Shure Shuts Out Noise

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Shure E3C earphones
LAS VEGAS -- Audio company Shure is unveiling products geared toward users who listen to music, use a computer, and even talk on their cell phone in noisy environments.

The venerable company, which began selling microphones and audio products in 1925, demonstrated its newest set of sound-isolating earphones and its first cell-phone headset this week here during meetings at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Quiet Listening

Shure's new E3C earphones differ from the average earbuds that come with most MP3 players, says Scott Sullivan, business development director. The $179 set, shipping now, actually fit into the ear canal. This helps block external noise, while offering exceptionally precise sound.

"With the E3C we borrowed technology from hearing aids to get better sound," he says. Users fit the earphones into their ear using one of several included sound-isolating sleeves. The snug fit effectively blocks most external noises. In fact, they block noise so well that the company recommends people not use them when exercising outside, for safety's sake.

Shure maintains its E3Cs work better than noise-canceling headphones from competitors. Sullivan says that's because the technology behind noise-canceling products block out only low-frequency sounds--not higher-frequency noises like voices.

Plus, noise-canceling technology requires batteries, and can introduce its own sound artifacts. "We isolate the entire range of sounds, and we don't need batteries," he says. Another benefit of the Shure method: The people around you can't hear what you're listening to, either.

The E3C series joins the $99 E2C earphones and the $499 E5C earphonesin the company's lineup of consumer products. The entire line evolved from Shure's professional earphones designed for touring musicians.

"These guys kept ordering multiple pairs of headphones," Sullivan says. "One pair for on stage, and one pair for listening to music in the tour bus."

Cell-Phone Variation

Shure recently released a cell-phone headset based on the same in-ear technology.

"We decided people should stop listening to all that music and get to work," says Chris Lyons, marketing manager for personal communications.

The QuietSpot Headset sells for $50 and is designed to block about 75 percent of background noise. In addition to its in-ear earphone, the unit has a removable over-the-ear clip that works with either ear.

Shure used its microphone chops to create a high-quality, sound-canceling mic for the QuietSpot. It lets the person you're talking to hear you better, even when you're calling from a noisy environment. The mic also includes a high-quality foam windscreen that cuts down on noise caused by wind blowing past it.

Both the E3C and the QuietSpot Headset include a 30-day money back guarantee, just in case new users find the in-ear technology uncomfortable. The E3C has a two-year warranty, and the QuietSpot, a one-year warranty. Both are available directly from Shure.

See PC World's ongoing CES coverage.

This story, "Shure Shuts Out Noise" was originally published by PCWorld.

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