What are the Shure KSE1500 Electrostatic Earphones?
Electrostatic headphones seem to be making a comeback in recent years and for good reason. The technology offers fans of super high end sound in a far more compact package than with speakers. However, Shure has just taken things to the extreme with the newly debuted Shure KSE1500. The have made a set of in ear electrostatic headphones. Thats right this new product looks to be the first viable electrostatic IEM (In ear monitor).
The advantage of electrostatic technology, especially in the headphone realm (My own best sounding headphones are the Kingsound KS-H3 Headphones), is that it is meant to produce more natural presentation of the music as opposed to dynamic driver or balanced armature earphones. The Shure KSE1500 have had a tonne of innovation and hard work thrown at them as even though electrostatics usually sound wonderful there are a lot of drawbacks that make them hard to work with and even harder when you considering it is now condensed into an in ear package. For instance, due to the large current requirements to drive electrostatics the KSE1500 will be tied to an amp (you will not be able to use them direct from your source as you would with a standard 3.5mm terminated earphone.) The cable has been adapted with kevlar as the consequences of a cable break could result in a very nasty shock indeed. The amp unit has a lot of nice features on it such as: preset and customisable user EQ's; Screen for monitoring battery, input and outputs and a hard volume control.
So will I buy the Shure KSE1500?
No, Absolutley not. The price of the Shure KSE1500 is going to be a whopping $2999. That is $2000 more than the incredible Shure SE846 that we reviewed this year, and even though I have no intention of purchasing, you know what? I'm ok with that pricing. I'm well known for calling BS on companies pricing their products to oblivion and using slick marketing to justify their worth (*cough* Astel & Kern *cough*) but that is not what the KSE1000 is. The KSE is the worlds first electrostatic IEM and represents a rare leap in the capability of technology when it comes to portable audio. This is true research and development, hard work and a vision all coming together to do something I did not think I would ever see. Being the first of any new product category usually means a high price and one day the technology of the KSE1500 is going to trickle down into a more affordable package. For now I am quite happy to recognise the Shure KSE1500 for what it is, the first electrostatic IEM.
For more information about the KSE1500 feel free to visit the Shure website.