Shure has been in the audio business since its 1925 founding in Chicago, Illinois. Since I was a kid, I’ve been familiar with the company using Shure gear onstage and off. The company makes a host of professional-grade audio equipment that’s respected industry-wide. This is why I jumped at the chance to check out the Shure AONIC 50 noise-canceling headphones when they offered them up for review.
Up until now, I’ve only ever used Shure devices for live shows and recording. The Shure AONIC 50 are a great pair of consumer audiophile headphones that are plush, elegant, and powerful. Read on for the full review of the Shure AONIC 50 noise-cancelling headphones.
The Shure AONIC 50 has the following features and specifications:
|ANC||Eliminates distractions for a truly immersive listening experience.|
|Environment Mode||Allows you to hear the outside world with the flip of a switch.|
|Battery Life||Up to 20 hours|
|Codec Support||Qualcomm® aptX™, aptX™ HD, aptX™ Low Latency audio, Sony LDAC, AAC, and SBC.|
|Connections||Bluetooth 5 wireless technology and AUX|
|Colors||Black or Brown|
What’s In The Box
- Shure AONIC 50 noise-cancelling headphones
- Hardshell carrying case
- 3.5mm AUX cable
- USB-C charging cable
- Documentation and Manuals
The first thing you notice about the Shure AONIC 50 noise-cancelling headphones is their design. What’s great about the design is that it doesn’t follow the same cues of many other headphones on the market. You won’t find much plastic here.
The build quality is fantastic, right up there with some of the best premium headphones I’ve used in the past. The frame is made of sturdy and robust metal, and quality faux leather is used for the headband and ear cups. The outside of the ear cups is a premium plastic with the Shure logo nicely placed.
The headphones do fold flat, but they do not fold up and make them a bit harder to store. The included carrying case is very well made and welcome addition. That being said, I do wish these folded up a bit more compactly because the carrying case is huge. Some may find it hard to throw these in a backpack with such a large case.
The Shure AONIC 50 has good flexibility and fit nicely with not too much-clamping power on your head. The pivot points that allow you to fold them flat have good resistance to them, not too much but not too little.
The left ear cup houses just the AUX port located at the bottom of the ear cup. The right ear cup houses the rest of the controls and LED light, which consists of the following:
|Power on||Press and hold, 2 seconds|
|Power off||Press and hold, 2 seconds|
|Pair Bluetooth||Turn off the headphonesPress and hold, 6 seconds|
|Check battery status||Double press (audible status notification)|
|Next track||Double press|
|Previous track||Triple press|
|Answer/End a call||Press once|
|Decline a call||Press and hold, 2 seconds|
|Activate voice assistant||Press and hold, 2 seconds|
|Factory Reset||Turn off the headphones and plug into a chargerPress and hold, 7 seconds|
|Volume up||Press +|
|Volume down||Press –|
Enviorment Mode/ANC Switch
|Environment mode||Push switch up|
|Active Noise Cancellation||Push switch down|
|Bluetooth pairing||Alternating red and blue|
|Bluetooth connected||Blue for 2 seconds, then off|
|Bluetooth connection lost||Slow blinking blue|
|Low battery||Slow blinking red|
Overall, the Shure AONIC 50 noise-cancelling headphone design is plush and elegant. The build quality exceeds the price point, and they are very comfortable to wear.
Ease of Use
Before you set the Shure AONIC 50 up to connect with your phone, I always recommend charging them before first use. Once they are charged, upon first power-up, they will automatically go into pairing mode. This is great because all you have to do is find Shure 50 in your Bluetooth settings in your device and tap it.
If, for some reason, the headphones do not go into pairing mode automatically, follow the below steps to manually pair:
- Turn off the headphones.
- Press and hold the power button for 6 seconds.
- When you hear “Bluetooth pairing mode,” release the button.
- From your audio source, select “Shure 50.”
- When successfully paired, you hear “Connected”.
After you’re paired, you’re done, unless you want to use the included app. The app is not needed, but there are some settings you can tweak from within it, and the app is how you update the firmware for the headphones—more on the app a few sections below.
Overall, these are very easy to set up and use. The buttons are very self-explanatory and easy to manipulate with a good tactile feel.
Out of the box and without the app, the Shure AONIC 50 has a nice flat sound signature with no apparent leaning towards any one frequency, this is how I prefer my sound, but there are other options in the app to tweak the sound. We will touch on those in the next section.
The pure, unfiltered sound from the headphones, I feel, gives an accurate representation of how the artist intended it to sound. The mids and highs are balanced well, and the bass does an excellent job of holding up the other frequencies without a problem.
The ear cups offer good noise isolation, which helps make the ANC that much better. Speaking of ANC, the feature on the Shure AONIC 50 works really well. I’ve still not found a company that can do ANC as good as Bose and, Sony but Shure does a great job here.
The Shure AONIC 50 also features environmental mode, allowing sound to come in, giving you spatial awareness. This allows you to enjoy your music while still being able to hear what’s happening around you. I never really use this feature, but many do find it useful.
Overall, the Shure AONIC 50 has an amazing sound right out of the box, but they allow for some EQ tweaks within the app, which some users might appreciate.
I’m not a fan of apps for headphones; this is just another layer I need to deal with to operate something that should be simple. I feel that apps can overcomplicate things and many users want to run and gun. That being said, I know many others love the extra control. Here are a few features of the app:
- Import and play multiple, high-resolution and standard file types
- Customize presets with the parametric graphic EQ
- Adjust your volume with the full-screen fader
- Create playlists and organize your music library by playlist, artist, album title, song title, genre, or composer
- Quickly dial in your sound with EQ preset modes for a variety of listening situations.
Many of the apps features you can perform with the buttons such as engaging environment mode, engaging ANC, adjusting volume, and tracking back and forth. The app does allow for preset and custom EQ’s and here’s what that looks like:
|De-ess||Use to reduce sibilance in speech.|
|Flat||Listen to your unprocessed tracks. The equalizer is bypassed for an unchanged frequency response.|
|Loudness||Accentuate the bass and treble frequencies to make the overall sound feel louder.|
|Low Boost||Raise or lower the bass frequencies.|
|Vocal Boost||Emphasize the vocal range.|
Overall, the app is easy to use and offers some extra features but is not needed for good sound quality. The one feature I feel is great is being able to update the firmware from the app. Still, I know many will appreciate the extra features offered with the app.
Bluetooth 5 offers an excellent and solid connection between your device and the Shure AONIC 50. Call quality is also great, with no issues hearing callers and callers understanding me.
The Shure AONIC 50 are advertised to have 20-hours of battery life. I didn’t test for a full 20-hours, but I can say that I used these headphones on and off for over 3 weeks without having to charge them. That’s using them 1-3 hours a day, about 3-4 times a week. I didn’t crunch the numbers, but I believe that Shure’s claims are accurate.
Battery life is going to depend highly on how you use them, so it is subjective.
The Shure AONIC noise-cancelling headphones are, what I consider, the entry-level into premium headphones. These are priced at US$399 and actually offer up a lot of value. The build quality, sound quality, and comfort are so good that they easily compete with headphones priced slightly higher.
If you’re looking for an excellent pair of premium entry-level headphones, Shure has your back with the AONIC 50.
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Shure AONIC 50US$399
Ease of Use9.5/10
- The design and look of these is stunning
- High quality materials used in construction
- Easy to use and operate
- Great battery life
- Priced competitively and have great value
- These sound great and the ANC works well
- The app is fine and it adds some control but I'd prefer audio companies to stop using apps, I know not everyone would agree
- I wish they would collapse down and that the case was smaller. The large case makes it harder to transport them.