Before this Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 review, I read a lot about these workout earphones and was pleasantly surprised that everyone was happy with the fit and the sound quality. Everyone likes gym headphones that sound good (so do I); surely, I thought, listening to music and audiobooks with the Aonic 215 Gen 2 would be the best experience ever.
And while it's certainly not the best workout headphones ever, the Aonic 215 Gen 2 has many excellent qualities that might make you choose them over, let's say, the Beats Powerbeats Pro, especially if you aren't an iPhone user. One thing that might deter potential buyers is the price; admittedly, expensive audiophile headphones will always have a smaller market than ones that sound OK and cost half as much.
Even if you aren't in the market for true wireless earbuds with premium audio, you might enjoy reading about the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2. You never know; at some point, you might decide that your current headphones aren't good enough for your sophisticated music taste and might need an upgrade. Read on to find out if these are the headphones you're looking for (or not).
Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 review – Price and availability
The Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 is available to buy now directly from Shure US and Shure UK for a recommended retail price of $229/£229. It's also listed on Shure's Australian website, but according to the 'where to buy' section, you can't get the buds in Sydney or Perth, so I'm not sure if it's actually available in the country or not. The headp[hones are currently available in two colours, Black and Blue. For the best prices, check out the price widgets at the top and bottom of this review.
In the box, you'll find the Aonic 215 Gen 2 buds, a couple of True Wireless Secure Fit Adapters, the charging case and a charging cable. These are also six sets of 'sleeves', three pairs of Soft Flex Sleeves (S, M, L) and three pairs of Foam Sleeves (S, M, L).
Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 review – Design and fit
The Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 provides one of the most secure fits I tried in running headphones. The sizeable wireless adapter earhooks go around your ears and have a large, round end bit, which I call the counterbalance. This counterbalance sits behind your ears and keeps the audio units firmly secured, no matter what exercise you're doing. The Aonic 215 Gen 2 are the only in-ear earphones that remained in my ears during kettlebell swings.
The audio unit is relatively small and fits snugly in the ear. Thanks to the six pairs of sleeves, it's likely everyone will be able to find the right fit. This is important, as there is no active noise cancelling (ANC), only passive noise isolation, which relies on a good fit. Should you find the right fit, Shure claims the buds can block up to 37 dB of noise, which is on par with some of the most impressive ANC performances on the market.
You can control the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 using the buttons on the counterbalance; they are easy to find and operate. The function of these can be changed in the Shure Play app. They not only fit well but the Aonic 215 Gen 2 is also protected from water and sweat, thanks to its IPX4 rating. You can't swim or shower in them, but you don't have to worry about sweating profusely while wearing the Aonic 215 Gen 2.
One thing worth mentioning here – and this is often the case with similar earphones – is that the earhooks gradually pull the buds out of the ears as you exercise. Shure says the Aonic 215 Gen 2 follows the same low-profile design musicians use for monitoring on-stage, but if I remember correctly, those monitoring buds have more flexible earhooks. The solid earhooks only fit well if your ears are exactly the right size, which clearly isn't the case with me. People with smaller ears might not have this issue.
Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 review – Battery life
The Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 has a battery life of up to hours, which is average in this category today, especially considering there aren't any battery-draining features on board (e.g. ANC). The case can charge the buds three times over, so it's worth keeping them in there when you aren't listening to music. To recap, the Aonic 215 Gen 2 has a total of up to 32 hours of battery life when fully charged, including eight hours on the buds and an additional 24 hours in the case.
Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 review – Sound quality
Interestingly, Shure talks about deep bass in the promo material, and of all the things the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 provides, the bass is probably the least impressive. I'm not saying it lacks bass; the buds offer a balanced sound across the whole soundstage, including bass, so highlighting the bass seems odd to me, that's all. In terms of what this balanced sound means—it's beautiful.
I don't mind artificially enhanced sound and am particularly fond of headphones that tailor the sound to your hearing. Still, I must admit, I immensely enjoyed the audiophile quality of the sound emitted by the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2. It's clear at all sound levels, with a subtle treble performance and strong mid and balmy bass output. Considering how small the units are, this is quite an achievement.
Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 review – Workout performance
I covered this further up in the 'Design and fit' section, but to reiterate, the fit of the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 is one of the most secure I've ever tried. The large earhooks go over your ear and hold the buds secure in the ears, even if you're hanging from a bar, as Shure's promo images exemplify. I didn't try hanging up[side down from a pull-up bar, but I did go on many runs and cycles and completed a few strength workouts wearing the buds, and not once I had to adjust them while I did these exercises.
I also appreciated how easy it is to control the Aonic 215 Gen 2. Often, especially in the case of in-ear buds with touch controls, I end up switching EQ presets or switching from ANC to environment mode when I adjust them in my ears. Shure's system of moving the (physical) control button behind the ear makes it much more convenient for workouts. It might look and feel like you're wearing a hearing aid, but at least the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 is easy to operate, which is precisely what I need when I'm in the zone during workouts. The fact they sound nice is the icing on the cake.
Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 review – Verdict
Shure is renowned for its products' audio quality, and the Aonic 215 Gen 2 is no exception. It sounds terrific while providing a secure fit for workouts and running. In fact, these are the most secure earbuds I've tested since the Beats Powerbeats Pro. I might go as far as saying they sound better than those, thanks to the sound-isolating fit and the different EQ modes in the Shure Play app.
Even if you disagree with that last statement, you must appreciate the sound quality of these buds. Shure claims the components of the Aonic 215 Gen 2 were "developed for the pros" and that you "hear the highs, the lows and everything in between" when listening to music or podcasts through the buds. I tend to agree.
Although the large earhooks provide a secure fit, they make the buds quite bulky and almost impossible to apply using only one hand. The case is equally as big and also requires a two-handed operation. Sadly, there is also no ANC, although adding that would undoubtedly temper the sound quality.
The Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 aren't cheap earbuds; I don't think they have a mass market appeal. However, those audiophiles who prefer listening to music in its purest form, even when they work out, will love the earbuds, especially if their ears aren't as big as mine.
Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 review – Also consider
The Soundcore Sport X10 are brilliant value-for-money wireless earbuds from Anker with SweatGuard technology – inspired by the structure of a submarine, apparently – and the signature bassy sound we know and love. Battery life is similar at eight hours in the buds plus another 24 hours in the case, however, the Sport X10 cost less than half as much as the Aonic 215 Gen 2.
Another cheap bud, the Skullcandy Push Active is equipped with the Skull-iQ technology that allows for over-the-air updates and hands-free voice control. The sound quality is decent enough, although the Pushg Active doesn't sound quite as good as the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2.