Shure Aonic Free review

The Shure Aonic Free earbuds don’t offer active noise cancelling but aim to passively block out ambient sounds while majoring on music sound quality.

Noise-canceling earbuds are all the rage right now, but the true wireless space is opening up to sub-categories like sound-isolating earbuds. Shure is one of the makers leading the passive noise neutralization charge, and its Aonic Free earbud is built for immersive listening without the need for active noise cancellation tech.

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Can they stand out among the market’s top performers like the AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM4? Yes, at least from a sound quality standpoint. Read our full Shure Aonic Free review to see how legit these sound-isolating IEMs (In-Ear Monitors) really are.

Price and availability

The Shure Aonic Free originally launched at $249, but the earbuds can be found reduced to $199 and can be purchased through major online retailers, including Amazon and Street water, or directly from Shure. Color options are graphite and crimson chrome. Inside the box comes a charging case, USB-C charging cable, three sets of different sized Comply Foam tips, quick start guide, and two-year warranty.

For all of the latest wireless earbud sales, bookmark our best headphones deals page.

 Design and comfort

  • Sleek design with good build quality
  • Charging case is larger than most
  • Great in-ear fit and high comfort levels

The Aonic Free’s elongated design is likely to appeal to anyone looking to break away from the AirPods’ long stem silhouette, although its styling stands out for different reasons and may also divide opinion. If you like the look, then great, as the buds’ distinctive aesthetic comes with great build quality and the sturdy plastic outer case is built to withstand daily abuse. Not to mention the shiny metallic finish gives off luxe vibes; you’ll want to treat these buds with care since as the finish easily shows up scratches.

This leads us to the well-protected and very wide charging case. It isn’t exactly light (listed at 0.5 ounces). Nor is it particularly pocket friendly — just look at it lined up next to the AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro charging cases (pictured below) — it’s nearly as wide as the two combined. On the plus side, it’s strong and ensures the buds remain safe when docked in their charging slots.

Controls and digital assistant

  • Responsive and customizable control scheme
  • Button design can affect fit

Considering the buds’ substantial real estate on display, touch controls may have made more sense. I’m not mad at Shure’s decision to go with physical buttons on the Aonic Free, but it does require the earbuds to be held steady when activating the buttons, as the slightest pressure can make them fall from your ear. Despite what feels like a design misstep, the buttons are usefully tactile and respond accurately to my single or multi-press commands. Users can also assign commands via the Button Controls setting in the companion app.

Sound quality

  • Well-balanced frequency range
  • Versatile EQ
  • aptX, AAC, and SBC codec support

Shure has a strong audio history and reputation for making great-sounding headphones, so my expectations regarding the Sonic’s sound delivery are high from the outset. I wasn’t disappointed, and the earbuds sound accurate and detailed, letting me hear subtle nuances, along with a fine mix of lows, mids, and highs.

The basic snare beat on The Fugees’ “Ready or Not” thumps with ferocity, while Lauryn Hill’s singing on the bridge is well defined over the somber and ghostly melody sampled from Enya’s “Boadicea.” Speaking of the New Age songstress, her ethereal masterpiece “Only Time” is a serene listen with the Aonic Free’s full-range dynamic driver reproducing the deeply textured synths and multi-layered vocals superbly.

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