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Ultimate Ears UE5 vs UE7 vs UE10 vs UE11 - how much of a difference is there REALLY?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'd like to get some ultimate ears iems, but it's kind of hard to drop the cash not having heard them before. Plus, after buying them, I won't be able to sell them.

Is it really worth $250 more for the UE7 over the UE5?
And is it really worth $300 more for the UE10 over the UE5?
Or almost double to get the UE11 instead of the UE5?

I don't really care about bragging rights to say how much I paid for them because nobody I know will care.

At $600 for UE5's, I expect they'd better be AWESOME, and if not, I think I'd be super-pissed. If I get UE5's, will they be awesome?

And can the difference between those and the significantly more expensive models really be worth the $$$?
post #2 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by elliot View Post
At $600 for UE5's, I expect they'd better be AWESOME, and if not, I think I'd be super-pissed. If I get UE5's, will they be awesome?
I've had UE5c's for years now...and they are pretty nice...but my perspective has changed on them. I wouldn't call their sound "awesome" but it's impressively decent for a small package and they're a great tool when you need them (when isolation is a must).

However, my yuin pk-1's blow them away in sound quality (detail, defined bass, soundstage and overall balance) for only $150. I also feel the Shure E500 (or whatever they're called nowadays) is a better sounding device even though it's a universal fit model. I've never heard the UE10 or 11, but every review I've ever seen claims that they offer a higher degree of clarity/sound quality.

If you're expecting "Awesome" as in highest possible quality, I've learned that it's near impossible to find in an IEM. If your expectations are a hair less and you need the isolation, you are likely to be happy with any of them (since you won't be able to compare with the models you didn't choose).
post #3 of 13
In reality, how much something is worth depends completely on the person who buys them. For me, I'm still new in the game so I've never seriously compared anything and I can barely tell the difference between my Shure SE530s and my Ultrasone HFI-780s. So if I got the UE11s, although I know they're the best money can buy and they probably are amazing.... that difference wouldn't justify that HUGE difference in price to me.

However, if you are a music guru and you absolutely must have the best and you can tell every minute difference between headphones/earphones/IEMs. Then maybe the UE11s will be worth it to you. Personally, I purposely try not to critically compare my audio equipment to prevent myself from absolutely needing the best (UE11s).

Either that or you have a lot of money and you feel insufficient if you don't have the best.

Anyways, my advice is to get a pair of cheap customs and then move on to the "best" if you really need to. Unless you are case #2 and you have too much money.

In terms of which customs to get, I'd actually suggest looking outside of UE and looking at the Livewires or the FreQ Shows. In my week of lurking at this forum, I haven't seen any reviews of the UE5s or the UE7 but have seen millions of GLOWING reviews for the Livewires and FreQs.

Personally I went with the Livewires because they're cheap (compared to FreQ Shows & UE11s), HeadphoneAddict loves them (I don't think he knows that I stalk him :P), and their office is 1 hr away from me by public transportation (the Founder of Livewires made my ear impressions for free).
post #4 of 13
You are truly much better served sticking to the $300-$400 range and going with FreQ, Sleek or LiveWires (haven't heard the LiveWires myself). You get all the comfort benefits that come with a custom IEM and sound quality that may not quite reach the level of UE11, but it comes pretty close.
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfen68 View Post

However, my yuin pk-1's blow them away in sound quality (detail, defined bass, soundstage and overall balance) for only $150.
Granted, the Yuin's being so open give them an advantage on sound where IEM's no matter what you do sound kind of muffled, but that 150ohms on the Yuin's, especially used with a portable player, makes them difficult to drive without a amp being carried around. Many are using them without the amp and are happy with the results, but my impressions without the amp is they don't really come alive and that's where the UE's have the advantage with the 21 ohms and the isolation. The T-500 comply foamies also help with comfort and sound of the UE's. The Yuin's are comfortable to begin with and yes I will agree sound great, but are impossible to deal with in a noisy environment. I guess it just depends on your priorities and where you'll use them.
post #6 of 13
The Livewires completely blow the PK-1's away sound quality-wise. I tried both of them back to back and the PK-1's clarity and range came nowhere close to Livewires'. I felt like "why would I spend money on these (PK-1's)?" when I had my Livewires.
post #7 of 13
To the OP:
What kind of music to you listen to?
Do you plan to use the IEM amped or unamped?

I've had the Livewires for over a while now, and it's value for money. They also have a 30-day money back guarantee (Unlike the UE 11). They were my first customs, and I kept them after the 30 days listening to mostly jazz and acoustic music unamped out of an iPod half the time. They are analytical, detailed with great bass extension, but a little cold. Livewires can sound a little lean with my iQube.

So, if you're looking for a do-it-all for every genre and amp combo IEM, the Livewires aren't it. I doubt the UEs are it either. Personal taste, synergy, sound signature preference, music genre all factor in.

Is the UE 11 worth the money? Well, if you look at it on a prorated basis, no. My Yuin PK3 (purchased new under $30) destroys the UE 11 on a satisfaction to price basis. But after trying a UE 11 demo, the lushness and detail, immersive soundstage and isolation convinced me to part with my money.
post #8 of 13
I own the triple fi 10 pro and they are worth the $350 to me, but that is a pointless statement imho.

That is just too personal. How much is worth that wonderful steak you hax on X steakhouse? That will depend basically on what your income is. If you make 5million dollars/year then you might pay 5k USD because it is just so great like that. It s the same with everything. You have to factor so many things that it is just pointless to ask the question IMO.

I think you need to try to understand the differences between each and decide it those difference are worth it.

Once i went from HD555 to SR225 and I thought I was robbed by John Grado. Lots of people think Im deaf or simply have the most awful taste. My suggestion is that you try to familiarize with the sound signatures and try things.

Staying by those lines, I think the new lines of customs (livewires/FreQs) are the way to go for somebody who doesnt have unlimited budget. If you are rich and money is not an issue then it might be awesome to get the UE11 and finish the quest.
post #9 of 13

Sorry to bump a thread from the dead. But I feel that this is a topic I could be some help. I have owned both the UE-7 and UE-11 pro's.  The 7's have a ton of headroom, and are generally geared towards bass players and drummers. I found that they were a bit boosted in the high mid range. The UE-10 were intended for vocalists, and are supposed to have a fairly flat response.  The 11's are geared again toward bassists and drummers. Being a drummer myself and having these for about 2 years, I can safely say that they are very lively, and have a large boost in the bass department, therefore they are far beyond flat.  They were designed for live performances and characteristically have a more "fun" frequency response.  The 5's were the entry level monitors and were designed to be somewhat universal, though guitars favor them the most. If you have any questions call Ultimate ears, they are super helpful, and if you are curious, they can tell you which model your favorite musicians are using. Ie- Aaron gillespie uses the 11's and Tim Mctague uses the 5's with the ambient feature.

post #10 of 13

haven't had any of these myself, but considering buying the UE5 or EM3pro. I have heard that the UE5 sounds very similar to the UE11, but is not the jaw-dropper that UE11 is. If that means anything. Hope this helps :)

post #11 of 13

Actually the 5's are closest to the 10's and the 7's are closest to the 11's.

post #12 of 13

i might be wrong here, but i think the best bang for the buck you can have is a pair of tf10 (75$ amazon goldbox) getting remolded by UM, fischer,etc... (80-170$) + impressions (20$)

post #13 of 13

I owned (and enjoyed) UE5c's for years.  I've never heard the 10's or 11's, but when I went to JH13's the improvement was profound.  Therefore, there is plenty of improvement to be had above and beyond the UE5c's. 

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