Two products, one review: that’s the kind of efficiency you can expect from us here at iLounge. Today we’re looking at a “new” headphone from legendary headphone and microphone manufacturer Shure, the SE215 Wireless IEM. We put “new” in quotes because although the “SE215 Wireless” is a new SKU, the two products contained in the box — the SE215 in-ear monitor and RMCE-BT1 Bluetooth cable — have been available for some time. Though we were not completely wowed by this Bluetooth implementation, the SE215 lives up to its legacy with an added twist of wireless convenience.
The first half of the review is of the Shure SE215 itself. The SE215 has been a staple of the audiophile community for years, often recommended as an entry-level high-quality IEM. Available in black, blue, white, or clear, the tiny housing of this IEM is light and comfortable, and nestles easily into the outer ear. The included tips — three sizes of silicone tips and three sizes of foam tips — impressed us with how much isolation was achievable. The SE215 uses a single “micro” dynamic driver per ear with a frequency response just inside the “high res” spec — 22 to 17.5kHz. The SE215 maintains the signature sound that’s been known to audiophiles for years — warm, but without overly boosted bass. The SE215’s treble is a little soft for our tastes, but it’s generally a fun and non-fatiguing sound that we think (we know) many will enjoy
The SE215 is one of the few low-cost IEMs that feature a detachable cable, terminated in MMCX connectors. Usually this feature is used for replacing damaged cables or allowing users to experiment with aftermarket cable options. Here, Shure takes things in a different direction, swapping out the standard cable for its otherwise-optional RMCE-BT1 Bluetooth cable. Shure refers to the RMCE-BT1 as a “wireless audio upgrade,” but we’re hesitant to agree — no high-res codecs are supported (SBC only) and, despite a rather large plastic pod in the middle of its cable, offers only 8 hours of battery life.
That said, the RMCE-BT1 does its job, adding wireless capability to any MMCX-compatible headphone and playing nicely with iOS. At current prices, users save about $40 buying the SE215 Wireless instead of the SE215 and RMCE-BT1 individually. Also included with the SE215 Wireless is a zippered storage case, cleaning tool, and charging cable. Though it would have been nice if Shure had included even the most basic wired cable in the box, they can be purchased from Amazon for under $9.
We love what Shure has done with its SE215 Wireless, taking advantage of a detachable cable to give users the option of going wireless when they want. When purchased separately, the RMCE-BT1 cable is a bit underwhelming — we would have expected better codec support, a larger-capacity battery, and sturdier cable. We don’t mean to sound like hi-res audio snobs — SBC can sound good — but it’s hard to reconcile a high-quality headphone with the lowest-bitrate wireless audio codec. However the Shure SE215 Wireless, when viewed as a bundle of the SE215 and RMCE-BT1 cable, is a good value at this price.