When it comes to the wireless headphone market, the expectation becomes more centered around usability than quality. How seamless can these headphones connect to my device, can I make a phone call with it? Are they noise canceling? Quality does matter, and at the end of the day, anything will sound better than my old pair of Airpods. Though I believe there’s a need for not only a quality wireless headphone but just a quality headphone in general. The Shure AONIC 50 wireless headphones are that headphones to an extent.
Shure has been dominant as an industry leader with their affordable, studio-quality headphones of a reliable pro audio brand, you can always count on Shure to design a quality product. However, they could be overlooked as a consumer brand. If you aren’t in the audiophile space, you may have never even tried a Shure product. The AONIC 50 wireless noise-canceling headphones should be Shure’s way to break into the more mainstream consumer headphone market. Does it succeed?
WHATS IN THE BOX
The first thing you’ll notice in the box is a rather large carrying case containing the headphones. I appreciate Shure including a carrying case for such a valuable product, and it seems like it’s extremely durable. However, it is on the bulky side and could be a pain to pack. They also don’t fold, the cups instead turn flat. So you may have a hard time packing them in a small carry on bag. The giant beast of a case then becomes a necessity for portability, and I can’t see anyone rocking this thing like a purse. On the roof of the box, you’ll find a few extra cables. A 1m USB-C to USB-A for fast charging, and a 2.5 mm to 3.5mm auxiliary cable in case you still prefer a wired experience.
LOOK AND FEEL
The first thing I noticed when trying on the AONIC’s for the first time was how secure they felt. The cups fit over my ears like a glove, and during my listening, I never felt like I needed to adjust them. They’re snug, and can sometimes feel weightless, especially when you switch to noise-canceling and all the air feels like it’s being sucked away. This makes listening to the AONIC’s feel like a more intimate experience with how well Shure handles the physical design of the headphone itself.
INTERFACE AND BATTERY LIFE
Some competing wireless headphones will boast about a hands-free user interface, which is a hit or miss. The Aonics don’t shoot for that. Instead, you have four buttons (for play/pause, volume, and Bluetooth) and a switch for noise canceling. The buttons also have different functions whether you hold down the button or press it several times. For instance, you can double press the on/off button to check on your battery life, in which an actual voice will tell you how much is left. Speaking of battery life, the Aoincs offer 20 hours of battery life. Great for your commute, or even a long trip.
The novelty of noise-canceling is having a headphone where no one can’t pick up outside interference. It’s supposed to be just you and your music. I was listening to the Aonics next to a large vent blowing air, which completely disappeared with the flick of a switch. With some models, the masking signal that cancels the noise can be so overbearing that a lot of detail in specific mixes gets filtered out. Somehow Shure was able to fix this issue with the Aonics. They come with a switch for noise-canceling which is always a plus, but there was no perceivable dip in quality for me when switching on and off. Shure is popular in the pro audio space for providing a studio-quality headphone that closely replicates what a mix is intended to sound like. A flat, even frequency spectrum that works for people creating sound. But when creating a mainstream, consumer headphone, the more casual listener expects a little bit of spice to their sound. This is where the Aonics are going to excel. No matter what genre you’re into, Aonics will provide you with a clarity that only a brand like Shure can. I find that some consumer wireless headphones like to box you into their sound. The Aonics constantly sound expressive in their output which features +2.05dBi of gain, and 50mm drivers.
The higher range frequencies spring to life so much to the point where I could even pick up the noise floor of some tracks. They welcome your ears with definition and clarity. Reverb tails and high hats sound especially airy like you can feel the particles passing through your head. Certain vocals feel ethereal, especially that voice that tells you how much battery you have left. Perfect for a sparkly pop vocal, or even a good audiobook voiceover that’ll make sure it has your attention.
The low-end frequencies smooth out to a buttery, flavorful tone that makes any bass track a joy to listen to. The lows output an enveloping sound that immersed me in their design. It’s a warm timbre that riches rather than muddies. Listening to a film score completely transports you with the low end’s enticing tone, and sense of the stereo field. The bass never felt overwhelming, they had their place in the sound spectrum. Hip-hop music always comes to mind when talking about the low end, and while on the surface they might not satisfy, Shure offers a free app called ShurePlus PLAY which lets you equalize the Aonics as a companion to the headphone.
The mid-range frequencies exist in the Aonics to fulfill a major task: balance. This is where most headphones decide what they’re going for. As far as the Aonics, go the mids don’t ever really flatten out, but they also don’t get buried by the low end. However, that “spice” I mentioned earlier doesn’t exactly exist here. The highs and lows are so colorful that sometimes the mids get lost in the mix, but they do balance the two frequency ranges in their own space. The mids do have some of their own qualities. A quirky folk vocal will really resonate here, as well as a solo guitar. The mids work well in the Aonics overall stereo design, just don’t expect the variety of flavors the other frequency ranges offer.
The Shure Aonics will draw you back $399.99, which could be hefty, but compared to other high-end noise-canceling headphones in this price range I think it’s more than worth it. With the Aonics in terms of quality, I feel like there has never been more of a balance between “studio quality” and “consumer quality.” The Aonics get to be a quality consumer product, while also showcasing Shure’s high fidelity design. I believe with the Aonics, Shure is getting closer to making a perfect studio quality, wireless headphones. With some wireless noise-canceling headphones, I feel like the design philosophy is to replicate what a high fidelity experience sounds like, rather than actually being a high fidelity experience. The others are artificial quality, while Shure is of genuine quality. I don’t believe the Aonics are a perfect genuine wireless high fidelity experience, but it comes close.
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