Shure AONIC 50 Gen 2 Review Leave a comment

I thought the original Aonic 50 was a solid set of cans, but perhaps it didn’t turn out to be as popular as Shure had hoped. Well, Shure enough, the seasoned brand has tweaked some flaws and made some significant upgrades to its interior and exterior build. What can you expect from the Aonic 50 2nd Generation in terms of design, performance and sound signature?

What’s in the Box?

  • Shure Aonic 50 Headphones 
  • Leatherette carrying case
  • USB-C cable for charging, communication and hi-res audio
  • 1 audio cable (with 3.5mm termination)

Look and Feel

I was a big fan of the original Aonic 50 design, with its silver metallic accent yolk and rock solid build. The new Aonic 50 Gen 2 looks almost as sturdy in its design, but it has dropped the silver touches for an all black look, going with a black plastic yolk and black engraving on the ear cup. Still, the uber-pudgy leather ear pads and headband have remained, as has some of its weight. The clamping force is firm enough to create good sound isolation, but forgiving enough to feel comfortable on the ears after extended wear. And overall, I had no problems with fit. 

Shure AONIC 50 Gen 2 Review: Similar design, better sound

Shure AONIC 50 Gen 2 Review: Plush leather ear cups

Design and Functionality

Controls

Unlike so many of today’s wireless models that use touchpads on the ear cup to control functions, Shure has stuck with good ol’ buttons, which in my opinion, are more reliable and easier to navigate. And competing models, such as those from Bowers & Wilkins and Sennheiser, have started taking the same approach for this reason.

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)

I found the effectiveness of the ANC about as good as needed. That is, it killed any ambient hum, but it was never so powerful as to create an uncomfortable pressure in the ear. (This can be the case with many competing models). And if you’re looking for more extreme noise cancellation, other models from brands like Sony or Bose would probably be more ideal. Of course, as is standard now for headphones of this caliber, the Aonic 50 Gen 2 also offers an ambient mode, which allows in sound from the surrounding environment.

Bluetooth

The Aonic 50 Gen 2 employs Bluetooth 5, which is not the latest version. That said, I never experienced any dropouts or interruptions. And pairing was fast and easy. These cans also support a bunch of hi-res codecs, including aptX, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive and LDAC.

Battery

The Aonic 50 delivers around 45 hours of playtime, which is a more impressive battery life than on the first model, and even beats popular competing models, such as Sony’s WH-1000XM5.

Extra Features

The Aonic 50 comes with an app that allows you to have extra control over the features, such as equalizer adjustment and “spacial audio”, which affects and adds dimension to the soundstage of the headphones depending on the mode you choose. You should also be able to customize the button controls on the ear cups through the app. But I can’t tell you for sure because I actually had problems connecting to the app through my iPhone. I’m not sure what the issue was, but it could have been a problem be specific to my phone.

Shure AONIC 50 Gen 2 Review: Hơw good is the ANC?

Sound Impressions

One of the most impressive upgrades to the design of the Aonic 50 is the extra volume it provides. The one little issue I had with the original version was that it stopped short of being just loud enough to rock out on. But the Aonic 50 Gen 2 gives you that volume and plenty of headroom to spare.

Soundstage

This is one of my favorite soundstages on the wireless market. The Aonic 50 delivers a true blue holographic experience with tons of height, depth and width. The imaging feels super spacious and is precise to the smallest degree, making you feel like a tiny figure floating in giant and complicated sphere of sound. The grandness in scale adds to the magnificence of the stage, giving every genre from classical to pop an added bit of expansiveness.

Low-End

The bass feels a touch bigger and darker than I remember it being on the previous AONIC50. But don’t quote me. Certainly, the low-end is far from reserved, and takes a good amount of space and punch within the mix. The sub-bass frequencies, while mildly visceral, didn’t vibrate my socks off. But with some tweaking of the equalizer, bass-heads should get the fix they need. The low-end is also notably clean and detailed as it creeps up the bass clef, providing a highly textured and natural flavor to string instruments and other acoustic elements. 

Mids

The mids sound sharply dressed, with a crisp and refined profile. Don’t expect a ton of body in this range, as the delivery is lean, while the low mids are somewhat reserved. This isn’t a forward upper-midrange either, so vocals fall tastefully within the mix rather than stand out right in front of you. The presentation here is immaculately clean, and though the mids take a backseat to the bass and highs, there’s still some liveliness here thanks to the snappiness of the delivery. 

Highs

On this somewhat bright high-end, the lively snap and sparkle is perhaps the most exhilarating aspect of this frequency range. That said, it can feel a touch too crispy at times, causing listening fatigue for sensitive ears after a long stretches. You might hear some sibilance in places as well. But overall, the high-end is pleasingly vibrant, and treble notes have a levitating feel to them, making treble elements sound playful and high-spirited.

Final Verdict

If I wasn’t completely sold on the first version of the Aonic 50, then I am now. With the immensely improved amount of headroom, fun bass and lively highs, this crisp and clean sounding headphone is one entertaining listen. As long as you don’t expect extremely powerful noise cancellation, there’s little to dislike about this model. And if you’re looking for a refreshing change in sound profile from big brands like Sony and Sennheiser, the Aonic 50 Gen 2 delivers that uniqueness and memorability factor.

You can buy the Shure Aonic 50 Gen 2 at Audio 46.

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