Robin Williams once joked that cocaine was God's way of telling you that you have too much money. Add Shure's new E500 headphones ($499) to that list. The goal here is a listening experience that's both great-sounding and noise-canceling, two previously mutually exclusive features. True audiophiles will drool over the head-phones' performance at both ends of the spectrum, easily the best I've heard. And their flexible tips made them extremely comfortable. However, despite Shure's boasts about the E500's noise-canceling capabilities, on a recent cross-country flight, Bose's QuietComfort 2 headphones proved to be far more effective. If you have $499 to drop on the E500, why not spend an extra $299 and get yourself a Bose set, too?
A version of this article appeared in the June 2006 issue of Fast Company magazine.