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  • Shure E5c Sound Isolating Earphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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Shure E5c Sound Isolating Earphones (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

by Shure
63 customer reviews

Available from these sellers.
Standard Packaging
  • Sound Isolating in-ear design - Hear only what you want to hear
  • Portable and lightweight design - weighing 1.1 ounce
  • Personal fit kit to contour to your ear size
  • Dual high-energy micro in-ear speakers
  • In-Line Crossover to enhance a studio quality listening experience
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Technical Details

Product Packaging: Standard Packaging
  • Includes carrying case.

Product Description

Product Packaging: Standard Packaging

Product Description

Shure E5c Sound Isolating Earphones - The E5c is the top-of-the-line model of this prestigious series, offering the richest possible listening experience. Dual high energy micro-speakers capture the high- and low-frequencies, while an in-line electronic crossover separates these outputs. You can hear your music like never before, where subtle details are brought forward for a lush, complete stereo listening experience. Input Connector - 3.5 mm (1/8) gold-plated stereo plug Includes case Shure 2-Year limited warranty


Conventional wisdom has long held that bigger means better when it comes to headphones. The thinking has been that a larger headphone isolates and covers the ear, letting it experience sounds more fully. Shure's E5c earphones are on the vanguard of a new school of thought: Tiny is actually better. Shure has managed to cram dual-driver speakers into small earphones that isolate the listener from virtually all background noise. If you don't mind the secret service look, and you're ready to spend more on your headphones than you spent on your MP3 player, the E5c's won't disappoint. In this case, you really do get what you pay for.

While the E5c earbuds are larger than other earphone-style headphones, they're still stunningly small. The cord, which includes an inline crossover unit that separates high- and low-frequency signals, is thin and pliant. A bendable stiffening material is added to the section of cable that runs behind the ears, allowing the listener to loop the cables over and behind the ear-- a simple and discreet solution. The gold-plated, 3.5mm input connector has a low-profile elbow bend to minimize accidental unplugging and snags. Shure includes a detachable in-line volume attenuator that controls volume without the need to fiddle with your player or listening source. The attenuator did seem a tad larger than it needed to be and, because it is not built into the E5c cord, it must be plugged in at the end of the cord. More than one tester said, "Why not just change the volume on the iPod instead of this doo-dad plugged directly into it?" A solution that places the attenuator nearer the listener's chest would be a welcome addition, but it's admittedly a minor niggle.

In an effort to match the earphones to ears of all shapes and sizes, the E5c earphones 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.

Lost in Sound
With the E5c earphones comfortably placed in our ears, we listened to a range of music genres encoded in both music CD and MP3 format. The most common response was, "Wow, I never knew this song had all these other instruments." Indeed, the E5c's have such dramatic clarity and frequency response that we were left wondering how we'd ever listened to music any other way. They're that good. The earphones produce the sensation that the music is actually inside one's head. Bass vibrates the cerebral cortex, high ranges dance in the frontal lobes. While Shure posts impressive impedence and sensitivity ratings for the E5c's, the truth is in the listening and we were simply blown away. In loud, crowded environments such as airplane cabins and teeming Seattle coffee shops, we heard absolutely nothing but music, a sensation that is both eerie and liberating. Anyone who says there is no difference between high-bitrate MP3 and CD audio tracks should strap on a pair of these earphones. The difference is striking.

The earphones remained comfortable after extended use, especially with the expanding foam sleeves. Listeners with especially small ears may want to give the E5c's a trial run; they are somewhat larger than the other, more affordable earphones in Shure's "E" line. This concern aside, if you have the ears, and the earmarked funds, for the E5c's, you are in for a listening adventure like none other. --Joshua Gunn


  • Simple, compact design
  • Designed for compatibility with most ears
  • Did somebody say something? We were lost in sonic bliss.
  • Costs more than many things it plugs into
  • May be a tad big for small ears
  • Volume attenuator could be better designed and integrated

Product Details

Product Packaging: Standard Packaging
Product Manual [162kb PDF]
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Domestic Shipping: Item can be shipped within U.S.
  • International Shipping: This item is not eligible for international shipping. Learn More
  • ASIN: B0000CE1VP
  • Item model number: E5C
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 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: October 2, 2001

Customer Questions & Answers

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Owen Oyer on April 26, 2006
Package Type: Standard Packaging
Instead of gushing prosaic over how great these earphones are, I would instead like to point out a few important points.

1) You will have probably noticed that there is a very great discreptancy between reviews. Some reviewers say that these earphones sound very full with rich bass, while others claim that they are very bright and tinny. The reason for this is that these earphones rely on getting a good seal with your ear canal. One of the symptoms of having a bad seal is a very steep drop-off in bass. If they sound tinny, lean, lacking in bass, thin, metallic, etc., then it is virtually guaranteed that you do not have a good seal. In reality, these earphones do tend to favor the bass quite a bit, and have a rather soft treble.

2) The amount of sound isolation does not always equal the quality of the seal that you get. It is possible to have them in such a position where they isolate quite well, but they will still sound tinny. This is, once again, because they're not inserted correctly.

3) A good way to insert any in-ear canalphone is to pull back and outwards on your ear to open up the ear canal, then insert the earphone as deep as it will go. This can sometimes build up pressure inside your ears, and moving the canalphone to one side to temporarily break the seal and release the excess air pressure is a good idea. Once again, the sound should be warm and bassy, not thin and metallic.

4) These are high fidelity earphones. That means that feeding them 128k mp3's is not a good idea, since they will faithfully report how bad your files are. They really are at their best with lossless music, but 224k mp3's and above are a good space-saving compromise. Just don't drop below 192k. They will also show you how well or how poorly your music is recorded.
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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By JLP on December 28, 2004
Package Type: Standard Packaging
After a few years of using the ER-6 with pretty good results they started to kick out on me and I also got tired of replacing the ear wax guards. Yes, intraear headphones are not for the faint of heart but they work better than any noise reducing headphones out there not requiring batteries and permitting significantly greater outside noise reduction than the Bose. They are also considerably less bulky so you don't look like a space cadet on the subway. I purchased the Shure E5c from beachaudio and they arrived very quickly. There was also a nice discount from full price. I was impressed by the packaging and the wide selection of ear plugs you could use. They vary in size and in materials. So someone with smaller ear canals who would prefer a soft material can be as easily satisfied as someone who prefers a hard material with larger ear canals. From the selection you likely will find a pair that gives you the most comfortable fit and best sound isolation. I have found them to be quite comfortable and remarkably I receive better isolation in sound without having to shove them into my ear canal as I had with the ER-6. I can listen to my iPod at 20 percent lower volumes while on the subway. The headphones themselves sensibly fit over the back of the ears very much preventing transmitted sounds from brushing the cord against my jacket as I walk. They come with a wire loop for removing wax so no ear wax gaurds to purchase - yes I know eww but I certainly keep my ears very clean and the sound quality and sound isolation is well worth it. So what about the sound quality - in one word spectacular. They sport of wide range and are quite clear from all frequencies. The difference is the fact they use two drivers instead of one and you pay for that difference but if you are using your iPod as much as I use mine then it is worth the price - commuting time for me ranges from 40 to 60 minutes per day. If you've got the cash and love superior sound then this earphones are for you.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Ramirez on March 27, 2006
Package Type: Standard Packaging
I play in a hardcore metal band and eventually got tired of not being able to hear for 5 days after a show, so i went on a search for the best sound isolating headphones i could find. Not only are the E5's the best at isolating sound, but they also sound amazing. It sounds like you are sitting right next to the person playing the music you are listening to. The sound isolation is so amazing that when a person is sitting right next to me i cant hear them sneeze even when the music is not playing! They are very lightweight and extremely comfortable. All the little extra plugs it comes with ensures that you will have a comfortable and secure fit no matter what activities you engage in. When using the triple flange tips it is actually hard to pull the plugs out of your ears! Thats just how secure they can be. I would definately reccomend these earplugs above all others for professional or recreational use.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Thomas P. Campbell on November 9, 2006
Package Type: Standard Packaging
I first ordered a pair of Super.fi canal phones (they were cheaper than the E5c's with similar specs) but returned them after two weeks when I discovered a crack in the casing on one of the phones. At that time I simply wanted a replacement for what I had but they were backordered so I decided to cough up the extra cash and get the E5c. It was definitely worth it. Both of these models have 'memory wires' coming out of the canal phone body that is designed to be looped up over the top of the ear thus securing the units in place. On the E5c models, the part that fits into your ear doesn't stick out away from your head nearly as far (which looks better unto itself) and that also keeps the memory wire closer to your ear making for a smoother (easier to insert and more comfortable) fit.

As with any canal phone, sound reproduction is very dependant on the fit you can get in your canal. I was able to get a very good fit with the enclosed assortment of rubber, plastic and foam tips, better that I could with the Super.fi models. Additionally, I found the sound isolation to be very good. I like to take these to the gym with me when I run. My musical tastes are somewhat different than that of the aerobics classes and with these it is no problem to tune out the (loud) background without killing myself with volume. I have not had any trouble with these staying in my ears and sealed while running or while riding my bike even at interstate touring speeds. With the Super.fi model I had some fit issues because on occasion they would slip out of my canal.

As far as sound quality, I found these to be nearly flat. They are not too heavy on the bass but are definitely capable of reproducing nice lows if tasked to do so (again, you must have a good seal).
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