In a market saturated with high-fashion headphones is it time to ditch the designer looks for good old-fashioned sound quality? Read our Shure SE425 review
A price tag of £200+ used to be pretty steep for a pair of headphones but the market is now saturated with impressive looking on-trend designs from the likes of Beats By Dre, Sennheiser, House of Marley and and the Monster iSport Strive to name a few.
But are you prepared to fork out for average-looking headphones for way above average performance?
The £239 Shure SE425 are the brand's mid-range pro monitor style headphones. The look will appeal to anyone who wishes they knew their way around a recording studio, but the real appeal on show is the combination of replaceable parts and exceptional noise isolation with sonic detail to die for.
Shure SE425: Size and build
Aspiring to be a musician's monitor the Sure SE425s will not appeal to the fashionista looking for the next big thing in aural accessory with the thick black cable and semi-transparent drive units looking more practical than pretty.
In the box you get a solid if not mildly uninspiring hard case, a good selection of replacement buds in both foam and rubber.
You'll also get an aeroplane socket adapter, in-line volume control option (be warned, it is big and ugly), ear wax removal tool (yes really) and 3.5-to-6.3mm adapter.
But the not quite on-trend looks do have a purpose; the cable can be replaced if it breaks and the lock-snap connectors allow for 360 degree movement, which helps prevent unnecessary wear and tear.
Shure SE425: Comfort
Sure's pro-inspired in-ear monitor design will divide opinion both in terms of looks and comfort. Firstly there's the up the back and behind the head positioning of the cable which may infuriate some, especially those who tuck the cable inside their top to stop it catching. Thankfully the cable is long enough that the phone isn't limited to your back pocket, but you will find yourself in a tangle at some stage.
The in-ear-over-ear bud configuration (known as Wireform Fit) will also take some getting used to, and certainly won't please many bespectacled users. Using the foam tips the headphones stay securely in place and the body fits neatly in the ear, but the up and over nature of the cable requires regular adjustment to get it out the way and feeling good.
If you're a pro musician you'll be well used to it, but if you are upgrading from simple buds take your time to get used to them because the sound quality is well worth the fiddle.
Shure SE425: Durability
In our throw-away culture it makes a change to find some pocket tech designed to last. The SE425s Kevlar reinforced cable feels incredibly robust and the fact it can be replaced if it does ever degrade means they don't get chucked if they break. The gold plated connectors lock securely in place and the swivel action helps prevents excessive cable twisting.
Shure SE425: Sound quality
Using the foam tips the Sure SE425 offer exceptional noise isolation. The result is that even at low volumes and even on public transport you can still hear a remarkable level of detail.
And considering the price of the professional monitors it is mimicking the SE425s detail is nothing short of miraculous. Acoustic guitars proved particularly addictive while previously unheard amp vibrations and fret board squeaks all over Led Zeppelin's first album left a lasting grin.
While you won't be blasted away by booming bass there's enough thump, especially combined with the noise isolation but if you're not impressed by the fantastic reproduction in the mid and high ranges you're either deaf or deluded.
Shure SE425: Verdict
While the pro-monitor look and awkward fit won't appeal to some, the superior sound quality and long lasting build quality shouldn't fail to impress. If priority no.1 is performance we're not sure you'll find a better sounding pair of in-ear headphones for the price.
Shure SE425 release date: Out now
Shure SE425 price: £239