Shure is one of the truly big names in the studio and on the stage. The American company’s pedigree in hardwearing microphones — which have a respected tonal character, plus, can take one hell of a beating — is unmatched. Is this philosophy reflected in their new AONIC 50 headphones? We’re putting them through their paces to find out.
Less well known for their headphones, Shure nonetheless has a wide range of cans for casual listening, as well as mixing and monitoring. The AONIC 50 aims to bring the best of their studio-bred tone to the outside world, providing hi-fi sound with circumaural earcups, convenient wireless operation, plus a few features that set them apart from the crowd.
With the AONIC 50, Shure brings their signature studio tone to the street. A hi-fi sound with wireless operation, they’re ready for your next immersive listening session.
The AONIC 50 is a luxurious experience from the outset. Delivered in a reassuringly robust circular case, you’re instantly reminded that Shure products are typically built to survive being hit by a truck. Once you’ve disassembled the sizeable package, you’ll find the headphones, detachable stereo audio cable and USB charging cable.
The wireless hookup is relatively painless, with the calming voice telling you that yes, you have switched the power on. The cans arrive flatly packed and the earcups assume the traditional position with a gentle but firm twist.
It may seem a strange thing to focus on, but when you poke and prod enough audio gear, you begin to judge quality by how the hardware actually feels. If buttons don’t respond in the way you’d expect, or knobs aren’t solid, it’s hard not to feel disappointed. On these criteria, the AONIC 50 performs very well.
The aesthetic is classy. No excessive branding, with clean lines and soft leather headband and earcups, they feel very comfortable. This is a must, as they’re designed for all-purpose listening on the go and phone conversations.
Circumaural headphones offer up the best close-quarter listening conditions — thick ear cups create space between your ears and the drivers, which are large enough to represent the full frequency spectrum with accuracy.
I listened to my favourite reference material and found that while the AONIC 50 doesn’t offer up a forensic level of detail, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. The stratospheric top end that you might experience with a pair of more analytical open-backed headphones is less apparent, but full mixes are presented in a balanced way, with no overemphasis on the bottom end. The headphones had no trouble being driven wirelessly and wired at high volumes (for a very short period of time to be safe) with no signs of audible distortion.
There’s also versatility on offer when it comes to noise-cancelling too. Of course, this technology is nothing new, yet you can switch on Environment Mode as well — kind of the reverse of noise-cancelling and lets the ambient sound mix in with your headphone sound. This spectrum of noise-cancelling modes can also be controlled by the accompanying ShurePlus Play App.
It’s a novel feature, but also quite useful. One of the drawbacks of closed-backed designs is that they can feel claustrophobic from time-to-time. So getting some welcome relief with Environment Mode from time-to-time is a welcome addition.
Active noise-cancelling works very well and had no trouble snuffing out the extraneous din of the office and the horn-honking of the street. I personally found that earcups themselves provided just the right amount of natural isolation for comfortable listening over the long term.
With the AONIC 50, Shure has paid homage to its own traditions: excellent tonal quality presented inside robustly engineered hardware. With the versatility, ease-of-listening and luxurious comfort that’s on offer, the AONIC 50 is sure to make it onto the wish list of many.
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