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Travel Gear Review: Shure E5C Headphones

It’s not often that one bothers reviewing a discontinued product.  But I can’t resist.  I’ve had such a love affair with these in-ear headphones that at one point, I purchased a second pair in case they ever became unavailable.  Don’t worry, you can still buy the E5C – at Amazon and probably on EBAY, where I purchased mine.  The price is high and the fit is tricky, but be assured, these are the ultimate stereophile travel headphones.

The E5C are very musical.  It’s one of the few in-ear headphones to have separate speakers for bass and treble.   You’ll be listening to them for hours on long flights and cheap headphones become fatiguing to the ear.  They make music more enjoyable.  You will hear music differently from your mp3 player, with a lot more detail than you ever knew was there.  Like most of us, you probably stopped listening to music years ago.   Plane flights are perfect for that, and these make it a joy.

These are not buzzy ‘noise canceling’ headphones.  They fit snugly in the ear and nearly eliminate outside noise enough that these double as earplugs for the red-eye.  I usually put them in as soon as I get on the plane even if not listening to music.  Shure supplies 12 different sizes and types of earpiece so everyone can get a comfortable fit.  I cut off the first node of the triple flange type and it’s perfect for me.

There are a few problems.  The first is the cost.  They retailed at $500 a few years ago, and are closer to $300 now, but they are still expensive.  Some folks will loose hair over headphones that are 4-5 times the cost of the player they are using.   That’s understandable.  But how long have your cheaper headphones lasted?  A year?  Two?  I’ve had this pair of E5C for 5 years and they show no signs of wear.  Shure can repair them too, if needed.

They have an unusual design where the wire goes over your ear to help hold it in place.  It’s uncomfortable at first, and you have to work with it to get a snug, comfy fit.  But once you figure out the way it works, you’ll never look back.

The replacement for the E5C is called the SE 530’s (cheaper at Amazon).  They maybe better, I don’t know.  I will probably never know because with that back-up pair I purchased, I may not buy headphones for another decade.