Shure’s new $1,999 electrostatic headphones are actually relatively cheap

Audio manufacturer Shure has released an updated pair of their electrostatic earphones that slashes the cost by a third, making them a much more palatable $1,999 (about £1,500, AU$2,500).

Now, you may baulk at the idea of spending that much on a pair of earphones, especially as you could buy 100 pairs of the 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones that currently sit at number one of our Best Earbuds for the same price. 

But make no mistake, Shure isn’t the type of manufacturer that makes a product expensive for the sake of it. In fact, Shure isn’t a manufacturer that makes a lot of products, but the products that it does make endure. If you’ve ever watched a musician perform live there’s a good chance you’ve been looking at a Shure SM58 microphone.

You get what you pay for

So, why the hefty price tag? Well, these earphones manage to take electrostatic technology which usually lives in bulky over-ear cans, and distills it down into sleek earbuds. 

Unlike traditional speakers and headphones that create sound by passing an electrical current through a wire that is glued to a cone, electrostatic headphones work by creating a static response in a piece of fabric without touching it (think the static you get when rubbing a balloon on your head). 

While electrostatic technology gives unprecedented sound it requires vastly more power, and so need a seperate amp. This explains the little black box you see in the picture. 

The reason the KSE1200 is $1,000 cheaper than the KSE1500 is a simple one, it’s stripped out the digital signal processor (DSP) so it’ll rely on your phone, or whatever you’re listening to your music on. Although that will give you slightly more control over the sound palate so maybe that’s no bad thing. 

Andrew London

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.