Shure KSE1200 Electrostatic Earbuds – Hands-On Review



It isn’t often we see an audio product take a quantum leap forward like Shure’s KSE1500 headphones. Yes, we realize the phrase “quantum leap” is equal parts tired cliché and nostalgic ‘90s TV show, but it really is the best way to describe what Shure accomplished with its first electrostatic earbuds.

After eight years of toil, trial-and-error, and, we’re guessing, more than a few nights of hair-tearing, teary-eyed lunacy, Shure found a way to micro-size a complex speaker technology and stuff it into a tiny pair of translucent earbuds. The payoff is a headphones system that is among the most accurate we’ve ever encountered. Unfortunately, the KSE1500 have some real drawbacks, namely a handcuffed DAC/amplifier, and a whopping $3,000 price tag. Even in the nerdified halls of audiophilia, that’s a gulp-inducing number.

So, Shure went back to work, creating a more affordable version of its electrostatic treasures, the KSE1200SYS, which shave the DAC out of the picture and, in the process, a full $1,000 off the price tag. Yes, at two grand the KSE1200 are still astronomically expensive, but believe us when we say that, for the serious audiophile, these are a bargain.

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