Shure SE112 Sound Isolating Earphones Review

Written By Pete Anthony
  Last Updated On: 10-2-19  

Shure is a near 100 year old American audio company that has primarily focused on performance grade audio equipment such as microphones, radio components, mixers, etc. More recently the company has developed similarly professional grade earphones, and while most of them are high end with a price tag to match, their entry level and least expensive SE112s are an affordable option.

out of the box

Packaging is pretty basic but sufficient – the earphones are secured in a fitted cardboard packing piece and the accessories are in the compartment beneath it. One cool accessory is a nozzle cleaning tool for removing any accumulated debris. I’ve never seen such a tool included with any earbuds I’ve ever gotten and I didn’t actually know what it was until I looked in the manual. It’s actually a nice thing to generally have now.

Included with the headphones:

  • soft carrying sack
  • instruction and warranty pamphlets
  • two different sized pairs of replacement tips
  • nozzle cleaning tool
headphone front and back

The buds are definitely bulky, but aren’t too heavy and still fit decently well and comfortably. Despite their size they didn’t feel like they weighed out and down at all. The buds are symmetrical so you can choose to wear them inverted with the wire running around the ear. I did lose a seal if I moved my jaw around enough, and another potential problem there is that the nozzles are unusually small, so only the included tips will fit on them. Shure does sell a wide range of additional replacement tips, but they would need to be purchased separately.

wire and joint

The wire is very nice, one of the best I’ve seen among earbuds available for less than $50. The joint and supports are also nice and sturdy. Both the main and left/right wires are thick with high quality insulation that doesn’t tangle and causes practically zero microphonics. There’s a sliding piece above the joint as well that can shorten the length of the left and right wires. The SE112s also come with an in-line mic and standard three button control unit for not much more money if you want one.

3.5mm plug

The plug is, yet again, very nice with a sturdy support that has a neat concave shape that makes gripping it to push in and pull out safely very easy. The plug connected to my equipment jack securely and with zero issues.

Sound And Performance

General impression: the sound quality is decent overall and doesn’t have any major flaws, but it isn’t particularly great. They lack enough detail to sound kind of muffled, and also as a result lack enough separation that they sound congested. The overall result is a sound that feels weirdly removed and far away. There’s also some sibilance with percussion. The trade off is that the sound is very soft and easy to listen to, which does lend itself to certain situations.

Sound signature: V shape with recessed mids. High vocals manage to feel a bit harsh despite the lack of overall sharpness. The response range of 25 – 17k Hz is comparatively narrow.

Sound staging: pretty much none, largely a result of said narrowness. Truly good sound staging is nay impossible to find with earbuds under three figures though.

Bass: despite the worse than average 25 Hz response floor, the bass is emphasized and strong (specs on paper aren’t everything), though it has a little feelable resonance and fatigue which unfortunately might negate the easy mids for longer listening sessions. Various drops I generally test all came through fully and solidly

Power/Volume: the SE112s have a low 16 ohm impedance and a complementary high 105 sensitivity rating, meaning they’ll get plenty loud just fine and any device should be able to power them no problem.

Isolation: quite good, solidly between medium and high. Shure doesn’t specify a dB reduction despite these being “sound isolating” earphones, but they did seem to block out ambient noise very well. These would definitely suffice as commuter headphones.

Warranty: 2 years which is definitely some of the best coverage available at this price tier – most brands will only offer a one year warranty on less expensive earbuds.

Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition

The SE112s sound decent overall, and they’re very sturdy and comfortable. They’ve been around for a while and I’d wager they were the best choice for non-expensive isolating earbuds five years ago when they were relatively new. But since then, the mid/hi-fi earbud market has grown fast, particularly so with international companies starting to compete more. While the SE112s are not a bad choice by any means, I do think they’ve been left behind – there have since come competitors that sound better and are generally superior. Check out the links below to see our current favorites in the ~$50 price tier.

Get the Shure SE112 Sound Isolating Earphones on Amazon

See our current picks for the overall best earbuds available under $50