Shure SE530 Review

Shure SE530 Review

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Shure SE530 Review Summary

Pure sound beauty. Enjoy top quality sound with no compromise.


  • Superb, audiophile level, sound quality. Great sound clarity.
  • Great noise isolation.
  • Very comfortable.
  • Nice set accessories.


  • Price.
  • Available in only one color.
  • Clumsy modular cables.

Quick Stats

MSRP $499.99
Design in-ear headphones
Mic no. Optional accessory
Remote control no
Compatibility iPhone (all models), iPod (all models)
Colors bronze
Accessories carrying case, airplane adapter, silicon tips (2x S, 4x M, 2x L, 2x triple flange), foam tips (2x S, 4x M, 2x L), inline volume control, 6.3 mm (1/4") stereo adapter, PTH unit (incliuded with the SE530PTH), cleaning tool

Shure SE530

Welcome to the magical world of top audiophile sound quality. When it comes to high end in-ear headphones, it's not easy to pick a winner. Several factors may influence your preference, including the type of music you listen to, your favourite sound signature, and the shape and size of your ear canals (yes, ear canals can vary a lot from person to person).

In the range of top end universal-fit (i.e. non custom) in-ear headphones, various choices are available from different manfacturers: Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10, Sennheiser IE8, Westone UM3, and Shure SE530 are among the best and most popular ones. Each of these high end headphones is top quality, audiophile level, and has its own specific sound signature.

These in-ear headphones come at a price. Usually between $300 and $500+. So, they're targeted at users who want the best sound quality without compromise.

My preference goes to the Shure SE530. Their sound clarity is unmatched, and with their neutral sound response they are the best allrounder of all top in-ear headphones.


Sound Quality

The sound quality of these headphones is simply unbelievable. The first time you listen to them, you'll be amazed. The clarity of the sound is so pure and exciting, that it feels kind of magical.

This sensation comes from the fact that the Shure SE530 mids are extremely well defined. Instruments and vocals are so detailed that you really feel like you can touch them with your hand.

Shure SE530 Review

State of the art In-Ear Headphones

The Shure SE530 are built with three Balanced Armor micro-speakers for each ear-bud: two woofers and one tweeter. The two woofers produce a very good bass response. Basses are definitely present, but not boomy. This contributes to the great sound clarity of the SE530, since basses are not muddy and don't mask mids in any way. The overall response of the SE530 ends up being quite neutral. The Sennheiser IE8 have certainly much more bass than the SE530.

While sound detail is good, the SE530 do show some roll-off at the highest frequencies in the audio spectrum.

The Soundstage of the SE530 is good and wide, for an ear-bud type of headphone, and the feeling is that you can really locate all the instruments in space.

Isolation from external noise provided by the Shure SE530 is amazing. Using the supplied foam ear-tips you are in your own world, and you won't be able to even hear loud persons nearby or other external noises. Especially for commuters this is very important.


Comfort is the second best feature of the Shure SE530, after sound quality. Usually high end in-ear headphones that feature three drivers for each ear-bud tend to be bulky, and they end up being uncomfortable. The SE530, with their Balanced Armor "Triple TruAcoustic Microspeakers", are a marvel of miniaturization. It's hard to believe there are three high quality speakers in so little space. The result is that these headphones are very comfortable, and won't lead to fatigue even after hours of use.

The Shure SE530 are designed to be worn with the cords pointing up around the tops and backs of your ears. This will allow you to obtain a good seal, and will properly align the ear-tips with your ear-canal.

Build quality

Build quality of the SE530 is very good, as it is to be expected for expensive high end headphones such as these.


The Shure SE530 come with a a generous selection of accessories. There are several kinds of ear-tips (silicon, foam, triple flanged, each in three different sizes), an airline adapter, a 6.3 mm jack adapter, in-line volume control, cleaning tool, and a nice carrying pouch.

Shure SE530 Review

Push To Talk Shure SE530 accessory

This wide selection of ear-tips will allow anyone to obtain a good seal. The ones I prefer are the foam tips, that give me a good seal, and a great sound response.

An interesting accessory that comes bundled with the PTH version of these headphones, but that is also available separately for about $50, is the Push-To-Hear (PTH) unit. This unit plugs into the headphones cable and has a microphone and a push button, that allows to mute the audio signal in the headphones, and to activate the mic so that you can hear your surroundings. It can be useful to have a quick conversation without having to remove the headphones.

A very useful optional accessory, that can be bought separately here, is the Music Phone Adapter for iPhone. This is a piece of cord, that plugs into the headphones cable, and transforms the headphones into a fully functional headset, allowing to switch seamlessly between listening and taking calls with your iPhone.



There's no denying that these headphones are expensive, with a MSRP of $499, even though they can be bought for less. Unfortunately this is the price to pay if you want to enjoy true audiophile sound quality, and to be fair, other headphones of the same kind of quality (Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10, Sennheiser IE8, Westone UM3) do have prices that fall in the same range.

Clumsy cable system

The Shure SE530 feature a modular cable system. The Y-cable coming out of the earbuds is only 50 cm long, and allows to connect the headphones to your iPhone or iPod in your shirt pocket. Two different extension cables, of 20 cm and 95 cm respectively, allow to connect the headphones to the player at longer distances.

Overall I found this system to add some bulkiness to the cables, and I didn't really find it particularly useful.

Mic not included

As I mentioned, the Shure SE530 do have a mic accessory...but it's sold separately. With a high end pair of headphones of this cost I would expect at least a basic mic to be included in the box, so that I can take the occasional call on my iPhone without having to buy an optional accessory.

Only one color available

The Shure SE530 are nice and stylish. But their design and color doesn't really match the style of neither the iPhone nor the iPod. It would have been nice to have a selection of colors available, allowing to match the style of your player.

Bottom Line

The Shure SE530 are my top recommendation if you are looking for the best sound quality. Their clarity and definition, coupled with great comfort, are unmatched by any pair of universal-fit in ear headphones.

This awesome quality comes at a high price. I am rating the SE530 at second place overall, behind the Kilpsch Image S4i. While the sound quality of the Shure SE530 is from a different planet, the Image S4i are sold at a much lower price. If you're simply looking for the best bang for the buck and can accept some compromise in sound quality, you may want to consider the Kilpsch. They are much cheaper, and can't really disappoint.

On the other hand, if you are looking for the best in-ear headphones, don't want any compromise, and budget is not your main issue, you really can't go wrong with the Shure SE530. They're worth every penny.

Product Specifications

Speakers Triple TruAcoustic MicroSpeakers, triple balanced armature (2x bass, 1x mids/treble)
Sensitivity (1mW) 119 dB SPL/mW
Impedance (1kHz) 36 Ohm
Frequency Range 18Hz – 19kHz
Cable Length/with Extension 50 cm (Y-style), 95 cm extension, 20 cm extension, straight 3.5 mm gold-plated plugs
Connector Mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm, gold plated

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