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Extreme tuning, some will love it most people won't

A Review On: Ultrasone IQ

Ultrasone IQ

Rated # 224 in Universal Fit
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Price paid: $650.00
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Pros: Tasty low end, aggressive, clinical, focus sound, great isolation when proper sealed, great leather pouch.

Cons: Pushy high-mid, quite expensive for what it is, uncomfortable to wear, stock cable not so good, lack of air and for this price no cleaning tool?

I went to shop for upgrade from my beloved Westone 4.


Didn't bother to get custom. Aiming around $500-1000 options


Audition candidates 

1. Ultrasone IQ  $730

2. AKG K3003  $1,140

3. Sennheiser IE800 $ 660

4. Aurisonics ASG-2  $653

5. Heir Audio IEM 5.0+ $ 690



Here are the mini review of IQ and versus of the other candidates.



Sub low to Low End

IQ: has great sub low to low, thanks to the hybrid drivers design, I like it rumbles and has great impact low and moderate decay time. not too tight not too loose, just right.

great low end texture and very controlled and tasty. Still a little bit bloated and affecting mid range but VERY  slightly. Only purist will find it annoying.


VS K3003 : K3003 tighter, mrore controlled, very close to neutral response (still a bit boosted though)

VS IE800: IE800's low end few lazy and slow, decay time too long

VS ASG-2 : BLOATED, Basshead will love it.

VS IEM 5.0: Bloated and hollow



Low Mid to Mid

IQ: Very very noticeable low mid dip around 200-400Hz range. result lacking body and richness despite it has great sub low and low.

Smooth mid but due to great low end power, Vocal sound a bit laid back but very smooth, 


VS K3003: very enjoyable lush mid range presentation, vocal also a bit laid back but a bit more forward than IQ.

VS IE800: similar approach to K3003 but better sibilant control

VS ASG-2: clouded mid range, probably because of bloated bass.

VS IEM 5.0: right amount of low mid, sounding rich. Out of phase sound mid, I ssuspect faulty unit or design flaw


High Mid

IQ: VERY VERY pushy, VERY VERY Hot!!!!! 

high mid spike all over the place, especially 5.5k - 8kHz range.

result very clinical and overall forward sound, This is where IQ's uniqueness, I imagine not every people love this approach.

Because in other word : Ear Fatigue.

Kick drum click sound prominent, Snare snap sound somtimes too much, Vocal sibilant prominent, crash cymbals sound a bit harsh and upfront, distortion guitar sound bigger, better detail revealing ability.


VS K3003: more controlled high mid, long time listening friendly

VS IE800: smoother approach, a bit dip in high mid region, sound lazy and not enough presence.

VS ASG-2: High mid?What high-mid?

VS IEM 5.0: pushy High mid but not as much as IQ



High End

IQ: The high end are there(12kHz and upwards), but noticeable roll off start around 12-13kHz ish.

But due to prominent high mid, the air are less noticeable , result a bit narrower sound stage(still pretty wide for IEM though)


VS K3003: SUPER wide sound stage, very airy but personally think it's too wide result the sound lacking focus.

VS IE800: wide sound stage but in a better sense than K3003

Vs ASG-2: High End? What High End?

VS IEM 5.0: airy, a bit too hot.





Accessories and Comfort and others

1. At this price point and doesn't come with ear wax cleaning tool is ridiculous.

2. The leather pouch is nicely done, very classy but the size a bit too big

3. come with 2 cable, one with mic and control for your smart phone and one J-cord (J cord? seriously?) and I personally found memory wire quite irritating, replaced cable immediately 

4. some selection of tips, been tip rolling and settle with medium Shure olive with wax filter. Triple flange can rectify and pushy high-mid but in trade of bass quality.

5. come with flight adapter and OMTP adapter.







IQ has quite unique sound tuning, I don't imagine many people will love it but I do.

Not neutral sounding IEM, rather a fun sounding IEM with slight V-shape EQ and with great resolution and detail revealing ability.

Best suit for Rock, Metal, EDM.

A bit overpriced for what it is.

painfully uncomfortable to wear for long session.

Proper seal not easy to achieve. 

Stock cable sound too bright, easy to tangle. 



In 4 candidates, K3003 sound technically superior to the rest. I didn't choose it because of it's SUPER WIDE sound stage, lack of focus tuning and flimsy looking non-detachable cable, other than that. K3003 is every bit superior to the rest.

ASG-2 sound vastly inferior, one can get similar quality and tuning IEM for much less money.

IE800 are great IEM but just not suit my preference.

IEM 5.0: Very weird tuning(if not faulty unit)VERY hollow sounding, Low end are there but sound muddy and no attack at all. I don't imagine ANY person would love it and QC issue, the unit I audition left ear piece SIGNIFICANTLY louder than right ear piece.

×××××××××××UPDATE****************** 2013-11-28

Been tip rolling and switching cables again
Finally settle with
Cable: Labkable Supernova 7N
Tip: Westone original triple flange with stem and first flange cut off.

Supernova 7N reduced reasonable amount of low end quantity and added a bit of air , made IQ sound wider and bass quantity became just right for my taste
Westone Triple flange with stem and first flange cut off, isolation lessen but tamed all high-mid spike and retain the low end texture.

I am really happy with IQ now, the SQ so much closer to K3003 without overly airy and lack of focus like K3003.

On a side note, IQ really need an amp. Don't let 20 Ohms fool you.
I had westone 4 and they doesn't sound much different on different source and amp.

But IQ sound massively different on different amplifier
and I was able to listen W4 on my cell phone(HTC one), the SQ is almost as great as output from delicated headphones amp.

I can't do it with IQ. IQ sound incredibly weak, trebly, no body on cell phone. IQ needs an amp.


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