After reviewing the AONIC 5 (triple driver) and the AONIC 4 (dual-hybrid driver), I have finally come to the entry-level model. The Shure AONIC 3 is their smallest earphones fitted with single-vented balanced armature driver retailing at S$269 in Singapore.
The Aonic 3 stands out among the latest Shure models, its design departs from the previous SE-series that have won fans for the past decade. The compact earbuds are not as ergonomically shaped but thanks to the behind-the-ear cable style, they stay snugly in the ears. It comes with accessories identical to the Aonic 4, giving consumers plenty of ear tips to achieve the desired comfort.
Let’s jump straight into the audio aspects of the Aonic 3. Obviously, the Aonic 3 is not as brilliant as the Aonic 4 and Aonic 5. Still, with just a single balanced armature driver, it delivers similar sound tuning and staging, offering a desirable sample of the Aonic range. There is no denying that the Aonic 3 delivers above-average musical details compared to other consumer earphones. Instruments have more space for presentation without sounding cluttered in my ears.
The bass politely pumps the lower frequencies without much body, so I would describe it as “natural”. The midrange is clean and detailed, thanks to the tame bass. The treble lacks the definition, discipline and space I experience on the other two Aonic models. Vocal sibilance is a little shimmery though not harsh, while the upper frequencies are not as extended. Chris Botti’s trumpet feels intimate but lacks the body that completes the warmth, and the metal brush drum sticks sounded a little hazy.
Comparatively, the Klipsch X12i sounds warmer, treble is less deliberate, but background instrumentations are not forward, not as transparent. Though the Aonic 3 sounds far more detailed in all levels, the Klipsch X12i is more blended, more romantic. Compared to Aonic 4, the Aonic 3 brings the treble a little more forward while the Aonic 4 has wider sound staging.
The Shure Aonic 3 is an entry-level answer to Shure’s premium earphones, offering the signature sound staging and unrivalled instrumental details delivered through a single driver. I recommend Aonic 5 for its outstanding musicality and balanced instrumental details for sensitive ears, while I find Aonic 4 brings out the treble clarity and bass impact more distinctly, great for most listeners. The Aonic 3 delivers better multi-instrumental details and staging compared to other earphones, with a spatial staging to keep instrumental details coming, though it lacks the gratification of strong bass and clear treble notion.