Shure E3c Sound Isolating Earphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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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
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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.
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 Packaging: Standard Packaging
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
They sound OK but they won't stay in my ears... I only wish I was able to purchase new replacement ear bud covers.Published 19 months ago by Patrick
Awesome in-ear headphones. They are very comfortable and can be worn for hours. Sound is excellent and the best part is that blocks completely noises from the outside, like kids... Read morePublished on December 16, 2013 by AJ
First pair I bought lasted almost 2 years before the right side earphone quit working completely. Shure replaced them under warranty with a refurbished pair. Read morePublished on August 1, 2010 by David Christenson
This is my second pair of Shure earphones, and while they sound good, both pairs broke within a year of very careful use. Read morePublished on April 30, 2010 by Mirja I. Pitkin
This is the second pair of earphones(Sure Ec3) earphones, not because there's anything wrong with the first pair, I'm still using those, but in case anything ever happens to them,... Read morePublished on March 2, 2010 by CMc
I've owned these for a few years, and also use two sets of DJ cans and a set of studio monitor speakers. Read morePublished on December 31, 2009 by Jared Hunter
No doubt about it: These head phones sound great. When properly worn they do cancel out all backround noise but that's the trick isn't it? Wearing them properly. Read morePublished on November 17, 2009 by Martinex
I paid 175.00 for these and when I first got them I thought they were MUCH better than the Bose. After 7 months of using at the gym, one of the ears became very staticky. Read morePublished on August 17, 2009 by Bruce Goldberg
First off let me say that I love shure headphones. That said, let me explain why I will never buy another pair ever again. I've owned Shure E3c's for several years now. Read morePublished on January 17, 2009 by Vegan Marcos