Shure E5 Headphone Reviews

Manufacturer Shure Model E5
Headphone Type Canal Headband Type None
Weight (g) 31 Driver Type Dynamic
Enclosure Material Plastic Isolation (dB) 20
Impedance (ohms) 110 Cable Length (cm) 155
Frequency Response (Hz) 20 - 20000  
Connector 3.5mm Street Price US$499
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Average reviewer scores
Bass Extension 6.8 Bass Impact 6.6
Bass Quality 6.2 Mids Quality 6.6
Highs Quality 5.4 Soundstage 5.0
Detail 6.4 Portability 9.4
Isolation 8.8 Comfort 7.0
Durability 8.2 Improvement With Amplification 3.8
Value for Money 4.4    
Overall Score 6.7 Total Reviews 5

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Reviews by our members

Review by Senior Member Iron_Dreamer on 01 Jul 07  12:16
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality5
Mids Quality5
Highs Quality5

The Shure E5 is a great portable audio device, that allows you to get into you music on the go and in noisy places, though it is little match for similarly priced headphones in the sound quality arena.

The first thing a listener will notice about the E5 is its bass, which goes lower and hits with more authority than one would expect from such a tiny device, outdoing many traditional headphones in this regard. However, it is not the tightest bass in the world, and tends to overrun the sound a bit, depending on the recording. I find the bass to be a major component of why the E5 is so satisfying as a portable audio solution, as few devices of similar portability offer this kind of bass performance.

The midrange of the E5 is quite tuneful and upfront. The E5 rarely leaves the listener bored, however the upfront nature of the sound can lead it to be a bit harsh when presented with a sub-par recording, or poorly encoded lossy audio file. The treble of the E5 is not terribly well extended (though nor is any other IEM save the UE10), and it only somewhat natural sounding as a result. However, it is not deficient in treble, nor does it get so overbearing as to distract from the music.

The E5's resolve a fair amount of detail, but can be heard to be quite lacking when compared with higher end headphones. Their soundstage is pretty closed in, but not as badly as some other IEM's.

The E5 has excellent build quality and usability, in a class above all other IEM's I've used. The memory wire and shape of the earphones keep them from being as uncomfortable as some IEM's can be, and they are built tough to withstand the harshest of professional use. They also include a wide variety of tips for a close fit, and a carrying case for superb portability. The E5 is perhaps the easiest to drive headphone or earphone I've ever seen, and amping is of little consequence.

The E5's are not as attractive a buy as they were a couple of years ago due to the onslaught of new IEM's on the market. At a similar price, the new E500/SE530 is significantly better sounding and more comfortable than the E5, and there are now cheaper models that also compete with it. As such, the E5 isn't the best buy, unless one gets a particularly good deal.

My ratings:
Bass Extension: 7
Bass Impact: 6
Bass Quality: 5
Mids Quality: 5
Highs Quality: 5
Soundstage: 3
Detail: 5
Portability: 9
Isolation: 9
Comfort: 6
Durability: 9
Improvement with Amplification: 2
Value for the Money: 4

Review by Senior Member mattie1972 on 09 May 06  22:02
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality7

I bought these after my SuperFi 5 Pro fell apart, and rather than get a replacement pair I added the extra cash and moved up. These do not have the instant appeal of the UE's, as the sound is much smoother and more balanced but without the huge bass impact.

Having now spent some time with them, they are the best canal phones I have owned by a large margin. They are of course also the most expensive canal phones I have owned by a large margin so value is another question.

I have owned the UM1's and SuperFi 5Pro's, and the U5c are for me the complete answer to my canal phone search. They are improved with my headphone amp, but it really isn't necessary and the gains are not as significant as with the Westone or UE phones.

The sound is just better balanced than anything else I have heard, and the fit is perfect for my ears. There is no one part that stands out, they just sound right overall.

Review by Senior Member TrevorNetwork on 16 Dec 04  21:41
Individual review
Bass Extension6
Bass Impact5
Bass Quality6
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality5

I found the Shure E5C to be quite a mixed bag. On one hand the bass had more extension that I had heard with an IEM. On the other hand, it lacked the transparency, speed, and precision of the Etymotic ER-4S. The Shure E5C, is an earphone that, in my opinion does not have any real strengths sonically. It is very portable, mildly uncomfortable (to these ears!), it has relatively harsh treble, and the bass seemed boomy, and ill-defined. I found they improved somewhat with the addition of a maxed PPA, but certainly not enough to make them worth keeping. I had them a grand total of three months.

Review by Member hackeron on 03 Apr 05  23:54
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact9
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality6

First of all, about sound stage. While a noticeable improvement over the E3, I also noticed a lack of sound stage when listening to classical through my sblive. I then got the Envy24HT based M-Audio Rev, the sound stage instantly opened up to nothing I've ever heard before.

So improvement with amplification? -- hell yeah! (that m-audio has a built in headphone amp).

Then ofcourse the bass. The extension is down to 20hz more or less cleanly, the impact is more than I could ask for. Not qualified to comment about the bass quality, but I'm quite literally in awe of it.

The Shures being notoriously known of that hump in the mids do seem to get the mids quite perfect again with the E5 and after getting a good source, the highs are much better, although not quite good enough as many mentioned.

I would easily say portability, isolation, comfort and durability are flawless. Compared to the E3, especially the comfort level is night vs day. They quite literally just disappear as soon as you put them in your ears, going to sleep in them is no problem either.

All that considered however, at $500 compared to the $150 for the E3, not a major return and not nearly as equalizer friendly either (although dont really require one for my tastes).

Review by Member Eieyre on 26 Dec 04  21:59
Individual review
Bass Extension6
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality6
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality4

I agree with most of what Iron Dreamer says, so I'm just going to add my personal observations. There are certain types of music that these headphones are right for, and some in which they sound mediocre. The E5's are perfect for jazz. Whenever I listen to 'Kind of Blue', I'm just blown away by the life that Miles' trumpet and Coltrane's sax has. These headphones are also great for rock music (eg. In Flames and Pink Floyd), but not so much for classical. For example when playing Mozart's Requiem, the soprano voices sound bunched up and muddy, probably due to the headphones' relatively weaker high-end. IMO these headphones just dont have the sound-stage and the all rounded quality that's needed for music as complicated as classical. For portable use though, they're good enough. I also have some more practical notes about the headphones:

- Unamped and without the attenuator (which I havent tried), these headphones are quite noisy. You cant hear the noise when music is playing, but during silent periods, it's pretty obvious.

- The cable turns green after a few months of use. I dont think this should affect your buying decision, but something to keep in mind.

- You're going to have to get used to them. I put comfort as 8 because I'm accustomed to canal phones, but my friend who isnt hates them.

- Spend the extra money to get the tri-flange tips. They improve bass extension and sound stage, and they dont have the 'sharp' edge of the grey silicon tops.

Shure E5
Shure E5