In Focus: Shure AONIC 50 Gen 2 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

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In Focus: Shure AONIC 50 Gen 2 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

Shure AONIC 50
Words by Rob Gee

The Active Noise Cancelling headphone (or ANC) market is these days awash with trendy options that seem to sell fashion more than they do audio quality.

But there are always the stalwarts in the industry who continue to deliver quality products, backed by decades of design and engineering experience. It goes without saying that Shure falls into that category, and it’s no surprise that an updated version of the popular AONIC headphones is going to be keenly sought after. So, let’s take a look at the AONIC 50 Gen 2 Active Noise Cancelling headphones.

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Shure AONIC 50 Gen 2 review

I am going to start with a disclaimer before looking at these headphones. I am not, nor ever have I been, a fan of Active Noise Cancelling headphones. In general, I find the listening experience off-putting, and too far removed from a real-world listening environment. If I want to engage in critical listening, in a controlled studio environment, I can and will do that. But, when listening in noise cancelling headphones, I can’t get past the effect the cancellation process has on the music I am listening to, nor how it feels with the removal of a spatial awareness from sound. Having said all of that, the AONIC 50 Gen 2 have changed my mind somewhat, and fans of noise cancelling headphones will agree more so.

Shure AONIC 50 Overview

So, let’s look at the feel to start with. These headphones have been designed to offer minimal interference in every aspect. Not only are they focused on removing audio noise, but visual noise too, with sleek lines and a smooth finish that doesn’t look anywhere near as intrusive as the size suggests they should. There is some bulk to the cans, as the drivers, microphones and space required between can only be reduced so much, but the smooth lines and satin black finish reduce the look and feel of the actual size. The soft, yet sturdy headband has comfort in mind, and the super-soft ear cups are all about extended listening. When not in use, the AONIC 50 Gen 2 headphones fold flat, so they will take up less space in storage. I actually prefer this concept to so many other headphones that fold in on themselves, in an articulated fashion, and end up as a giant lump. You can slide these down into a backpack between books, a laptop or console and they create very little bulk.

It’s in use that they really shine. Shure have gone all out with the Shure AONIC 50 headphones. They come with a 3.5mm jack cable for wired use if you so wish, or utilise Bluetooth 5 technology for the best signal transfer and fastest latency. And this can be heard with the audio quality in both listening and microphone pickup. There are 6 microphones in all, which automatically adjust to capture your voice, and reduce environmental noise, so you can use them for phone calls and not have to worry about the noise in the room, out on the street, or wherever you may be. The result delivers a vocal that is slightly scooped in the lower mid frequencies, but it’s a small price to pay for what is the most concise noise gate you’ll ever get on a phone call.

Shure AONIC 50 Sound

Audio playback is excellent too. Be it listening to music, streaming movies, taking phone calls or live streaming, you’re given incredible direct sound and none of the environmental noise that you don’t want to hear. With audio quality of up to 32-bit and an insane 384kHz sampling rate, there is so much in the audio signal you won’t be able to hear, that it will improve everything you can actually hear. This can be further enhanced with the use of the ShurePlus PLAY app, where you can make use of a full parametric EQ, and apply a range of settings to get your listening the way you like it.

Shure AONIC 50 2

Further, amongst the switches on the side of the can is one that engages the Environment Mode. This gets a big tick from myself, as it allows you to hear the outside world, and effectively cancel the noise cancelling, by pushing the switch up. That means you can listen to an audio source and still take in your surroundings in the background, as many of us are so used to with regular headphones. It certainly makes for a more natural feel when using the headphones for recording, or in streaming and phone call situations, where you tend to raise your voice automatically when you struggle to hear environmental confirmation of its volume. Flip the switch back down, and the outside world just melts away again, and it feels like you’re back under the cone of silence.

While we’re talking about spatial awareness, Shure have added what they call Spatialised Audio technology to the Shure AONIC 50 Gen 2 which emulates three different environments for different listening situations. These are Music, Cinema and Podcast mode, with room modelling to adjust how the sound source is positioned in the stereo image, and how the space would relate to that positioning with early reflections and room noise. These are all quite unique soundscapes, and offer a more comfortable listening experience that goes just about unnoticed. It’s when you switch these modes off that you suddenly realise what you are missing out on.

In all, the Shure AONIC 50 Gen 2 Active Noise Cancelling headphones offer a comfortable fit, a great range of options for both wired and wireless listening, extensive control from the included mobile app. These headphones offer more than anyone could have imagined possible ten years ago, and now they are readily available for all to enjoy. If you haven’t already, get into your local Shure dealer to try a pair now. You will be pleasantly surprised at how well they block out the salesperson’s spiel. That, in itself, is worth the price of admission.

For local enquiries, visit Jands.