Pro-oriented audio company Shure has launched a new consumer wireless audio line called Aonic at CES 2020. The Aonic 215 true wireless earbuds and Aonic 50 wireless noise-cancelling cans will both arrive this spring, and represent the brand's first real push for a slice of the high-end consumer wireless headphone market.
The Aonic 215 are based on the company's well-regarded 'budget' SE215 earbuds, replacing their regular cable with an over-ear loop containing a battery and button for controls. The company claims you'll get eight hours of playback from a single charge, and the included puck-style case provides three additional charges.
I'm not a huge fan of the SE215's sound profile, which is a little dull for my tastes, but the Aonic 215 do sound identical to the non-wireless model. While there's no active noise-cancelling, the foam tips did a decent job of isolating the hubbub of a busy CES show floor, and there's a solid "environment mode" that passes through sound from the outside world.
The Bluetooth connection was a little spotty, cutting out several times, but my typically solid Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones are currently cutting out as I type this article from the event, so I'm willing to give Shure the benefit of the doubt there -- this place is a wireless connectivity nightmare. At $279, you'll be paying quite a premium over the $150 non-wireless SE215, but it's in the same ballpark as a pair of Airpods Pro.
The Aonic 50 are more interesting to me -- premium cans Shure hopes will take the aforementioned XM3's place as the gold standard for over-ear noise-cancelling headphones. I only had five minutes with them; enough time to hear a single song and flip the ANC on and off several times. The noise-cancelling is, at first blush, very good. Again, I have a good frame of reference from the ANC headphones I'm currently wearing, and the Aonic 50 kept pace with my regular cans, blocking out the vast majority of ambient sound. At launch you'll be able to tune the ANC and the aforementioned environment mode with an app.
Five minutes is not enough time to make a qualitative judgement on headphones, but they certainly sounded like a pair of premium cans. Shure says they'll last 20 hours on a single charge, also, which is competitive enough. At $399 they're in the "prestige" range with models like Sennheiser's Momentum Wireless and B&O's H9, and we'll hopefully get a chance to put them (and the Aonic 215) through their paces when they go on sale this spring.