Product Review

Ear Phones for MP3 Players - Bench Tested: Shure E2c, Shure E2g, Shure E3c, Ultimate Ears 3 Studio

Part III

June, 2007

John E. Johnson, Jr.


Shure E3c




● Transducer Type: Balanced

● Sensitivity: 113.5 dB/mW

● Impedance: 29 Ohms

● Weight: 28 Grams

● MSRP: $179 USA




Back in March of this year, we reviewed a number of ear phones that could be used with MP3 players. The results were surprising in that the most expensive did not necessarily test out the best.

We continue our series of ear phone tests here, with the Shure E2c, E2g, E3c, and Ultimate Ears 3 Studio.

Third on the list is the E3c (the E2c review is in Part I of this review set, and the E2g review is in Part II), which has an MSRP of $179.

Unlike the E2c and E2g, the E3c phones use balanced armature drivers, which are considered to have low mass.

The Sound

Although the E3cs are considerably more expensive than either the E2cs or E2gs, the sound was not nearly as good. I could hear a harshness that made me want to turn the volume down.

Ironically, the E3cs fit like a dream, due to their very light weight and straight into the ear canal design.

On the Bench

The measured frequency response rolls off considerably below 100 Hz and by 20 Hz, is 6 dB down. There are considerable peaks above 1.7 kHz. However, it would be very easy to get a reasonably flat response to 10 kHz by flattening the peaks, compared to having to raise valleys in the other phones tested here (it is always easier to lower peaks than to raise valleys). Overall, not a very impressive frequency response.

The E3cs produced a lot of IMD with our standardized SMPTE/DIN test. It's almost 1% here, and what this means is a mushy sound, with lost detail.

Whoa! Nearly 13% THD+N at 20 Hz and 90 dB. Not good compared to the much less expensive E2c and E2g.

At 1 kHz, again, lots of distortion.

At 10 kHz, THD+N was not so bad, but still quite a bit more than with the other two Shure ear phones tested here.


The results of our tests show that price and performance are not always related. I gave the E3cs a 4 for sound, but a 9 for fit. Unfortunately, sound is more important, and I cannot recommend these ear phones at all. Even with a good EQ, the high distortion would remain.

Go to Part IV.

Copyright 2007 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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