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I’ve been a huge fan of Shure in-ear monitors since my first pair of single-driver E2s back in high school. Since then, I’ve owned the E5, SE535, and SE846 IEMs. Today, I added another Shure IEM to the list – the KSE1200. I’ve had my eyes on the KSE1200 IEMs for a while, so I was very excited to receive them today – shout out to the folks over at Moon Audio.

Over the past year or so, the quad-driver Shure SE846 was my primary IEM. To this day, I have no complaints about that IEM. I originally purchased them as an upgrade to the SE535, which I used for almost four years. For awhile, I thought the SE846 was my “endgame IEM”, but then I started getting curious about the KSE1500 and KSE1200 electrostatic IEMs.

Today, I spent a few hours listening to music with the KSE1200 IEMs through an RME ADI-2 FS DAC. Initially, I connected the RME to the KSE1200’s included headphone amplifier via a 3.5mm cable. This setup sounded great, but the RME’s line out via an AudioQuest RCA to 3.5mm cable sounded even better to my ears.

For my listening session, I streamed lossless music from TIDAL. I’ve been on a k-pop binge lately, so the first song I listened to was Raiden and CHAEYOL’s Yours. I’m currently working on producing a cover of this song, so it was fresh on my mind. After that, I listened to a few classical pieces, Broadway albums, and a more traditional audiophile playlist.

I’ll write a more complete review in a month or two, but I wanted to share some first impressions of this incredible IEM.

  • The first word that comes to mind when I think about the KSE1200 in-ear monitors is “effortless”. Instead of rendering music, the KSE1200 sounds like it is the music.
  • The KSE1200’s frequency response is very neutral. I knew this going in, so I was expecting the bass response to be weaker than the SE846’s accentuated low end. The KSE1200 definitely has less bass, but it sounds extremely accurate in the context of the overall tuning.
  • It’s easy to crank up the volume with the KSE1200 IEMs. Thanks to the elecrostatic design, there is literally no audible distortion even at loud listening volumes. This can potentially be dangerous, so I’ll need to try hard to keep my listening levels in check.
  • The KSE1200 is the best IEM I have ever listened to, and I’ve tried a s***ton of IEMs. The tricky thing over the next few months is going to be distilling the KSE1200 into words.