Shure SE846 Gen 2 Review: Worth The Upgrade?
Updated: Feb 20, 2023
Almost 10 years after the launch of the well-known SE846, Shure has released the SE846 Gen 2 with new colour options, a new filter which results in a new sound signature and… Well, that’s about it, but hey, that new filter does, in my opinion, solve some issues that people had with the SE846 Gen 1. Does that mean you should upgrade if you have the Gen 1? Well…
So, let’s talk design first. We have the Jade green colour with us today, and it’s not a fully coloured shell. The outside is this deep green colour which is beautiful, but on the inside, there’s the clear shell that lets you peek in to see the two balanced armature drivers in each side. I’m always a big fan of clear shells because it lets you see how much effort the brand puts into making sure the components inside are organised. You know it’s a problem if you see wires sticking out, or blobs of solder and such. No such problem here. It’s a joy to look at the components and drivers inside.
Moving on, you get MMCX connectors here and they’re nice and snug, so no swivelling of the shells unless you want them to. Now, let’s talk about one of the unique aspects of the SE846, and that’s the swappable filters. To get to them, you just pull off the ear tip, and then you’re greeted by this metal nozzle and collar. To undo this, you’ll need to use the tool provided by Shure in the small carrying case. Then after that, you pull it out and swap out the filters. This time around, there are four filters in the box, Balanced, Extended, which comes pre-installed and is the new default configuration, Warm and Bright. They’re colour-coded, Extended is the new filter and it’s red in colour. Bright is white, Balanced is blue and Warm is black. The quick start guide included has this info as well as diagrams on how to swap out the filters, and the whole process is very easy, it takes me about a minute max from start to finish.
Inside the box, you get a whole bunch of tips too. Standard silicone tips, triple flanged tips, a full set of comply tips, black foam tips and yellow foam tips. Aside from those, there’s a wire clip as well as a quarter-inch adapter and the extra filters and filter changing tool. Everything’s packed into this small carrying case that probably won’t fit into your pocket, but will work if you’re carrying a bag.
The cable included is a pretty standard 3.5mm cable, and of course, you have the option to purchase these with the True Wireless adapters if you don’t have them already, so you can turn them into wireless earbuds that hook over your ears. The memory wire part of the cable near the MMCX connectors is a bit stiff and requires a bit of break-in, so that’s something to note. On the cable, you get a good amount of support and strain relief on the Y split, so that’s great news for durability, and it terminates in a TRS plug.
So, on to sound. There are four balanced armature drivers in each ear, and there is a low pass filter that enhances the lows by mimicking the performance of a subwoofer. I have to note that because of the shape of the shells, these fit very nicely and snugly in the ear, offering excellent passive noise isolation.
Also, because of the interchangeable filter system, you have plenty of ways to change the sound signature. I personally preferred the Extended red filter, and since it is the default, that’s the one that all my impressions for this video are based on.
Right off the bat, the sound is warm, but still accurate. The bass is punchy and detailed, but not overwhelming. One thing is that you might find the sub-bass a very tiny bit lacking, but the good thing is, no bass bleed or contamination to the mids.
And the mids are warm, nice and forward, especially with vocals, which I greatly prefer, although there’s a slight dip in the middle range. I have to note, the instrument separation in the mids is very well done, and the upper mids are slightly more accentuated, recovering from the aforementioned dip.
As for the treble, while it doesn’t reach the same heights as with the Bright filter, the Extended filter does reduce the drop and roll off very slightly, which is a good thing to me. There’s still a good amount of sparkle and air, but I occasionally find myself wondering if I should switch to the Bright filter instead. Of course, purely personal preference here as I like brighter treble.
The soundstage is quite wide, although not very deep, but imaging and layering are very accurate and as I mentioned, instrument separation is very well done. There’s a good sense of air and space and that’s something Shure mentioned as a USP for the new Extended filter, so thumbs up here.
Shure SE846 Gen 2 Price
At S$1,429 or US$899, these aren’t cheap. But they’re pricey for a reason, and that reason is that these earphones will last. I know people who have had their 846s for 6 or 7 years and it’s still going strong. These are Shure’s flagships for a reason, and while I can’t recommend an upgrade if you have the Gen 1s, if you don’t have them, the Gen 2 is definitely worth a listen and consideration.