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[Test] Shure Aonic 50: sound precision in the service of ANC Bluetooth headphones

TheAonic 50 of Shure looks like the crème de la crème of the helmet Bluetooth that you can also (especially) use with your mobile. Elegant design, “noble” materials, ANC, a sound rendering that we are promised “Studio” quality, extensive compatibility with Bluetooth audio codecs (including aptX HD and LDAC), the Aonic 50 justifies on paper, its positioning and its high-end price (in its segment). Is the contract really fulfilled? To answer this question, we tested the beautiful promises of the Aonic 50 for 3 weeks, with several codecs and musical genres, and even on VR. Here is our opinion:

Design and finishes at the top of the basket

The aesthetics of a closed audio headset remains an important criterion of choice, especially when it comes to a Bluetooth headset that we are supposed to wear outside and therefore in plain sight. The elegant curves of the Aonic as well as the choice of noble materials (brushed aluminum for the headband and the hinges of the headphones, leather for the ear cups and the upper part of the headband) make this headset a very beautiful object in style. asserted.

This design is also a guarantee of robustness (excellent design of the pivoting hinges)… which comes at the cost of maximum bulk, especially since the Aonic is not foldable. Once stored in its circular case, we end up with a huge box that we do not imagine taking with you on the mop. Conclusion, the best way to transport the Aonic 50 (when it is not on your head) is undoubtedly to keep it around your neck, as in the 80s and 90s in short …

Aonic 50 Shure Photo 2

All comfort, even over time

The activation of the device does not pose any particular problem. We download the app, and a pairing later (the first time on my iPhone 12 Pro), the headset is ready to work. Despite its weight on the scale (around 340 grams), the Aonic 50 is really comfortable in use. The headphones fit well on the ears, the real leather ear cups are extremely comfortable, and I did not notice any particular discomfort in prolonged or very prolonged use (the ears do not heat up too much). All the control buttons are physical on the Aonic, which I personally prefer to touch (often imprecise). Note that these physical control buttons do not work in passive (wired) mode.

Aonic 50 Shure photo 1

Many formats supported

The controls are precise and allow you to manage the essentials, namely the activation of the device and the Bluetooth search, the volume level, the playback functions (advance to the next track, pause), the activation of the voice assistant and active noise reduction. A small note in passing: the wired connection is obviously possible, but only between 3.5mm mini-jack and sub-mini jack. We cannot therefore use its high-end 3.5mm Jack-Jack cable and be satisfied with the cable supplied with the device. We also note the presence of a USB port. The compatible app mainly has the merit of offering an equalizer (EQ) that goes to the point, but the settings of the latter – which can be recorded in order to create several sound scenes – do not seem to have been effective until with songs from Apple Music on my iPhone. A real shame, especially since we can play, among other things, on the volume of the voices, the frequency (Hz) or the bass level (forget, this is clearly not the strong point of these headphones) . Finally, this is undoubtedly the right place to recall the large number of supported sound formats (SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, LDAC), from the most “basic” to the most demanding.

Aonic 50 Shure Photo 3

Sound: Shure value

Let’s move on … to sound. Shure has the reputation of offering a rather neutral and well-detailed, almost neutral sound rendering (a bit like good AKGs in short). For my first contact with the Aonic 50, I can largely attest that this reputation is not usurped. The different sound tracks stand out perfectly, including on the large intermixed synth layers (a little more difficulty on the treble at high volume) of the OST of Gravity or Interstellar (real sound crash tests). The headphones devour all musical genres with ease and even manage to return sound elements that we had not noticed before, such as this chair which squeaks very lightly during a concert, or the breath of certain wind instruments.

Aonic 50 Shure 3

… but shy bass

It’s quite impressive on some songs, but you have to be honest: sound lovers groovy, with very round or punchy bass, will probably not find their account. In fact, the sound of the Aonic 50 lacks a bit of bass, even bass that one could qualify as “neutral”. It is less a question of strict sound presence than of impact, as if the bass were losing a little of their timbre, this particular way of resonating in the ear. Another small notable defect, the active noise reduction deteriorates a little (but noticeably enough for that to be noticeable) the general sound rendering. And since we are talking about ANC, the technology used by Shure is not terribly effective. Sounds that are a bit loud and close (like those that one can easily hear when walking in a big city like Paris) often cross the barrier of the ANC. Attenuated certainly, but they pass.

Aonic 50 Shure 5

ANC like “Ah No, that’s not it yet …”

The Environment mode works much better, but if you buy an ANC headset it is perhaps not to realize that the latter is especially effective … for listening to external sounds. To close the chapter of bad points, the Aonic 50 seemed to us overall fairly average during phone calls, even with the ANC engaged. Exterior sounds often continue to pass and use in full wind is almost prohibited. Living in a very windy region (and it got windy for most of this grip), the Aonic 50 clearly wasn’t my go-to helmet for this type of use.

Aonic 50 Shure 2

At ease in space

On the other hand, the Aonic 50 behaves extremely well in sound spatialization, even if this seems to vary a lot depending on the quality of the recordings… or the formats. It is obvious that in general, we will not obtain the same level ofeargasm whether you listen to AAC or LDAC, but the Aonic 50 still has the ability to transcend neat recordings in AAC (what to say in LDAC or aptX H), while being ruthless if the recording is unworthy (then you REALLY hear that it’s bad). Used with an Oculus Quest 2 (yes, it is still possible in wired), the Aonic 50 has been shown to be very effective in positioning sound sources, to the point of reinforcing the immersion a good notch. As the comfort is there, this real aptitude for spatialization makes them strangely a good headphone for this type of rather particular use (well, the big bass in Beat Saber, we forget here again). On videos – for example a series or a movie played on the smartphone – the Aonic does not show any latency really noticeable to the eye. At all good therefore on this point.

Regarding autonomy, it will depend on the sound format, and this is undoubtedly even more for a headset as precise and qualitative in rendering. Overall, the headset died after around 6-7pm, which is pretty good (even if Shure promises 20 hours; we’ll say we’re there… almost).

Conclusion: an ultra qualitative base, but the ANC …

Pretty, well finished and extremely comfortable, the Aonic 50 impresses above all by the quality of its sound reproduction, with great precision on all frequency heights… except on the big bass that it treats with too much shyness. The autonomy is also quite correct in view of the services, and the 3D audio services are rather very convincing. On the other hand, this very beautiful headset misses the mark on the ANC, not yet fully developed, which is still a shame for a device of this price. The Aonic 50 remains however highly recommendable, knowing that its price has dropped significantly since its release.

TheAonic 50 by Shure is available for € 369 at Amazon, (promo on the white version at 321 € at the moment).

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