Product Review (December 2006) - SHURE
E500PTH High Performance Earphones

By Kevin Nakano

SHURE has had great success since they launched their E Series earphones several years ago. Both consumers as well as professionals have enjoyed the benefits of the in-ear design. When we first reviewed the earphones we immediately recognized the advantages of the high sensitivity, excellent sound quality and the ability to seal out background noise. Imagine being in a dead quite room with quality headphones to expose the finest details of your source material. Nuances never heard before come alive as the noise floor drops to new low levels. So much so that there are times you hear the limitations of the electronics and the flaws in recordings. Surprisingly, somewhat noisy environments can still benefit resulting in a wonderful listening experience. Our favorite place to wear the SHURE in-ear earphones is on planes, where the background noise can often be very loud, especially if you happen to sit near the engines. The problem with any in-ear earphone is that you cannot hear much around you and that includes anyone trying to speak to you.

SHURE recognized this issue and addressed it with the release of the new E500PTH (Push-to-hear) product. The E500PTH takes the already excellent concept of sound isolation and makes it even more practical to use by adding an active microphone inline with the earphones. SHURE leveraged from the VoicePort microphone design used on their QuietSpot® cellular headsets, which is designed to maximize intelligibility of the human voice. Now when the listener is immersed in music and needs to speak with someone, it is a simple flip of a switch on the module and the audio is automatically attenuated and the active microphone becomes a source to the listener.

The E500PTH design uses three drivers (one tweeter and two woofers) to produce an impressive sonic experience. The integrated passive crossover ensures that each of the drivers produce the appropriate and optimized sound of the listener. The ergonomic and lightweight design is comfortable and the package includes several accessories to maximize the benefits of these earphones.

The impedance of the E500PTH earphones are specified to be 36 ohms at 1kHz. Our measurements using a Sencore SP295C Audio Analyzer confirm this number. The chart to the right shows impedance as a function of frequency over the entire audible range. The lowest impedance of 9 ohms occurred at around 5 kHz while the highest impedance (above 50 ohms) occurred at 20 kHz. Since impedance affects the amplifier driving the earphones, it is important to have a good high current source.

The sound quality I heard through the E500PTH earphones was absolutely fantastic to a point where I could hear differences in a variety of source material. In the office, my PC had synthetic sounding highs, yet when I put a HeadRoom Desktop Amp to do the D/A conversion and amplify the signal, the music came alive. The point is that these earphones are capable of reproducing very detailed sound, but at a price ($499 retail). I can't think of an overall better earphone to take on my next business trip.

The PTH module is slightly bulky, yet fits nicely in a shirt pocket or can be clipped on if desired. The level control on the module is very recessed and was obviously design to prevent inadvertent level changes under normal handling conditions. The audio quality of the PTH microphone is excellent and really does make it easy to hear people around you. Most of our testing included the Neuros Digital Audio player while on the road, typically while flying hours between big cities. The reduction in background noise coupled with the excellent sonic capabilities really makes the E500PTH shine. The PTH feature is really icing on a delicious cake and for me, there are times I choose not to install the PTH module. Having this option is great because there are times that I want a simple setup, especially while traveling.

Every ear is different and that's why SHURE includes a variety of sleeves with the E500PTH. The Premium Accessories Kit includes small, medium and large sizes of the Flex and Clear Flex sleeves. There are also a set of Foam and Triple Flange sleeves. Some are more comfortable than others, yet don't necessarily equate to the best sonic performance. For example, the Flex Sleeves are more comfortable for me to wear for long periods of time, but the foam sleeves provide to best seal and results in substantially better bass performance. SHURE also includes a 9-inch and 3-foot audio cable depending on the user's need as well as a level attenuator. A ¼” to 3.5mm adapter is also provided for compatibility with some of the non-portable electronic components. The cool-looking, oval-shaped, zippered carrying case keeps the earphones from getting tangled.

The new E500PTH earphone design is better than ever and offers fans of the E series a new and convenient way to hear others around them. As more users find themselves with portable media players, it is nice to know there is a simple way to communicate with others without having to remove the in-ear devices. The price may be little steep for some users, but the performance is top notch. We really enjoyed the time spent with the E500PTH earphones and the performance and comfort have been unmatched.

- Kevin Nakano

OPPO BDP-103 Blu-ray Player

Review System

DVD/CD/SACD Player - Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
Neuros Audio (Digital Innovations) - Neuros HD 20GB Digital Audio Computer
Headphone Amplifier: HeadRoom Little (Premium Module)

Review at a Glance

Shure - E500PTH Earphones


  • Driver Type: Triple balanced armature drivers
  • Sensitivity (at 1kHz): 119dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance (at 1kHz): 36 ohms
  • Net Weight: 30g (1 oz)
  • Frequency Range: 18Hz - 19kHz
  • Connector: 3.5mm (1/8"), gold plated stereo plug
  • MSRP: $499

    Company Information
    Shure Incorporated
    222 Hartrey Avenue
    Evanston, IL 60202
    Phone: 847.866.2200

    Source: Manufacture Supplied
    Warranty: 30-day, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee, plus a two-year warranty on materials and workmanship

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