Shure E3 Headphone Reviews

Manufacturer Shure Model E3
Headphone Type Canal Headband Type None
Weight (g) 30 Driver Type Dynamic
Enclosure Material Plastic Isolation (dB) 20
Impedance (ohms) 26 Cable Length (cm) 155
Frequency Response (Hz) 20 - 20000  
Connector 3.5mm Street Price US$150
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Average reviewer scores
Bass Extension 4.4 Bass Impact 4.7
Bass Quality 5.6 Mids Quality 6.9
Highs Quality 4.1 Soundstage 5.3
Detail 5.3 Portability 8.6
Isolation 8.1 Comfort 5.9
Durability 6.4 Improvement With Amplification 3.6
Value for Money 4.6    
Overall Score 5.6 Total Reviews 7

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Reviews by our members

Review by Lead Reviewer commando on 15 Dec 04  13:45
Individual review
Bass Extension4
Bass Impact4
Bass Quality5
Mids Quality7
Highs Quality1

I don't like these headphones at all. The highs are severely rolled off, which my ears interpret as lack of detail. To me this was the killer flaw: that much money for headphones with treble/detail is terrible. I returned mine after burning them in and using them for a week.

I replaced my E3s with Sony EX71s, which i'm very happy with for casual use, but they're not audiophile grade.

Review by Senior Member logogogue on 11 Apr 06  18:59
Individual review
Bass Extension2
Bass Impact3
Bass Quality4
Mids Quality4
Highs Quality4

Despite the praise I have read and the "tricks" to improve bass, I find that the sound is anemic and stale. It just lacks musicality and isn't engaging. On a positive note, the sound is very clean and detailed so if you want to hear every little nuance and sound, this is the way to go.

True, it does isolate noise very well while in place, but you can not walk while using these headphones because the footsteps are amplified in your head and distracts from the music. I have practically grown up using in-ear headphones and have not dealt with anything as uncomfortable as these, especially after a couple of hours of use. (Regardless of ear cushions.) The saving grace is the detail in music, pretty indestructable, and are incredibly efficient. As a note, you must use the optional attenuator for in-flight audio/tv or the pilotÂ’s announcement will blow out your ear drums even at the lowest possible volume setting.

Bottom line; I haven't really found a suitable in-canal alternative in this price range. Unless you are a musician looking for in-ear monitors with custom ear pieces, for the same money, if you want critical listening get a good quality open dynamic cans or else save your money and get some cheaper in-ear models.

Review by Senior Member walkman666 on 18 Dec 04  09:40
Individual review
Bass Extension5
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality6
Mids Quality7
Highs Quality4

I enjoy my Shure e3s very much, and mainly use them at the gym. I find the foamies to provide the best isolation and the best comfort as well. These Shures are much easier to INSERT IGNORE INTO my ear than the e2s; they are smaller. I find the musicality of these headphones to be quite strong, but they are lacking in the high's somewhat. The bass is good, but not great, and for a portable phone, quite good in my opinion. These phones are not the most durable, as I have had to replace them once already, but Shure's warranty and service was excellent in this regard. A fun, easy, musical portable headphone that is great with rock and great with an iPod.

Review by Member kloug on 24 Oct 09  22:04
Individual review
Bass Extension3
Bass Impact4
Bass Quality6
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality4

These earphones are severely lacking in bass and even more in treble. This is sad because the midrange is very good and natural. On spoken words, it is flat and almost perfect. But on music, it is lifeless and boring. I much prefer my Zune V2 earphones!

Isolation is great, like all Shure earphones.

But for the price, it's bad!

Review by Member hackeron on 03 Apr 05  23:56
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality8
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality4

I would say I didnt like the E3 when I got them, at all. Sure the detail was excellent, but pretty un-enjoyable, claustrophobic, and thin sounding.

Coming from hugely over exaggerated bass and shrilling highs (EX71), that makes sense. The sound signature is quite the opposite and reminds you of the older AM radios with nothing but the mids (no matter how much detail the mids have).

I shortly found out the headphones are very capable technically at producing great sound, but I still simply couldnt stand the Shure sound signature notoriously known for the hump in the mids - While all this seems to be a love or hate thing, it most certainly gave me a bad impression of the headphones.

Then I discovered the equalizer. Sure its a bad thing for headphones to *require* an equalizer, but the improvement in sound it made is unbelievable. If you are willing to use an equalizer, for $150, you can get downright blissful audiophile grade sound that gives you the impact of the E5 and an incredible amount of clarity, completely taking away the claustrophobic sound and quite literally giving you complete bliss.

A few non sonic related merits include a 2 year warranty, lifetime warrany (small fee for replacement) and really excellent durability.

Overall, highly recommended.

Review by Member grasshpr on 28 Mar 05  10:20
Individual review
Bass Extension5
Bass Impact4
Bass Quality5
Mids Quality7
Highs Quality7

Great for portable use. It does compromise detail for a bit of bass, but for the type of music you listen to, it may be to your benefit! I love using it unamped. However, you should connect it with a good source otherwise you will hear lots of static noise.

Review by Member Dura on 17 Mar 05  11:17
Individual review
Bass Extension5
Bass Impact5
Bass Quality5
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality5

I commute to work and do lots of other travel, so I use portables a lot, often > 3hrs/ a day.
At home I prefer listening to my speakers instead of headphones.
At the moment my fave player is the Sony NW-HD1, with the E3. I also own(ed) f.i. the E2, Sony 70&71, the Sharp 33 and the Senn PX100.
It took me a long time to get used to the E3; it missed the vague but pleasant sonority of the E2, and the comfort of the Sony/Sharp sets. Especially the wire is so thick and stiff, every movement is tranported to the phones.
But I got used to it; I tried all the tips, but now I prefer the medium dark grey soft ones.
The important thing is to find out how to wear them; for me it is:
chord down(not over the ears)/to the back/lef&right reversed.
Very comfortable, hardly microphonics but still a little bit of feeling the pull on the phones through the wires when I move, and occlusion (far less with the foamies, but those itch).
It takes some time, but on the other hand the phones are very flexible in what tips to use and how to wear them, so eventually many people might find them suitable.
Soundwise I do not like the mid/midhigh forwardness, but the phones respond excellent to my Sony's EQ; on the 6 band EQ I use +1/0/-1/-2/-2/-1.
This transforms the phones from forward to slightly dark and full; not edge-of-the-seat sound, but perfect for hours of relaxed listening while reading a book or looking out of a trainwindow.
But again the phones are flexible, it's quite possible to make them sound more aggressive with EQ, while they retain their rather good sound quality.
Bass isn't particularly deep and slightly soft and defocused, but in balance with the rest of the phones.
Soundstage is hardly there, it all happens between the ears. Isolation is very good.

This is why the E3 is my favorite on-the-road phone; the flexibilty made it possible -with some experimentation- to make it meet my needs: good isolation, a comfortable fit and a good and pleasant sound; great to turn hours of travelling from boring into a quiet and relaxed joy.

Shure E3