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Comparison of Customer Service for Ultimate Ears and Westone Custom IEMs

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I am a recent purchaser of two custom IEMs, the UE11 and ES2, made by Ultimate Ears and Westone, respectively. Both have some fit issues: One of the Westone earpieces extends too far from my ear, and one of the UE11 earpieces does not allow a good seal. The finish on the UE11s was sub-par as well.

I spoke on the phone with customer service reps from both companies, who were very polite & professional and provided me instructions on how to get these issues corrected.

On the same day last week I sent the ES2s and UE11s in for "repair" (a curious thing to call corrections to brand new custom IEMs, but I'll play along). For each I included a detailed letter describing the issues, annotated photos, and new silicone impressions (acquiring decent impressions might be a topic for another thread).

It's a challenge to produce well-fitting earpieces on the first try, so after-sale support is a critical element of the custom IEM purchasing experience. Custom IEM manufacturers have a tough assignment: To "know" a customer's ears without having the luxury of a real, live person standing before them. All they really know about their customers' ears are what is contained in silicone impressions.

This is a good opportunity to compare and contrast not just the fit and performance of the Ultimate Ears and Westone custom IEMs, but also to describe the path it takes to get that legendary fit and performance. I will let you know how it goes.

Watch this space . . .
post #2 of 15
which of the two sounded better ? I mean which had more enjoyable music rather than analytical ??
post #3 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by western120 View Post
which of the two sounded better ? I mean which had more enjoyable music rather than analytical ??
Not hijacking, but I have both. The 11's cost, what 2x the 2's? I'd say the sound is about 1.5x better with the 11's.

I've also done customer service with both companies. Both are beyond excellent with a slight nod to Westone, but this is comparing two of the best customer service experiences I've had.
post #4 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Linthicum View Post
This is a good opportunity to compare and contrast not just the fit and performance of the Ultimate Ears and Westone custom IEMs, but also to describe the path it takes to get that legendary fit and performance. I will let you know how it goes.

Watch this space . . .
I'm interested to see how each company deals with "tweaking" your IEMs. I should be able to chime in about a week or so from now as I have Livewires on the way. The more I learn about custom IEMs and proper fit, the more I understand how much a well done impression is worth. I hope you get excellent customer service from both Westone and UE and that the only problem you have is deciding which IEM to pick for use that day.
post #5 of 15
I don't have any ue's but I have the es2 and I think that the es2's have overbearing midrange and weak high frequency extension, and I don't claim to have bat hearing. I compare the es2 to my Sony MDR-7506 headphones that I have had for a decade. I picked the es2 over the es10 because the frequency response curves that I saw for the es10 looked bass heavy. I didn't know that UE came out with the ue11. But I'll have to drive to Chicago to get a fit for the ue11.

However, I think the fit is great. It took a few minutes to figure out how to get them in but I'm convinced that in-ear monitors are the best technology. I figit with the position of my headphones a lot more than I fidget with the position of my earphones.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeBlues View Post
Not hijacking, but I have both. The 11's cost, what 2x the 2's? I'd say the sound is about 1.5x better with the 11's.
I would second that. Both are a blast, but it's hard to ignore the price difference.

I wore each for several weeks, going back and forth between the two, but a longer "audition" might change my mind over time. Once UE gets the seal correct on the one earpiece, I expect a marked improvement, but even with the poor seal on one earpiece the SQ was first rate, with amazing detail. That said, the ES2s sound very, very good, and at their price point I can strongly recommend them.

The challenge with both is to keep from damaging my hearing. Especially with the UE11s, I just want to "crank it up", and found myself doing so almost unconsciously, with all genres of music.
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Linthicum View Post
For each I included a detailed letter describing the issues, annotated photos, and new silicone impressions (acquiring decent impressions might be a topic for another thread).
I should mention that the second impressions for each were requested by neither company--this was purely my initiative (or stupidity, depending on your outlook).

My reasoning was that in producing the earpieces, both manufacturers essentially made a carbon copy of my impressions, and since those impressions are all they know about my ears, the impressions must have been the culprit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeBlues View Post
I've also done customer service with both companies. Both are beyond excellent with a slight nod to Westone, but this is comparing two of the best customer service experiences I've had.
I would be interested in your experience(s). Did you have fit problems initially, or?
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Linthicum View Post


I would be interested in your experience(s). Did you have fit problems initially, or?
Yes and no. The ES2's were not perfect at first. After they arrived the right side didn't seal. My local dealer/audiologist decided to make a new impression on the spot and sent it back to Westone (no charge to me). Westone re-made it and FedEx'd it back right away, perfect this time.

My issues with both IEMs have stemmed from operator error. I've dropped and broken the ES2's twice and had one of the UE11's get plugged up and then mangled by me trying to fix it. Okay, I'm maybe a bit hard on my stuff, but I only use these at the gym and stuff happens!

Anyway, in both cases the company said to send them back, fixed them instantly and returned them via FedEx. No charge. Weston in particular seemed to go out of their way, including a second (longer) cable, almost instant email communication, very, very freindly and concerned. Made me feel beyond special. UE was almost as fast without the friendly feel and special attention.

I've had 3 or 4 different contacts with Weston customer service for the ES2's and, earlier, UM2's. Their service has consistently, always been beyond perfect. In fact, I feel so positive about Westone that I will most certainly get their new Custom 3 if it ever becomes available - not because I don;t like the UE11s, they are really superb, but I have such a good feeling about Westone I really want to support them.
post #9 of 15
i shall be following this thread with interest.

Good to hear that, freeblues, perhaps UE will take a hint!
post #10 of 15
i wish i had enough money to be able to afford UE 11s T_T
it would be like a dream come true
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Received an email from UE customer service letting me know that they are remolding both earpieces & that I should expect to see them this Friday.
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Linthicum View Post
Received an email from UE customer service letting me know that they are remolding both earpieces & that I should expect to see them this Friday.
Excellent.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Update: Received my UE11s back on Friday, 20 June, and my ES2s on Tuesday, 24 June. Both companies were kind enough to ship them back FedEx Second Day, at no additional charge to me.

That said, IEM purchasers should keep this in mind: Both companies refused my request for (even partial) reimbursement for the shipping costs to ship the ill-fitting IEMs back to them for "warranty repair".

What does this mean to you, the custom IEM buyer? If the company gets it wrong initially through no fault of yours (and these things happen), you can expect to pay additional shipping fees out of your pocket (in addition to time without your new IEMs, which isn't a big deal to me, but might be to others).

Personally, I am not in sync with a customer service philosophy that makes an "innocent" customer responsible for additional charges because the product delivered was unsatisfactory. Perhaps I'm missing something, but isn't this penalizing a customer for receiving an unacceptable product?

For those who think it makes sense for a customer to fund fixes they did not cause, please do post & educate me.

In my opinion, if a company is being paid to provide a custom product, they must take reasonable steps to provide a properly fitting and performing product (which UE and Westone do), and not further financially obligate any customer in so doing (where both UE and Westone fall down).

(Just stepped off of soapbox, sorry!)

More to come, but here's a preview: The recast UE11s fit just fine, and the ES2s are almost there (and whomever at Westone fixed the issue I was having with the left earpiece is very skilled--fit went from marginal to perfect).

Now, if Westone's resident magician can do the same for the right earpiece that they did for the left, the ES2s just might pull even with the UE11s for overall value (if they have not done so already).

Now, back to destroying my hearing with the UE11s (Roxy Music, thanks for asking.)
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
I started this thread with hopes of providing some meaningful information for prospective Westone ES2 and Ultimate Ears UE11 buyers, but I don't have much to write about.

I have finally gotten a good fit in both models, and I have to say that the customer service experience was remarkably similar with both. It took a few tries, but both companies proved fast, friendly, and highly competent.
post #15 of 15

Quote:

Originally Posted by Robert Linthicum View Post

I am a recent purchaser of two custom IEMs, the UE11 and ES2, made by Ultimate Ears and Westone, respectively. Both have some fit issues: One of the Westone earpieces extends too far from my ear, and one of the UE11 earpieces does not allow a good seal. The finish on the UE11s was sub-par as well.I spoke on the phone with customer service reps from both companies, who were very polite & professional and provided me instructions on how to get these issues corrected.On the same day last week I sent the ES2s and UE11s in for "repair" (a curious thing to call corrections to brand new custom IEMs, but I'll play along). For each I included a detailed letter describing the issues, annotated photos, and new silicone impressions (acquiring decent impressions might be a topic for another thread).It's a challenge to produce well-fitting earpieces on the first try, so after-sale support is a critical element of the custom IEM purchasing experience. Custom IEM manufacturers have a tough assignment: To "know" a customer's ears without having the luxury of a real, live person standing before them. All they really know about their customers' ears are what is contained in silicone impressions.This is a good opportunity to compare and contrast not just the fit and performance of the Ultimate Ears and Westone custom IEMs, but also to describe the path it takes to get that legendary fit and performance. I will let you know how it goes. Watch this space . . .


 

so, at the risk of awakening a dormant thread and turning this into a zombie topic, but have you had to deal with either company since then? have you been happy since 08?

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