Shure AONIC 215 Gen 2 Hands-On: A Shure Bet for True Wireless

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Shure’s SE line of earbuds has earned legions of loyal fans, thanks not only to their sound quality, but their detachable cables and MMCX connectors. That modular approach has allowed the SE line to find themselves at home everywhere, from the go-to choice of in-ear monitors used by countless pros onstage, to audiophile home listeners, to everyday commuters.

However, wired is an increasingly dirty word for the masses who favor the convenience of true wireless performance for their commute, workout, and even home listening. What’s a legendary wired headphone manufacturer to do?

In Shure’s case, it’s to release the second generation of its AONIC 215 true wireless headphones, with which I got to spend some time. The AONIC 215 is essentially a kit that consists of a pair of the popular SE215 earbuds paired with the new product here: the RMCE-TW2 wireless adapter. Already own a pair of Shure earbuds with MMCX connectors? Grab that wireless adapter, and you’re ready to go cable-free with the sound you already love.

Shure AONIC 215
Shure AONIC 215

Unboxing and Getting Started

In the box, Shure gives you the standards you’d expect from a premium true wireless set: the adapters with the SE215s attached, a charging case, a USB C cable for charging, three pairs of foam ear tips, and three sets of Soft Flex ear tips.

As you’d expect from Shure, the charging case is sturdy and definitely feels up to the task of a daily commute, but it is noticeably larger than the charging cases from some other popular true wireless models (in fact, I’d liken it to the size of a hockey puck). The tradeoff for its size is the three full 8-hour recharges it provides the 215s before you need to plug it back in for more juice.

The case is secured with a zipper, a holdover from the first gen of this model, which could prove a little clumsy if you’re trying to take the headphones out or replace them quickly. However, the headphones snap into place quite securely, so if you don’t feel like re-zipping every time, they do sit safely in the case on their own. I personally dig the aesthetic, since it sets the AONIC 215s apart in a crowded market, but can see others having a love/hate reaction to it.

Bluetooth Performance

The TW2 adapter provides the SE215s with Bluetooth 5 connectivity and supports aptX, SBC, and AAC codecs, so out of the box Shure is giving you the kind of wireless specs you’d hope to live up to the sonic performance of the popular earbuds.

My haunting grounds for work and the gym are always a trial by fire for any Bluetooth device: Times Square and Midtown Manhattan, and the AONIC 215s stood up to the test, and then some. Connection to my iPhone 12 was quick and painless, and generally happened before I could even get the earbuds in my ears.

What’s particularly impressive is I experienced next to no dropouts anywhere I used them, even in the abovementioned heavy wireless traffic areas that challenge almost every pair of Bluetooth headphones I’ve tried.

Additionally, the call quality was generally pristine, but like most Bluetooth earbuds, fared better indoors than on a noisy Manhattan street. If your call needs are mostly Zoom meetings from your home, the 215s are up to the task and more.

Shure capitalizes on the over-ear design of the TW2 adapter in several ways. First is the impressive battery life; they give you about 8 hours of performance before they’re drained, and as mentioned above, the case gives you three additional recharges, giving you 32 hours of music before you need to find that USB-C cable to recharge. For my personal use on my daily commute, at the gym, and video conferencing, I was making it to about the one-week mark before I needed to plug the case in. Impressive.

Even more importantly (to me, anyhow), is how the over-ear design eliminates one of my pet peeves about most true wireless earbuds: The onboard controls do not sit on the earbuds themselves, so when you tap to pause, play, adjust volume, or take a call, you’re not pushing the earbud farther into your ear canal.

Sonic Quality

The AONIC 215s rely on Shure’s tried-and-true SE215 earbuds to deliver the final analog performance, powered by what the company describes as a “premium headphone amplifier” built into the TW2 adapter. I’ve owned several pairs of 215s over the years, and they remain one of my favorite earbuds on the market. Not shockingly, I found the AONIC 215s to sound amazing—perhaps one of the best-sounding true wireless earbuds I’ve had the opportunity to check out.

Like many earbuds in their class, the quality of the performance of the 215s really comes down to how securely they fit into your ear canals. To ensure a good fit, Shure has provided three pairs of foam ear tips and three pairs of rubber ear tips (S, M, L for both). For me, the foam earbuds provide the best fit, the most complete external sound isolation, and the best bass performance of the options.

However, for me, foam and sweaty gym sessions do not mix, so I changed to the rubber ear tips, which don’t have quite the bass performance as the foam tips do but are undoubtedly the better option for a workout. Thankfully, the tips are easy to swap, enough so that I found myself switching them once I got to the office.

Both options still provide you with a balanced and overall sweet performance that stays true to what you might expect from Shure’s pro audio roots. The bass is present (and genuinely dependent on the quality of the fit) but doesn’t overwhelm the source at all. I find the 215s to have really pleasing mid content, so vocals and guitars especially shine.

Overall Thoughts

The AONIC 215s and their TW2 adapter component are an appealing package, especially if you are familiar with Shure’s earbuds (and particularly if you own a pair from the SE line and are looking to take them truly wireless). The AONIC 215s even offer something of a value proposition—since the SE215 earbuds can be easily removed from the TW2 adapter, you can turn them into a wired pair quite easily with the purchase of an optional RMCE cable (and even use them with airplane entertainment systems).

Likes

  • Balanced sonic performance
  • Reliable Bluetooth connectivity
  • Battery life

Your Mileage May Vary

  • Large charging case may not be for all
  • Over-ear loop design can become a hassle while wearing a mask

Have you tried the Shure AONIC 215s? Any thoughts or questions about these true wireless headphones? Join us in conversation in the Comments section, below.

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