Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
- Sound great for the price
- Slow bass
Bordering on the entry-level, the Shure E3c make a great choice for solid, all around sound.
Price$ 325.00 (AUD)
For most people, listening to different pairs of headphones and swapping them in and out for comparative purposes would rapidly degenerate into boredom and just result in a case of "they all sound the same!". Fortunately, for freaks like us this is a blissful experience. Not only do we get to listen to music for a few hours, but we get to hear it through a selection of the best audio products around.
The Shure E3c IEMs (In Ear Monitors) sound pretty much exactly like we expected them to, that is, they sound wonderful. Falling into the mid range of the Shure lineup, sonically they stack up exactly where they should, behind the E4c but ahead of the E2c. Their sound was quite airy as opposed to the in your face presentation of some other IEMs (or would that be 'in your ear presentation'?).
We felt the range of sounds was quite well balanced, with a slight emphasis on the mids. The big differences between the E4c and E3c lie in the bass and overall clarity of sound. The E3c retains the brilliant detail of its brother, revealing all the intricacies you never realized your songs had. The resolving qualities are a big selling point of this model. The bass was also much more prevalent than on the E4c (our big criticism of that model) which gives a more complete sound.
The downside to all this is that the quality of sound was lower than the E4c. It was still exceptional when compared to other models in the price bracket, but when you switch between the two you notice a slight loss of clarity. The bass on the E3c is also a little slow for our taste (slow means the sound idles for longer), but some people prefer the warmer, darker sound. Soundstage was fairly typical, a medium sized hall or large room style presentation, perhaps the weakest musical element of this model.
Comfort-wise we found the E3c to be the best of the IEMs we used (along with the E4c). It sports the most minimalist design, with no large driver units that sit in the outer ear, just a slim tube that has virtually no presence at all, save for the tip which sits in the ear canal. We wore them for several hours at a time and suffered no pain as a result (unlike the E5c).
The in-ear nature of the E3c makes it a great noise canceling choice like its IEM brethren. The seal we created between our ear and the outside world was quite solid, letting no noise in when music was playing and very minimal noise in periods of silence. Whilst not the best noise canceling IEM we have used, it is still extremely effective, to the point that we were actually using them as earplugs during a recent fire alarm incident at work (don't ask).
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