This is what Shure is trying to do with the AONIC 215 series earphones. The 2nd Gen is their latest attempt to tap into the modern wireless earphone renaissance, with a unique headphone and case design that looks to address the issues of tech users that live an active lifestyle. It is a marked improvement from the first generation, but they still have a long way to go to get approval from a broad audience. Let us take a look at different aspects of these headphones to see where they stand with the competition.
Headphone & Case Design
The headphone design is both unique and polarizing. On one hand, it has a special two-part mechanism that allows you to separate the headphones from the wireless adapter. This means you can mix and match across Shure’s range of headphones and other wired and wireless accessories that are compatible with this system. This gives you the option to improve the audio quality down the road, by investing in more expensive headphones, or getting a better wireless adapter that gives you more features.
What you get with the purchase though are Shure’s 215 earphones and their 2nd gen True Fit Adapter. They both come together in an over-the-ear design that looks quite a bit like a hearing aid. This is good, as they can be quite inconspicuous on people with big ears and lots of hair, while still providing secure coverage over a large enough surface area that you won’t shake them off no matter how hard you try.
Unfortunately, the bulk can also seem a bit off-putting for people with smaller and more delicate ears. Or those who wear glasses, as the frames with not rest in their natural position with these in place. This is a trade-off you have to make for getting the secure fit of true wireless active-wear earphones. At least you can don’t have to worry about them going bad since the setup is made to be sweat and water-resistant.
The design of the earphones itself is pretty well-engineered, with enough padding in the foam tips that you can block up to 37dB of noise through passive sound dampening alone. The touch-sensitive surface is located on the section that stays behind the ears. We’re not sure if that section also houses any extra battery since even with this big a design, you still only get about 8 hours of use per charge.
You can always charge them wirelessly by placing them in the case, which supports up to 32 hours of playback on just 2 hours of charging. The issue is that due to the special design of the earphones, the case is also quite big, almost twice the size of regular wireless charging cases sold by the competition. This is another compromise you will have to do to accommodate the unique design of both the headphones as well as the charging plug, they sit in.
The design of the case itself is nothing to write home about, with a cheap plastic surface on both sides, and a flexible zip acting as the closing mechanism. This is good for use in rough environments like a gym but loses points in aesthetic appeal and material finish.
Sound & Connectivity
The sound is pretty much what you would expect from wireless earphones. You get a flat sound profile and a distant soundstage. The focus is pretty much on the mids in both the bass and in general. You can hear the highs and lows, but the output is not distinctive enough to feel real. You can try to boost them through EQ, but over a certain point the sound starts tearing, so we wouldn’t recommend it a lot.
In general environments though, you still hear everything nice and clear. This is true for both music and calls. There are integrated microphones to sustain the latter, which once again focus a lot on the mid-range of the vocals. The microphones also enable a feature called environment mode, which clears up the sound of people speaking around you. This is great for having conversations with people while ignoring the ambient noise, although the sound does seem a bit artificial.
Of course, keep in mind we are saying all this when comparing them with competitively priced models from Jabra, Sennheiser, and even Apple, which provide a much more comprehensive audio experience, even if they lack in terms of active-use durability. When you actually compare them to only products from the gym wear segment, the sound suddenly seems far more reasonable and usable.
You can control everything through the ShurePlus PLAY app, which along with the headphones comes with support for multiple codecs including Qualcomm aptX, AAC, and SBC. This means you can easily connect with all sorts of devices and smartphones through Bluetooth 5.0.
This unfortunately is not just a convenience, but also a necessity. Since you can only control Play/Pause and Switch On/Off functions with the touch controls. For skipping or switching between tracks, you will need to use the app. We hope this gets fixed with future updates since that is a big part of the wireless experience.