Shure KSE1500 Electrostatic Earphones
After 7 years of rigorous development, Shure's KSE1500 Electrostatic Sound Isolating™ Earphone System is a World's First in earphone technology.
The KSE1500 features the first-ever single-driver electrostatic earphone matched to a rechargeable USB amplifier, with digital-to-audio conversion (DAC) and support for both digital, streaming and pure analog audio sources - portable or otherwise.
- KSE1500 Earphones, earphone sleeves, & carrying case
- KSA1500 USB Amplifier & Leather Case
- Micro USB to Lightning Cable, Micro USB OTG Cable, Micro USB to USB Cable, 2 x 3.5mm Cable (6” & 36”)
- Airline Adapter, 1/4” Adapter, Cable Clip, USB Power Plug, Volume Attenuator
- Microfiber Cleaning Cloth, Rubber Retention Bands (2x)
- 4-Band Parametric EQ
- USB digital input
- 7-10 hours of battery life
The Shure KSE1500 Earphones
The Shure KSE1500 is the first ever single-driver electrostatic sound isolating earphone. The design features a virtually weightless, massless diaphragm, surrounded by an electrostatic field generated by back plates that manage charge oscillation.
The audio technology of the KSE1500 earphones enable listeners to fine-tune and appreciate frequencies that may be distorted, or lost completely.
Extremely high correlation to the source audio provides unmatched audio clarity and detail.
Custom-designed Kevlar™ reinforced cable specifically isolates each conductor.
Sound Isolating™, comfortable sleeves block up to 37 dB of ambient noise.
Lightweight, ergonomic shape minimizes ear fatigue.
How does it work?
A very small & thin diaphragm sits between two conductive metal plates.
When an audio signal is applied, the metal plates move the diaphragm creating moving air that is converted into acoustic sound pressure.
As a result, music has a finer clarity as opposed to standard earphones.
The Shure KSA1500 USB Amplifier
Included with the KSE1500 earphones is a rechargeable USB amplifier. The KSA1500 acts as a DAC or digital-analog-converter
Designed exclusively for the KSE1500 electrostatic earphone, this amplifier features a unique electrical circuit that delivers specific bias voltages required by the single-driver electrostatic earphones.
4-Band Parametric EQ
Features five preset settings, and four customizable settings to suit your unique taste with detailed personal control.
Preset settings include flat, low boost, vocal, boost, loudness, de-ess.
Each user-defined setting features four customizable EQ points (low shelf up to 630 Hz, two frequency-variable peaks, high shelf down to 800 Hz), allowing detailed personal control, shaping and tuning for different musical tone preferences.
Enhanced Audio Control
Designed exclusively for the KSE1500 electrostatic earphone system, the DAC amplifier has a 6-pin LEMO connection and electrical circuit customized completely for single-driver electrostatic earphones.
- Digital audio input via USB
- Bit depth: 16-bit / 24-bit
- Sample rate: 44.1 / 48 / 88.2 / 96 kHz
- Analog signal path via standard 1/8" (3.5 mm) “Line In” input/switch
- Bypasses digital processing for pure analog audio (“Bypass” mode)
- Analog input pad settings (10 dB or 20 dB) for managing high input levels
- Input level meter for monitoring signal gain structure
- Volume level meter
- User-selectable limiter
EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) Filter
Specially designed circuitry filters out Electromagnetic interference from mobile phones without sacrifycing the audio quality.
Quick and simple selecting of the KSE1500 settings
- Tactile main control knob
- Power / previous screen button
- Hold switch will lock the KSE1500 to prevent any accidental setting changes
- Color OLED screen for easy viewable, detailed navigation through settings
Conveniently charge from provided wall charger or computer, even when streaming USB audio from computer.
- Battery life - Up to 7 hours with digital USB input
- (EQ mode) - Up to 10 hours with analog input
- (Bypass EQ mode) - Charge time: approx. 3 hours 15 minutes for full charge from empty (using power adaptor)
Compatible with Mac, PC, iOS and Android devices via included accessory assortment, featuring Micro-B to Lightning and Micro-B OTG cables.
KSE1500 Create your own sound signature:
4-band Parametric EQ features five preset settings and four customizable settings for management of audio playback preferences
Preset settings include flat, low boost, vocal boost, loudness, de-ess
Each user-defined setting features four customizable EQ points (low shelf up to 630 Hz, two frequency-variable peaks, high shelf down to 800 Hz), allowing detailed personal control, shaping and tuning for different musical tone preferences Enhanced audio controls provide user-friendly digital and analog options to maximize audio playback fidelity
Digital audio input via USB
Bit depth: 16-bit / 24-bit
Sample rate: 44.1 / 48 / 88.2 / 96 kHz
Analog signal path via standard 1/8" (3.5 mm) “Line In” input/switch
Bypasses digital processing for pure analog audio (“Bypass” mode)
Analog input pad settings (10 dB or 20 dB) for managing high input levels
Input level meter for monitoring signal gain structure
Volume level meter
User-selectable limiter Streamlined navigation for quick and simple selecting of the KSE1500 settings
Tactile main control knob
Power / previous screen button
Hold switch will lock the KSE1500 to prevent any accidental setting changes
Color OLED screen for easy viewable, detailed navigation through settings Integrated USB rechargeable battery can conveniently charge from provided wall charger or computer, even when streaming USB audio from computer
Battery life ◦ Up to 7 hours with digital USB input (EQ mode) ◦ Up to 10 hours with analog input (Bypass EQ mode)
Charge time: approx. 3 hours 15 minutes for full charge from empty (using power adaptor)
The KSE1500 includes:
- Micro-USB-to-Lightning Cable
- Micro-USB OTG Cable
- Micro-USB to USB Cable
- 3.5mm Cable (6”)
- 3.5mm Cable (36”)
- Leather Case for Amplifier
- Earphone Carrying Case
- Earphone Sleeves
- Airline Adapter
- 1/4” Adapter
- Volume Attenuator
- Cable Clip
- Microfiber Cleaning Cloth
- Rubber Retention Bands (2x)
- USB Power Plug
- 2 Year Limited Warranty (see warranty information)
|200 V DC|
|±200 V, max.|
Operating Temperature Range
|0 to 45 °C (32 to 113 °F)|
|-18 to 57 °C (0 to 135 °F)|
|10 Hz to 50 kHz|
1 kHz at 3% THD
|113 dB SPL|
|44.0 g (1.55 oz.)|
|16-bit / 24-bit|
|44.1 / 48 / 88.2 / 96 kHz|
|up to 107 dB A-weighted|
Adjustable Gain Range
|-40 dB to +60 dB|
|Selectable Analog RMS Limiter|
|USB Micro-B Receptacle|
|Input 3.5 mm (1/8")|
|USB-powered: 5 V/0.5 A to 1 A|
|Black Anodized Aluminum|
|182.0 g (6.42oz.)|
|111 × 59 × 21 mm H × W × D|
|3.6 V DC|
Analog in (BYPASS EQ mode) up to 10 hours
USB Input Analog in (EQ mode) up to 7 hours
Buying high-end audio gear is a little like being invaded or like the chaos of 1968. How any buyer can make an informed decision is a mystery. I'm lucky. My friends Drew and Nichole Beard created Moon-Audio.com and let me play with toys I can't afford, or can't afford often.
Music is very important to my productivity, life and spirit. Before I met Drew I'd owned a pair of Etymotic In-Ear-Monitors. I'd noticed all the programmers around me were wearing them, so assumed they were good.
And they were for noise isolation, but great sound wasn't their strength. The Etymotic has a huge design flaw too - there is a tiny cap that stands between earwax and hearing music that needs replacing regularly. Replacing those tiny filters with my fat, often stepped on and broken fingers (football, boxing) was a true pain.
When I'd had enough I purchased a pair of Shure SE425s then I met Drew and Nichole. I listened to the difference 4 drivers could make in a pair of Shure SE846s and doubled down that day. I get to visit the Moon regularly, so, about a year after buying my SE846s Drew said, "Give me those" pointing at my cherished earbuds.
He came back having spliced in his Silver Dragon audio cables. OMG! The sound was MAGICAL. Sound stage was wider thanks to how Drew's silver cables cleared out fuzz and muddle in the mid and high ranges. First thing I wanted to do was spend a week listening to my favorite music again.
I heard so much more detail it was going to be necessary to pry my Shure SE846s from my cold dead hands (lol). Then disaster. Somehow I broke one of the "poles" inside the IEMs. Music started going in and out. I took them to Drew and he sent them back to Shure for repair.
Not wanting to be without, I asked Drew what he would suggest as my next step. He let me borrow his new KSE1500s and explained how IEMs could be "electrostatic". I didn't understand much of that conversation, but WOW the new Shure's sounded like the next logical step on my Shure - IEM ladder.
Only downside is no Silver Dragons, so I'm going to add in a Mojo next. I have a Hugo and love it, but can't beat that Mojo for mobile SOUND. The experience of listening to Shure's headphone amp and new IEMs is light and present, thus my stealing Kundera, novel's title.
I've always worried about two things when "electrostatic" and "speakers" were on my wish list - bass response and affordability. Long ago and far away I watched Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and thought the massive hi-fi gear at the end include electrostatic speakers by Magnepan. I'd heard Magnepan's and love 'em.
Now, thanks to the web, I can see that last scene and those aren't Magnepan's at the end of A Clockwork Orange. They aren't even electrostatic speakers, but my thwarted desire hung around for 30 years (lol).
Now Shure's new IEMs are more expensive than a pair of Magnepan speakers. Times were different thirty years ago when I heard those skinny, tall magic flutes (the Magnepans). Their mids and highs were so gorgeous I wanted them unconditionally. But there was a problem.
Back in the day I could have afforded the speakers, barely, but not the gear needed to drive them and I was married in those days too. Our net worth was probably $10K and I was suggesting we spend it all on audio gear. Needless to say that conversation was a non-starter.
Now, thirty years later, I'm divorced and I work all the time and often not at home. My "home" is 900 square feet near Duke's east campus where my grandmother attended college in 1924 and a mile from where my great grandfather Captain John Wescott is buried.
I don't have much more money than I did back in the day, but my priorities are different. Music is important and a critical productivity aid. Like many these days, I work mostly at home. I could load up a pair of Magnepans, but who wants to have to "curate" so much gear (move it, care for it, support it)?
I'm not sure where I'll be living next year, but I don't BIG THINGS I need to pay someone to move. I want amazing SMALL THINGS that can go anywhere and that is what Shure's new KSE1500s are - amazing small things capable of going anywhere.
Oh, and the sound, if we could see it, looks like the A Clockwork Orange's protagonists face at the end when they roll in the magical gear blasting his favorite Beethoven. Malcolm McDowell's look tells us great things are ahead (or "great things" in the concept of a very strange world). Luckily we don't need to be nearly as crazy as Alex DeLarge to enjoy Shure's latest IEM innovation. We can hear his magical music without sipping milk laced with LSD getting high merely from the sounds of greatness.
* They sound amazing.
* I can't afford them.
* Low ends aren't great.
Ever since seeing a Clockwork Orange with those giant speakers at the end of the movie, speakers I thought were electrostatic but realize now thanks to a YouTube clip they were not, I've been fascinated with electrostatic speakers. Now, thanks to Shure I own a pair.
I don't own speakers. I purchased a pair of Shure KSE1500s to quiet my electrostatic need. Bullet #1, they sound amazing, is still true. Shure solved some of the "can't afford them" by coupling their In-Ear-Monitors (IEMs) with a headphone amplifier. Part of not being able to afford electrostatic speakers was the amps needed to drive them are costly too.
I must have transcribed those Clockwork Orange speakers with a pair of Magnepan speakers I heard back in the day. Speakers costs have come down. You can buy a pair of Magnepan's from Minnesota for less than I paid for my new Shure's, but I live in a 900 sq foot apartment with no prospects of more space ever again (less if anything), so dedicating huge space and resources to audio gear again that isn't portable seems unlikely.
I loved my Shure SE846s, but a post broke and I couldn't keep my Silver Dragon cables engaged. Drew sent the SE846s back to Shure, so I decided it was time to move up the final rung on the ladder. I've owned SE425s after my Etymotic's died). My Shure SE425s crushed the Etymotics in ease of use and sound quality.
And my SE846s crushed the SE425s. That middle number is the number of drivers and 4 beats 2. Drivers are where the music comes from, and having 4 is exponential in the sound stage, clarity and music listening experience over 2.
And the KSE1500s are exponentially better than my SE846s in the sound stage, clarity and the joy of listening to music. They may not be the speakers rolled out at the end of A Clockwork Orange, but Shure's new electrostatic KSE1500s ROCK and sound great during quiet passages too. Dynamic is the word. These babies are right on top of any huge dynamic range changes such as the alarm clocks in the song Breathe on Dark Side of the Moon, the opening to Real Me by the Who, and Over the Hills and Far Away by Led Zepplin on Houses of the Holy.
- The SE846 has more sales. It is not a cheap product but it is cheaper than the KSE1500. However, few people buy the SHA900 amplifier which gives to the SE846 a better listening experience. I would not use the SE846 without the SHA900. Personal taste. Taking that into account you will see the amount paid for the KSE1500 not that expensive.
- Extremely Important: Make sure you are not prepared for a super listening experience in the very first moments. As a one friend indicated, it will increase the enjoyment with the days. Just be OPEN and patient.
- Second Extremely Important: Make sure the source of the sound is top quality. Use very high quality files like FLACs and if possible beyond 600 Kbps. I have not bought a DAP (Player Device) for the KSE1500. I use it with my iPhone 6, or with my Bose Companion 5 with my computer. I know Bose is not necessarily a reference for earphones or headphones, but I have come to appreciate the Companion 5. I lead a minimalist life and I did not want to buy special music equipment. Only for your reference, I heard for my final opinion:
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
Pachelbel: Canon in D
FLAC file, 600 Kbps
Bach- Six Unaccompanied Cello Suites, Number 1
FLAC file, 600 Kbps
Specially in the last one, the experience is pretty vivid, as if you close your eyes, you can hear (and feel?) intensely the bow movement in the strings of the cello. There is nothing there except the cello. It sounds very real. But all the instruments will sound real as well, if there were more.
- Be sure to be careful with the accessories that come with the KSE1500. Some are very particular like the Lightning to Micro-USB Cable. I lost mine in the second day I received the KSE1500. I had to order the cable directly from Shure. It ended positively as I ended buying the two versions of the cable: 8" and 36". The second one gives you a little more freedom of movement in some situations.
This is an outstanding product. I cannot buy a product beyond the price of the KSE1500. I did a huge effort to buy it. As a musician in the past, I developed some skills to enjoy a little bit more music (like identifying instruments, rhythm patterns, and selectively listen to some instruments, harmony, counterpoint, orchestral arrangement and composition, etc). For the money, it gives me the musical listening experience of more advanced equipment that cost much more thousands.
Thanks for reading.
Drew gave me a chance to take Moon-Audio.com's KSE1500s home and now I'm officially working for IEMs (lol). Despite not having Drew's magic cable touch yet, the new Shure's sounded too good. Three things struck me as exceptional - speed, depth, and fit.
Shure's new "electrostatic" earphones more than keep up with the most dynamic music. Dark Side of the Moon melted my ears, Gary Burton's vibes have never sounded better and James Tayler's Mud Slide Slim has never sounded warmer, more immediate or personal. The supplied headphone amp and use of electrodes instead of traditional drivers may explain why these cans move SO FAST.
I don't know all the science, tried to understand the page on Shure's website and gave up in favor of listening, but great sound I know since my Shure SE846s are no slouch. No slouch, but the KSE1500s are the YANKEES and my 846s the Durham Bulls. Is the experience worth the extra $2K?
Money, value and audio gear have never made "sense". I'm a divorced almost retired web marketer who doesn't spend money except on computers and audio gear, so YES the experience is so much better I will level up. I've been meaning to buy a Mojo, but may hold off now as the KSE1500s have the same depth and breadth of sound adding a Mojo provides.
Depending on what musical source I use I still heard some digital harshness especially with hard driving rock like Zepplin, the Who and the Stones. The Mojo's chip will mellow that right out, so I'm working for IEMs and Mojo (lol).
If you don't believe me, I have let a few people who sell headphones listen to them, and they were left speechless. Other headphones may be more 'fun,' but if you want the sound that the musicians and engineers intended, this is it (sorry to borrow Beats' marketing slogan, but in this case it really is true).
Astounding sound that is clear and accurate
Must carry dedicated amp