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Shure E3c Sound Isolating Earphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

by Shure
3 out of 5 stars 184 customer reviews

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  • Smallest of Shure E-series Weighing only 0.9 ounce - less than 1 ounce
  • Instead of bulky headphones, E3 wearers get form-fitting earpieces that stay securely inside the ear without uncomfortable headbands
  • Sound isolation prevents outside noise from interfering with the music, and creates a quiet space for exceptional audio clarity
  • The studio grade, low mass, high energy micro-speakers employ balanced armature technology for more efficient output and extended high frequencies
  • Compatible for use with 1/8 inch (3.5 mm) audio output ports
1 used from $200.00

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Technical Details

Product Packaging: Standard Packaging
  • lightweight

Product Description

Product Packaging: Standard Packaging

Product Description

Get these Shure Sound Isolating Earphones for when music really matters. They produce an audiophile listening experience with their studio-quality sound, and they are small and ultra light with a compact design, making them ideal for active listening while you're on the go. These high-energy micro-speakers deliver great tonal balance across the entire frequency range, revealing the subtle details of original recordings, and the foam and soft rubber sleeves customize your degree of isolation and reduce outside noise. Imported.


If you're looking to upgrade your portable music listening experience, the Shure E3c sound isolating earphones deserve a serious look. The E3c's offer a level of sensitivity and range that places them in the audiophile tier of earphones and fortunately, Shure has priced them to make this kind of quality within reach.

In many ways, judging sound quality is all about making comparisons, and when the E3c's are matched against their big brother, the Shure E5c earphones, the E3c's do reveal a noticeable loss of dynamic range and clarity. Of course, the E5c's are worth every penny for those who want to spend more on earphones than they spent on their iPod. The E3c's, on the other hand, come out a clear winner when you weigh their quality and cost.

The E3c earbuds are small and easy to insert in the ear-- easier, in fact, than the E5c earbuds, which are larger and less friendly to folks with small ears. The E3c's thin and pliant cords are light and easy to manage. They're also designed to be looped over the back of the ear, but some testers found it uncomfortable and awkward to keep them there. These testers also said they preferred inserting the earphones upside down, letting the cords dangle downwards from the ear to avoid hassles. By comparison, the E5c earphones feature a bendable stiffening material in the section of cable that runs behind the ears, allowing the listener to loop the cables over and behind the ear more securely. It would be nice to see this simple solution added to the E3c earphones.

Shure did choose to give the E3c's the same gold-plated, 3.5mm input connector as the E5c's. The connector has a low-profile elbow bend to minimize accidental unplugging and snags-- great for laptop and airline users. And just like the E5c's, the E3c's come with a number of earplug "sleeves" packaged in what Shure calls a "fit kit". Our testers had little trouble finding a sleeve that felt comfortable. We especially liked the expanding foam sleeves that, like those foam dinosaurs that grow in water, expand to fit the contours of the ear canal.

Sound Quality
As we listened to a broad range of musical genres on the E3c earphones it was hard, once again, not to make comparisons with the E5c's. If you aren't even entertaining the notion of purchasing the E5c's, then make sure you never have occasion to listen to them. Rest easy in the knowledge that the E3c's deliver clear, crisp highs and rich, thundering lows. Delight in the fact that they excel at delivering the celebrated earphone experience; the external world is largely silenced and the music resonates inside your head. Meanwhile, if you are toying with the idea of stepping up to the E5c's, go ahead and give both models a listen. Although the difference between the two is not stark, we immediately noticed that we had to drive the E3c's at higher volume to get the same kind of resonance and fullness the E5c's deliver at a relatively lower volume.

Comparing the E3c's to the E5c's is a bit unfair, but in many ways, the comparisons revealed just how good both sets of earphones really are. The E5c's represent an extremely high benchmark, and fortunately for those who don't want to spend a bundle on top-quality earphones, the E3c's aren't too far off the pace. We recommend them as a massive upgrade to the standard headphones that ship with most portable music devices.--Joshua Gunn


  • Simple, compact design
  • Designed for compatibility with most ears
  • Excellent sound quality at a non-stratospheric price
  • Cord ergonomics could be better
  • Lower-quality sound than the E5c model generates unplanned spending urge

Product Details

Product Packaging: Standard Packaging
  • Item Weight: 3 pounds
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Domestic Shipping: Item can be shipped within U.S.
  • International Shipping: This item is not eligible for international shipping. Learn More
  • ASIN: B0001NNLHK
  • Item model number: E3c
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
  • Product Warranty: For warranty information about this product, please click here
  • Discontinued by manufacturer: Yes
  • Date first available at Amazon.com: March 1, 2004

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Package Type: Standard Packaging Verified Purchase
First off, let me save certain people the trouble of reading the following review: If you've got to convince yourself that a pair of earphones could be worth what these cost, they probably aren't.

When I first put these on (with my correctly-fitting size of included ear adapters), I was comparing them with a $9 pair of Sony earbuds that I've been using for the past few years. I couldn't believe it, but I thought my crappy Sony earbuds sounded 100 times better. "Where's the bass?" I thought to myself when switching the '3's' back into my noggin for the second time and still not hearing it.

It took me about 5 minutes to finally figure out the trick that Sony, Panasonic and all of the other consumer-grade electronics manufacturers have been playing on me and you all along: they deceptively amplify the bass response from that of the musician's original intent to cover up the dismal sound quality and inaccurate reproduction of the music provided by their inferior wares. Yeah, that 'Mega-Bass' is more like a bunch of mega BULL.

The '3's do not overpower you with bass. They deliver your music to you as your favorite musicians intended for you to hear it. What you are paying for with these headphones is ACCURACY. Those tight, crisp high-hats bucketed in syncopated pockets of time that you may have not even heard before will elude you no longer, once you get the '3's. The slight tune-decay of those analog synth chords that you're supposed to hear just upon the release of the keys on your favorite 70's fusion recordings would send chills through any jazz/funk afficionado like myself, but you'll never hear 'em without these puppies.
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Not being an audiophile but just an ordinary listener, I decided to splurge and check these out as Shure has a return policy. Am not disappointed --- really pleased to have the quality of great sound. Clear and crisp as one had great speakers. Don't bother with looping the cord over the ears, they work fine the regular way and check out the various inserts for the best fit. I have Sony noise cancellation headphones for over 7 years now and use those too, as well as medium priced Koss headphones from Radio Shack but neither compare to the E3c --- so save your money by not buying all those other headphones that will sit and go with the Shure E3c!
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I ordered my pair the day after thanksgiving. I was a bit hesitant, due to the price, but let me tell you they worth every penny. I have not tried the 5cs, but this pair is good enough. As other users said, when you hear a song you truly love and have heard for thousand times before, it's like you are listening for the very first time. They passed my Enigma; Sting; Lara St John, and Cher tests with flying colors. The music is deep, not distorted, and detailed as if you are in the music hall in the best seat. Excellent choise, don't be bothered by the price, since we are paying $300 plus for our ipods, they deserve the best headphones out there. An important note, make absolutely sure that the headphones are all the way inside your ear canal, otherwise you will be dissappointed. The earphones come with a fitting package that will accomodate almost anybody's ears. The key is that the earphones need to be all the way inside your ear canal.
One bit downside is the cord is a bit akward. I guess it will take some getting used to, but for $180, I think the company can do a bit better with cord management.

An additional comment regarding Bass;

What we have to keep in mind is that these earphones are reproducing the sound in its 'pure' form. In other words they take the sound with all its attributes and reproduce it. That means that you will not be overpowered by bass. A lot of low priced earphones overcompensate with the bass to cover up the lack of the other details of the sound reproduction. A good example is the MDR series from Sony which are also inside the ear design. The MDRs overcompensate in the bass, because they distort the other elements of the sound.
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Package Type: Standard Packaging
This is an update to my earlier review. I've now had these for about two months and have grown to really like them. I've found that the foam sleeves are by far the best, both for sound quality, isolation and comfort. The sound with these is simply fantastic - sharp, clear, detailed and powerful. The isloation is awesome. The foam sleeves get dirty after a while but Shure sells replacements for $20 for 10 pairs. A pair probably needs to be replaced every few weeks, depending on how often they are used. $2/pair isn't a lot of money so I don't mind it.

Another review mentioned how the design is bad because the wire needs to go over your shoulder or under your armpit. That's not how they're supposed to work. The wire goes down your back. I usually keep my Ipod in my front pocket and have no problems having the wire run down my back around to my pocket. Can also run the wire down the front as well (I do this at the gym). As for putting them on, yes they're not AS easy as regular headphones but they take me all of 5 seconds so I don't mind.

I've seen some complaints about the bass. People who complain don't know what bass should sound like. These have tight bass, not crappy boomy bass like cheap headphones. I listen to a lot of bass-heavy hip hop and electronic music and I love the way these sound. I have some tracks where the bass is pounding.

I do have a few minor complaints with these. Because the cord runs down your back, you need to make sure to leave some slack when you sit down, otherwise your back will press the cord against the seat back and if you move your head, the wire will be tight. This doesn't really bother me, and you can also run the wire down your front if you want.
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