If you’re comfortable with true-wireless headphones that use an over-ear hook, then the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 is attractively priced, sports-ready in-ears with convincing sound quality. What’s more, they can be converted to wired operation for high-resolution music listening away from compressed Bluetooth signals.
Shure is a force to be reckoned with in the professional IEM (in-ear monitoring) arena. In 2020, with the Shure Aonic 215, the US manufacturer introduced a game-changer that combined professional drivers with a Bluetooth transmitter unit.
The latest second generation that we’re testing here is available in black and blue and represents further development. Combine this with efficient passive noise cancelling, and you get headphones that are aimed at the consumer sector, recommended for mobile (sports) use and offered at an attractive price.
Design and feel
Outwardly, you can immediately detect the pedigree of the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2: The dynamic drivers are from Shure’s IEM range and are coupled with a wireless receiver section that is placed over the ears. The battery with a mechanical control button rests behind the ear, while the rotatable drivers are inserted into the ear.
Unlike most consumer audio devices, the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2’s drivers can be removed thanks to an MMCX interface. In combination with the optionally available cable “RMCE-Uni” (RRP 39 euros), compatibility with the same manufacturer’s SE models is ensured. In no time at all, Shure headphones can be transformed into affordable in-ear monitors suitable for stage use. Conversely, the wired models can also be expanded with the Bluetooth unit “True Wireless Secure Fit Adapter Gen 2” (RRP 189 euros).
The electronics used here work with Bluetooth 5 and offer support for the codecs SBC, AAC and aptX, but neither aptX HD nor LDAC. The wireless link worked reliably over several rooms in our test.
Another feature of the Aonic series is the so-called “Sound Isolating” passive noise cancelling, which is supported by a complementary transparency mode (Environment Mode).
To put on the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2, you have to hook them over your ear and then insert the 360-degree rotatable driver into the ear. This is a bit awkward, takes some getting used to, and is rather cumbersome, especially if you’re also wearing glasses and a face mask. However, they fit securely and comfortably during longer periods of use and remain stable during sporting activities. A disadvantage: at just under 21 grams, the Aonic 215 are heavier than standard true-wireless headphones.
Thanks to a choice of three fitting pieces, each made of silicone and memory foam, the best solution can be found for everyone, resulting in sustained wearing comfort. In this context, the IPX4 certification against perspiration and water resistance is also worth mentioning.
The battery life is approximately eight hours, depending on the volume. The robust but rather oversized charging case provides three times the power so that you can also cope with long journeys while using the Aonic 215. The case offers a USB-C port and status indicators but cannot be charged inductively.
Compared to the previous model, the controls of the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 are much more comprehensive: the two buttons can be used to control music playback functions, volume and phone calls via configurable single and multiple clicks. A voice assistant can be called up, and the transparency mode can be switched on and off. The rather bulky mechanical buttons are unusually positioned and also different from the sensitive touch surfaces of many competitors due to their pressure points. On a positive note, they do not change the wearing position. However, I was bothered by the pressure exerted on my skull when pressing them.
In addition to controls on the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 themselves, a free app called “ShurePlus Play” (iOS, Android) is available. This provides monitoring of the remaining battery life, firmware updates (test version: 184.108.40.206) and an integrated media player. it even displays which Bluetooth codec is being used.
In addition, there is control over the intensity of the transparency mode (Environment Mode), configuration of the commands for function control and a finely tunable four-band parametric equaliser. This offers several pre-sets as well as a manual setting option and sounds good even with bass boosts.
When the earpieces are removed for the case, the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 switch on and are swiftly paired with the most recently used Bluetooth receiver, this is confirmed by a voice message. The reverse is true when you put them back into the case. It is also possible to use just one earpiece in single mode. However, there is no provision for automatic pausing of music playback when the earpieces are removed from your ears.
The sound-isolating technology is comparable to conventional noise-cancelling and, according to the manufacturer, can reduce background noise by up to 37 dB. This actually succeeds in providing isolation in loud environments and creates an improved quiet space. Low frequencies in particular only reach the ear for outside in a muffled manner.
Inversely, the environment can be fed into the headphones via the external microphones at the touch of a button, this eliminates the isolation and makes it possible to hold conversations with the headphones on. The headphones can also be configured so that the transparency mode is automatically switched on when the music is paused.
Sound of the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2
As with the previous model, I was impressed by the sound reproduction, which I put down to the good dynamic drivers and efficient signal-to-noise ratio. A powerful level was delivered.
In terms of low frequencies, the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 tended to act neutrally, but of course this depends on which fitting pieces are used. In the bass, they succeeded in bridging the gap between pressure, fullness and intensity with simultaneous precision. In addition, these headphones provided the necessary tonality, dynamics and the desired decay, for example with deep bass drums. Low bass was present but was not too prominent.
The midrange was clear and analytical rather than warm, meaning that voices have good speech intelligibility. Orchestral, pop and rock mixes are reproduced coherently and transparently – from classical instruments to massively distorted guitars.
In the high registers they sound open and without harshness. The drivers delivered plenty of detail and responded quickly, making them good for transients and spatial delineation. Finally, the Aonic 215s generated a wide stereo panorama with secure localisation and comprehensible movements.
Personally, if felt that these headphones also managed a secure and at the same time coherent reproduction, which definitely allowed for a technical assessment of the material. Considering the price of about 230 euros, this was a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately, the optional cable for evaluating a fixed connection was not available to me for the test.
The voice quality during phone calls was okay but was disturbed by wafting background noise.
With the Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2, the manufacturer once again puts together a coherent package with amazing quality. Sound and secure wearing comfort are at their best, and the functionality is absolutely practical. Although the design and the bracket concept may not appeal to every user, this does not detract from the excellent price-performance ratio. The new Shure Aonic 215 Gen 2 are simply worth every penny.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)21 - 17.5000 Hz
- Impedance@1kHz: 20 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)@1kHz: 107 dB
- Weight without cableeach 21 g
What's in the box
- Soft Flex ear tips (S, M, L)
- Foam ear tips (S, M, L)
- Micro USB C charging cable
- RMCE-TW2 wireless adapter set
- Charging case
- available in black and blue
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX
- BT version: 5.0