Shure Aonic Free review: Bigger can be better
(Pocket-lint) – The march of time in so many sectors of tech has led to smaller products, but there are some noteworthy exceptions to that rule, not least in the form of the huge phones we all lug around in our daily lives. When it comes to wireless earbuds, though, it’s generally a safe assumption that smaller earbuds will be at least more comfortable.
Shure has demonstrated that it’s happy to ignore that lesson, given the enormous size of the Aonic Free earbuds and accompanying case. However, sometimes bigger can be better, because Shure has nailed the biggest fundamental of all: sound quality.
We haven’t felt as conflicted about a pair of earbuds as we do about the Aonic Free in a long time. On the one hand, we are disappointed by their size and the apparent lack of features they bring to the table.
On the flip side they sound phenomenal and the isolation on offer really does beat out a sub-par active noise-cancelling (ANC) system any day of the week. With a good app to accompany, including customisation options, if you’re looking for a great-sounding set of earbuds and don’t mind the larger scale then Shure’s onto a real winner here.
- Available in grey or red
- Control button on each earbud
- Case measures: 140 x 140 x 54mm
Shure hasn’t held back on the Aonic. It’s important to acknowledge first and foremost that these are big earbuds with an even bigger case.
Each has a flat outer surface with a canal-shaped bud on the other side, narrowing to a tip where you fit your choice of sleeve.
While the section that goes into your ear is actually pretty small, the outer shell is large, and looks like something halfway between an earbud and an old-school Bluetooth headset from the mid-noughties. Inevitably that large exterior section pokes out of the ears, so it’s hardly inconspicuous.
While the Aonic Free appear fairly subtle finished in grey, in red they draw additional attention to their size, which is further compounded when you turn to their case. While the earbuds are on the chunkier end of the earbud spectrum, the case is massive enough to be falling off the scale.
It’s not weighty, though, but rather just big in every dimension to the point where it’s not much fun to have in your pocket. That’s a pretty big issue for earbuds, in our opinion – you’ll be yearning for the pocketability of the AirPods Pro’s case, for example.
The case itself is made of plastic, just like the earbuds, and charges by USB-C (there’s no wireless charging, which is a shame). The whole package is IPX4 water-resistant, enough to make them something you could reliably wear out in the rain without having a worry in the back of your mind.
The beginning of the Aonic Free’s redemption arc comes when you actually put them in – they’re surprisingly light and comfortable to wear, despite their bulk, with the weight balanced evenly and the earbuds light enough that their size is more of a visual issue than a comfort one.