Sometimes, a product release is so big that a generic headline – something along the lines of "X is here, boasting Y and Z" – just isn't enough. Three years, four months and 29 days is also eons in tech and that is how long it has been since the Shure Aonic 50 arrived and basically blew everything else out the water for sound.
So, to call this a hotly-anticipated second-generation headphones release is no small understatement. But the day has finally come! Shure has unveiled its Aonic 50 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones Gen 2 (to give them their full name) and on paper, they're a very exciting proposition indeed.
Shure tells us these over-ear headphones "break new ground with a revolutionary spatialized audio experience" along with "enhanced active noise cancellation and 50% more battery life than the first generation, with up to 45 hours of runtime".
This is Shure, so custom-engineered 50mm dynamic drivers are a given and of course you'll find customizable EQ features in the ShurePlus app, but thanks to new hybrid active noise cancellation technology, users can now better tailor how much extraneous ambient noises they want to hear – or not hear.
At the heart of the Aonic 50 Gen 2 Headphones is Shure’s new spatialized audio technology. This, says Shure, is "powered by a proprietary algorithm, designed using a combination of acoustical modelling and critical listening to delicately enhance the spaciousness without compromising the original audio".
The feature provides three distinct modes too: Music, Cinema, and Podcast. Music Mode is described as a "high-end speaker" listening experience and is the most subtle, promising to maintain the sonic characteristics of the original source material.
Cinema Mode aims to emulate the low frequency excitement that users experience in a theater – the kind that employs subwoofers for an immersive, larger-than-life sound through clarity, presence, and natural sounding dialogue.
Podcast Mode might seem self-explanatory, but Shure tells us this brings the voice of a user’s favorite podcast host "closer to their ears" – and this is Shure, so it's important to pay attention.
Opinion: a headphones home run? It's a Shure thing
Want more info on the new advanced hybrid active noise cancellation? Of course. The company explains that by using microphones inside and outside the earcup, the Aonic 50 Gen 2 offer scope to fine-tune your auditory environment, featuring four selectable modes: Light, Moderate, Max, and MaxAware. The new MaxAware setting aims to strike the perfect balance between blocking unwanted noise and maintaining awareness of your surroundings – which Shure says makes it ideal for on-the-go (and presumably, at-your-desk) conversations.
Personally, I adore the Aonic 50 for sound. They launched in April 2020, very much at the upper end of the consumer market ($399 / £359, around AU$580) but Shure gave the established class leaders something to worry about with its very first attempt at wireless over-ears. As we said in our Shure Aonic 50 review: "In the most straightforward terms, the Shure AONIC 50 are a great-sounding pair of headphones. They’re balanced, but they’re not undemonstrative. They’re subtle, but they’re not understated. They’re energetic, but they’re not aggressive. And they can turn their hand to pretty much any kind of music you care to mention."
Other notable hits for Shure include the Shure SE535 and Shure SE215 wired in-ears and big, beautiful Shure Aonic Free wireless earbuds, but it's here with the Aonic 50 that I think Shure really hit a home run.
I have no doubt that this inaugural wireless over-ear update from the company will also start making waves, especially since the MSRP is a little more wallet-friendly. The Aonic 50 Gen 2 will hit shelves in September in black only, for $349 (around £275, AU$540).
One for our best noise-cancelling headphones guide? Watch this space. We'll be updating you soon…
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Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.