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ue11 Review

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
Written by Ramon GL

I want to share a review with my fellow Head-Fi members on the ue11’s that I wrote and posted on anythingbutipod.com, hope you enjoy

Disclaimer: As I have stated before in other reviews, I am not an audiophile or in this business, just an enthused listener who enjoys comparing notes.


Do you have a holy grail? … For me it was always the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu. I really didn’t care how I would accomplish my goal; it was just a matter of when I would have the money to “go for it.” Out of college and my first real job I accomplished the goal not once, but twice and yes it was awesome. Given the opportunity I would do it all over again, well Nuff Said about my personal endeavors, let’s talk custom earphones.

Am I saying that the ue11 Pro’s are the holy grail of headphones? Absolutely not, although if we are talking earphones (in-ear monitors) of a sleek small light weight size, great sound quality, perfect custom fit, great build quality for portable use, they are certainly at the top of the food chain today. If you are serious about great audio on the go, are in the audio/portable business or you are a musician they are certainly a serious consideration. But be forewarned, they are certainly not for the frugal minded at heart.

Quick Stats
  • Input Sensitivity: 119db @ 1mw
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz to 16,500 Hz
  • Impedance: 18 Ohms at 1kHz
  • Internal Speaker Configuration: Four (4) proprietary balanced armatures with an integrated three way crossover
  • Noise Isolation: -26dB
  • Input Connector: 1/8" (3.5mm) Gold plated

Custom Earphones
Both the left & right monitors are custom made to fit your ears, so you need to have an audiologist create an open mouth deep ear impression for each ear. Your overall comfort and fit will be determined by the quality of your ear impressions, so this is very important. Although having high viscosity silicone material injected into your ears is an unnatural feeling at first, this is painless, relatively fast and cleans your ears out like never before. For help, Ultimate Ears has an instruction PDF doc for you to give your audiologist on their site and a data base you can search for their recommended audiologist close to your home town. My first impressions were rejected by Ultimate Ears for not being deep enough and not covering the entire out side of my ear, so rather than go for the free impressions like I tried, bite the bullet and use a professional (around $35.00).

I’ll be brief on the build quality as they are custom, which makes the overall quality very good and solid. The design is a sexy low profile, streamlined and sleek looking earphone which eliminates wind noise. From what I have read and my experience with the company over the telephone is that they stand behind their product, I have also spoken with one person that had them refitted due to poor ear impressions taken by his audiologist, with no fault to the manufacture and they made good.

Remember, we are talking customs, so they personalize your carrying case by engraving your name on it and there is a variety of coloring options for the monitor as well as the detachable cables. Currently there are 11 coloring schemes available for the shells, 5 coloring options for the cables and stock (silver "UE" logo) artwork as well as custom artwork available for an added expense. Furthermore, they offer an optional ambient feature, which is a small hole on the outer housing with a rubber plug to close it when not in use, designed to allow you to hear ambient sound. I did not order this feature as it seems like a gimmick to me and I prefer not to hear external sounds while using mine. Thus, I can not comment on the feature, but I can imagine how easy the plugs can be lost.

Included Accessories
Ultimate Ears UE 11 Pro includes a metal carrying case which is large enough to fit my player, amp and the earphones with room to spare. A cleaning tool, which helps you keep your earphones clean. In my opinion, they should also include a second cleaning tool with a longer wire tip, which would allow you to go deeper into the acoustic tubes. Inside the large case is a smaller metal case, which easily fits your earphones and the cleaning tool. This case is more portable than the large one, very durable and easily fits in your pocket.

The cables are detachable for replacement and are Y cables available in either 48 or 66 inch lengths at time of order. Since I ordered the 48 inch cables, this is broken down to approximately 2 inches in the clear tube memory wire from the gold two pin connection plus an additional 9 inches to the Y, with the remaining 37 inches terminating into a gold plated right angled plug. The cable has a memory wire and clear plastic housing to mold over your ear and down the back or front as you may prefer. They are extremely light and can be coiled for packing into a very small compact size. I believe the 48" length I selected is more than enough for portable use.

These cables are well made; I have yet to hear any wind or cable microphonics noise produced by them or the earphones themselves, unless you tap the cable near your ear with your finger. When compared to my Shure se530 cables these appear to be almost half the diameter, a fourth or less of the total weight and no iphone compatible plug, that really upset me about my se530s. They are so thin and light that if they are not properly coiled for storage they can easily tangle. I have to admit; they certainly put some thought into these and produced the cables correctly.

Internal Glance
Inside the earphones custom shell they have a four-driver design consisting of a passive 3-way crossover, four balanced armature drivers in each ear monitor: a high frequency driver, mid range driver and dual subwoofer drivers. I can not say with absolute certainty but I assume that the crossover works similar to crossovers in speakers, helping to separate the highs, mids and lows in order to deliver a clean accurate sound signature. They will certainly make you re-examine your recordings due to the precise detail that they are capable of delivering.

Sound
Let me start out by saying that custom earphones really put the music into your head and for those like me who thought that the sound and overall sound stage would suffer by being so deep into my ears, boy was I wrong. Yes the soundstage does depend to a large degree on the quality of the recording. However by their ability to separate the sound range from high to low very well gives you the ability to clearly pick out the individual instruments and their relative positioning to your perceived position in the mix, which adds to the overall experience of sound gratification. That said, the sound stage is a bit tight (narrow/diminished) but acceptable because of the instrument separation that one experiences. To say it another way, the ue11 doesn’t have the wide soundstage that many full-sized headphones provide.

Written by many as the “best in” sound reproduction on the market for professional or personal use available today, only sounds to me as more marketing hype. Even though I can say that they are not better than the best headphones that I have had the pleasure of auditioning, they certainly out perform all portable earphones and many full sized headphones available on the market today. To cut to the case, they deliver a clear, accurate sound signature with a custom-fit class.

Bass – Every time I have the pleasure to immerse myself into my music, the ue11’s do not disappoint. They deliver a profound, mysterious, broad and substantial bass reproduction that really sounds natural to my ears. All this emanating from the subwoofer that appears to be in your head comes across without being strenuous, fatiguing or overbearing. They certainly deliver the rich and deep bass reproduction that I look for in my headphones, without being overbearing.

Midrange - Very similar indeed to the se530’s midrange, warm and smooth is of critical importance, which really stands out on the ue11s. They deliver a clear, detailed and warm sound that makes it a pleasure to differentiate the diverse range that artists can deliver via their vocals and the essential sounds emitted by their instruments. Guitars sound almost life like and appear to be either next to you or behind you depending on the recording, seemingly coming to life as well as other instruments in the overall fusion.

Treble - The ue11s takes the best attributes of the se530s above and beyond to a higher level of high frequency. The frequency reproduction is more elevated, fast, precise and detailed, in comparison the se530s which sound recessed or lacking the overall natural punch that the ue11 delivers. The ue11s seem to come or be alive with details and not just in the highs. Personally I am experiencing a greater detail of vigor and power in my music.

Conclusion
What more can I say …

Ultimate Ears did a great job with the cable design length, light weight and microphonics free. But for the price one pays, the company really should include a second cleaning tool with longer wire extension, their short optional cable extension, their longer 66” cable and a 3.55mm to ¼” plug converter with the pro package.

The ue11 pro’s are excellent custom earphones that fit as great as your impressions are taken, so take care during that faze of the process. This certainly affects their ability to isolate to the tenth degree and the overall comfort that you will experience. They offer a full range of colors or even translucent colors with stock or custom art work that should please all who take the plunge.

Where these earphones really shimmer is in their overall ability to release life-like sound quality across a wide range from tight detailed highs to vibrant lows that deliver an overall gorgeous sound reproduction. This combined with a genuine sound stage with depth makes these earphones an excellent choice. Compared to other custom monitor products available on the market today the UE11 pro’s are a must try for any audio afficionado that is not thrifty minded.

Pros
  • Excellent isolation and seal
  • Great sound quality with excellent precise detail and clarity along the continuum from high to low
  • No cable microphonics
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Great build quality
  • Detachable, light weight cables
  • Very comfortable
  • Ability to customize your look, color and sleek/streamlined design
  • Not tiring or fatiguing

Cons
  • Extremely expensive as compared to other custom earphones or even full sized headphones
  • They don’t have the wide soundstage that many full-sized headphones offer
  • If you don’t like them, customs are hard/impossible to ever make your money back
  • I would like to see them offer both cables & short extension with the Pro package
  • No 3.55mm to ¼” plug converter












Purchase
You purchase the ue11 pro directly from Ultimate Ears out of Irvine, California USA, either by phone (800-589-6531) or their website: ue Ultimate Ears

MSRP: $1150.00
post #2 of 36
Thanks for the review. I appreciate the time you took to be as thorough as you were.
post #3 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luckyleo View Post
Thanks for the review. I appreciate the time you took to be as thorough as you were.
Thanks, btw i'm not in the business, just an avid listener
post #4 of 36
Once again, great review. How do they sound out of the Woo?/have you tried it yet?

I love the way my ER4P>S sounds with my W3.
post #5 of 36
I notice your cables look a lot like Westone cables. Thats awesome! I am expecting a pair of UE11's 2 days from now, I REAALLLLYY hope they ship with those cables. The cables I had on my Super fi's just werent up to snuff.
post #6 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GreatDane View Post
Once again, great review. How do they sound out of the Woo?/have you tried it yet?

I love the way my ER4P>S sounds with my W3.
Thanks for the feedback, have not had the time to give a good listen on the woo, unfortunately i've been traveling ... I'll try soon and let you know if you need, thanks again
post #7 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrdeadfolx View Post
I notice your cables look a lot like Westone cables. Thats awesome! I am expecting a pair of UE11's 2 days from now, I REAALLLLYY hope they ship with those cables. The cables I had on my Super fi's just werent up to snuff.
Yes, you'll get the same, AFAIK they've improved their cables, they did a great job.
post #8 of 36
Thats awesome news. I cant tell you what a load off that is for me. I have been PRAYING that UE would start using the thinner, softer, more pliable Westone style cables. Oh man Im pumped to get these badboys.
post #9 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrdeadfolx View Post
Thats awesome news. I cant tell you what a load off that is for me. I have been PRAYING that UE would start using the thinner, softer, more pliable Westone style cables. Oh man Im pumped to get these badboys.
Congrats! Post some pics ... I'm sure you'll enjoy them
post #10 of 36
Thanks for the review!
post #11 of 36
Very nice review, WalkGood. I felt like it was quite accurate and well-written.
post #12 of 36
I'm really on the fence with these at the moment. I want to get them but I don't want an amp. Are they worth it without?

Honest Opinions please
post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aurven View Post
Thanks for the review!
Was fun to write, your welcome
Quote:
Originally Posted by thread View Post
Very nice review, WalkGood. I felt like it was quite accurate and well-written.
thread, Thanks for the feedback, happy you enjoy yours too

Quote:
Originally Posted by Electric_Mofo View Post
I'm really on the fence with these at the moment. I want to get them but I don't want an amp. Are they worth it without?

Honest Opinions please
If your on the fence, don’t spend this kind of money. I tested mine a whole week without my amp and they sounded great, but I have to admit they're just more exciting with my amp.
post #14 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Electric_Mofo View Post
I'm really on the fence with these at the moment. I want to get them but I don't want an amp. Are they worth it without?

Honest Opinions please
Take this for what it's worth since I just have triple.fi 10s: Without an amp, they're just very good IEMs, better than any other IEM I've heard, but not sounding like I should have paid $338 for them. With an amp, they're as close I've heard to perfect reproduction from anything. I just listened to a good audience recording from a Dead Show I was at in '94... well, audio wise, I was just there again

I can't imagine having spent $338 on TF10s without ever running them through an amp, I think you'd have to be a bit nuts to be willing to drop $1200 on UE11s and not at least pick up a iBasso D2 for $170.

If you're really set on not using an amp, you can probably save a lot of money and get LiveWires or Freqs because if the UE11s are anything like the TF10s, without it they're not going to perform close to their potential.
post #15 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by channum View Post
Take this for what it's worth since I just have triple.fi 10s: Without an amp, they're just very good IEMs, better than any other IEM I've heard, but not sounding like I should have paid $338 for them. With an amp, they're as close I've heard to perfect reproduction from anything. I just listened to a good audience recording from a Dead Show I was at in '94... well, audio wise, I was just there again

I can't imagine having spent $338 on TF10s without ever running them through an amp, I think you'd have to be a bit nuts to be willing to drop $1200 on UE11s and not at least pick up a iBasso D2 for $170.

If you're really set on not using an amp, you can probably save a lot of money and get LiveWires or Freqs because if the UE11s are anything like the TF10s, without it they're not going to perform close to their potential.
One differance is that the TF10's are 32 ohms and the uell's are 18 Ohms. I did my testing with the i7, which has a very good internal amp (26mW + 26mW, 16ohm, rated at 52mW). It can actually drive my HD650's without an amp, yes I know the full potential of the 650's isn't there ... but it's still an interesting test. That said, the ue11's work great without an amp and one isn't really needed, but for my taste I do prefer them amp'd

Specifications for the triple.fi pro
  • Input Sensitivity: 117dB/mW
  • Frequency: Response 10 to 17,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Internal Speaker Configuration: Three individual precision balanced armatures
  • Noise Isolation: -26dB
  • Input connector: 1/8" (3.5mm) gold plated
  • Weight With cable assembly: 0.6 oz.

Specifications for the ue11 pro
  • Input Sensitivity: 119db @ 1mw
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz to 16,500 Hz
  • Impedance: 18 Ohms at 1kHz
  • Internal Speaker Configuration: Four (4) proprietary balanced armatures with an integrated three way crossover
  • Noise Isolation: -26dB
  • Input Connector: 1/8" (3.5mm) Gold plated
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