Let me start this review with the conclusion: Shure's SE530s are solid high-end performers that will satisfy anyone who likes clear acoustics and strong highs and lows.
Whew! I feel better. I've been riddled with guilt since posting my disappointment in Shure's SE310s. The SE530 is the most expensive model in my roster and, at $549, I was pretty much expecting greatness.Happily, I got it, in many ways. The SE530 passes all the stress tests: clear sound reproduction at high volumes; good bass and overall dynamics at low levels; solid noise isolation, even on a plane; comfortable earbuds; and a load of optional cords, cushions and add-ons for the headphone completist. As mentioned in the review of the Etymotic ER-4 microPro, excellence is all but expected at this price category, and the SE530 delivers.
Shure has given these headphones a distinct personality, far different from the ER-4 or anything by Sennheiser, which we'll be reviewing next. These are rumbling, pumping, crashing headphones. Kiss, Queens of the Stone Age, Lady GaGa, Calle Ocho: booming bass and crunching guitars are the SE530's sweet spot. High-end treble is sharp and prominent; bass lines and drum riffs arrive with gusto.
What these headphones are not is warm. Jazz and midrange-heavy music don't envelop the listener like they do in some other brands' headphones. Shure has EQ'd the SE530 for stronger, noisier genres than that. I heartily recommend them for rock, metal, industrial, dance, hip-hop and the like. String quartets, not so much.
As noted above, the Shures come with foam ear cushions that are comfortable to wear and provide great noise reduction. Combined with their well-calibrated low-volume output, they're perfect for travel and office environments. They also have a variety of silicone ear buds that are less intrusive on the wearer's ears.
Interestingly, with all this quality headgear comes a minimum of fuss. The SE530's packaging was appropriately deluxe, but the carrying case and cords are rather unassuming. There's nothing in the usable pieces that screams, "I paid a lot more for my headphones than I did for my mp3 player." They're no-nonsense headphones that simply pump out good audio.
Thanks, Shure! My faith is restored. I am once again enjoying Shure's headphones and have resumed waxing nostalgic about my E3cs. The SE530s are great headphones that provide great fun.
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