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Review: Shure E500PTH

How good are Shure's new E500PTH in-ear headphones? They're "hear your favorite song for the first time" good. They're "what will I listen to next" good. They create sound that is so high-quality that it's at least as much fun listening to the headphones as it is to the music they are playing.

These in-ear, sound isolating headphones are the successor to Shure's vaunted E3C. However, this newer product uses a three-driver design -- one tweeter and two woofers. They are sound isolating -- as opposed to noise canceling -- due to their tight but surprisingly comfortable ear fittings. And, they come with a new feature that, depending on how you look at it, is either a gimmick or a long-needed feature: the ability to turn down the sound with a flip of a switch and hear, via a built-in microphone, what people are saying to you and what you say in response without having to take the earbuds out.

In other words, if sound quality is paramount -- and you have $500 to burn -- you're unlikely to find any with more complete, professional sound quality.

Sound With No Gaps

The combination of sound isolation and Shure's three-driver system creates sound with no gaps that is startling in its clarity. Mid- and high-range sounds are bright with no distortion or muddying. Specific instruments that might be indistinct with lesser headphones are brilliantly-defined with the E500PTH headphones. You can feel and practically see the strings vibrating when listening to a guitar strum. A string section is both a cohesive whole and clearly made up of individual instruments.

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