Product Review (January 2006) - SHURE
E4 High Performance Earphones

Shure's E Series earphones have been on the market for more than a couple of years and have proven themselves with both professionals and consumers alike. The all-new E4 is the latest professional model to join the E Series family and offers high performance audio to performers and consumers who need isolation from background noise. This is especially important for on-stage musicians who need to isolate themselves from the many sounds around them during performances. The E4 is a professional product that has the sonic attributes of a high performance earphone with a single low mass/high energy/tuned port. The E4 is fitted with high-energy, low mass micro-transducers and features a low profile design with brushed metal accents. As part of the review we connected the earphones to a Shure P2R Personal Monitor Hybrid Bodypack Receiver. This unit works with both wired and wireless connections. We used the wired interface and spent most of our time listening to high quality SACDs as a source. We also used the Headroom Little to drive the earphones for review purposes. We wanted to try and separate the drive electronics from the sonic characteristics of the earphones themselves. The E4s have a sensitivity of 109 dB SPL/mW with an impedance of 29 ohms at 1 KHz. A gold-plated 1/8-inch stereo plug has a long 62-inch cable.

Personal Fit Kit
Several options are provided with the E4 earphones and include a pair of disposable foam sleeves, a pair of triple flange sleeves, three pairs (small, medium, large) of flex sleeves, and three pairs (small, medium, large) of soft flex sleeves to ensure the best fit possible. Some performers may choose to mate the E4s with sleeves prepared by a professional audiologist which provides the ultimate custom fit for both performance and comfort. A pair of replaceable nozzles are also included in the event the original ones become clogged with ear wax. The gold-plated 1/8" stereo plug makes it compatible with other personal audio products such as iPods. An 1/8" to 1/4" plug adapter is provided for the more common professional audio interfaces. The supplied in-line attenuator can be used on airplanes and other applications where high level signals need to be reduced. A zippered nylon carrying case holds the earphones and sleeves.

Impedance
The impedance of the E4 earphones gets interesting as it approaches the high frequencies. We measured 27 ohms at 1kHz which is close to the specification of 29 ohms. A peak of 44 ohms occurred at 2kHz and then the impedance steadily increased to 1380 ohms at 20kHz. The overall impedance of the earphones is relatively flat up to 12.5kHz and then begins to rapidly increase with frequency. We saw similar characteristics with the E3c earphones, but to a lesser degree.

Performance
The performance of the Shure E4 earphones is a step up from their E2 and E3 models. The internally ported enclosure helps with extending the low-frequency response. The midrange was detailed and the high frequency response was excellent. While the flex and flanged sleeves offer the most comfort, the foam sleeves provide the best performance due to the way they seal in the ear canal. These are similar to the ear protection ear plugs used in industrial environments. Simply squeezing them and placing them in the ear allows them to expand to form a custom sonic seal. Like many of the other in-ear designs from Shure, these earphones need to be well sealed in the ear canal to maximize audio performance. Shure sells additional disposable foam sleeves in bags of 20 (PA750) and bags of 500 (PA754).

These earphones have been with me on several coast-to-coast business trips and they never let me down. More recently my plane seat was right next to the large jet engine on an MD-80 and I had to rely on the E4 earphones to not only block out the majority of the noise, but to also provide me with high quality audio from my portable Neuros digital audio player. It's no wonder why these earphones work so well with performers on stage where its audio performance finds its way through the loud background noise.

Conclusion
The new SHURE E4 earphones fill the performance/price gap between the E5 and E3 earphones already offered in the E Series lineup by providing excellent audio performance along with the ability to seal out unwanted background noise. Users will enjoy the lightweight design and sturdy cable construction. The wide variety of different size in-ear adapters included with the earphones maximize comfort and provide peak performance. The problem for me is that I have become so dependent on these earphones when I travel, that they are as important as my shaver.

- Kevin Nakano






OneCall: Your Home Theater, Digital Camera, and HDTV Experts


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 - E4 Earphones

Specifications:

  • Transducer Type: Single low mass/high energy/tuned port
  • Sensitivity (at 1 kHz): 109 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance (at 1 kHz) 29 ohms
  • Output Connector: Gold-plated stereo, 3.5 mm (1/8-inch) phone plug
  • Cable Length: 1.57 m (62 in.)
  • MSRP: $299


    Company Information
    Shure Incorporated
    222 Hartrey Avenue
    Evanston, IL 60202
    Phone: 847.866.2200
    URL: www.shure.com/ears

    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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