For audiophiles and music professionals, Shure is a familiar name. But now, the makers of microphones, in-ear monitors and wireless headphones are heading into unfamiliar territory –– wireless, active noise-cancelling headphones. The Shure Aonic 50 is the company’s first entry into this market, and while many companies have growing pains their first time out, Shure is knocking it out of the park.
From its genuine leather and metal frame, cushy earcups and stellar sound, the Aonic 50 follow the high-end formula Shure is known for. And with a strong Bluetooth 5.0 connection and surprisingly powerful ANC, it’s clear that the company has hit a serious home-run. So while the $399 price will be a strikeout for most budgets, if you have the coin, the Shure Aonic 50 is worth the investment.
Shure Aonic 50 headphones design
The Aonic 50 has premium looks befitting of its premium price. The headband and earcups are lovely mocha leatherette with the band and earcups covered in pillowy memory foam. I love the stitching at the top of the band with Shure stamped elegantly underneath. The extenders and yokes are made from silver anodized aluminum that connects to a pair of dark chocolate plastic earcups with a chrome Shure insignia. It’s a very cosmopolitan look. However, if you don’t like brown, the Aonic 50 are also available in black and silver.
There are several buttons found along the side of the right earbud. You have a USB Type-C port, a power/pairing button, a trio of buttons, the top and bottom ones control volume while the center acts as a multifunction function. At the top, you have a switch that enables ANC/Environment mode. You also have a 3.5mm audio input port in case you want to use the bundled audio cable.
Weighing 11.8 ounces and 10.8 x 10.8 x 3.2 inches, the Aonic 50 are definitely a solid pair of headphones, especially compared to the lightweight Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (9 ounces, 8 x 6.5 x 2 inches).
Shure Aonic 50 headphones comfort
It’s like wearing a pillow around each ear. The Aonic 50 are over-ear headphones with rather large earcups. That means unless you have inordinately large ears, the slightly ovular earcups should make a nice comfortable seal without any pressure. I’ve worn the Aonic 50 for over two hours at a time in total cushy comfort. Sure, the Aonic 50 is noticeably heavier than the Bose, but that doesn’t have any effect on how the cans feel when you’re wearing them.
Shure Aonic 50 headphones setup
Pairing the Aonic 50 to your Bluetooth device is quick and simple. After turning the headphones on, I held the button down for 3 seconds and heard a friendly voice inform me that the cans were in pairing mode. From there, I went to the Bluetooth menu in my iPhone XS Max and selected the Aonic 50. The same voice informed me that the headphones and the phone were paired. From there, I was ready to rock and roll.
Shure Aonic 50 headphones app
The Aonic 50, like many premium cans on the market, has a free companion app available on Android and iOS. ShurePlus Play has several helpful features that augment the cans for the better. You can customize the language and volume of the voice prompts as well as set the frequency of the low battery notification. There’s a simple equalizer with five presets (De-ess, Flat, Loudness, Low Boost and Vocal Boost) and the ability to create your own presets.
The Shure app also aggregates your third-party playlist into the app. So when I was using the iPhone, the app was ready to pull in my Apple music playlist. On my Samsung Galaxy Note 8, it pulled in the playlist from my Spotify account.
The app also allows you to adjust just how much ambient noise comes into the headphones when you engage Environment mode.
Shure Aonic 50 headphones noise cancelling
This is Shure’s first entry into the active noise cancelling waters and I have to say, it’s a good first effort. With no audio playing and just the ANC enabled, I could hear the only the faintest of white noise from the headphones. Ideally, I’d like to hear nothing at all in this mode, but the sound is so minuscule that not many will notice. And most importantly, it didn’t insinuate itself into whatever I happened to be listening to.
The headphones were able to put a severe damper on my LG TV, cutting out the noise completely when the volume was at 15. It was a bit less effective than the Bose, which did it at 17. When I took my daily stroll through the neighborhood, the Aonic 50 did a great job of shutting the outside world out completely when playing my music. So much so that I couldn’t hear the J train passing overhead as I walked to the grocery store. When I paused the music, the ambient noise was severely muted to the point that I could barely hear the cashier ringing up my food.
Similar to most premium headphones these days, the Aonic 50 has an ambient noise mode, which Shure calls Environment mode. When it was enabled, it allowed all those outside noises, like a barking dog, into the headphones’ soundscape as I listened to Nirvana.
Shure Aonic 50 headphones audio quality
Shure is known for its stellar audio quality and it doesn’t disappoint on the Aonic 50. The 50mm neodymium drivers produce audio that’s full, balanced and dynamic even on the Flat equalizer preset. The bass on TeaMarr’s “One Job” immediately drew me into the upbeat breakup track. The claps and snaps acting as the main percussion were nice and sharp while the artists pointed soprano cascaded over the light piano accompaniment. Listening to the same track on the Bose, I heard the same level of detail, but the soundstage wasn’t as warm as on the Aonic 50.
When I listened to Death's "Story of the World," it felt like I was front row at a concert. The electric guitar was bold on the Aonic 50, the drums were precise and the guttural roar let out by the lead singer was palpable. I definitely noticed the performance was a bit more distant on the Bose. It’s not enough to be a deal-breaker (these are Bose after all) but it definitely wasn’t as loud as the Aonic 50, either. Still, I could hear every riff clearly.
Lastly, I listened to Megan Thee Stallion’s “Big Ole Freak” on the Aonic and was immediately bombarded with dank bass. However, there was still enough space in the soundstage to let the electric wind instrument retain its innate airiness as well as the crispness of the drum machine. The rapper’s tempting delivery was warm and precise with clean ad-libs. Listening to the same track on the Bose 700, the bass wasn’t nearly as deep. However, without all those lows, you can hear some of the finer details of the track much better.
Shure Aonic 50 headphones battery life and Bluetooth
The Aonic 50 has an estimated battery life of 20 hours which is on a par with the Bose. That number is pretty accurate as I listened to the Aonic 50 for 2 hours for 9 days for a total of 18 hours. On the 10th day, I finally got the low battery notification.
Thanks to Bluetooth’s theoretical range of 800 feet, I’ve yet to experience any dropouts in service. Whether I was in my backyard or downstairs while my phone was on the couch, the connection was strong. Once you throw a door and a wall or two in the mix, it's a different story as I learned when I left my apartment building.
Shure Aonic 50 headphones call quality
“Wait, you’re talking to me on a pair of headphones?” my mother asked. We’d been talking for approximately 40 minutes before I told her I was using a pair of headphones. She reported that my voice sounded loud and clear. And when I went for a walk, she didn’t hear any wind resistance or outside noise until a police car sped by.
Shure Aonic 50 headphones bottom line
I didn’t expect Shure to drop the ball on this. I mean, c’mon it’s Shure. The Aonic 50 headphones are stylish and extremely comfortable to wear. The 50mm drivers deliver warm, rich audio that doesn’t skimp on the details. The companion app is well put together and easy-to-use and the ANC, while not as powerful as what Bose delivers, is very impressive for a first go.
Yes, they are seriously expensive at $399, but that’s only $60 more expensive than the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (and matches its original starting price) and offers a warmer sound profile. If you’re willing to invest in a pair of mature-looking headphones with gorgeous audio, long battery life and great active noise cancelling, the Shure Aonic 50 deserves a listen.