It is a rare occurrence we see a sound item take a quantum jump forward like Shure's KSE1500 earphones. Truly, we understand the expression "quantum jump" is equivalent amounts of tired prosaism and nostalgic '90s TV appear, yet it truly is the most ideal approach to depict what Shure achieved with its first electrostatic earbuds.
shure kse1200 with amplifier close

Following eight long periods of drudge, experimentation, and, we're speculating, in excess of a couple of evenings of hair-tearing, mournful lunacy, Shure figured out how to small scale measure an intricate speaker innovation and stuff it into a modest combine of translucent earbuds. The result is an earphones framework that is among the most precise we've at any point experienced. Sadly, the KSE1500 have some genuine disadvantages, in particular a bound DAC/enhancer, and an astounding $3,000 sticker price. Indeed, even in the nerdified corridors of audiophilia, that is a swallow inciting number.

Along these lines, Shure returned to work, making a more reasonable form of its electrostatic fortunes, the KSE1200SYS, which shave the DAC good and gone and, simultaneously, a full $1,000 off the sticker price. Indeed, at two thousand the KSE1200 are still cosmically costly, yet trust us when we say that, for the genuine audiophile, these are a deal.


Before we get into the fine print of what's new and diverse about the KSE1200, it merits pausing for a minute to go over the minor supernatural occurrence that makes these little headphones tick. Most in-ear screens utilize either adjusted armature drivers (modest tubes folded over a voice loop) or dynamic drivers (the cylinder like voice curl and-magnet drivers ordinarily connected with speakers and earphones).

The electrostat innovation made for the KSE1500's driver framework (and used in the KSE1200) isn't just very unpredictable, yet in addition to a great degree hard to convey in little spaces. Basically, each miniaturized scale driver comprises of a minor layer suspended between two smaller than normal plates. The plates are bolstered electricity produced via friction to make varieties in the layer that are then interpreted (or transduced) into sound waves. It takes a huge amount of intensity (moderately) to finish this procedure, which is the reason the KSE1500 and KSE1200 are both fixing to a devoted intensifier framework — the old audiophiliac catch 22.


There are, obviously, numerous similitudes between Shure's spinoff electrostatic buds and the KSE1500, including the same translucent lodgings finish with various eartip choices for the same uber-disconnecting fit, and in addition a similar hand crafted, Kevlar-strengthened link with exclusive six-stick association. Be that as it may, losing the full DAC/enhancer part makes the KSE1200 less adaptable than their ancestors by keeping the earphones to the simple domain.

You'll require something that offers a higher quality flag to get the most out of these shockingly precise earbuds.

The KSE1200 associate with your source gadget by means of an antiquated earphone jack, which means you'll require something that offers a higher quality flag to get the most out of these shockingly exact earbuds. Luckily, there is no deficiency of approaches to do as such nowadays on account of a regularly extending rundown of moderate, versatile hello there fi gadgets, from Astell and Kern's AK Jr. ($500), to Fiio's X3 II ($200 and change), or even hello fi telephones like LG's V30 and V35. Essentially any gadget with some respectable howdy fi hacks will take care of business well.

With respect to the new intensifier, it's cut down, aluminum-housed configuration offers straightforward class, flaunting only the earphone jack and headphone association to finish everything, LEDs to show power and information level (red means you're sustaining excessively control, green means go), and a luxurious volume handle/control switch. On the base is a solitary - 10dB cushion switch. The littler setup makes it less demanding to movement, and Shure additionally offers a cell phone application with an advanced four-band EQ, similar to what's offered inside the KSE1500's DAC settings.

shure kse1200 intensifier

Like the KSE1500, the 1200 tout a guaranteed recurrence reaction of 10Hz-50kHz, with a most extreme SPL of 113 dB. Because of the devoted 200 Volt amp, you won't have to stress over impedance, and the unit packs up to 12 long periods of execution per charge. One fuss here: The earphone amp created a remarkable murmur when connected to the divider for control at the workplace, driving the dependence on battery control dependably.


As a sound analyst, some of the time one returns to a past audit in which they waxed gracefully about how incredible a bit of rigging was and ponder, did we simply become involved with the occasion? Is the item truly on a par with we thought?

With the KSE1200, any such worries over our KSE1500 writeup broke down the specific moment we put the headphones in and squeezed play. We're sufficiently blessed to have tuned in to more than out decent amount of sterling sound rigging, so rarely something for all intents and purposes thumps us out of our seat from the principal second. That is the thing that you'll get with the KSE1200 from the starting point. Also, it's sublime.

Clearness, refinement, measurement, elements, and sweet, sweet tranquility.

Clearness, refinement, measurement, elements, and sweet, sweet tranquility — every last bit of it returned surging with the simple first bits of sound tried out from Dawes' most recent, Feed the Fire, which coincidentally was on deck from our Spotify Release Radar. The contrast between this experience and a past tune in of the melody was night and day in its many-sided quality. The dynamic articulation with the KSE1200 was unmistakable here, giving a greater feeling of room and extensiveness, authenticity, and drenching for a live-studio feel.

While the earphones' sonic gifts are among the most noteworthy we've at any point experienced, a noteworthy part of the experience is their unpropitious, nearly transporting sound separation, which comes to up to 37 dB of encompassing commotion executing isolation. All through our tuning in, we ended up continually solidified (and totally diverted) when a top notch recording would whisk us away to its own particular brilliant corner of sounds, surfaces, and flavors, similar to the restroom teleportations in those Calgon ads from the '70s. (However, we concede "KSE1200, take me away!" simply doesn't have a similar ring.)

shure kse1200 buds

Riley Young/Digital Trends

One such minute originated from an old most loved from Ween's White Pepper, the tropical satire song of praise, Bananas and Blow. As the tune came in, it had a craving for unwinding in a cabana on a far off island while an offhand, island-style band serenaded us as a cool wind waited. The rub of the Guiro wasn't simply capable of being heard, it was tangible, as though it was reverberating beside our correct arm, while the twangy guitars rang inside our mind, indented profound into a gorge of studio sound, as if our skull was a precisely treated control room.

It's not simply music the KSE1200 amplify, either. A brisk ad spot from Tina Fey's arrangement 30 Rock had us startlingly entranced. Ordinarily one may state the discourse seemed as if it was conveyed face to face, however it was superior to anything what you get from genuine discussions. Each development, snap, and vacillate of Fey's lips was beautifully rendered. This was only some sitcom meandering (an incredible sitcom, mind you) yet the voices were smooth, and extravagant even, and this from a YouTube cut.

A noteworthy segment of the experience is the dismal, relatively transportative sound confinement.

The better the account, the more extravagant the experience, and from multiple points of view you truly don't have the foggiest idea about what's coming in your own particular library, essentially in light of the fact that most earphones don't have the precision and sheer sonic amplification required to see precisely what's been recorded. In that capacity, the KSE1200 keep you always zoned out when skipping around to various determinations — for better, and obviously, in negative ways.

There's no jumping here; poorer chronicles have no place to run and, on account of the great sound detachment, no place to cover up. The main real sign of this reality accompanied an outtake from Jason Isbell's most recent collection Something More Than Free, in which the track Racetrack Romeo sounded — in contrast with what we'd been hearing — level, and strongly unremarkable. At the low end of this range, a live account of Grateful Dead's Cold Rain and Snow seemed like it had been uncovered among Mayan ruins.

The KSE1200 earphones are ground-breaking devices of sonic observation — instruments not to be pointed indiscriminately or utilized softly. What's more, do the trick it to state, even at two thousand, we're enamored.


The KSE1200SYS accompany a two-year constrained guarantee for parts and items, and a one-year guarantee for the battery.


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Basically, Shure's electrostatic earbuds are the best, most precise in-ear earphones we've ever heard.

Is there a superior option?

Aside from the KSE1500 (which basically simply include more highlights and alternatives for more cash), there aren't numerous earphones deserving of correlation with the KSE1200. With regards to in-ears, our uniquely crafted Ultimate Ears UE18+ offer a hotter, smoother sound, however they can't approach the lucidity or accuracy — and at $1,500, they shouldn't generally be relied upon to.

We’ll add that we’ve yet to hear Audeze’s iSine LCDi4 planar magnetic earphones (which run $2,500) and we adored the sound of the $500 iSine 20, so they may be worth considering as a rival. Still, the iSine’s open-back design reproduces a completely different sound, and they’re not nearly as easy to wear. There’s really nothing quite like Shure’s Electrostatic buds.

How long will it last?
In some ways, the KSE1200’s dumbed-down analog system may be more future proofed than their digital cousins, though with the continual demise of the headphone jack in phones, you may want to buy a dedicated player. As for build quality, the headphones feel more robust than most headphones in their class and we expect them to last as long as their battery does with proper care.

Should you buy it?
If you’re crazy enough to spend this kind of money on headphones — and you’re looking for headphones as portable as they are transformative — don’t hesitate.


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