Covid. I’ve escaped the deathtrap that was once NYC and gone to the country. Rolling hills, beautiful birds and a pissed off boss who haunts me from hundreds of miles away. Indeed, it’s been a while since MajorHifi has returned to normal operations. I’m sad to say, we’ve lost a couple of our reviewers. No, they’re not dead. They’re just playing video games with no pants on and ordering pizza with their Covid relief checks. In all seriousness, I hope you are all are weathering the storm okay and staying healthy. It’s tough times, and we’ve missed our little trolls. Now, I’ve been waiting with great anticipation for Shure to finally release their first wireless ANC headphone. The company rarely disappoints me, and I was curious to see how the Aonic 50 would stack up against the other heavy hitters, like Sennheiser, Sony and Bose. Is the active noise-cancellation any good? What about battery life? And more importantly, how do they sound? Let’s find out in this Shure Aonic 50 Review.
Reviewing the AONIC 50 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones by Shure
IN the BOX
The Aonic 50 is probably the best-fitting wireless headphone I’ve worn at this price point. Compared to other leading models from brands like Sennheiser, Sony and Bose, Shure seems to have found the most optimal balance between comfort and snugness. The clamping force is firm enough to provide solid natural sound isolation, but the feel is still soft and highly forgiving on the ears. The ear cup circumference is also one of the widest I’ve tested, so there’s plenty of breathing room even for jumbo sized ears. The headband is luxuriously padded as well. So, my balding friends, do not fear.
Active Noise Cancellation
Not that loud traffic is a problem right now, but Shure does a solid job in the ANC department. And certainly, if you’re stuck at home with your kids, you’ll probably appreciate this technology. Let me be clear. There isn’t a headphone on the market that will silence your screaming toddlers. But if you’re just looking to temper the sharpness of your nagging spouse, these cans will do just fine. In terms of ANC effectiveness, they’re on par with the Sony WH-1000XM3, if not even more effective. And the ANC even comes close to that of the famous the Bose 700 Headphones.
Using the accompanying ShurePlus Play app, which I will discuss further below, you’ll have the flexibility of adjusting the ANC strength. You can switch between “normal” to “max,” depending on whether you simply want kill the hum of your air conditioner or you really want to pretend that your family doesn’t exist. Finally, Shure has included an “environmental mode,” which actually invites the sound of your surroundings. Good for ordering coffee at Starbucks. Ah, remember when that was a thing?
Controls and Functionality
There was a time when touchpad controls were all the rage. But consumers are starting to find that they’re not as reliable and responsive as good ol’ fashioned buttons. And for this reason, I think Shure has gone with simple button navigation. Three buttons control play/pause, track skipping volume and call answering. In addition, you will be able to activate Siri as well as Google Assistant. There’s also an ANC switch in addition to a power/pairing buttons.
Like most premium wireless headphones, Shure has included an app that expands your control over Aonic 50. In addition to ANC control, the Free ShurePlus Play app also gives you creative control over your equalizer settings, whether through presets or manual adjustment. You’ll also be able to make firmware updates to your headphones.
Impressive in this department. Great resolution on both sides of the line with no background noise to speak of. That being said, I’ve never worked in such dead silence.
Battery Life and Charging
You’ll get up to 20 hours of juice from these cans, which isn’t incredibly long when you compare it to models such as the Sony WH-1000XM3. But it does beat Sennheiser’s Momentum 3 by a small margin. The Aonic 50 employs a USB-C connection for charging, which is preferable to micro-USB; faster charging and a more durable connection.
Hi-Res codecs galore here, including aptX, aptX HD, AAC and even LDAC.
Listen, you can’t have it all. As comfortable as these cadillacs are, they may not be the most portable. Let’s just say that this large round box won’t fit into your dainty little Chanel purse. But hey, you’re probably not going anywhere anytime soon anyway. So, relax. It will fit on your couch.
No, unfortunately, these cans don’t fold into a cute little bundle. They just swivel flat.
Finally, yes, you can use them wired.
The Aonic 50 presents a thick and reasonably deep bass (though not bloated) with plenty of texture/grip. I’m also happy to report that the bass profile doesn’t change dramatically when switching between ANC modes. Pop music reveals ample low-end oomph, but at the same time, the bass avoids stealing the show. As a result, both bass heads and reasonable folks should be pleased. Certainly, the bass isn’t as bombastic as it is on other leading models in this price range, such as the Momentum 3 and WH-1000XM3. But I still think it’s enough to do justice to genres like hip-hop. That being said, if you only listen to hip-hop, you may be better off going with something like the Momentum 3. Listening to some rock tracks, the low-end also provided some nice warmth, especially to tracks with heavy instrumentation. And playing some classical tracks, cellos in this range sounded majestic and fluid, while still revealing adequate substance for a wireless headphone at this price point. So, no complaints in this frequency range. Versatile, fun and sensible.
Again, listening to the middle frequencies, it’s clear that Shure has taken a slightly more moderate approach to balance than its competitors. Though not particularly mid forward, this frequency range is in no way upstaged by the bass frequencies. So, it doesn’t feel as V-shaped as the headphones mentioned above. Certainly, purists will gravitate towards this tuning more. That being said, I was a little hungry for some extra low-mid presence. Vocals shine through the mix a bit, so the sound feels slightly more dynamic than it does lush. And I personally prefer an extremely full-bodied sound in the mids. In terms of clarity, again, the Aonic 50 delivers what you would expect for 400 bucks. Listening to acoustic guitars, separation was top-notch in the lower midrange. And overall, Shure has delivered a very clean profile while avoiding thinness or sterility. So, Aonic 50 will work just as well for acoustic genres, such as folk as it will for pop.
A little extension in this range. So, when it comes to pop music, you’ll definitely get that crispy, sparkly percussion in the highs. And it makes for one snappy headphone. Funk tracks sound great on these things. At the same time, the Aonic 50 avoids sharpness. So, unless you’re extremely sensitive to high frequencies or you listen at crazy volumes, your ears should be fine. Vocals in this range float beautifully, and if you’re sucker for an airy female voice, these cans should deliver.
I’d love to compare the Aonic 50 to the Sennheiser Momentum 3, which I concluded had the biggest soundstage I’d ever tested with respect to wireless headphones. The Shure Aonic 50 seems to come damn close. There’s certainly a grandness to the stage that, again, brings majesty to classic pieces and tons of liveliness to modern genres. Instrument placement feels quite precise as well, and you he’ll plenty height and a solid sense of depth.
PROS and CONS
Pros: Versatile; clean; great resolution; inoffensive tuning; big soundstage; effective ANC; fantastic fit.
Cons: Not the most portable.
I have few complaints. Either these hard times have softened me or the Aonic 50 is just a good headphone. Vast soundstage, clean, versatile balance, great ANC and fantastic call clarity. Furthermore, these cans just feel good to wear. Super luxurious, the Aonic 50 offers a fit that just says, I’ve made it. As long as you’re not expecting to carry these headphones in your pocket, the Aonic 50 is a worthy investment. Pricey? Shure. But no more expensive than any other headphone in this echelon. And for Shure, it competes with and, (in some cases beats) every other great headphone I’ve tested at this price point.
In fact, I think these cans deserve the MajorHifi Gold Award.
If you’re ready to take the plunge, you can find the Aonic 50 for the best price here:
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