Shure KSE1500 Electrostatic Earphone System
The Shure KSE1500 earphones introduces us to the future of music listening and appreciation. Introducing the first ever single-driver electrostatic Sound Isolating earphones.
Now, a lot of people would think that a single-driver earphone isn’t much to get excited about. That would be true for conventional earphones, but the KSE1500 is the next step in audio technology and enables listeners to fine-tune and appreciate frequencies that may be distorted, or lost completely.
The tech behind this works thusly: a very small, very thin diaphragm sits between two conductive metal plates. Applying an audio signal (the electric current) to the metal plates displaces and moves the diaphragm which then creates moving air which is converted into acoustic sound pressure. The result? Music clarity unmatched by conventional earphone architecture.
The KSE1500, like every Shure product sold, promises to deliver the utmost quality in fit and finish. With Shure’s signature reliability and a new kevlar reinforced cable, the KSE1500 is sure to impress all users from both an ergonomic and audio standpoint.
Finally, included with the earphones is a rechargeable USB amplifier called the KSA1500. The amplifier is designed specifically for the KSE1500 and is responsible for powering the KSE’s electrostatic drivers. The KSA1500 allows for digital-to-analog conversion (otherwise known as DAC) and support for digital, streaming, and pure analog audio sources. The KSA1500 also features four customizable EQ points. This allows the user to shape and fine-tune the musical tone giving them complete control over his or her listening experience.
Shure’s KSE1500’s pave the way for future audio technology development. With the KSE1500’s being the first ever earphones to implement this electrostatic tech, we could be seeing the biggest push for mobile-listening perfection ever. At this point, you wouldn’t expect much less from the company that brought us the exquisite SE846 quad-driver earphones.
• 4-band Parametric EQ features five preset settings and four customizable settings for management of audio playback preferences
• Preset settings include flat, low boost, vocal boost, loudness, de-ess
• Each user-defined setting features four customizable EQ points (low shelf up to 630 Hz, two frequency-variable peaks, high shelf down to 800 Hz), allowing detailed personal control, shaping and tuning for different musical tone preferences Enhanced audio controls provide user-friendly digital and analog options to maximize audio playback fidelity
• Digital audio input via USB
• Bit depth: 16-bit / 24-bit • Sample rate: 44.1 / 48 / 88.2 / 96 kHz
• Analog signal path via standard 1/8" (3.5 mm) “Line In” input/switch • Bypasses digital processing for pure analog audio (“Bypass” mode)
• Analog input pad settings (10 dB or 20 dB) for managing high input levels
• Input level meter for monitoring signal gain structure • Volume level meter
• User-selectable limiter Streamlined navigation for quick and simple selecting of the KSE1500 settings
• Tactile main control knob
• Power / previous screen button
• Hold switch will lock the KSE1500 to prevent any accidental setting changes
• Color OLED screen for easy viewable, detailed navigation through settings Integrated USB rechargeable battery can conveniently charge from provided wall charger or computer, even when streaming USB audio from computer
• Battery life ◦ Up to 7 hours with digital USB input (EQ mode) ◦ Up to 10 hours with analog input (Bypass EQ mode) • Charge time: approx. 3 hours 15 minutes for full charge from empty (using power adaptor)
Compatible with Mac, PC, iOS and Android devices via included accessory assortment, featuring Micro-B to Lightning and Micro-B OTG cables
1. Can I use the earphones with another amplifier, or with my portable media player? Can I use my own headphones or earphones with the DAC amplifier?
As they are designed to work specifically together, both components of the KSE1500 Electrostatic Earphone System feature 6-pin LEMO connectivity that delivers the specific bias voltages (or signal levels) from the amplifier that are necessary to drive the electrostatic earphones. There is no standard 1/8” (3.5 mm) connectivity option on either component, nor is it recommended to attempt to use any other LEMO connector device with either component.
2. What is “electrostatic earphone technology”?
Similar to the inverse relationship between dynamic microphones and dynamic loudspeakers: Audio source via a vibrating membrane magnetically produces electronic impulse (dynamic microphone) as opposed to electronic impulse magnetically produces audio via a vibrating membrane (dynamic speaker) Electrostatic technology can be understood as the inverse of condenser microphone technology: Audio (force) exerted on a membrane suspended in an electronic field producing electronic impulses (condenser microphone), as opposed to electronic impulses exerted on a membrane suspended in an electronic field producing audio (electrostatic speaker)
3. The KSA1500 Amplifier can process both digital and analog input signals? What is the benefit of having both DAC and ADC functionality?
The KSA1500 Amplifier contains both DAC and ADC conversion, providing the flexibility to be used for both digital and analog inputs. The digital-to-analog converter (DAC) allows for a digital audio signal to be converted from binary signal (1s and 0s) into the analog audio waveform that represents the original sound of the program material. The analog-to-digital Converter (ADC) allows an analog source input to be converted into digital signal which can then be routed through the DSP (EQ) and then convert it back to analog after processing using the DAC.
4. Is it safe to use the KSE1500 while charging?
Yes, the KSE1500 system is designed for use while charging from a laptop or the provided power supply.
5. Is it safe to charge the KSE1500 with a portable battery bank?
The KSE1500 system can be charged by battery pack with the following specifications: 5V, 500mA min, 2A max input, max current draw at 1A.
6. What is the difference between the parametric EQ in KSE1500 when compared with the EQ function in iTunes and other music apps?
While some currently available programs and apps use parametric style EQ, most of them use a simpler graphic (or fixed frequency) equalizer which only allows for a limited range of frequency bands. Although the graphic EQ are simpler, the parametric EQ allows more customizable settings.
7. Why does the KSE1500 system EQ include both five fixed EQ profiles and four used-defined EQ settings?
Inclusion of both sets of EQ profiles provide a large number of options for customizing the listening experience. The fixed profiles were set to address common adjustments made by the user - flat, low boost, vocal boost, and loudness are standard EQ settings that help accommodate both the user’s preferences and any idiosyncratic characteristics of the recording. Beyond that, the user-defined EQ settings are available if the user wishes to specifically accommodate or adjust some specific aspect of the audio quality to match a personal preference based again upon the mix balance of the audio playing. Additionally, a global EQ tweak may be preferred due to a specific quality of the source media player.
8. For the user-defined EQ settings, what will happen if, say, point 2 is swept after point 3 (point 2 at 4KHz, point 3 at 1KHz)? What about if points overlap? (Ex.: point 1 at 500Hz +4dB and point 2 at 500Hz +5dB - does this result in a combined +9dB at 500Hz or is there a maximum cap?)
Filter points 1 and 4 will never overlap each other, but points 1,2,3, or 2,3,4 can overlap, and the frequency changes of overlapping filters will sum together, though the graphic representation on the screen will only visually show ±6 dB of change. Overlapped points will add together, however the display screen will not show anything past 6 dB of change. In a normal situation, 6 dB of gain or reduction is plenty, but the EQ will boost or cut more than that if two filter points are together.
9. An audio file with a 96 kHz sample rate is automatically down-converted to a 44.1 kHz sample rate when played from IOS or Android device. Can this be bypassed so that files with a sample rate of 96 kHz files (or even a 192 kHz file) can be listened to with the KSE1500?
Portable media devices have some limitations built into them. There are music player apps that will allow a media player such as an iPhone to playback at a 96 kHz sample rate, but the standard iTunes software operating system limits this to 44.1 kHz (which is CD quality). Aside from the limitations of the hardware on a music player, there are also software limitations. There are music player applications that allow audio files with a 96 kHz sample rate to be played. On a computer, there are some media player applications that will play high sample rate files. However, Shure has no affiliation with such applications or programs, and do not officially recommend one particular app or program.
Bias Voltage 200 V DC
Output Voltage ±200 V, max.
Output Current ≤1 mA
Noise Attenuation ≤37 dB
Operating Temperature Range 0 to 45 °C (32 to 113 °F)
Storage Temperature -18 to 57 °C (0 to 135 °F)
Transducer Type Electrostatic
Connector Type LEMO Connector
Frequency Response 10 Hz to 50 kHz
1 kHz at 3% THD 113 dB SPL
Net Weight 44.0 g (1.55 oz.)
Bit Depth 16-bit / 24-bit
Sampling Rate 44.1 / 48 / 88.2 / 96 kHz
Signal-to-Noise Ratio up to 107 dB A-weighted
Adjustable Gain Range -40 dB to +60 dB
Limiter Selectable Analog RMS Limiter
Equalizer 4-band Parametric
USB Input USB Micro-B Receptacle
Line-In Input 3.5 mm (1/8")
Charging Requirements USB-powered: 5 V/0.5 A to 1 A
Housing Black Anodized Aluminum
Net Weight 182.0 g (6.42oz.)
Dimensions 111 × 59 × 21 mm H × W × D
Battery Type Rechargeable Li-Ion
Nominal Voltage 3.6 V DC
Battery Life Analog in (BYPASS EQ mode) up to 10 hours
USB Input Analog in (EQ mode) up to 7 hours
Summary of Customer Ratings & Reviews
For clean un-molested sound the KSE1500 is in a class all by its self. Hear what you were meant to hear form the artist. And not what the headphone company wants you to hear.
Question & Answers
Questions on Shure KSE1500 Electrostatic Earphone System
I have the 846's and haven't heard anything like them before or since. I have also never listened to electrostatic headphones and I'm honestly intrigued. Indianapolis is an audiophile desert where finding a place to actually sample this style of headphone is nearly impossible. In your opinion, Is there a $2,000 difference in sound quality between my 846's and the KSE1500. My favorite music to listen to is electric guitar jazz, think Wes Montgomery, but also like to mix in a little Eminem, Linkin Park, Matchbox 20 and Kenny Chesney.
Thanks for your help
- Tech Support answered:
- There is not a $2,000 difference. The excessive price tag comes from the difficulty of making the KSE1500 and also to pay back the R&D of this model which was predicted to have low sales due to its high price tag and therefore had to be priced at a very high price point. If you want a different flavor from the SE846 try the Westone UM PRO 50: http://www.earphonesolutions.com/westone-um-pro-50-signature-series-5-driver-earphones.html