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Shure E3g Sound Isolating Earphones: Gaming Edition Review

Here we are again in the Lab and this time we are putting through the paces the Shure sound isolating E3g gaming earphones. As portable audio devices become increasingly common, people are often listening in noisy environments. Will the Shure E3g gaming earphones meet all our needs for gaming, music, movies and more or will we be singing the Blues?

The Shure E3g gaming earphones come with a pair of disposable Foam Sleeves, and these reusable, disposable foam sleeves compress to fit gently into the ear. Once in the ear, the foam expands to form a tight, yet comfortable seal that holds the earphones firmly in place. Shure E3g gaming earphones come with three pairs (small, medium, large) of Flex sleeves and three pairs of Soft Flex Sleeves (small, medium, large) to ensure the ideal fit for everyone. Flex Sleeves are reusable sleeves that fit in the ear and allow for ease of insertion. Shure also offers custom ear molds for some E3g users who may want a completely custom fit. It also comes with a wax removal tool to remove wax buildup around each earphone nozzle.

The earphone’s carrying case has a cable spool inside providing tangle-free storage for the Shure E3g earphones. The earphones only weigh in at 0.9 oz (28g), and are one of the lightest earphones on the market. They come with a 30-day, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee, plus a two-year warranty on materials and workmanship.

One accessory for the Shure E3g earphones is the Level Attenuator (Volume Control). Some playback devices, such as airplane headphone outputs, may be too loud for comfortable listening even at the lowest volume setting. For this reason, Shure offers this level attenuator to reduce the level of incoming signals and allow for precise volume adjustment, minimizing background hiss.

The E3g’s speakers are constructed with studio-grade components to produce crystal clear audio clarity, delivering detailed highs and enhanced bass that will allow you to hear parts of your music you may have never heard before. Shure E3g gaming earphones are optimized for compatibility with your Sony PSP, and are also an ideal upgrade for other portable entertainment devices, including MP3, DVD and CD players.

E3g Technical Specifications:

Speaker Type: Wideband MicroDriver
Sensitivity (at 1kHz): 115dB SPL/mW
Impedance (at 1kHz): 26 Ohm
Cable Length: 1.45m (57 inches)
Net Weight: 28g (0.9 oz)
Input Connector: 3.5 mm (1/8″) gold-plated stereo plug

There are a variety of earphones/headphones on the market today that reduce the level of background noise heard by the listener in varying ways. There are two main ways that manufacturers do this, sound isolating earphones and Active Noise Cancellation (Active Noise Reduction).

Sound isolating earphones prevent noise from entering the ear naturally. This is done by using foam, rubber, or a plastic sleeve surrounding the earphone. This allows the earphone to fit into the ear instead of sitting outside or over the ear. This way lets you have a snug fit and unique acoustic properties of the sleeve prevents outside noise from entering the ear. Sound isolating earphones also do not require circuitry or batteries.

Noise-canceling earphones/headphones use electronic circuitry to remove noise after it has entered the ear canal. Microphones inside each headphone ear cup sample the noise field and an electronic circuit uses an inverse or ‘mirror-image’ of the noise signal adding it to the music. The actual noise and the inverse noise cancel each other out but noise-canceling microphones and circuitry require batteries in order to operate.

Shure E3g gaming earphones work like an earplug to block background noise naturally. This allows the listener to listen at a comfortable and lower volume-even in loud environments. Noise-canceling headphones are bulky and utilize active noise cancellation technology that will cause artifacts that are introduced to the music or sound that the listener may hear. They must also be played at a higher volume level. Sound isolating earphones are also much smaller.

Shure’s earphones were tested across a wide array of platforms. For this test we used a CD player, MP3 player, PSP, DVD, Nintendo DS, Computer, FM Radio and just for the heck of it a THX home theater (THX home theater was tested with a ¼” adapter). We also used a wide array of music, analog and digital sounds and games.

Laserdisc: Top Gun, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Armatage III, Macross Plus
DVD: Star Trek IV, Hollows Castle and Pulp Fiction
PSP: MP3 128 kps and 256 kps - Movies - Tomb Raider, Ghost in the Machine
Nintendo DS: Mario Kart DS, Big Brain Academy,
MP3: Tool, STP, Pat Benatar (True Love - Blues CD), Beethoven 1812 Overture, Podcasts (insert plug here)
Computer: Half-Life 2, Guild Wars and Fritiz Chrest 9 (last game not too high tech but it is different)
FM Radio: WMMS 100.7 Alternative Rock and 98.5 Classic Rock in Cleveland, Ohio

All of the platforms sounded great with a digital and analog sound signal. CD sound was very clear with no loss of sound quality of any kind. Movies with Laserdisc, DVD or PSP were just as good with talking, gun shots and other sound effects and were flawless. The Shure E3g gaming earphones did run into a few slight problems with sound quality with MP3’s. Over some tests with The Shure E3g gaming earphones we found out that the E3gs were producing sound quality that was too good for MP3’s recorded below 128 kps and some 256 kps MP3s. The problem was hiss in the music no matter what sound quality we used below 128 kps. We did run across the same problem with just a few 256 kps MP3s but the main problem was with anything below 128 kps. We did not run across this problem with any other media we tested.

Game sound effects, music and talking were clear with no hiss or popping with the Xbox and PlayStation 2, Xbox 360 and laserdiscs running though the THX home theater. We didn’t think it would be a problem but it was worth a shot. The same problem with the hiss came back with the Nintendo DS. This again would be from the low quality sound chip in the Nintendo DS not the Shure E3g gaming earphones. It didn’t make the game unplayable but you could hear it in the background and during quiet parts in game on the Nintendo DS. We did not run into any problems with the PSP playing games or movies, no hiss just dead quiet. The hiss did come back when we listened to MP3’s on the PSP recorded below 128 kps.

Computer sound was great inside games with sound effects, gun shots, bombs and talking clear as a bell. The hiss came back again with MP3s recorded below 128 kps. Do you see a trend with the 128 kps sound quality? Three different systems and the same results with MP3’s recorded below 128 kps. So this is why we know it’s not a problem with the Shure E3g gaming earphones. They are just too good for their own good.

FM radio sounded good but its FM radio what do you want? We did not have XM radio service to test so we can’t give a report on it, but if we had to take a shot it would sound better than FM. Anything could sound better than FM radio through earphones and these earphones made it sound worse than it does in a car with a factory AM radio. It’s not that the Shure E3g gaming earphones sounded bad but the signal quality sucked.

We did try DVDs with the THX home theater and a portable one as well. The DVD movies that ran through the THX home theater sounded just like the movies with Laserdisc and PSP. Clear and crisp during talking and dead spots with no sound at all. We also tried a portable DVD player with the Shure E3g gaming earphones and got the same results as the home DVD player. Clear with no popping. Now this may vary with each portable DVD player because some players do use cheaper parts then others and the sound chip may be different than the one we tested.

Final Verdict

What can we say? The Shure E3g gaming earphones are top notch earphones for the money and in this case you get what you pay for! The Shure E3g gaming earphones showed the true flaws of some of the media out there. 128 kps MP3’s, and cheap sound cards are not so good if you have a pair of the Shure E3g gaming earphones and you can tell how bad it really sounds. It’s very nice to see that Shure has gone the distance giving you the option to get a pair custom made just for you. Recording studios have know about Shure high quality standards and high-end details for years and now they bring their standards home for everyone to hear. Now these earphones are not for everyone and not everyone can afford them, but if you have the cash and demand high quality and unbelievable sound from a small size earphone, you owe it to yourself to take a listen to the Shure E3g gaming earphones or any of the Shure line of earphones. You will not be disappointed. We highly recommend the Shure E3g gaming earphones for anyone on the go or looking to replace their MP3, IPod or CD player earphones. The price of the Shure E3g gaming earphones are not for the faint hearted at just under $200 but are well worth the price.


9.5 out of 10

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Shure E3g Sound Isolating Earphones: Gaming Edition Review

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Posted by: z36
Date: January 5, 2007
Manufacturer: Shure
Genre: Peripheral

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Categories: Game Boy Advance Reviews, Nintendo DS Reviews, PSP Reviews, PSP, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Reviews

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