With the Shure SE846 Gen 2, the new generation of the successful high-end in-ear model is waiting in the wings. With a customisable sound image, finely resolved sound thanks to Balanced Armature technology and powerful passive noise cancellation, these high-priced in-ears will impress even the most discerning audio fans.
The SE846 Gen 2 aim to score points with customisable high-end sound and powerful passive noise cancellation. Let us explain exactly what they offer for their comparatively high purchase price.
Shure SE846 Gen 2 Package
The Shure SE846 Gen 2 comes with a small but smart transport case. In it, all the necessary tools, as well as the headphones and their cable, can be safely stored and transported. These include the sound tubes, which can be used to change the sound of the earphones and adapt them to your own taste. A tool for changing these tubes is also included. It is attached with a small chain to an air- and waterproof closable mini-pouch that houses the sound tubes. Compared to the first version of the SE846, there are now 11(!) more pairs of ear moulds than before. In addition to the “Fit Kit”, the package includes four pairs each of Comply and silicone ear moulds in different sizes, as well as a universal pair with memory foam and several other designs.
What is no longer included, compared to the first generation SE846 package, are the collar clip, dust cloth and cleaning sticks. The aeroplane adapter has also been removed from the package. However, the enclosed interchangeable cable with a 3.5mm jack plug still includes a gold-plated adapter to a 6.25mm jack. The cable is attached to the in-ears via an MMCX connection. Optionally, suitable Bluetooth cables are also available from Shure for this connection. Accordingly, the SE846 Gen 2 can also be converted into wireless in-ears with additional accessories. Yes, with adapters, which are also optionally available, even true wireless operation of these headphones is possible.
Shure SE846 Gen 2 – design and construction
The ergonomically designed Shure SE846 Gen 2 are available in matte satin “Jade” and “Graphite” colour finishes with transparent case interiors, as well as a fully transparent finish. The interchangeable cable supplied is reinforced at all relevant points by sufficiently strong bend protectors. By the way, Shure underline their claim to the long durability of these headphones with a two-year warranty. The point where the double feed line splits into two mono strands is safely located in a moulded Y-distributor. In addition, another higher splitting point can be individually selected via a slider. A remote with an integrated microphone is built into the cable. The remote control can be used for Android or iOS devices via a slide switch. Here, it then enables call acceptance, making telephone calls and, of course, volume control.
Technology and values of the Shure SE846 Gen 2
The Shure SE846s reproduce audio in a frequency range extending from 15Hz to 20kHz. This is done in three frequency paths. Four high-resolution drivers work on each side of the earpiece, using balanced-armature technology. Headphones with this method of operation are often said to have a more detailed but less bass-strong sound than models with dynamic drivers. In addition, this design allows for a particularly low impedance. This was already very low in the first edition at 15 ohms. Although the previous model was already able to deliver sufficiently loud reproduction on headphone outputs with only a low output voltage, Shure go even further with the second generation of the SE846. Their impedance is a super-low 9 ohms. Incidentally, according to the manufacturer, the maximum low-distortion playback volume extends up to a maximum sound pressure level of 110 dB/SPL.
Shure SE846 Gen 2 handling
Changing the sound tubes is well explained in the enclosed quick-start guide and works smoothly. To replace them, the Shure SE846 Gen 2’s ear tips need to be unscrewed using the enclosed tool. The filter tubes are then located underneath. The whole process requires some dexterity, but after two/three test runs, it worked without any problems.
Due to their ergonomic shape, these in-ears fit perfectly into the ears. The large number of easy-to-change ear moulds ensures the best fit. And even when worn for longer periods, the SE846 Gen 2 remain comfortable. The MMCX connection of the interchangeable cable is easy to plug in as usual and then holds securely. The wire-reinforced ends of the connection cable, which also serve as strain relief, ensure a secure fit in the ear. With its length of 120cm plus bending wire, the cable can be easily stowed under clothing. However, the integrated remote control is located high up in the cable, something that is a matter of taste. If you want to run the cable along the neck to the back, you will have the remote in your neck. If, however, the cable is routed to the front, the remote control dangles outside the collar of your clothing and is, therefore, easily accessible at the neck. All buttons are slightly raised and thus easy to find by touch, even without eye contact, which is a useful feature. Overall, therefore, the handling of these in-ears is uncomplicated and comfortable.
Shure SE846 Gen 2 sound
The customisable sound of the Shure SE846 Gen 2 does not make them easy to rate. That’s because the included sound tube filters provide either an extended, open sound or a balanced sound with detailed reproduction. A warm, bass-heavy sound characteristic or a rather bright, treble-emphasised sound image can also be created. If I take the delivery state as a reference, the SE846 Gen 2 immediately make a relatively warm-sounding impression. Basses and sub-basses have a strong appearance due to a low-pass filter. They are not only punchy but, at the same time, transparent and differentiated. EDM and urban music, in particular, benefit from this performance.
The transition between highs and mids have been redesigned by Shure. The spectrum between the upper mids at 4 kHz up to the treble range of 12 kHz is now a little more concise. The finely resolved mids presented by the SE846 Gen 2 result in even better speech intelligibility for vocals and voices and a differentiated reproduction of, for example, guitar sounds and synthesiser sounds. The overall transparent sound of the headphones is also the result of precisely reproduced highs. Even though the super high-frequency range sounds distinctly “capped” to me. This is to the detriment of the perception of spatial depth and tonal openness but can be remedied by switching to a sound tube with a brighter sound.
And in general, changing the sound tubes shows how good the tuning of the 3-way drivers really is. The differentiated basic sound and the convincing dynamics of the SE846 Gen 2 are retained at all times, even when the tubes are changed. The isolation to the outside is good, and the acoustic shielding to the inside is also excellent. This is due to the very good fit and the supplied ear moulds, which seal the ear canal well throughout. It is, therefore, not surprising that Shure specify a rather high value of 37 dB for the attenuation of external noise. Thus, with these in-ears, you can concentrate undisturbed on the fine audio reproduction.
The Shure SE846 Gen 2 fit like a glove and impresses with strong passive noise cancellation. Four balanced-armature drivers, each in a second-generation 3-way system, make the new SE846s a high-quality set of in-ears for sound gourmets with the wherewithal in their wallets. The individualisation of the sound performance also means users with different sound preferences will be happy. They impressed throughout with strong attenuation of external noise, deep bass, high speech intelligibility and detailed sound.
Because of their characteristics, these in-ears are suitable for hi-fi enjoyment at home or use on the road, as well as professional use on stage and in the studio as recording headphones for performers. The RRP of 1,129 euros may initially seem daunting to some prospective buyers. But if you value the above-mentioned advantages, the sound quality, sonic flexibility and wide range of applications put the price-performance ratio of the Shure SE846 in a good light.
- detailed sound
- customisable sound profile
- deep bass response
- powerful passive noise cancellation
- ultra-low impedance
- wide range of applications
- optionally expandable
- high purchase price
- scope of delivery less wide-ranging than Generation 1
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principleBalanced Armature
- Frequency response (headphones)15 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance9 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)110 dB
- Weight with cable27 g
- Cable length120 cm
What's in the box
- 3 pairs of Soft Flex ear tips (S, M, L)
- 3 pairs of foam ear tips (S, M, L)
- 3 pairs of Comply ear tips (S, M, L)
- 1 pair of fir tree ear tips
- 1 pair of foam ear tips, yellow
- 5 pairs of sound tubes
- 6.35mm stereo jack
- Storage case
- Mounting tool
- Transport soft case
- Available in jade, graphite and transparent colors