Headphones Lite

Shure SE310 Sound-Isolating Earphones Lighten My Load

From the smallest turboprop to the largest jet, the passenger cabins of commercial airliners are noisy places.

I’ve long relied on my excellent Bose Quiet Comfort-2 noise-canceling headphones to listen to music or a movie in these situations. But the QC-2s only real downside—the fact that they simply take up too much room in my already overstuffed carryon—lead me to give Shure’s comparably-priced SE310 sound-isolating earphones a try.

Though they’re bulkier than the earbuds that came with my iPod, the SE310s are still a fraction of the size and weight of my trusty Bose cans. Their sound quality is also quite good, though their bass response lacks oomph. While there’s no active noise-canceling feature, simply placing the speakers inside the ear canal where the foam tips expand to help block outside noise works surprisingly well.

The SE310s biggest weakness comes when you want not music but silence. The battery-operated Bose system is still superior in blocking out unwanted noise, but I found a set of cheap foam earplugs makes an acceptable workaround for this shortcoming when I’m trying to sleep or concentrate at 35,000 feet.

All that said, I’ve come to the conclusion that these Shure SE310s will play a prominent role in my future travels.

What’s Extraordinary

  • Compact, lightweight package.
  • Above-average audio quality.
  • In-ear design and foam tips effectively block outside noise when listening to music/movies.

What’s A Bummer

  • Not as effective as active noise-cancelling headphones when you want cone-of-silence quiet.
  • Disappointing lack of low-frequency punch.
  • Steep price tag.

My Advice

If compact size and light weight are more important to you than creating a hushed environment for sleep or work, these are the way to go.