ears. With a little practice, soon the things are properly inserted. Its a snug fit thats disconcerting at first, but easy to get used to, especially when you hear that glorious sound. And, once you get them in your ears with the cord behind your neck, you can slide up a sleeve on the cord that holds them in place while offering strain relief. Theyre amazingly comfortable after a minute or two you wont even be able to feel them, and the seal will remain secure no matter which way you move.
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