Before we get to our Shure Aonic 50 Review, take a second to that headphones have been around for quite a while. It was 1910 when Nathaniel Baldwin invented the first of what are now known as headphones. They had been in use for a while through the need generated by telephone operators.
It was also need that developed the noise-cancelling version, enabling airline pilots to cut out ambient noise so that they could hear instructions clearly. Not a bad idea. However, it took a while for them to become consumer products but driven on by the likes of Sennheiser and Bose they are here now. And there are plenty to choose from.
Some over-ear, some on-ear, the designs vary, and so does the ability and the success of canceling unwanted noise. However, there is a potential problem in that worn out of the home they can be dangerous. A way, therefore, had to be found to let in in some ambient noise so that traffic and instructions could be heard.
Did Shure include this technology in their Shure Aonic 50 headphones? We’ll find out soon, but before that a little about the company themselves…
The name resonates through the audio world. Not so much for their headphones, more for their microphones. But you know what you are going to get from Shure. Quality sound and a tough, often very tough build.
Shure is a rare breed of company. They are one of the only companies in the world able to compete with the best of the Germans and the Japanese, where audio is concerned.
Established in 1925, they have become a world-class player in the audio world. As we said, perhaps better known in the world of the microphone, this is an example of Shure producing a set of headphones. They are Shure’s first wireless headphones and are a set they are rightly proud of.
So, let’s have a closer look at them…
Shure Aonic 50 – An Overview
Shure was late in the game of developing and manufacturing headphones. You can’t blame them. They had their eyes firmly on making sure the quality of what they produced was maintained. The first around-ear headphones came along in 2009. And the range was expanded in 2014 to include on-earphones for consumers and professionals.
They are now very serious about this market, and the Aonic 50 is their first over-ear noise-canceling product. You get studio-quality sound with no wires or cabling, backed up with a lot of years of audio experience. Shure has a reputation for a strong, rugged build and excellence of performance.
Let’s see if they can continue with that legacy with these headphones…
You expect a Shure product if their microphones are anything to go by, to withstand a little rough treatment. The Aonic 50 will do exactly that.
They are an over-ear design with a very smart black and silver style. They have a metal frame that is a little more heavyweight than most of its competitors. Already you suspect it is the Shure build we are seeing. The frame is anodized aluminum, so whilst being metal, it is also quite lightweight.
The headband and ear cups are made from very soft faux leather. The earcups do not fold in when you are packing them away, but they do swivel and twist when in use to get a comfortable position and thinner profile.
We do need to mention that these are no small headphones. They are quite bulky and are going to be very noticeable if you are using them on the commute. Being an over-ear design that is probably inevitable. Add on Shure’s demand for a rugged product, and you get a bit more than most.
Each earcup houses a good-sized 50mm driver delivering a powerful sound. We shall discuss the sound later. There is a built-in headphone amp that will support various codecs. These include aptX, aptX HD, and low latency, as well as Sony LDAC, SBC, and AAC.
Battery life is impressive at approximately 20 hours. You get a full day out of these phones.
One of the areas we were interested to see and they have passed with flying colors. A tough build that is not going to let you down. They are made with excellent materials and impressive styling. They may be a touch on the large side, though, and that could affect the comfort situation. We shall see when we look at the comfort level later.
One of the problems with wireless phones can be the controls. They are often arranged around the ear cups and sometimes are difficult to find and locate, let alone use. On the Aonic 50, the controls are all located on the right ear cup. There is a volume for music and a USB-C port, as well as a power-up button.
There is also the useful addition of a switch to control the noise cancellation options, with a choice between Max cancellation or Environmental mode. Having a simple switch to engage noise cancellation is a good design feature and saves you having to struggle through control modes and options to find it.
However, having the controls all on one ear, there is the matter of remembering what they all do. Once you have memorized them, the operations are easy to activate. On the left ear cup is just an aux port.
They are all fingertip controls, so answering calls or activating the voice assistant is easy.
Essentially you have three options to play your audio. You can use Bluetooth, but there is also a 3.5mm cable for connection to a device. Or, if you choose, you can use the cable that is used for charging. This is a USB-C cable you can connect to your computer that will give you playback options.
We mentioned earlier about the actual size of the headphones. They are, as we have seen, quite large and bulky.
They might be large, but at under, one pound in weight are not what you might call heavy. Heavier than some, we would agree, but there are some design features to offset the extra bit of weight.
Firstly, Shure has included plenty of padding on both headband and ear cups. The faux leather filled with foam goes a long way to relieving any undue stress caused by weight on a long session.
Secondly, they have a very balanced design. This certainly helps so that they don’t tend to favor one side as some do. Being wireless certainly helps that, though when using the 3.5mm aux input, you will notice the difference.
The fit of the headband and ear cups is very good. Some headphones that are noise-canceling often have a very tight clamping motion. This is to ensure the seal around the ears is tight. There is a compromise with these, in that they have a decent seal but without using a tight clamping process. This will reduce fatigue on your head and ears and also ensure your ears do not get too hot.
This is an area where Shure ought to excel. If you buy a Shure product, you expect audio of high quality, and that is what you get. Though it is not going to suit everyone, we are sure.
One of the highlights of these headphones is the top end. It is bright without being sharp and exhibits a lot of detail and clarity. It remains the same when using Bluetooth, and using noise-cancellation doesn’t affect it.
The mids are also nicely balanced though it is noticeable that there is a change when noise cancellation is in use. When used, the mids are more prominent than when cancellation is off. If you are using these for critical listening, then the sound with noise canceling off will be more to your taste.
The low frequencies are where there might be some who turn away. So, if you like your bass-heavy and ‘in your face,’ these will not be for you. It is a tight bass sound that is not going to dominate. Shure has tried to create a neutral sound across all the frequencies. The bass is no different, and there is no boost applied.
That will not suit everyone, of course, but these are made for a wide-ranging purpose and do not specialize.
We found them to have a nice, efficient balance. Despite the desired ‘neutral’ sound being achieved, there was still a genuine warmth about the bass. Panning is easy to pick up in the mix, and there is a spatial clarity about the sound. In terms of sound quality, Shure are doing what they do best. Making sure the sound is good.
The Noise Cancelling
We have already mentioned these headphones do not rely on clamping force on the head to achieve the cancellation of noise. They are firm but not so you would notice undue pressure.
These phones have two levels of cancellation. All the settings are controlled at the flick of a physical switch that is easy to use and locate. The Environmental setting will keep your music running but allow some of the external ambient noise to penetrate. This is a good idea for safety if you are out and about or if you need to hear airport or train announcements.
The level of how much you can allow in can be adjusted by using the app.
The second option is just simply entitled ‘Max’. And this is total shut out.
The noise cancellation is quite effective, but it must be said not as efficient as some competitors. The test, that some may consider unfair, is to turn off the audio and see how much sound enters.
This is an unnatural situation, of course. You are not going to walk about with phones on and no music. But it does give you an idea of how much sound can penetrate. When we tried this, it was more than expected. Of course, with the music on, it is much more efficient.
You can turn off the noise-canceling if you wish, which will save you some battery usage.
The Aonic 50 benefits from Bluetooth 5 wireless technology. It operates over the standard 10-meter range and will easily pair with other compatible devices, phones, tablets, and computers.
We have already mentioned the list of higher resolution codecs it can use; these include Qualcomm aptX HD and aptX, Sony LDAC, and a list of others we mentioned earlier. The 3.5mm analog input allows you to use other wired devices as well as airplane entertainment systems.
Bluetooth connections are stable, and you can connect more than one device at a time. And multipoint technology is available with devices that can support it.
These headphones are quite bulky, as we have said a number of times. At the expense of repeating ourselves, we feel it an important point and to be expected as over-ear headphones tend to have larger ear cups. And as they don’t fold completely down, then carrying them is a bit of a problem.
However, a really nice carry case is provided that is well-built and good-looking, It has room for cables as well, but it is big. Very big. If you carry a backpack, it will go in there. This might make the commute difficult if that is what you want them for.
Inside the carrying case, you will find the 3.5 aux cable and a USB-C charging cable.
You get an iOS app, ShurePlus, that allows you a few extra options. There are some useful presets and EQ. It won’t, though, push the bass up too far. You can also make some adjustments to the noise-canceling options. The level of external noise in the Environmental setting can also be altered to suit your needs.
Shure Aonic 50 Pros & Cons
- Bluetooth 5.0 and wired listening.
- aptX, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, AAC, LDAC.
- Excellent sound quality
- Multipoint connectivity.
- Passthrough listening.
- Removable earpads.
- Big and bulky.
- Microphone tends to amplify background noise.
More Great Headphone Choices
Not convinced about the Aonic 50? No problem check out our reviews of the Best Sony Headphones, the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Studio Headphones for Home Recording, the Best aptX Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Headphones with Microphone, the Best Waterproof Bluetooth Headphones, or the Best Headphones under 100 dollars currently available.
What We Think?
There is no doubt that these are a quality set of noise-canceling headphones. They have proven to be as good as we expected them to be with only two reservations. Therefore, if you want to get a set of over-ear phones with noise-canceling, then these should certainly be on your list.
They look the part with a great design and style and certainly have that rugged Shure feel. They sound very good, unless you are an overdo the bass fan, and have a great neutral sound. And despite their rather bulky size, they are not that heavy and extremely comfortable.
Firstly the size. We have mentioned it a few times, but they will not be that easy to carry around with you. Secondly, the price point. These are not particularly cheap. And there are other well-known brands with similar features that come in a little cheaper or at about the same price.
To the Shure fanatic, it won’t matter but to others who will compare features and price it might. They do have advantages though, especially the sound, which is great. And the comfort level and build quality, which is high. These are the reasons we would recommend these headphones. Because at the end of the day, they must sound good and be comfortable to wear.
These are certainly that. If they look good and are well-made, that is a bonus, and they are that as well. The Shure Aonic 50 is a very good set of noise-canceling headphones that we thoroughly recommended.