Last year I reviewed the Shure E2c, E3c and E5c sound-isolating headphones. All were impressive, and each better than the next as the price climbed from £77 to £499. Now Shure has the E4c, which bridge the gap between the £175 E3c, and the £499 E5c.
Before launching into the new model, I’d like to summarize my previous comments on the Shure range of headphones. The E2c headphones are great, they’re in-ear design offering a comfortable fit and impressive sound. The E3c headphones are more than double the price, but their extended frequency response means results were twice as good. The E5cs are more than double the price again, and although the dual extended-frequency earphones are measurably better, they don’t justify the price tag. Customers for £499 headphones are few and far between. With this in mind I was keen to see if the E4c headphones would impress.
The E4c sports a new design, featuring white leads (in homage to Apple’s iPod headphones) and some brushed metal next to the sleeve. There are a selection of sleeves from which to choose: three sizes of flex sleeves, one foam sleeve and the delightfully named triple-flanged sleeve. These are a couple of grams heavier than the E3c model, but feel more solid.
If you’ve never used in-ear headphones before, it takes a little getting used to. The design cuts out all external noise, so caution should be used when listening. I wouldn’t recommend using them while cycling, or even crossing the street. On a train or plane, though, they’re fantastic. The design of these headphones alone makes them better than regular earbuds, but the quality is incredible to boot. While the E2c model is impressive enough the E4c is amazing.
If you have a good stereo set-up at home, this is what you need to get similar quality on the move. The range is extraordinary, and it is almost unnerving to hear such bass without having your whole body vibrate. Everything is crisp and clear, which is fantastic, but the downside is that it can also amplify poorly encoded MP3s.
The only reason for anybody to not buying the E4c is price; they cost more than the average iPod. But if you demand the best, I recommend the E4c, which certainly offers better value than the E5c.