Shure SE846 Review

The Shure SE846 is a high-end in-ear monitor that has a fantastic sound – and a price to match.  At $999, it certainly isn’t going to be for everyone.  But if you’re the type of person who wants to have the best earphones on the block, this one may be for you.

Shure SE846 Review

Packaged in a thick black box with an engraved Shure logo, there are two different cases for the earphones, as well as a menagerie of eartips, two removable audio cables, a microfiber cleaning cloth, and a frequency calibration kit.

Construction-wise, the SE846 is no bust, with a solid build on the earpiece and a thick, robust cable to boot.  Perhaps a little bulky for those with small ears, they sit pleasantly in my big Dumbo ears.  In all, it’s an impressive design that instills a lot of confidence.

Putting these in my ears and cuing some music is downright transcendental.  When Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching and mentioned “holding close to the center,” I think he was prophesying about this earphone.  This earphone is Tao.  This earphone is that good.

The bass isn’t overpowering.  It might even be a little relaxed.  But when you add this to the ever-present midrange and the slightly forward treble, you get a sound that is smooth as silk covered in butter.  Sometimes when you hear about expensive earphones, you wonder if they actually sound good or if it’s just good marketing.  Well, the SE846 sounds totally amazing.

Shure SE846 Review

I would use them anytime for my most demanding listening needs – Wagner’s Tannhauser comes to mind (the good Wolfgang Sawallisch recording from the 1960s – not that crap from Solti in ’73).  Of course, I’d also use it for more recent additions to my music collection, like PJ Harvey’s new Hope Six Demolition Project (a review of that coming soon!).  And while it is very revealing, I’d still use it for something lo-fi like Lewis Parker’s B-Boy Antiks just ’cause it fits so well in my ear.

Because this headphone, while good at picking up the finer nuances of a recording, is still very, very, very smooth.  And to be honest, most other earphones in this price bracket tend to sound harsher in order to bring out that detail.

So is it for you?  Look, if you have $999 sitting around gathering dust and you have even the slightest, passing, casual interest in music…do yourself a huge favor and buy these earphones.  For everyone else, there’s Mastercard.  Are you a poor college student in debt like Muggins here?  Save for it.  Purchasing any headphone is usually a question of whether or not the performance justifies the money you spend, or if you really want to spend the money at all.  In this case, the answer to both is Yes.

Get these buds for the best price here:

Audio 46 (Use our promo code, “majorhifi” to get 10% off)


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Carroll is a headphone junkie residing in Brooklyn. He's a huge fan of Grado, UK hip hop, and the English Language in general. When not testing audio equipment or writing, you'll find him taking photographs or fiddling with circuit boards. You can contact him at