Shure SE530 noise isolation headphone with iPod Touch (your experience please)

Discussion in 'iPod touch Accessories' started by hajime, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. hajime macrumors 68030

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    #1
    Hello. I plan to buy the iPod Touch and the Shure SE530 in-ear noise isolation headphone. The main purposes are: 1. To block out noise from people who talk loudly. (No offense but I have difficulty in concentrating on my study when I hear people talk so loudly that the entire floor can hear them.) and 2. For music and video playback while exercising. I would like to gather experience from those who have used the above two products together. From a review, I read that the SE530 tends to hiss with many portable players. I wonder if this problem exists when the SE530 is used with the iPod Touch or iPhone. Some of you are probably using these products while exercising. Do you hear your own hearbeats when you are using the SE530? Do you hear other people talking? Is it a good idea to get the Push-To-Hear Unit? Do these two products work well with each other? Thanks.
     
  2. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #2
    The 1G hisses a little, but not excessively - it's not an issue when listening to playback.

    What you hear and how you ear it is entirely down to the tips you're using. The grey/black silicone tips are what I use the most, since I have more isolating custom-fit earphones and the SE530 is what I use for commutes. I find them very easy to ear, provide adequately high isolation and offer multi-hour wearing comfort. The foam tips - the black shiny articles - provide the most isolation, but IMHO the most issues with wear comfort. This is one of the reasons I turn to customs, since no generic-fit foam tip I've used is comfortable for me.

    In terms of how it sounds, it's on the 'warm' side with depressed trebles, but a fairly strong low end - a fairly pleasant sound signature overall, with sufficient detail on offer.

    People think because it's a $500 earphone it has to sound amazing, and many do convince themselves it does. You will find many rave reviews online and personally, in terms of sound I think they're totally not worth it (the same goes with my customs) - a good closed headphone for $200 or less can easily beat out these in-ears. The non-hyped reason why you get them is for the combination of isolation, usability, ultimate portability and decent (if not outstanding) sound quality. The high isolation is a key factor, because it means you can hear small nuances in the sound even with high background noise. This is one of the factors which makes people think the phones are more detailed than they are, relatively speaking.

    So what are you paying for? It's the cost of the multiple drivers necessary to flatten out the compromised response of balanced-armature drivers which have necessarily limited range of response for a given size of driver. This is why single-driver balanced armature phones sound very reedy, such as the Etymotic ER-6i - although some people manage to convince themselves that is 'flat'. Using a single driver to do everything also makes the sound less accurate by introducing very high levels of distortion into the sound. The SE530 uses the three drivers in a fairly 'relaxed' manner, avoiding said distortion and providing almost-full-range audio coverage.

    Personally, even for casual listening I couldn't deal with a single-driver armature phone anymore - but if noise isolation is more important and budget is a factor, the ER-6i is a great choice as the Comply foam tips it comes with provide outstanding isolation for non-custom in-ears with reasonable comfort.

    A cheaper alternative is the Ultimate Ears dual-drivers which sound nearly as complete. But I think Shure does far better work in ergonomics: Their earphone body designs fit much better into the bowl of my ear than any Ultimate Ear I've had bar the customs, and stay in better. The ear tube size of the Ultimate Ears generic-fit phones such as the Super.Fi is also much larger than the Shures, reducing flexibility in fit (and fit is extremely important in a balanced armature phone, since it needs to work in a closed - i.e. sealed in the ear - system).

    Don't bother with the PTH. The sliding switch for the 'hear' is cumbersome to use and the unit adds unwieldy cables / weight to your overall setup.
     
  3. propel macrumors newbie

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    Dec 6, 2008
    #3
    I agree with the previous post. I have tried the many high end ear buds but these are the most comfortable and sound the best to my ears. Now that the 2G itouch does not skip apple lossless anymore it is a pleasure to listen to now. With the total bithead amp its the cats meow.
     
  4. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #4
    Sesshi covered that pretty well,just one point about PTH what he says is true about being unwieldy and the slider difficult to use but it does actually work remarkably well,not much use if your being constantly interrupted but for the occasional conversation fine.I find the tri-flanges work best for me.
     
  5. GoSUV macrumors member

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    #5
    The Shure SE530's are remarkable earphones. At first listen they can sound a little lacking in treble, but once you're in a long listening session, you'll agree that they are indeed very balanced and smooth, without inducing listening fatigue. Many inferior 'phones will have excessive treble which at first listen can sound impressive and incredibly detailed, but after 30 minutes your ears will hurt.

    With a proper seal (very important for these 'phones), you can block out surrounding noise pretty well and don't have to turn up the volume as high. However, as for exercising, and depending on what you do, you'll hear every step you walk/run. This is just a downside of noise isolating canal phones. Riding an exercising bike is probably ok.
     
  6. Loge macrumors 68020

    Loge

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    #6
    Great phones, poor cable. Some of the issues that people have had with cables becoming very brittle and snapping may have been addressed by now, I still much preferred the cable with the E3c, which did not have the clumsy extra connector (which means it needs a bulky oval case, instead of the more compact round one), and had a right angled plug instead of a straight one. I'd consider UE next time, at least they have removable cables.
     
  7. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #7
    A right angle plug directly on the SE530 wouldn't make sense, and the 'clumsy extra connector' necessary given that it's designed to be headset adapter / remote friendly as well as a regular earphone. I use it with a remote such as the Gear4 Blueye or Apple's own remote on the non-iPhone iPods and the Shure MPA adapter on the iPhone, or the Nokia remote on my N's. The ultra-short cord is perfect for this use, and the extension cords a reasonable compromise - although it's not for example as compact as Sony's (more delicate) SL arrangements.
     
  8. hajime thread starter macrumors 68030

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    Jul 23, 2007
    #8
    Thank you very much for the useful information. Since it is in-ear, do the silicone tips push the ear wax further into the canals? For blocking out noise from people who talk loudly, I tried a pair of earplug but it did not work. If I only put the silicone tips into my ears without turning the SE530 on, does the sound isolation feature still works? Finally, as for exercising, I plan to use it mostly for dance and sometime for rope skipping. I worry if I will hear my own footsteps and heartbeats. How bad can it be?
     
  9. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #9
    The phones are passively isolating so yes - if you use any of the isolating tips, it will work.

    And any isolating phone which inserts into the ear will allow you to hear your own heartbeat/footstep during vigorous activity.
     
  10. hajime thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #10
    Thanks Sesshi.
     
  11. mikes70mustang macrumors 68000

    mikes70mustang

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    #11
    Jeeze, a little much overkill on the in ears, those will prob cost more than the i pod
     
  12. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #12
    Jeeze, a little overkill on the computer, yours prob costs more than this hypothetical user's netbook
     
  13. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #13
    Great headphones. Fantastic isolation and great sound. But terrible, terrible cracking cables. Buy with the expectation that you've every chance of being without them regularly whilst they're warranty-swapped for a new pair. Or even better buy at a store that will do a warranty swap for you on the spot.
     
  14. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #14
    The issue is definitely present on the E2. Reports of cracking cables beyond that are comparatively rare.
     
  15. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #15
    Not really. It's prevalent across their whole line. Head over to head-fi.org and do any search for shure. Cracking cables are a big issue. This ongoing and massive thread has a good 40% of posters reporting cracks (n=320). To Shure's credit they're good with their replacement policy but it's still a pain in the butt when you're dropping reasonable cash on the purchase.

    I'm on my third pair and await the day when my replacement pair has new cables.



    VVVV Yeah it seems to be the luck of the draw. It doesn't happen to everyone. There's talk that Shure have finally changed their cables but nothing official that I can find. Still an issue people should be aware of when considering a purchase.
     
  16. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    #16
    Mine are the 500's and thus older (but identical) and are showing no cable problems at all.
     
  17. ccfoodog macrumors member

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    Aug 25, 2008
    #17
    I use the 530s with my 1G Touch. IMO these really need better amplification than the Touch provides to really live up to their potential.

    For non-critical listening, I find them totally acceptable straight out of the touch up to about 50% volume. After that, I feel distortion in the built in amp starts to become annoying.

    Keep in mind, that these are pretty loud at 50%.

    As noted above, they seem to be a bit lacking at the high end. I run my touch with the EQ set to treble boost.

    But...

    When I *really* want to listen to music, I run a line out adapter cable (commonly referred to as an LOD) into an iBasso P2 portable amp and they are transformed.

    In this configuration, they sound excellent. They still are missing a little bit at the high end, but overall are very detailed, and have really nice low extension which is fairly rare unless you get into this price range.

    I find the two part cable configuration a bit annoying. I think the short part of the cable is too short and it forces me to use the extension which is annoying. I never liked the PTH thingy and eventually threw mine out.

    I've never been able to make the wrap-around-the-ear thing work for me either.

    I got custom silicone molds for these from Sensaphonics and that works pretty well. They are comfortable and get a good seal. They are stuck in well enough this way where I don't really care what the cable is doing. Previously I always had trouble getting a good fit, despite trying lots of different tips.

    Is it worth it? It is hard to say. I guess if you are going to run un-amped, probably not.

    If you go to the trouble of getting an amp and running from the Touch line-out, I'd say they live up to their price tag.

    Are they the best option? Hard to say. There are a number of good options in this price range, but I am not unhappy with them.

    The best bet is to hang out on head-fi.org for a while and research your options.

    Oh, the hiss. You can only hear the hiss when there is nothing playing and it is VERY quiet in your surroundings.

    Good luck,

    -john


    [​IMG]
     
  18. ccfoodog macrumors member

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    #18
  19. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #19
    Great taste in music - every bit worthy of the set-up :D! And fantastic advice :).
     
  20. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #20
    A non-practically-portable setup to achieve lower audio quality than the unit itself, with the sole real benefit (especially with an IEM) being the flattening out of the response curve courtesy of the 10Kohm input impedance? Hmmmm... No doubt the Head-Fi people will bring up the joys of 'bypassing the internal amp'.

    Customs are a real hassle for everyday portable use IMO. Which is why I reserve the UE-11's for flying, long train journeys, etc.

    For working out you could try earbung-style (less isolated than the ones under discussion, like the older Apple in-ear sleeved type) phones with a headband, such as the Sony MDR-AS50G. Less blubbing in case of unfortunate gym accidents, too - especially given balanced-armature drivers' susceptibility to water ingress damage.

    Hmmm. That is actually quite worrying. Even discounting Head-Fi me-too's who post stuff without owning them, it's fair to assume that the majority of the posts are genuine.

    I know why the problem happens when the E2c cable, the most failure-prone of the Shures to date. The cable sheath suffers either from excess moisture absorption rates (most nylons absorb water over their lifetime: The more water they absorb, the more brittle the nylon gets) or plasticiser outleaching without moisture-based displacement. I've had E2c's which have cracked and haven't seen any evidence of the outleaching, so especially in terms of how the cable is looped over bare skin over an area somewhat prone to sweating I can only assume it's excessive moisture absorption. Obviously it requires practically daily, multi-hour use with acceleration of the effect in humid, warm environments to show up the effects of this absorption during the warranty period. The reason some people aren't getting it could be, like the E2c, that they haven't hit the number of on-ear hours necessary to trigger the brittleness.

    Come to think of it, the cable seems to be superficially similar to the E2c article, but I just hadn't heard about failure - and I haven't had one fail on me either. I do note the E3c cable seemed far more immune. Perhaps it's the plasticiser involved in the black cable that is the problem.
     
  21. ccfoodog macrumors member

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    #21
    Thanks!

    Hmm. While I suppose I am not running true customs, after getting used to them, I do not find this to be true.

    Once you are used to them, they are not hard to put in and out, and comfortable once in.

    I guess it all comes down to the old saying, YMMV.

    They did change the cables. I had some early E500 PTHs and they suffered the cable deterioration problem which were replaced with the 530s under warranty.

    I looked into it at the time, and they changed the cables (they look the same, just use a different plastic I guess). I have had no further problems with the cable after the replacement.

    That said keep in mind these do not have user replaceable cables, so it is in your best interest not to abuse them. Esp. considering the price tag.

    Oh, one other thing. Shure requires you to have purchased from an official dealer, *and* proof of purchase for warranty replacement, which I find unreasonable, but if you really want to be covered, I'd make sure I had those two things covered. (official dealers listed on their web site)

    -john
     
  22. hajime thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #22
    Do the earbuds fall out easily if you wear them while dancing or doing rope jumping? Thanks.
     
  23. mikes70mustang macrumors 68000

    mikes70mustang

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    #23
    Yah your right, not like i need it for music programs......or wait...i do. Just sayn, u prob be hard up to tell the difference between the $500 Shures and $200 Shures, not like ipods are on the pinnacle of music quality replay
     
  24. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #24
    It's actually better than some notebook audio (as with many other 'MP3 players'), so not entirely wasted. You can - like the guy above - take it way too far without much benefit, but the iPod outputs decent enough audio for most users to discern the differences between phones.

    As I said, the higher up the balanced-armature phone price ladder you go the (considerably) worse your price/performance ratio gets - but the fact is, $200 single-driver Shures aren't delivering a hugely musical experience due to the compromises I wrote about. You will notice a difference. Whether its worth it is up to you - just like the choice between a $500 laptop that is basically capable of pretty much everything and the MBP.

    As I advised before these phones aren't recommended for activities like that. Not for the noise, falling out (they wont), etc but because sweat running into these can kill them pretty easily - maybe I wrote it in too technical a manner.
     
  25. Loge macrumors 68020

    Loge

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    #25
    My SE530 cable finally cracked the other day. I noticed it always felt very brittle, it seemed to be particularly bad when commuting on cold days (quite a few of those recently in the UK). Hopefully I can find the receipt :eek:
     

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