Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

e5c_leftbar1.jpg I wrote that the Shure E2cs were the best headphone/earphones I've ever had. Well, today I just got my E5cs and they're better. There's this amazing feeling when you think you're in heaven and you find there is something better. I've had similar experiences with wine and Chinese tea. When you taste the good stuff, you can't go back and then you start wondering if there is anything better.

Anyway, the details...

The E5cs main difference is that it has a cross-over circuit and fits 2 drivers in each earphone so you get an amazing dynamic range. The bass reverberates through you head like you're in a disco or something. The E2cs were great on the high ends, but these E5cs do the whole range amazingly well.

The cord is shorter and lighter, not exactly sure why. You can use the triple-flange sleeves which seem to go deeper into your head. They feel a bit weird, but I think I'm going to like them better than the normal flex sleeves.

The only thing is that they're $500 vs. $100 for the E2cs. Are they 5X better than the E2cs? Well, think of the power law and wine. It costs more and more as you get closer and closer to the peak. It's a matter of your priorities I guess. I don't think that they will be worth $500 to some people, but I'm happy. You could get a round trip ticket between SF and Tokyo for $600 or you could go and buy a few expensive Japanese musk melons. it all depends on what makes you happy I guess. ;-)

You can buy them on Shure's site. And, no, they don't pay me to do this. ;-p

UPDATE: Matt from Shure has started a blog. Check it out!

UPDATE: I've started a new gadget blog called Joi Ito's Stuff


Hi Joi. I'm SO glad you like them!.
I have been wondering what you would think. So many people have asked me if the E5c is 5 times better than the E2c. That is a difficult question to answer. Your thoughts are so right on. It really is a personal thing. For most, the E2c is really a great product. I hope that you don't think of them as inferior now that you've stepped up. Maybe someday you will try the ER4 from Etymotic. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the differences between that and an E5c.

I wish I could ramble a lot, but I'm in Boston working on the next great thing and it's been a long day....

Thanks for making my day!


see joi ? this is one case where i'm happy to say "i *told* you so." they're amazing huh? now that i found out about the $55 replacement policy (thanks matt), i'm savin up to spring for them. in the mean time, i'm suffering with the stock ipod headphones cuz i've now killed my last set of sonys. awwww :-(

matt, if the next great thing is some sort of compromise btwn the e2c and e5c that has twin drivers but costs less i'm gonna eat my hat. but i hope you are cuz i could sell them for you all day long.

If you want to get the most out of your E5c you can have any audiologist make molds from your ears and several companies offer custom silicone ear pieces that fit the E5c. Since these fit your ear better than the flex sleeves you get more bass.

Are there any audiologists in Japan? Is there some sort of standard size that works with the E5c?

i have both the shure e2c and etymotic er4p headphones.

i really like the sound of the etymotics, but the cord "thump" is annoying. i also like how the cord on the e2c fits better over the ears.

maybe the e5c is the best of both.

anyone want to buy my old pair of shures or etymotics? you'll obviously want to replace the in-ear tips (or sterilize them well)

how much better are these than the sony MDR-EX70s? I bought those 3 months ago to use w/my iPod and I've been VERY happy with them..

eric: the next great thing isn't what you'd think. I also work on the wireless systems that are sold with our earphones, and I'm on a team developing some accessories for that system. Sorry to be vague earlier!

Joi, I don't know of any audiologists in Japan that can make a mold for the E5c, but the next time you are in the states I could point you in the right direction.

Did I read that right? Retails at $499!?! GOOD GOD! I'll stick with my cheep phones from Grado Labs! They may be bigger on my head, but have a smaller impact on my wallet.

b-o-c: Look at; a lot of users post FS (for sale) listings there, and you can probably find someone will to buy them.

Matt or Joi: The driving casing looks less "comet-shaped" on the E5. As I posted in the other Shure blogthread, that "point" at the end of the E2 caused some of my discomfort. Is that reduced on the E5? And can someone do a cross-comparison of the E5 and E2 sleeves? Are the E5s significantly more comfortable?

hmm.. so i found a pair of shure e5 (not e5c) for $449. the only difference i can tell is the carrying case. comparing specs, they seem identical.

anyone know if this is true?

b-o-c: E5 and E5c are the same product, packaging and accessories are the difference. Sound is the same.

brandon: glad you liked the sound, and sorry about the discomfort. The E2c is the comet (or teardrop) shape because we had to retain a specific inner dimension for acoustic purposes. The E5c (and E5) don't have that issue, so there is no tip at the end.

What's this $55 replacement policy concerning the Shure E5c about? Or am I getting excited for nothing.

I have the etymotic ER-4s, and agree that in-ear technology is bound to have a bright future, and not only for stage musicians and frequent travellers.

Unless you're used to very-high-end stereo equipment, these ridiculously tiny phones smash you on the head and make you listen : you can hear details you never heard in the music, even in medium quality sources (e.g. mp3). And then when you get used to them, you just enjoy the music wherever you go with an insane grin.

I like the idea that the e5c have a crossover circuit. I am actually using a small headphone amp (Headroom Total AirHead) which provides this feature, and a much better, wider, softer sound (both for portable use - the sensitivity of the ER4s make them hard to drive - and for home use - headphone output of most amps just suck -).

Joi, given the impedance of the E5c, maybe you want to give one a try. Yodobashi in shinjuku, for example, have the biggest selection in Tokyo, as far as I know. No portable model, though...

I could lend you the er4s if you want to compare (hmm, can I try the E5c then? ;)

Can any one point me the huge differences between the ER4 and the e2c? Like HOW much more are they worth?

Derek: you've got a lot of questions on a lot of websites so far. I'll try to get to them all.

Since you didn't specify which ER4 (there are 3) I'll just make generalizations.

Huge differences between ER4 and E2c:

Frequency response: ER4's generally lack some lows but have a nice full mid to high response. Audiophile types love this, as it is a nice match for lots of symphony recordings and such. E2c is very full on the lows (flat really, but the perception is often that the lows are very good). Mids are also nice and flat on E2c. The highs on the E2c are not nearly as accentuated as they are on an ER4. Some love the highs, some don't. It's a personal thing. Don't believe anyone that says there are no highs on the E2c, because they are wrong.

Cable: ER4's are notorious for having significant cable noise (microphonics), rendering them very annoying for lots of people that I've talked to. Not good on planes, trains, etc. E2c has no cable noise.

Ergonomics: really depends on what you do while you use them. but again, E2c is favored by most everyone who has tried both.

Also, ER4's are aroun $300, E2c is $100. Are you sure that these are the two you want to compare?


I just noticed I said something wrong in my previous comment : the crossfeed circuit in the e5c is between the two drivers for each ear, whereas the crossfeed circuits you have in headphone amps are between the two channels. That makes the sound more comfortable.

Matt, a few notes:

The ER4's cable is indeed a pain, but only when moving (walking etc) and one may argue that with such isolation it's not really recommended anyway. I don't usually run a lot in planes or trains, and I can say that the ER4 do a great job there, no problem.

You're right in saying that (at least price-wise) the ER4 and E2c are not in the same league. I'd actually be interested in A/B'ing the ER4s and E5c, since these are the "high-end competitors". Next time I'm in the U.S maybe.

Joi and Co

Well, after much reading here and elsewhere, chin rubbing contemplation and a tax refund I decided to splash for a set of E5c's. Initially I was pretty disappointed in their performance (I use them mostly on my laptop), they sounded hollow, boxy and bass light. I used them with the biggest set of inserts which were the only ones that would seal properly, that sounded a bit better.. if only my poor ears weren't in so much pain from wearing them for a few hours.... Note to Shure, use a softer compound please.

Next I tried the tripple flange inserts, these are *very* difficult to get in without some form of lubrication and they too were uncomfortable, they felt too long. Anyhow, I chopped off the last flange and they felt much better, still a pig to get in but they did seal well. A smoother silicone compound like the stuff Sony uses with their Fontopia in-ear buds would slip in easier and not collect crud nearly as readily.

Curiously I was still getting mediocre sound (and sore ears) but my last ditch attempt to rectify this before sending them back was to get an Echo Indigo PCcard soundcard ($100). Behold.. my ears may still be sore but the pain is nearly worth it as the sound is now incredible. The boxiness is gone, the bass rattles my teeth and the whole is sweet as a nut across the range. Smooth as silk with a depth and power almost inconceivable for a set of 'buds'. This combination of e5c, sawn off tripple flanges and the very good Echo Indigo card has me in musical and DVD bliss.

Outstanding! Thanks to all who pointed me to the light, and light wallet! Still, $650 total isn't too bad for a kind of Nirvana not often within my grasp.

Next step, an audiologist to see if I can get some custom molds made that aren't quite so painful. I just hope my wife never reads this, she thinks I've spent quite enough on a set of teeny-tiny whatnots already.. Mwahaha!


I decided to pay Westone's site a visit and now have a shiny new pair of custom inserts which are a much better fit. It turns out my canals are very 'oval' shaped which is why the standard inserts hurt so much, not Shures fault. The new plugs are very comfortable and isolate even better than the supplied sleeves.

Sonic effect:

I thought the sound was tight, clear and deep before. These custom molds added a whole new dimension to my listening experience. The level of percieved 'wham' is now much greater. Fast attack, great control, deep, powerful and with greater mid and high clarity.

I've been told custom molds don't suit everyone but for those with suitable ears (?) I'd recommend a set of custom molds to anyone with these monitors in a short second. $100 well spent. I don't think my Sennheiser 580's will ever see the light of day again. For the rock fan, these are close to as good as it gets.

I haven't stopped grinning since I got them :)

Hi I am a first time visitor... I just got a Ipod and I want to get the best sound possible. I started doing some research and came across these three - In Ear Monitors..

Westone - ES2
Precision Labs- Challenger Pro 6500
Shure - E5c

Can you please tell me which one to go with.... I also want to be in Sound Heaven

Thank You Jose Rivera

Jose: It really depends on what you want. There are lots of other earphones at those price points too. Do you know of the price ranges of those products?

The 6500 is a custom piece. There are 3 or 4 other large custom earphone manufacturers, and some of them offer different types of products that the 6500.

The other two models you mentioned are universal fitting earphones, meaning that they will fit into most ears. There are many other models of universal fitting earphones, although the two you mentioned are the only universal fitting earphones that have dual drivers.

Gary says: " last ditch attempt to rectify this before sending them back was to get an Echo Indigo PCcard soundcard ($100)."

I told ya so ;)


regarding the $55 replacement fee for the E5c headphones. Can you tell me if this applies worldwide?


I don't think it applies outside the U.S. We have distributors in every country, and each has their own Service policy. You can view them here:

You'll probably have to send an email to the distributor in your country to find out their policy.

Thaks for the reply Matt. Unfortunately, your UK distributor is not as keen as you are regarding cutomer service (unfortunately a fact of life here). I emailed them several days ago and have heard absolutely nothing back. If I bought E5cs in the US could I have the $55 replacement warranty?


Andy, sorry that they're slow to respond.

Also, if you buy in the US and retain your receipt, the US Service policy would apply. I checked with US Service, and they confirmed this.

I've ordered a set of E5's from B&H which should arrive in 2 weeks. I had custom ear mold impressions done today at an audiologist, so now I need some custom molds done for the E5's. I noticed on (The Ear Plug Superstore) that there are 2 types of molds for the E5, an add on version and an integrated version. The difference is that the integrated version has the transducer embeded deeper into the mold so that it doesn't stick out so much. Where can I get this type of mold made? I've seen that Sensaphonics is the mold maker of choice. Will they do this "integrated" version? Also, in reading around the web today I've found some interesting items at Does anyone know about their in-ear monitors and how they might compare to the E5's? By the way, I've had Sony EX70's, Ety ER6, and ER4P and the E5's leave them all sounding very thin. Amazing.


I also live in the UK, and am looking at which earphones to get to couple with my iPod.

Although the E5's are extremely expensive, I'd love to own a pair. I was wondering whether you'd heard anything about what the Shure replacement policy was in the UK?

It'd be nice to know that if I accidentally did something to them that I could get them replaced for $55'ish.

One further question, would the E5's need a separate headphone amplifier with a relatively low-powered source like the iPod or any other portable? The Shure website says the e series were designed with this kind of use in mind.

Hi Matt, I think you represent Shure on this forum

I own a pair of the E5 and absolutely love them. My question: nowhere in the manual does it mention the word filter.
I did notice though that there is a litlle white filter inside the tube. Is this filter replaceable? will it ever get clogged and if so how can it be replaced?

Eliot: I've not heard of an integrated E5. Sensaphonics does not make a piece like this, nor do we. So I fear that anything you bought under that pretense is a modified piece, nullifying the warranty through us. I can tell you that the Sensaphonics material is unique, and very comfortable.

Paul: iPod's drive E5's just fine - you won't need a separate amplifier.

Lucas: There is an acoustic damper in the nozzle. It serves two purposes: 1. It contours the sound, and 2. It blocks wax. If it gets clogged, you can send it in to service for replacement. But with good inner ear hygiene it won't be a problem.


Thanks for clarifying. I have one more question for you: what exactly does the built in crossover do on the E5?
On other headphones (with no crossover)I can hear some sounds coming out of the right driver(center-right on a soundstage) whereas on the E5 these same sounds will seem to come out of the its left driver instead(center-left on a soundstage). I notice this with some cymbals or other highs.
Now is this due to its built in crossover or is this due to the E5's better imaging (I assume this is the right term) or could be something else?
And if something were to go wrong with this crossover what would be its effects, would I notice any?
Thanks again for clarifying

Lucas: The crossover in the E5c does the same thing as a crossover in home speakers that have a subwoofer and a tweeter - it splits the signal in the mid-frequencies. Then the low signal goes to the subwoofer and the high frequencies go to the tweeter. This makes the drivers more efficient, as they are able to focus on a more narrow frequency range. You may perceive more separation (imaging?), but this would only be due to a better frequency response. It has nothing to do with left and right.

E5's have been out for a while now (4 years from the original design) and I haven't heard about any issues as a result of the crossover failing.

So what is the isolation in dBs with the E5 with silicon or custom molded adaptors? I am a singing bass player in a loud rock band, and have been piecing an in ear system together. So far, we are all wired up, but are using cheap headphones and crappy Koss "buds" while I decide which high quality in ear monitor to purchase. I think safety earplugs are around 10dB, which should be plenty for anyone, but I don't know about the E5s.

Wes: Depending on which sleeve you use with the E5 you will get 15-26 dB of isolation.

Flex sleeve / triple flage: these provide 15-20 dB of isolation.

Foam sleeve: provides 20-25 dB of isolation.

Custom sleeve: provides 22-26 dB of isolation.

I've now heard colleagues' Ety ER4's (well-defined, but almost incredibly lacking in bass), and Shure E1's (in between the E2 and E5, though much closer in price to the E2's). E1's were absolutely terrific, but of course I'm wondering if I should go for the E5's. Thing is, it's a lot of money to spend without hearing them first. I live in New York City, and can't even find someone here who stocks them -- all special order. I wrote to Shure a few days ago and have not heard back. Anyone know where I can audition these?

I've now heard colleagues' Ety ER4's (well-defined, but almost incredibly lacking in bass), and Shure E1's (in between the E2 and E5, though much closer in price to the E2's). E1's were absolutely terrific, but of course I'm wondering if I should go for the E5's. Thing is, it's a lot of money to spend without hearing them first. I live in New York City, and can't even find someone here who stocks them -- all special order. I wrote to Shure a few days ago and have not heard back. Anyone know where I can audition these?

Can the E5C's be bought in Japan?

I've been thinking about ordering a set of custom molds for my e5s.
I have a couple questions that maybe someone here could answer:
What's the difference between Westone and Sensaphonics molds, and which ones would you recomend?
Any substantial difference in price?
Regardless of the company,would it be an easy process to get them from where I live?(Los angeles area)

Thanks a lot for your time.


I've been thinking about ordering a set of custom molds for my e5s.
I have a couple questions that maybe someone here could answer:
What's the difference between Westone and Sensaphonics molds, and which ones would you recomend?
Any substantial difference in price?
Regardless of the company,would it be an easy process to get them from where I live?(Los angeles area)

Thanks a lot for your time.


Hi to all. I just stumbled on this site, and had to join in. I have recently purchased a PSM200 and a separate E5 in ear system. Having tried the stock E2's, and then comparing them to the E5's, I must just say Wow, what a difference. I am also a singing bass player, need to hear a full range clearly, low and hi mid, and the E5's have rocked my world!
I must say the E2's were fine, but unless my E5's ever go out in a gig, they will never get used again!
Matt, if you don't mind, what exactly is this $55.00 replacement policy, I looked on Shure's web page as listed above, but couldn't find anything about it. Could I by any chance replace my E2's for a second pair of E5's? :)
Thanks again,

Unable to find E5's for sale in Japan, I ordered them from BH Photo ( ). I got the amazing price of $380 for the E5!! After ordering I stumbled upon this place:

They also sell the E5's, but I ordered the impression kit from them so I can make my own molds, which I will then mail to them to get some nice multi-colour custom molds. A nice get-out for people like me in Japan, where the chance of finding a friendly ear-doc is not good! Perfect with the E5's is the mini-headphone amp from

Less than $100!!!!

Hi Jon. Congrats on the PSM 200 and E5 purchases. I was the specialist on the PSM 200 team.
The $55 replacement fee gets you a replacement of whatever earphone you send in. An E2 will swap out for another E2 only.

Richard: I love my Super Mini V6! I am even thinking about getting the new 6.2. It sounds awesome on my bigger headphones (HD600, D66, etc.) and does a nice job of helping out my Archos Jukebox 20. The HP out on the Archos is tough to deal with when using our earphones, but the Super Mini (with the analog pot) is perfect.

Best of luck with the custom sleeves, I hope they work out for you.

Hi. I bought a pair of Shure E2cs recently, and have been wondering whether they would work well with a small headphone amp (I've been thinking about either an Airhead or Xin SuperMini). Some people in this forum have commented on the performance of other headphones with these amps, but I'd be curious to hear from anyone who's used the E2cs with either of them...

Thanks very much!

Hi Matt,

Is the output of the Archos Jukebox 20 Recorder sufficient to drive the Shure E5c unit.

Thanks for your many informative comments.

Dan: I own an Archos Jukebox 20 recorder, and it is plenty sufficient to drive the E5c. My only gripe with it is the volume taper on the Archos is not very linear. Luckily the E5c ships with a small volume control that is linear, making it much more pleasant for me.
I hope you like it,

I'm another singing bass player seeking IEM's and wrestling between Shure E1's and E5's. I see comments above saying how the E5's blow the E2's away for this purpose, but given that the E1's are reputed better than the E2's...I'm interested in the difference between the e5's and e1's that might justify the big cost jump. I plan to get custom molds for whatever I get.

Thanks for any added info!

"how much better are these than the Sony MDR-EX70s?"


I too thought the EX70s and 71s were superb sound for the money until I bought some E2s. I recently tried using the EX71s again to see if the difference was a noticeable as I remembered. It was.

The highs sounded much harsher on the EX71s and the bass was less defined and more boxy. Overall the sound on the E2s was much richer. Getting the right fit is very important so make sure that you spend some time doing this if you buy some.

Hopefully I'll get the chance to compare them to the E5s at some point in the future.

are you still wanting to sell your ER4P's? if so, or if not, write to
the same goes to anyone else wanting to sell a pair, or if someone wants to get rid of their E5c's

Matt and All:

I am all but convinced to purchase a set of E5c's based on the glowing reviews. They are indeed expensive but I listen to a lot of good audio equipment and can definitely hear the difference between very good $8,000.00 speakers and very-very good $24,000.00 speakers. I do start to lose track above that point however. My listening will mostly be with a portable device, most likely an iPod and I am concerned that the fidelity of the player may not warrant the move to the E5c’s from the E2c’s. I would appreciate you experience with this setup. I would also like to know if the iPod has sufficient output and the proper impedance match to properly and loudly (sub-threshold of pain however) drive the E5c’s. Additionally one of my listening modes would be with a fill-face motorcycle helmet. On another ear-phones site the E5c’s were not recommended for that use, I presume due to a protruding section or cable. Could that be a problem? Would custom inserts allow a more in-the-ear fit to eliminate problems with use inside of a helmet? Thank you for your time and consideration.

Don: I encode all of my mp3's at 256 kb/s, and I still notice subtle artifacts of mp3's when i use E5's. Unfortunately, the lower the bitrate: the worse it sounds.

I really like the E1 or the E2 for my iPod. They both match very well with it.

Regarding the helmet issue, it's not a matter of fit. Our earphones are very low profile regardless of custom sleeve or not. We don't think people should ride while using our earphones because of the isolation that they provide. It's a matter of safety, not fit.

Matt and all,

I am in the process of deciding on what new portable audio device and earphones to buy. I have read this entire thread and like what I have seen so far. I have been comparing HD audio devices (Apple iPod and Creative Labs Zen Xtra). I also recently compared earphones after reading the recent Wired magazine where I first became aware of Shure's E5. I want to get a portable player and earphones that completely envelope me in the music. It sounds to me that the E5 and the iPod might be the choice for me, but I have heard a lot of negative things about iPod and not sure if the E5 is the right choice for me since I do not plan to use them for professional music (band, etc). I would appreciate any advice you might have to offer on both of these subjects. When all is said and done these two choices will cost me close to $1000 for both the player and the earphones and for that price I want to make the right choice and not experience any buyers remorse.


Hi Scott. The E5 is well equipped for the application you're talking about. If you choose to go this route, make sure you encode your MP3's (or AAC's or WMA's) to a high quality bitrate. It'll mean you can't fit as many songs on your device, but lower bitrates are very low quality, and E5's reveal all of the trashiness in MP3's.

I own an iPod, but not the Zen, so I can't compare those.

I'm happy with my E5, but perhaps it's the jading effect of owning so many pieces of high fidelity headgear but they didn't blow my socks off the first time around. They struck me (and still do) as simply very nice, not an epiphany as in Mr. Ito's case.
OK... so nice, but they are definitely not $500 nice when compared to the $250 Etymotic ER-4P, which was far more impressive at first listen. First impressions however count for little if you consider that you will be living with these for a while, and I'm pleased to say that the E5 is more... ah what's the word... tractable? for general listening. It's more comfortable in use and it's got an unfatiguing yet still highly resolved sound.
On the other hand, what really does impress about the Etymotic ER-4P is the electrostatic-challenging level of overt detail that it serves up. The E5 doesn't have as good a frequency response up top, so it feels milder and less resolved. From the low trebles downwards, I feel that the E5 more or less matches the Etys for detail, but the sound that results from this is simply a different flavour to the Etymotic earphone, it's not actually significantly better from a quality point of view and even in some cases it is worse.
The words 'lacking in bass' is frequently used to describe the Etys but this is normally due to incorrect fitting (incorrect fit on the E5 results in 'normal' bass so many may not realise they aren't getting the most out of it) and being acclimatised to bloaty audio. On the other hand, the bass is where you really get a kick in the pants with the E5. It's the only in-earphone I've had to date where you can actually feel the bass. It's a power earphone for those listening to a lot of pop/rock and who wants a lively and extremely punchy sound... But for classical listeners the ER-4P is a much better buy.
Compared to the Etymotic earphone, the E5 is considerably overpriced on a 'sound / buck' ratio... Although it can do things that the Etys can't. Of course it's a more complicated piece of kit, so in terms of materials you have to pay more, I suppose.
For home use, I have a similar combination of phones (warm sounding and neutral) so having the choice of the warm, bassy E5 and the delicate sounding, neutral Etymotic is great. I think if you can afford to drop $500 on an E5 as an impulse buy, you should definitely extend your impulse :) and drop another $250 on the Etys. The two provide a wide-ranging listening experience, and with this combination you get the best of both worlds. And in my case now I know what both of them sound like, I wouldn't be happy owning just one of them.

I hope that's of use to someone... Especially those who may have asked for comparisons.

Hello Matt... or 'Sugarfried'? You pop up everywhere Shure related, I really do hope they're paying you for this!

I've been considering some Shure E5c's. But I went over to and noticed that they offer similar earpieces, but also offer their UE-7 Pro's, which are triple driver earbuds that come with custom molds.

Does anyone know about these and how they compare with the E5c's?

Seems to me that if some of the world's most famous artists are using them, then they would be the best money could buy. Even outperforming the Shure E5c's.

Does anyone know what the deal is with these?

Hi bangraman.. err, H SATO. :)
So shall I consider this your formal E5 review (having not seen one at Head-Fi yet)?
I'm surprised it took me this long to notice.
Thanks for the comments, that was a nice read.

Hi Matt and All,
I'm really excited by news of the Shures E3C. What I'd really like to know is how it compares with the ER4P and E1. The flex sleeves of the E3C certainly looks much more comfortable. If the sound comes close to the ER4P, I'll all set to pre-order.

Any views/previews would be much appreciated. ;-)

Hi Scriberex.
I love the internet age. Word spreads quickly!

The E3c is going to be similar sounding to an E1, most noticeably the low end has been enhanced. It's not more boomy, but the handling capability is greater.
The new E3c sleeves will also fit on the E1 and E5, so people who already have them can use them. They're called PA758S, PA758M and PA758L Soft Flex Sleeves.

I recently purchased a pair of etymotic ER-4P. I listen to alot of classical music and have played/performed classical piano for the past 25 years. While these earbuds provide exceptional detail in the high ranges, I have found that I can only listen to them for brief periods of time due to general fatigue from the intense treble delivered by these earbuds. I know that proper fitting is important to achieve bass balance, but am confident that fitting is not a component of this problem. My question is whether anyone has had a similar experience with the ER-4P and further whether the E5c might be better solution for preventing general ear fatigue while still delivering exceptional detail. Is there another earbud other than the E5c or ER-4P that anyone would recommend? Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

In case anyone is interested, I a have a barely used set of etymotic ER-4P earphones for sale. I paid $250 for them and am asking only $190
If interested, I can be contacted at:

Does anyone know where I can find some frequency response graphs for the Shure phones?


Nick: no graphs available unfortunately.

todd: it would be best to make an adaptor that is wired to accomplish this. I don't recommend cutting up an E5.

>> no graphs available unfortunately

Who dont Shure publish them?


We don't publish the information because it is not accurate for every ear. Because of the wide variation in the shape of people's ears it is impossible for us to determine the appropriate range to publish. It has been an ongoing debate between marketing (who would like to publish some graphs) and acoustic engineering. I imagine that we will someday find an acceptable way to publish our frequency responses - we do for all of our microphone products. But those are not dependant on something as small as an ear.

Fair enough.

I just bought some e2c's - and a friend bought the Sony Fontopia MDR-EX71SL's.

First impressions are that both are very good - and about 30x better than the standard iPod earphones.

Stacking them up:
The Sony's are smaller, lighter, less fuss to get on and off, and slightly more comfortable (the e3c's & e5c's now have a softer rubber insert - sadly not available for the e2c's).

The Sony's may be lighter, but they also seem a bit fragile. However, for 1/3 the price, you can easily afford to break a pair if it comes down to it.

The Sony's may be more comfortable with the softer rubber insert, but the Shures go deeper and have slightly better isolation (key is trying ALL the inserts!)

The only difference (that I noticed - I didnt spend ages comparing) was that at the very (very) low level bass, the Sony's seemed stronger.

All in all, the Shures are very good - but for 1/3 the price, the Sony's are a compelling buy.


Just read a cool review of the e5C's at here:

I want to get some with custom earpieces...


I read all the previous comments and was very impressed with the reviews of the E5C...I currently own a E2C and have been a bit disappointed with the bass response (with certain R&B songs), although the sound is I just ordered the E5C from MacResQ with a $80 discount for $431 total (with next day shipping)...I just tried them on and I have to say: the reviews are RIGHT ON! These babies are IT! Much deeper bass sounds and clean treble, too. If you can afford a pair (even if it hurt), get them.

I own a Handspring Treo 600 and want to purchase either the Shure E2c or E3c to listen to MP3s. Can anyone tell me if the Treo 600 is powerful enough to drive the E3c headphones?

I use the yellow foam tips of Shure E5 with my ER4P, they give much more deep and intense lower bass to the ER4P and ER4S (use adapter cable). I think the sound is much better than E5 in every level of sound. Try them you will see what I mean!!!

Hi everyone,

When I've first visited this forum I was a bit in panic by the idea of spending $500 on monitors I haven't even heard...

I must say your great reviews really reassured me !

The only problem is that I've visited Ultimate-ear's website ( and their latest product is a 3 driver (!) in ear monitor - the UE-10, so now I'm confued again.

The UE-10 monitors seem to be in a different league in terms of price tag ($900) and due to the fact that they are only custom built.

Has anyone here listend to them ?
How are they compared to Shure's e5 ?

FYI - is carrying e3C's right now for $129, $6 shipping, no sales tax. Get'em while they're hot!

Please forgive the cross post. I put this in the e2C blog as well - but it is short...)

I'm sitting listening to a pair of E5cs running through a HeadRoom Total AirHead amp as I write this. After a couple of days with these buds in a variety of configurations including different audio sources, tips, with amp, without amp, etc. I have to agree most with SATO's review above. The E5C is sonorous and can kick out the bass at a level I didn't think possible in an earbud, but they are unfortunately not the holy-grail of headphones I had hoped they would be. They really don't compare to the fidelity offered by the less expensive Ety ER4 series. Like good but not great speakers, the E5C reproduce sound fairly well and are fun, but not transparent, the music, especially electronic, dance, rock, and pop genres, sounds very good, but reproduced, it does not sound like I'm sitting in the room with the musician or like it is holographically projected in my mind, it sounds like it's coming from a decent set of buds in my ears. This is especially apparent on audiophile grade recordings, the refinement, the jaw dropping textures and subtleties delivered by other equipment are simply not there. The ER4s achieve more of this effect, with superior transparency and accuracy, but they certainly have their own limitations which have been well documented. The E5s rock, the ER4s have incredible articulation and detail, neither really do both. I'm very curious to hear the Ultimate Ears UE-10, but $900 is a painful price to pay for headphones, especially if they are not perfect.

hi!everyone. i'm a new comer using a8. really want to have a e5c but it's very expensive. is it good to have a e3c i/o e5c. e5c has 2 drivers is the main advantage. except isolating appearence, is e3c much more better than a8. tks!

Soft flex and tripple flange sleeves can be fitted to E2Cs.
If it's of any interest to others who bought E2Cs but found the flex sleeves popped out and the foam sleeves got flithy and needed replacing too much:
I've got a set of E3/E5 soft flex and tripple flange sleeves and with a bit of persuasion these fit onto the E2Cs with no mods. Can't abide the flange ones, but the soft flex turn a regretted purchase into an excellent pair of headphones.

General comments - I found high frequencies to be slightly attenuated/softer using these sleeves - this might be as I pushed them onto the E2C shaft as far as the sleeve-stop ledge, but didn't trim them so they can be pushed far enough on for the shaft to protrude from the end of the sleeve - the hole in the end of the sleeve is therefore not enlarged to the diameter of the E2C shaft. The fit, for me, is even better than the foam plugs, therefore the perceived bass response is improved. These sleeves also take less time than the foam ones to insert

Personally I feel that a lot of the negative reviews of these headphones wouldn't exist if only shure produced these sleeves specifically for the E2C (or users let others know E3/E5 sleeves can be sued) Any comments or outraged disagreements from Matt & the shure guys?

No outraged disagreement from me.

Since developing the soft flex for E3c last year I have wanted to develop a version for the E2c, and it's now done. It's called PA749 and it will be available starting in February. We made an assortment bag, PA749A. It's one pair of each size. The other bags are PA749S (small), PA749M, PA749L. Those are 5 pairs in each bag of one size. The Assortment is likely to be what most people will want.

Thanks for the comments Robin!

Shure e5c $359.00 plus shipping, no sales tax. you may have to call these guys to get that price. but RDonline has great prices. (note you may have to add to cart to see the good prices.)

Shure E5c's That link is h**p://

Kind of seems like an MAP violation to me....

Not for display stock...

Better to mention that it is display stock then.

Even for display stock there are guidelines for what can and can't be advertised. Talk to Steve Spittle at Millar, he can give you the details.

i've got some prophonic 2X-S from sensaphonics.

they are pretty much perfect.

used to have the e5's. the sensaphonics blow them away in every respect. it is truly remarkable.

biggest problem with the e5's is they simply have no high-end in comparison to phones like the ety er-4s. the sensaphonics have even better highs than the etys, which is pretty remarkable.

ahhh. Wine and Quality Sound. Joi, you hit on two of my major passions....

So the key question is, are these in-ear style and can you fit a motorcycle helmet over them. I think I want a pair!

Hey dudes!
today i'm feeling like a newborn man! the answer: "Shure E5c" man! how does they work?! ;)

i find the yellow foam sleeves to work the best. first i pushed them almost to the otherside of my head ;) then i realized i only have to gently squeeze them into the beginning of the earcanal. now i can't hear a shit (from the outside world) and i love it! ;)


I just ordered a set of E5C's online and I can't wait to get them. I was just reading some reviews, however, about the new E4C that just came out a few days ago. I was wondering what the differences between the two models are? Is the E5C definitely superior to the E4C as its pricing and designation would suggest? I plan on using the fones w/ an Ipod and any input on my choice would be appreciated! Thanks.

now i've changed to the "original" sleeves, thus the foamsleeves doesn't expand like before (i think). but i must say the "originalsleeves" are at least as good IF u squeeze them into the earcanal.

/peace & love

today i've made my first very own sleeves ;) from classic yellow foam (i'm not the first, i know) and it's working 100%. i used one E-A-R on each ear, u following ;), shure seems to have used, only, half a E-A-R to each sleeve. just penetrate them with something and squeeze them on ure par of EXc:s and dance!

p.s the "original" sleeves tended to hurt after some time ;) d.s

I just bought the E5c's. THEY ARE AWESOME>>>BUT read all. I tried them with my I AudioU2, 1 gig unit, not impressed at all. The headphones that came with my I Audio sounded great compared to them. I thought let me hook them to my full-CD size MP3 player (Panasonic SL CT710) now this is still a handheld unit and must put out more than the tiny I Audio unit...why? The sound was awesome! Maybe the preamp I have heard people talk about here would make the I Audio work. Now these headphones do not work as I intended but I can not send them back. The fit? I used the little gray plugs and they fit and feel great. I wet them a little and they slid right in. Bought E5c's at $335.57. I have Definitive tower house speakers $1800 each and live in an apartment..what a waste, these E5c's will get me by until I get a house and can blast the definitives! So be aware, as this was important to me and others. I want to express again, these puppies need power to feel the thrill. Also, I left the headphones in and went back between the two units. I know the I Audio puts out 13mw not sure about the Panasonic. Find out what the IPOD is putting out and if it is same, you will not be happy. Have a great day!

Hello there. I have read through this thread and found some very useful info. My situation is that I have a home studio where I produce my own music (or at least try to!).

I currently use various speakers/monitors and headphones - Senheisser HD540 (old, full size headphones that I know very well) and Shure E2 which I originally purchased just for portable use but now also use in my studio to get an alternative view of how my mixes sound. The E2s are especialy useful for getting some idea of the bass levels in the mix but can become uncomfortable after long periods of use. I often switch between my own track that I am working on and a well recorded professional track of the same genre to get an idea of how my mix is sounding. I do electronic dance music - trance/techno/ambient. I often need to use headphones so as not to disturb others and I find using headphones rather than speakers when making music can get you more into the "feel" of what you are doing.

I have been looking at the possibility of using the E5c earphones as reviews show that they seem to offer a good overall sound quality - far better than the E2s which I think sound pretty good. The trouble is I don't want earphones that will "flatter" the music. I want to hear what has been recorded without the earphones boosting the bass, for example. I guess what I want is a flat frequency response. There's no point in me buying earphones that accentuate (I think that's how you spell it?!) the bass if, when, if I playback my mixes everywhere else, this bass is non-existent, or the headphones give an exagerated soundstage so that, when played back elsewhere, everything sounds mono. I know I am letting myself in for comments of the type...headphones exagerate the soundstage because of the nature of headphones (I tend to mix in mono with headphones anyway and then go to speakers to pan etc.) and that every speaker sounds different and room acoustics have an effect etc.

Any help would be gratefully received - especially if you do use the E5c or any other ear/headphones when mixing.

I've been using E5c's paired with my iPod for the last week and much like the writer of this article has stated, I too am in heaven. Portable music has alawys been a problem for me because most headphones lack the proper low end and clarity throughout to make the music as enjoyable as a component system, but the gap is much narrower now thanks to Shure. It might sound like a lot of money to pay for small headphones, but when music is your passion and you find a way to make it many times more enjoyable, that is priceless.

I totally recommend these headphones. Great sound clarity, good bass responce and good mids. These are the best headphones I have ever used and I've used professional sets for years.

iPod with E5cs? What type of music do you listen to? how loud? in which environment? My experience is that iPod is not a great source, it is poorer than my CD player (Philips). Is your experience different?

Once a thinker, Now a Believer:

I use to own a E2c and tot that the sound is already so clear as compared to many of other earphones such as sony in ear earpiece.
It was until lately I was thinking to buy the E5c. I had been reading reviews and articles relate to E5c and at first i wasn't sure of its quality. Not until now, it was a heaven sound. Okay, I was too excited this morning as i just bought the E5c and tested its quality and now I was tired after such wonderful long day testing the sound. So I shall say into the points.....

Yes, you will hear stuffs that you had never heard before and the sound is too perfect that u would really need to have good quality MP3.
For my E2c, the sound are very clear and detailed but somehow this set of earphones contributes to the bass more and thus causes the sound of all the instruments to be "blended" together, causing it to sound muddy. But for E5c, the sound is too perfect that you actually are able to separate out individual instruments by hearing.
So in conclusion, the sound is perfect.

-Definitely many would say is the price.
-For those who are just looking for pleasure and luxury in listening to their music, do not bother to get an E5c, E2c will sound best. E5c are usually mend for those who are really keen in getting every single sound of the music or ppl who are into audio engineering courses.
-The cable are ugly, it is actually in a very dirty white or perhaps grey and it doesn't look neat.
-It took me quite a hard time getting use in putting those plugs in my ears and getting the best position so as it will work in full potential in isolating noises. Whereas in E2c, it is easier to get the ideal position.

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