At the AES convention in New York, Shure announced an expansion of its robust listening products portfolio. The company’s newest and exclusive innovation is the premium KSE1500 Electrostatic Earphone System — the world’s first Sound Isolating electrostatic earphone and amplifier system, for use with portable and traditional media players.
Most electrostatic systems consist of a large pair of open-back headphones and a bulky dedicated amplifier. Because of the open-back nature and lack of portability, to get an electrostatic listening experience, users need to sit alone in a quiet room. Shure decided it was time to bring their expertise to the electrostatic arena and now introduced the KSE1500, the world’s first Sound Isolating, portable electrostatic earphone system.
Defining a new standard of portable listening, the KSE1500 system features single-driver electrostatic Sound Isolating earphones matched to a USB digital-to-analog-converter (DAC/ADC) that processes audio from portable digital (Mac, PC, iOS, Android) or analog audio sources.
According to Shure, the KSE1500 is designed for discerning high-fidelity audio consumers who want to enhance their listening experience by achieving optimum performance from their current media players, smartphones, tablets, or computers. The first Sound Isolating earphones to feature electrostatic technology, the KSE1500 provides unmatched detail and clarity and customizable EQ for tonal control — without sacrificing the mobility that portable devices provide.
Building from a strong history of transducer innovation and combined with the Company’s award-winning listening product portfolio, Shure has leveraged electrostatic technology within the KSE1500 system to develop drivers that host virtually weightless, massless diaphragms. As the company explains, this implementation results in the fastest transient response available, providing the most accurate sound reproduction with a wider frequency range than standard dynamic or armature driver technologies.
Combined with a powerful portable DAC amplifier (via a six-pin LEMO connection), the KSE1500 provides listeners with the highest-fidelity portable audio experience available today. The system’s amplifier DSP is able to process (EQ) digital audio directly via micro-USB as well as analog via a direct line in. For purists, an analog signal can completely bypass the DSP for full analog audio amplification.
“Our goal was to combine the best of what we have learned in sound isolating earphones, with the acoustic excellence of electrostatic technology to create the first portable sound isolating electrostatic earphone system,” said Matt Engstrom, Shure Category Director for Wired Products. “After more than eight years of research, development, and engineering, the challenge ends today with the introduction of the KSE1500.”
Adding to its lineup of attributes, the KSE1500 system features a high-resolution conversion rate of up to 24 bit/96 kHz and has been submitted to and verified by the Japan Audio Society (JAS) as qualified for the organization’s “High-Resolution Audio” rating. Hosting five preset settings—flat, low boost, vocal boost, loudness, and de-ess — as well as four customizable user-defined equalizer settings, the KSE1500’s four-band Parametric EQ provides the ability to customize frequency response based on user preferences. The system’s intuitive graphic user interface also provides streamlined menu navigation for quick and simple selections.
SHA900 Portable Listening Amplifier
The SHA900 Portable Listening Amplifier is a standalone amplifier designed for use with premium-quality headphones and earphones. The SHA900 has all the same user-friendly features and customizable settings of the KSE1500 system’s amplifier, but it can be used with all non-electrostatic earphones and headphones. An ideal solution for achieving higher quality audio when using media players, smartphones, or tablets, the universal SHA900 Portable Listening Amplifier intends to redefine portable listening.
Similar to the KSE1500 amplifier, the SHA900 is a premium portable audio amplifier with digital-to-analog-conversion (DAC) for use with portable digital audio sources and high-quality headphones or earphones. The SHA900 features customizable 4-band parametric EQ, rechargeability, and can process digital audio directly via micro-USB as well as analog via a direct line in. For purists, an analog signal can completely bypass the DSP for a full analog audio experience. It uses a standard 1/8” (3.5 mm) “Line In” input/switch.
“The SHA900 is designed to properly drive both premium headphones and earphones with linearity and stability, providing a consistent experience across platforms that are true to the source material,” said Matt Engstrom, Shure Category Director for Wired Products. “Interest in high resolution audio continues to grow, as has the demand for solutions that improve audio performance. We created the SHA900 to be a reliable and trustworthy component in any portable or home listening system.”
The KSE1500 Electrostatic Earphone System (includes the amplifier) retails for $2,999 MAP and the SHA900 Portable Listening Amplifier retails for $999 MAP.