After years of being the company audio professionals have been looking forward to for their wired in-ear monitors, Shure has finally introduced its first true wireless earbuds: the $199 Shure Aonic Free. They will be available in one color (graphite gray) from November 4.
We say “true” true wireless earbuds, because technically the company’s Shure Aonic 215, which it released in 2020 for $229, were also true wireless earbuds in the sense that each earbud had its own power source and wasn’t connected to any other. kind of rope. But their over-the-ear loop design allows you to swap out the acoustic part for another earbud module, making them much larger than any other true wireless earbud.
Not so with the Aonic Free, which, while still looks big compared to something like the third-generation AirPods, is the true true wireless deal. You might think that after waiting so long to get into the true wireless game, Shure would come in with both weapons blazing in terms of features in an effort to overtake companies like Sony, Bose, and Apple. But Shure has opted for a more conservative set of targets for the Aonic Free.
You won’t find active noise cancellation (ANC), in-ear sensors, or wireless charging. Instead, Shure has emphasized sound quality and customization — an approach it’s used over and over over the years.
Shure says the Aonic Free offers “clear studio-quality sound with deep bass,” powered by a premium amplifier and driver combination. These are the same claims made by pretty much all the companies that make true wireless earbuds, but in the case of Shure, it’s probably not the usual marketing hype. We’ve reviewed many of the company’s earbuds and headphones and found that they all perform excellently. The earbuds use Bluetooth 5.0 and support SBC, AAC and aptX codecs.
You can make extensive changes to the controls and EQ settings using the ShurePlus Play app, which doubles as a control center for streaming music. Call quality has been a major strength of the Aonic 215, and Shure promises it will continue with the Aonic Free, which reduces the volume of music during a call and includes noise-cancelling technology to block out wind noise.
The company claims that the Aonic Free’s noise-isolating design, which uses an ergonomically angled horn plus Comply foam earbuds, will block out up to 37 decibels of external noise. That’s comparable to what the best ANC systems are capable of, although noise-isolating designs are passive by nature and cannot respond to changing environments in real time. To counter all that noise blocking when you need to hear what’s going on, an ambient mode (transparency mode) activates the external microphones to let in sounds.
Battery life is seven hours per charge, and the charging case can be fully charged twice for a total of 21 hours of wireless playtime. That’s not as long as you get from other true wireless earbuds, which can last up to 40 hours, but it should still give you a full day of listening.
An IPX4 water resistance rating rounds out the Aonic Free’s feature set, which should give you peace of mind when using them in the gym or on a run, although given the design, these earbuds may not offer the sort of secure fit you need for high impact activities.