Shure SE530 Review

se530 mainP1010020 Shure SE530 Review

A lot has been written about Shure’s current flagship in-ear phone already, but of course that doesn’t stop us from reviewing them. Maybe we just add a bit more to the confusion surrounding them, seeing how the SE530 are either loved or hated by certain people, and seeing how so many reviews tend to contradict each other about their sonic qualities. One thing is for sure: the SE530 do have many virtues, but they also have their fair share of weaknesses.

Let’s take a closer look at these quite expensive triple armature equipped earphones… No holds barred, for s(h)ure.

  • Specs
  • Drivers: triple balanced armature (2x bass, 1x mids/treble)
  • Sensitivity: 119 dB SPL/mW
  • Impedance: 36 Ohm
  • Frequency range: 18 Hz – 19 kHz
  • Cable: 50 cm (Y-style), 95 cm extension, 20 cm extension, straight 3.5 mm gold-plated plugs
  • Accessories: Push-To-Hear (PTH) unit (incl. AAA battery), inline volume control, airline adapter, 6.3 mm adapter, silicon tips (2x S, 4x M, 2x L, 2x triple flange), foam tips (2x S, 4x M, 2x L), cleaning tool, case, printed manuals
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Accessories

An abundance of accessories comes in the classy aluminum box of the SE530. There’s the usual variety of single flange silicon tips in three sizes, which are thicker and feel like better quality (but maybe a bit less comfortable) than other manufacturer’s thinner offerings. You also get a pair of triple flange tips (which are long enough to tickle your ear drums) and four pairs of Shure’s excellent isolating black “Olive” foam tips.

Two extension cords, 20 and 95 cm respectively, are used to bring the earphones’ fixed 50 cm cable to useful lengths. They’re a bit thicker than cables on most other IEMs and feel pretty solid.

The sturdy oval case, big enough to fit the phones and extension cords in, is cleverly designed so you can simply wrap the cable around four fingers of your hand and stow it away without any additional bending or tangling.

Miscellaneous stuff like the ear wax removal tool, a 6.3 mm adapter for home audio gear, and a two-pronged airline adapter might come in handy as well. The passive inline volume control is not the best, though – it affects the sound in a slightly negative way, or at least attenuates the input signal too much even when turned to the loudest volume level. It might be useful for airline headphone outputs, but I wouldn’t use it with a good audio player.

Of course the most interesting accessory is the Push-To-Hear unit, also known as PTH. It is actually optional, since you can buy the SE530 without PTH – this brings the price of the phones some 40 or 50 dollars down. The function of the PTH is simple: at the push of a button (actually slide) the audio signal gets interrupted and a microphone is activated, letting you hear your surroundings. A limiter is built into the PTH, saving your ears from sudden clicks or pops, and the AAA battery should last for a few months. You can attach it to your trousers with a metal clip. It’s a useful device for short conversations, and it’s a bit faster than yanking the phones out of your ears. The PTH’s microphone is very well tuned for picking up human voices. Of course it’s nothing high-end and hisses quite a bit, but it works perfectly well for telling the lady at the grocery store which kind of potatoes I want to buy, then switching back to the latest Slayer album.

Two things I don’t like much about the PTH are its rather bulky size and the hard to operate slider button. Why not make it a push button, as the name already suggests? Other than that it’s a quite nice device, something that should be useful in many situations.

Design

OK, let’s start this chapter with some rants.

The SE530 housing is made from plastic and fake bronzed/chromed for enhanced tackiness. Why the flagship model of Shure’s earphone line has to look uglier than its un-ostentatious and decent smaller cousins is beyond me. In that price range I’d really like to have a choice of different colors – especially ones that actually match any of my other gear, my glasses, or my clothing. I guess for Siegfried and Roy the bronze color is fine, though.

In my opinion the cables on the SE530 are somewhat of a nuisance. From the earphones to the Y-splitter they’re way too long – maybe they measured a giraffe’s neck? But the overall cable length is too short to use the SE530 with a player in your shirt pocket or an arm band. So you have to add either the 20 cm or 95 cm extensions, neither creating really workable lengths. All this also adds more bulk to the already big connections and splitters. For example, due to its enormous size and weight the Y-splitter tugs at the cables (and thus my ears) if I run it under my jacket or shirt. Overall the cable lengths and the various configuration options are more complicated and bulky than they need to be.

A more simple approach like with the JAYS’ modular cable/plug design would be a much bette
r solution. Make the cable connected to the earphones a little longer, thus omitting the redundant 20 cm extension. Make the Y-splitter smaller and sit higher on the cable. Use a separate 3.5 mm plug on the cable instead of the one molded into the Y-splitter, that way the SE530 would lose some bulk.

My final nitpicking seems like some superficial cosmetic issue, but it actually has serious economical undertones: the “iPhone compatible” 3.5 mm plug. Great, the SE530 plug works with a rather sub-par sounding player (that doesn’t need phones like the SE530 anyway) where the designers felt the need to make the headphone jack incompatible with each and every 3.5 mm phone plug available on the market. Instead of protesting against these tactics by Apple, most headphone companies caved in and released new versions of their phones with “iPhone compatible” plugs. Some companies like Sennheiser with their CX-series phones got it right, but the Shure’s recessed plug just looks downright awful connected to any other player besides the iPhone. Shure catered to a very small percentage of mobile phones and totally forgot about the majority of portable players out there. (see photo)

OK, now that I got all that off my chest, here are finally the positive points of the SE530’s design.

The cables – despite their awkward lengths – feel very sturdy. The strain relief implementation on the plugs also looks like it can take a beating, nothing that breaks easily. Cable noises transmitted to the ears are very low, both due to the over-the-ear design of the housing and probably due to the choice of the cable sleeving material as well.

The earphones themselves are very comfortable, even for lengthy listening sessions. Their form factor is quite ergonomic; they fit my ears really well. The SE530 don’t stick out as much as, for example, Ultimate Ear’s Super.Fi series, and I have no problems using them even while sleeping. Yes, the SE530 are comparatively big phones, but due to their cleverly designed housing they don’t feel or look that way.

Specifications

“Triple TruAcoustic Micro-Speakers” (or whatever flowery name Shure’s marketing department came up with) means the SE530 are equipped with three balanced armature speakers per earphone. One armature handles the midrange and treble, while the two other ones are busy generating the bass frequencies – or at least try to. The generous specs of a frequency response from 18 Hz to 19 kHz are quite euphemistic, to say the least. Read more about that in the next chapter.

The SE530 have an extremely high sensitivity of 119 dB/mW, which means they’re really loud on most portable players despite their somewhat high impedance of 36 Ohm. The downside to this is that they tend to hiss with many portable players. With my Cowon D2 or Sansa Clip they are noisier than any other phones – even the quite hiss-prone Sennheiser CX 300 (16 Ohm, 112 dB/mW) are much less noisy than the SE530.

This seems to be a contradictory issue: some people swear their SE530 don’t hiss with their Cowon D2, while mine sounds like there’s an “Ocean Sounds” relaxation CD playing in the background. Either my Shures or my Cowon are faulty – or these other people don’t hear very well. So even if these phones work with the wimpiest players available, they don’t sound their best on many of them. On some other players like my Cowon iAudio X5 or Samsung YP-U1 they behave a lot better, though.

One way to fix this issue is by using a dedicated portable headphone amp, like the Corda XXS, RSA Predator, or HeadAmp Pico. If you dropped the dough for a pair of SE530, affording an amp should probably be no biggie. On a side note, they even hum (but don’t hiss) with my Woo Audio 6 desktop tube amp – an amp which is otherwise totally “black” and works perfectly well for any phone, no matter what sensitivity or impedance. The SE530 are the only phones that don’t like this amp, which is a bit weird. Then again, they really like my portable Corda Headsix amp and are very well behaved and virtually hiss-free on that one. That’s fine with me, since that’s where I use them the most – in my portable setup, not on my home rig.

Another curious thing is that the SE530 require some “burn in” time, a behavior which is usually found in dynamic driver phones, not in armature equipped ones. Mine sounded quite muddy and undefined right out of the box, but they settled down to their final sound signature in about half an hour.

Isolation from outside noise is one of the strong points of these Shures. With the thicker than usual silicon tips isolation is already a bit better than with many other universal-fit IEMs. With the black “Olive” foam tips however isolation becomes really outstanding. A few days ago I was listening at moderate volume levels, not loud at all, in the subway station – and I absolutely did not notice the train’s arrival in the station. So beware, the foam tips should be used with caution in public places – they’re serious noise blockers. Personally, I love my phones to have near-total isolation in most situations, and the SE530’s foam tips are almost as good as it gets for non-custom IEMs.

[I love these phones for their isolation and never get on an airplane without them. In flight I can put the volume on very minimal and still not realize I am on an airplane as I doze off for a nap. I feel really sorry for those suckers that paid $500 for their Bose noise isolating phones. The SE530s are the absolute best headphone for flying or general nose isolation, period. - Grahm]

Sound

The bass is quite fine on the SE530, it’s clean and fast, but it doesn’t really extend all too well to the lowest octave. Around 40-50 Hz is where they still perform well, but below that it’s all quite rolled off. Comparable phones like the Future Sonics Atrio or JAYS q-JAYS go deeper than the SE530, are less recessed, and deliver more sub-bass impact. The amusing thing is that the q-JAYS have one teensy micro-armature for the bass, while the SE530 have two regular sized ones – and the q-JAYS have at least the same bass quality and quantity, but extend to the very bottom of the lowest octave… On the positive side, the SE530’s bass isn’t muddy at all and doesn’t veil midrange frequencies. It’s a good bass for most kinds of acoustic music, but real bassheads might have to look elsewhere for earth shattering quantities. “Visceral” is not what describes the SE530’s bass – don’t let the other reviews on the net fool you. All in all, the SE530’s bass is very homogeneous; it integrates itself seamlessly with the midrange, contrary to many other earphones where an overly strong bass might feel detached from the rest of the music.

Midrange frequencies are what the Shures do best. The mids are forward, precise, fast, and punchy. Picking single instruments out of a mix is easy with the SE530; they’re clearer and more detailed than many other IEMs I heard. They have a remarkable attack speed – rimshots, guitar plucking, and similar material sounds better than on most other earphones. The mids are also great with very dense audio material, such as orchestral pieces or soundtracks. Where many other IEMs (especially ones with balanced armature drivers) often fail and sound compressed or muddy, the SE530 perform without breaking a sweat. If “perfect” mids are what you’re craving in a phone, then these Shures should be on top of your list.

What I said about the bass can be applied to the treble as well. The SE530 are quite rolled off in the highest octaves. They’re not exactly lacking detail in the upper frequencies, but it’s all a bit subdued and in the background. The positive thing about such a sound signature might be that it prevents listening fatigue, going easy on your ears for lengthy listening sessions. However, if you’re used to bright phones like the q-JAYS or Ultrasone HFI-780, you might miss a bit of treble sparkle when switching to the SE530. On the other hand
, the SE530 might be perfect for people sensitive to large amounts of treble energy. Personally, I’d love them to be a bit less “mellow” and “laid back” sounding, though.

Despite the recessed treble these Shures can still be seen as a reference for tonal clarity and precision. Every dynamic driver earphone I know sounds muddier and more veiled in comparison, and even some balanced armature phones like the Etymotic ER-6 cannot reach the SE530’s level of detailedness throughout the whole audible frequency range.

Soundstage/headstage is very good on the SE530, considering they’re in-ear phones. Of course the sound doesn’t expand in all three dimensions, but well mastered recordings can extend quite wide to the left and right of your head. The Shures are more or less on par with earphones like the V-Moda Vibe, MylarOne X3i, or other IEMs that sport an impressive soundstage despite their small size.

I like these phones for most variants of rock music, soundtracks and classical music, some jazz – for electronic music of any kind, heavy metal, or dub/reggae I certainly prefer other ones. Same goes for critical listening, mixing or mastering – the SE530 just don’t have quite the treble and sub-bass energy to display the last bit of detail in the extremes of the audible frequency spectrum. They’re just too “nice” for these special needs, despite their outstanding clarity. I assume they would be fine for on-stage monitoring in a concert situation, since there’s so little fatigue and high isolation with them – but since I’m a bass guitar player I use my ground-shaking Atrio M5 on stage…

Conclusion

The Shure SE530 are a slightly contradictory mix of features and qualities. Some of their strong points are usually found in dynamic driver earphones, not in balanced armature ones: good sound at low volume, good sound with dense orchestral works, good soundstage, low fatigue, and so on. Most other balanced armature phones I know don’t excel regarding these issues, the SE530 are rather special in that matter. Where the Shures clearly surpass most dynamic driver in-ear phones is their excellent clarity, precision, and “snappiness”.

Their weak points are in the extremes of the audible frequency spectrum. They neither provide brain-liquefying sub-bass below 40-50 Hz, nor overly sparkly treble. However, they’re certainly not terrible, compared to many other earphones – it’s just that one would expect a phone in this price range to be more or less “perfect”. Nevertheless, in the mids, the most important frequency range, the SE530 do everything well – and I mean seriously well. This being said, sound quality of course is a very personal matter. One man’s meat is another man’s poison, as the saying goes… If you’re not into frequency extremes, the SE530 are very fine.

The SE530 are neither overly analytic nor overly “fun” sounding phones – I would say they’re “polite”, but they’re certainly not boring. They sound fine for most applications, but they’re quite picky about their source. They don’t really like many portable players, so a headphone amp should be used to get the most out of them.

There’s a lot wrong with the awkward cable lengths, unappealing “iPhone” plugs, and tacky bronze color of the SE530 – but the important design and construction decisions were done right. The phones are ergonomic and feel fine in my ears, they have great isolation, and the cables transfers little noise. The PTH unit might not be worth an extra $50 for some people, but it works reasonably well.

Are they worth the manufacturer suggested retail price of almost $500? No, certainly not. Are they worth their real-world retail price of around $300? Yes, they might be worth it – depending on your music taste, sonic preferences, and so on. Provided you also have an excellent source and/or amp.

Yes, I have been more critical than usual in this review – but considering the price of these phones and the hype surrounding them I saw no other choice… In my opinion they’re definitely great, but not that great.

Pros

  • Excellent midrange, fast attack, great clarity and precision, good soundstage
  • Non-fatiguing, good sound at low volumes, “mellow, laid back”
  • Excellent isolation with foam tips
  • Very little cable noise, over-the-ear design
  • Comfortable and ergonomic

Cons

  • Treble and sub-bass are a little rolled off
  • Hisses with many portable players (an amp can fix that)
  • Cheap blingy design, no choice of alternative colors
  • Awkward modular cable, huge Y-splitter, unappealing “iPhone” connectors

Purchase

You can buy the Shure SE530 from Amazon USA, Amazon Germany, Amazon UK, AMP3 UK, and lots of other vendors around the globe.




33 Comments

WalkGood on June 4, 2008 2:47 PM

Good review, anyway you look at it, I’m missing mine already … hopefully that will soon be remedied :)

Riekelt on June 4, 2008 4:31 PM

I like them, good review :) Maybe something for my wishlist

Utew on June 4, 2008 5:33 PM

Martin, you’re out of control…One of the most information packed reviews, I’ve read in a long time. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your opinions and observations… as I have been considering these phones for a while. One question and perhaps this is the wrong place but, what do you think are the best phones for a portable un-amped player such as the D2 or the Samsung P2, regardless of price.. minus the esoteric high-end? Thanks…

Martin Sägmüller on June 4, 2008 7:36 PM

Utew, there’s always the possibility to use a 50-75 Ohm impedance adapter instead of an amp. It generally fixes many flaws like hiss or bass roll-off fairly well (but of course could pose a volume issue with weaker players). My favorite IEMs for unamped use are the q-Jays and Atrios, they’re more or less “black” with any player, no matter what. — OK, I whipped out some of my stash and tested the hiss for you: The Ety ER-6 don’t hiss as well, but they’re not good phones, IMO. Phones that hiss a bit more: CX300, Super.Fi EB, MylarOne, V-Moda Vibe. But none of those hiss as much as the SE530, not by a longshot. — Of course, you’re more on the safe side with full-sized phones like the HFI-780, HD25, or DT770… those work with almost any source you throw at them (as long as the source is not totally wimpy).

Ryan on June 4, 2008 8:31 PM

1 thing I thought you would mention was the cable problems.But I guess you just got them…I bring this up because I’ve read tons of reviews on these, and many end up having problems with cables breaking(at the earphones).I’m sure it doesn’t happen to EVERYONE, but from what I’ve read, it’s semi-common.But great review though, always makes me rethink my decision…But lately I’m still pretty adamant about getting Westone UM2s, if only I could get past my parents…

DaHarder on June 4, 2008 11:22 PM

Seriously Now… We’re all entitled to our respective opinions, but my SE530′s – without a doubt – deliver the most pleasurable listening experience of the 60+ IEM/Can units I own. It’s a shame that you (or your source material) was not up to task.

geekchic on June 5, 2008 1:04 AM

Marti, thanks for the informative and balanced review, also enjoyed your review of the Cowon D2.Quick question – what would be your comparative take on Triple.Fi’s vs. E530, since both are triple-armature phones? Would appreciate your perspective. Thanks!

Martin Sägmüller on June 5, 2008 9:33 AM

DaHarder: Personal insults? Bragging about your huge collection of phones? Real classy… thanks for the valuable and informative comment. I don’t even know *what* offended you so much in my review, but I have the feeling I really shouldn’t care about comments like yours. —Geekchic: Sorry, but I never tested the Triple.Fi, so I can’t comment on them. Lots of people says they have more treble and less mids than the SE530, though. From my experience with the Super.Fi 5 Pro (which have the same housing as the Triple.Fi) I can definitely say the Triple.Fi are far less comfortable to wear than the SE530.

Akasan on June 5, 2008 10:14 AM

If possible, how do these compare to the se420′s(which I bought at jr last week)?

A.z on June 5, 2008 10:54 AM

Great review, Martin!Really nice IEM’s.But, I will not pay 500$(!) for them, when the q-JAYS are still my wished phones…

Graham on June 5, 2008 5:49 PM

Thanks for another top review Martin. Sadly I am no nearer my decision to upgrade to triple armature. I really need perfection in my next purchase and your review tends to suggest that they are nice but not perfect. Kind of close but no coconut :)

TacticalPenguin on June 6, 2008 12:52 AM

Great review. Much better than the 90% of them which refer to using their iPods, which even I can tell are horrible SQ-wise with my relatively (

yogi on June 8, 2008 3:52 PM

Well I can confirm the cable problem!!!! Same problem as previous E500pth earphones. And yes, it is a big problem. My cables have multiple break points on both the left and right cable.However I can understand how many reviews do not address this as it is an effect of long term usage. I have had the E500pth earphones for about 3 years now and obviously there will be cable degradation, but when you shell out $500 bucks on a pair of earphones and you realize that the warranty time has passed (not to mention that the cables aren’t detachable an therefore need to be resoldered) )that is not a Kodak moment.I have to say that I am really disappointed with Shure’s failure to provide high quality cables (again).But, having said all of this, I can only concur with most reviewers; these are exceptional earphones (in terms of sound).If you have to have them I would suggest getting yourself a can of liquid tape to cover the cables with, believe me, that will be the greatest investment you will have made in ensuring the quality of your new earphones.Either that or get yourself a pair of earphones that have detachable and easily replaced cables (e.g. Ultimate Ears triple.fi 10 Pro – slightly more neutral but well balanced earphones).Last alternative; if your loaded, get both=)

Dan on June 11, 2008 1:10 AM

Thanks for the review! I also wonder about the merits of the SE420′s and also the SE210′s.Anything else in this price range that will compete with these?

David Hunter on June 12, 2008 1:05 PM

Dear Martin,Did you try these headphones with the RSL Predator and Headamp Pico? Which amp did you like best with the SE530′s and why? Thank you.David

Martin Sägmüller on June 15, 2008 10:31 AM

David – sorry, I didn’t try them with these amps, but I’m sure they perform well with any quality amp. You could drop a line to our forum moderator WalkGood, he used the SE530 with the Pico.

germanjulian on June 15, 2008 5:18 PM

Hi,I love these headphones… but guess what my “plastic” has broken to suddenly after owning them for just over a year. at the Y connector the plastic from the left channel is broken and I can see copper and the right has a slight cut (i did not cut it it just broke) at around my ear area… odd odd.. bad plastic

joe on August 4, 2008 1:26 PM

Great review! love the honesty. couple of questions now as I am second guessing My desision to purchase a pair. cost not being a factor, what would you recomend as the ” best ” IEM for portable MP3 players? I’m at a toss up between the SE530′s and the M5/8′s. on that note, who makes the best sounding MP3 player? was considering a touch but quite a few comments on these forums leads me to belive that they offer sub-par SQ. Thanks Joe

clone on September 13, 2008 1:49 PM

very good review,my SE530 works well with my old ZEN MICRO,and i like the big and substential soundstage (comparing with other IEMS).

doctrin on December 5, 2008 5:48 PM

I tested the SE530 and there are some facts in this review “wrong” interpreted.First of all the bass-response:I tested with a sinus-generator and there was linearity till the “deep underground of black bassness”. I even heard 20Hz in similar loudness to 40Hz (octave), so there can`t be a really a roll off. Also there was the top notch end at 16-17kHz and thats were MY hearing ends!!!The Shure SE530 are really neutral, but i think thats a typically problem with these inears…there have to be compatibility between your ears and the phones.The pressure chamber, the mysterious being ;) .Greez

Charles on December 14, 2008 5:46 AM

One quick question what would one suggest over the Shures?

veikko on December 15, 2008 4:37 PM

after reading the review all I got was that the mids are outstanding. below 40Hz not much going on, and highs rolled off. Rolled off above 15k Hz? 13k? 17k? I would have liked to know. Reviews are about comparisons, aren’t they? Comparison to reference of some sort. So, after reading we know how 530 compare to ER4P, right? Or to the SE420, right? Buds are buds. But they do reproduce sounds, so comparisons to Grado GS1000, RS-1 and RS-2 would not have been out of place. After this review I would not have a clue what the 530 sound like. I do though, have them on every now and then, at times when open cans distract people around

paulr on January 7, 2009 11:16 PM

SE530′s are way out of my price range but I just got a pair of SE210′s and it looks like the cable problems are fixed. The attached cable has an adjustable Y slider and the cable is a good length for listening with the player in a shirt pocket. I have only used cheap crap OEM earbuds before and this is my first pair of serious ones but they sure sound a heck of a lot better and isolate better. After just a few hours of use, though, I notice that one of the foam tips is already wrinkled up and cracking! I bought a 10-pack of spare tips but if they really need replacement every few days this could get to be an expensive device to support. I haven’t yet tried the silicone or triple flange tips that came with the earphones. That is an interesting point about the cables breaking, I didn’t realize replaceable ones existed. If these cables break right at the earpiece I don’t see how to fix them by soldering.

Confispect on January 13, 2009 6:55 PM

Should have got the Phonaks Paulr they stampede! over the Shure210′s I have them I promise you I would’t lie they stampede over them! check out my review on them in the forums section the Phonak Audeo Pfe thread.

Thimee on January 24, 2009 3:29 AM

Great review, I have to agree about the 530′s sounding bland… I even left mine running overnight to see if breaking them in would help the sound signature.Perhaps I am just fussy? If I try these on an iPod (yeah I know – not the worlds best source) and then switch over to my Sennheiser HD590 open cans, wow what a difference. The Shures are very pleasant to listen to, but lack that sparkle that makes music come alive.Thought on the “hiss” that some are experiencing – if the hiss occurs when the headphones are unplugged, it might be titinus? I know that if I am in a perfectly silent room with these phones in ear (unplugged from any audio source), I can hear a very faint hiss. It’s funny to cough or speak though, since the sound is disembodied :)

wilsonywx on January 24, 2009 6:12 PM

I got a pair of SE530′s last month. Compared to the ER4′s which I’ve had for about 3 years, I initially find these to be quite boomy sounding and not as bright as the ER4 sound signature that I am used to. I mostly listen to classical and some pop out of a Zune (I doubt an amp is necessary because these phones have such low impedance that they get quite loud at very low volume settings on the Zune. The classical is encoded in wma lossless). But you do get accustomed to the sound after some hours of listening, though. These are not as fatiguing (really depends on the recording you are listening to) as the ER4. One very noticeable difference is listening to the fourth movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony conducted by Karajan. With the ER4 the recording sounds really shrill due to the dominance of the horns over the rest of the orchestra, but quite pleasing with the Shure because the horn is not as prominent and the sound feels more balanced. But the ER4 excels at violin concertos where you want the “sparkle” of the violin sound.

pickemup on January 31, 2009 9:30 AM

I had a pair of 530s break overnight while listening to them in bed…plastic stem which holds the tip broke clean off of the rest of the assembly. Shure replaced…fast forward to several weeks ago and I wake up again to find an issue, as some people have mentioned already here, that the cable material snapped at the headphone itself, right at the silicone transition piece. Maybe I can liquid tape this, but my major gripe with these have been their lackluster construction quality, among the other notable cons such as the cable lengths, and weight…but the sound does shine through. I consider them an obvious step above my well-loved ER-6s.

jake on February 2, 2009 1:39 AM

2 sexy

Raza on February 22, 2009 7:27 AM

Did you get them for free from the company or did you really pay $500 or headphones? 0_o

DT on April 16, 2009 6:56 AM

Hi Martin,A great review. Maybe I have a different version but my 530′s have a short cable from the base of the Y. They then plug into a longer cable that connects to the audio device. I hope I explained this well, but I do not have a cable problem at all. As for the sound quality, you are spot on. They are not overly driving on the low end but they will growl if there is bass in the music. The same with the high end as well. I have listened to them for several hours on end without a problem. I am using them with a Nokia E71 and an iPhone. Both offer different listening environments but the 530s seem to make up for their weaknesses. Once again, a great review.

Tarik Bos on April 23, 2009 4:13 PM

you are comparing these with the likes of vmoda vibe and MylarOne X3i. and full size headphones… thats like apples and oranges.and low end roll off? i can’t hear it and if you go to head-fi.org you see a frequency response chart teling you there is no low end roll off.. so i don’t know how your able to hear that. strange review if you ask me

Kevin Burche on June 12, 2009 9:36 PM

Thank you Martin for your no-holds-barred review. I’d add my 530s to the list with bad cables…multiple breaks including one next to the left bud and one on volume adjuster. Also, regarding bass, I don’t know how this compares to your test procedures but I found that by (what’s the word?) forcing? pushing? nothing that sounds good but by “placing” the (agreed – fantastic black foam) tips as deep as possible (a bit uncomfortable, especially at first) and using the rather complex, 2-handed technique Shure describes for in-ear placement, I found a sweet spot for the bass that reminded me of standing next to a 6 ft. speaker in a dance club…deep, “vibrational” bass that took my breath away. Of course, that’s just my experience. For $500, however, it should be easier, painless, and backed up with non-cracking wire insulation.

Zaid shaikh on June 15, 2009 3:43 AM

i must say….they aint worth $500.

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