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The Best Ultimate Ears Review EVER

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 

REVIEWER'S NOTE - Dec 6, 2010 - friends, when I wrote the review below, I mistakenly said I listened to the UE 10s - in reality, I was listening to the Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors (the ones done in colloboration with Capitol Records) - I have left the review below untouched, but whenever I say "UE 10s" please mentally swap that out with "UERMs" - thank you all and sorry for the mixup!

 

Hey friends!

 

I'm new here and it's great to be here!

 

I've trolled this site quite a bit and I'm deeply thankful for all of the available info

 

With that said, I wanted to write a comprehensive review of Ultimate Ears and all of their headphones, as I tested many and ultimately purchased one (consider it my way of giving back to the community here)

 

About me first - I am an Independent Film Director & Writer - although I'm not a musician, I DEVOUR music - I consider myself an audiophile and my listening senses are only enhanced with the sound design that goes into our films - I've used Logic, GarageBand, etc - anyways - I LOVE music and I'm always listening to tunes while writing screenplays or doing development work

 

Before switching to UE's, I had the Shure 530s - for what it is worth, the Shure 530s served me very well and they are great headphones - nonetheless, they don't hold a candle to what Ultimate Ears offers

 

I am lucky that I live very close to Irvine, where Ultimate Ears is based - I called them directly and made an appointment and I was invited to their studio, where I got to test all of their best headphones with my iPhone and my own tunes - it was 2 hours of bliss!

 

That said, here's a review of their best headsets - for what it is worth, I decided to go with UE 11's ----

 

ULTIMATE EARS 10 -

 

The 10's are great headphones, definitely better than the Shure 530s - powerful sound, lots of depth and fullness - that said, I'm not going to write very much, because quite frankly, the UE 11s blow the 10s out of the water and they don't cost much more - so if you're going to buy customs, just pay the difference and go with the 11s - just take my word for it

 

ULTIMATE EARS 11 -

 

This was ultimately the set I purchased - the 11s are VERY impressive - the sound is VERY powerful and VERY full - the bass does not overwhelm and the best part of the 11s is that they respond very well to your presets - so for example, if you LOVE bass, then just put that preset on your iPhone/iPod (or whatever your device is) and they'll handle it beautifully - personally, I'm not much a bass fan (I'm more of a treble guy), so on my iPhone, with either the BASS REDUCER or TREBLE BOOSTER preset, these things sound amazing!

 

Again though, the biggest compliment I can give to the 11s is the fullness - the music jumps out, with TONS of depth and richness - just beautiful!

 

ULTIMATE EARS 18 -

 

Quite frankly, I went to UE's with intentions to buy the 18s - after all, I had money saved up and I figured I would splurge! I listen to tunes everyday, so I figure, let's get the best!

 

Here's the weird thing about the 18s - they are superior to the 11s in all ways - however, MP3s and MP4s sound MUCH BETTER on the 11s than they do on the 18s

 

WHY???

 

The 18s are so good, with so many drivers, that MP3/MP4s, to be honest, just aren't good enough to play on these 'phones --- when listening to an MP3/MP4 on these, you can actually hear the parts of the song that have been compressed and punched out, in order to accomodate for a smaller music file

 

In addition, while MP3/MP4s certainly sound better on UE 18s than they would on Shure 530s, the sound comes off VERY hollow and quite flat (on the 18s)

 

That said, the UE18s are a MUCH MORE SUPERIOR headphone, and for in-studio recording and/or lossless listening (no compression, little compression) then these are the perfect choice - spend the extra money - but if you're an MP3/MP4 iPhone listening, audiophile, like myself, then the 11s are the perfect choice

 

CONCLUSION -

 

Again, I know its weird to rate the 11s above the 18s, but I only do this in the case of MP3/MP4s - buy the 18s if you're doing in-studio recording and/or listening to lossless music

 

If you're doing a little bit of everything, I suggest the 11s - while the 18s were BUILT FOR PERFECTION, the 11s were built for MP3/MP4s, as I notice that the 11s literally make my MP3/MP4s sound better and more fuller than ever before, adding depth, without exposing their compressed areas - its an impressive marvel really

 

IMPORTANT NOTE -

 

When I finally got my hands on my custom UE 11s and started listening regularly, I found them to be HORRIBLY uncomfortable and too tight

 

I listen while writing, so I literally have my headphones on for around 6 hours at a time - when I first got the 11s, I was getting terrible HEADACHES within 1 hour of wearing them

 

I called UEs and they had me come down to the studio right away - what I found out while I was there - when UE makes your customs, they purposely make them a little bigger than the molding, for the sake of creating a VERY tight plug, and for most people, this method works

 

However, because I'm wearing these things 6 hours at a time, I just can't handle such a tight seal --- with that, the people at UE took my phones and chopped them down, gently grinding down particular parts of the plastic that were aching me - the result?

 

The 11s are as COMFORTABLE as ever - even better than the soft feel of the Shure 530s - I can literally wear my 11s all day now - and the best part??

 

The SEAL is still excellent

 

Overall - the customer service at Ultimate Ears is out of this world - in my life, I have NEVER had a better customer experience - the people at UE treat you like a king

 

FINAL IMPORTANT NOTE -

 

This is going to sound very weird, but I mean this - when you make your Ultimate Ears Customs, fly out to Irvine and pick them up (if you can)

 

Seriously - custom headphones are around $1500 and an airplane ticket to John Wayne Airport in Orange County (on Frontier, United, or US Airways) will cost you around $400 on Expedia

 

Seriously 2 - take a short vacation (Orange County is great - beaches, DisneyLand, etc) and pick your 'phones up in person --- go back to your hotel, wear them the entire day, and if they feel bad, take them back the next day and have them grind them down and adjust them - believe me, it is well worth it

 

Also - you can fly out and try all headphones and then pay an extra $200 for overnight production, where you're customs will be ready the next day (don't forget the artwork for your headphones - have JPEGS ready of the artwork you want - and if you fly out, you can talk to the designer yourself, in making the PERFECT creation)

 

And lastly, for an audiophile, coming down to UE is a real treat - call them up and make an appointment - the people at UE will be more than happy to give you a tour of their entire factory, where you get to see music in motion - plus, everything on the headsets is built on site

 

Lastly, and very importantly, UE has their own, in-house, audiologist, who can take your ear impressions - if you wanna do it right, call UE's, make sure the 24 hour option is available and fly in - test the headphones - pick your favorite - have THEM take your impressions - and then stay awhile to make sure they feel good (go to DisneyLand, in between) - seriously, it's a process that may only take 3 or 4 days

 

Alright - that was long as heck - these boards have been very helpful to me and I hope my report above is helpful for everyone

 

Love and peace all!

 

HasanDaddy

www.MuhammadAliHasan.com


Edited by HasanDaddy - 12/6/10 at 4:26am
post #2 of 44

lol I'm pretty sure you mean you've creeped or lurked this site for a while, not trolled it ahhah

post #3 of 44

that was fun to read. Im actually deciding between the 11 and the 18 myself. It sounds so cool being able to go there and have ur customs the next day and have it fixed that same day if it has problems!

post #4 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by HasanDaddy View Post


FINAL IMPORTANT NOTE -

 

This is going to sound very weird, but I mean this - when you make your Ultimate Ears Customs, fly out to Irvine and pick them up (if you can)

 

Seriously - custom headphones are around $1500 and an airplane ticket to John Wayne Airport in Orange County (on Frontier, United, or US Airways) will cost you around $400 on Expedia

 

Seriously 2 - take a short vacation (Orange County is great - beaches, DisneyLand, etc) and pick your 'phones up in person --- go back to your hotel, wear them the entire day, and if they feel bad, take them back the next day and have them grind them down and adjust them - believe me, it is well worth it

 

Also - you can fly out and try all headphones and then pay an extra $200 for overnight production, where you're customs will be ready the next day (don't forget the artwork for your headphones - have JPEGS ready of the artwork you want - and if you fly out, you can talk to the designer yourself, in making the PERFECT creation)

 

And lastly, for an audiophile, coming down to UE is a real treat - call them up and make an appointment - the people at UE will be more than happy to give you a tour of their entire factory, where you get to see music in motion - plus, everything on the headsets is built on site

 

Lastly, and very importantly, UE has their own, in-house, audiologist, who can take your ear impressions - if you wanna do it right, call UE's, make sure the 24 hour option is available and fly in - test the headphones - pick your favorite - have THEM take your impressions - and then stay awhile to make sure they feel good (go to DisneyLand, in between) - seriously, it's a process that may only take 3 or 4 days

 

Alright - that was long as heck - these boards have been very helpful to me and I hope my report above is helpful for everyone

 

Love and peace all!

 

HasanDaddy

www.MuhammadAliHasan.com



Oh wow. If I ever get a chance to go for Ultimate Ear, I might just do that. It sounds fantastic.

 

(but having to live in HK, flying to Orange Country will probably take more than $400...)

post #5 of 44

Usefull enough review but why talk about the 530 when it's 1/2 the price or less of these customs? That you feel you need treble boost is a bit disturbing for this level of custom. I haven't heard the ones you mentioned but much preferred my 530s to my TF10s, SF5pros or anything UE does below their customs. I've heard that the UE10 is also clearly superior to the TF10 so your comments don't surprise me but without more tonal and presentation info about the differences to a 530, the comparison is rather meaningless and "the Shure 530s served me very well and they are great headphones - nonetheless, they don't hold a candle to what Ultimate Ears offers " is just wrong when comparing similar non custom product. Customs should be better and I don't doubt that they are.

post #6 of 44

I understand that you may not get your whole collection of music on a portable device using lossless.  Why would you need to?  Isn't that what large harddrives are for?  It's very easy to move music to and from a device.  Especially if you claim to be an audiophile.  Decide what you want for the week and sync your portable.  I have 115 albums of WMA lossless on my Sony 16 gigabyte and have 6.6 gigs still left.  That is plenty of variety for a few days or weeks depending on how long you listen for each day.

 

I vow to never rip to MP3 if I have a choice.  Yes, the arguments go on about compressed and the human not being able to tell the difference when at a high enough Kps, but whatever - my choice.

 

Just to state again - Never heard of a true audiophile listening to MP3's.  Back to the regularly scheduled subject.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>  Would love to test a pair of the UE18's and UE11's.

post #7 of 44

I doubt I'd even be able to get my entire collection into a loseless format even in the hard disk. Some of the music files I still listen to are old and I no longer have the CD for most parts. frown.gif

 

Anyway, on topic as well, maybe I should show up in some meets in HK to see if anyone can let me demo an UE11... tongue.gif

post #8 of 44

Welcome @HasanDaddy, great debut! Informative, entertaining and above all straight from the bottom of your heart. Loved it, thanks! smile_phones.gif

post #9 of 44
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the kind words everyone! Great to be here!

post #10 of 44
Thread Starter 

@goodvibes -

 

I politely and vehemently disagree, with regards to comparing the UEs against the Shure 530s

 

Ultimately, any headphone that costs more than an iPhone, itself, is going to cause a double-take --- when they first debuted, the 530s cost around $600, well into the range of "aghast" for most - yes, it is less than half the price of most custom sets, but $600 is enough to justify perfection, for the common buyer of headphones --- with that said, it is important to point out that the Shure 530s are greatly inferior to the UE 10s, for two reasons -

 

1. The 530s are the BEST, non-custom, in-ear headphone available - a direct comparison to the UE 10s is more than appropriate

 

2. The UE 10s are around $1000 - if you're in range to purchase 530s, then you can probably bump up, at least, to UE 10s - that alone makes the comparison a fair one

 

And again - the Shure 530s are terrific, but the UE 10s and 11s are more than worth the price, when you consider how much more they cost

 

@kjd -

 

Good for you that you listen in lossless - I am envious and I am impressed

 

Am I an audiophile, despite the fact that I listen in MP3/MP4? Perhaps, I'm not?

 

However, I'm enough of an audiophile to know that MP3s sound better on UE 11s than they do on UE 18s - I think that's worth something

 

And second, other than falling in love, nothing moves my soul more than good music - for me, that's enough to justify the cost of good headphones

 

But you're welcome to call me a non-audiophile and I'm welcome to not really give a 'darn' what you think - that's kinda the essence of good music, anyways

 

Did I mention I'm an audiophile?

 

Love and peace all!

post #11 of 44

HasanDandy, welcome to Head-Fi. You've made some interesting comments there - its good to see your passion come through. My only comment would be that the Shure SE530 IMO are far from being the best non-custom IEM available, there are others that could easily take that title: UM3X, W3, SM3s, IE8s etc but I guess this is all personal opinion. Thanks again for the commentary!

post #12 of 44

Lol I like how he states his review is the best ever. Still, nice write up.

post #13 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by HasanDaddy View Post

@goodvibes -

 

I politely and vehemently disagree, with regards to comparing the UEs against the Shure 530s

 

Ultimately, any headphone that costs more than an iPhone, itself, is going to cause a double-take --- when they first debuted, the 530s cost around $600, well into the range of "aghast" for most - yes, it is less than half the price of most custom sets, but $600 is enough to justify perfection, for the common buyer of headphones --- with that said, it is important to point out that the Shure 530s are greatly inferior to the UE 10s, for two reasons -

 

1. The 530s are the BEST, non-custom, in-ear headphone available - a direct comparison to the UE 10s is more than appropriate

 

2. The UE 10s are around $1000 - if you're in range to purchase 530s, then you can probably bump up, at least, to UE 10s - that alone makes the comparison a fair one

 

And again - the Shure 530s are terrific, but the UE 10s and 11s are more than worth the price, when you consider how much more they cost

 

@kjd -

 

Good for you that you listen in lossless - I am envious and I am impressed

 

Am I an audiophile, despite the fact that I listen in MP3/MP4? Perhaps, I'm not?

 

However, I'm enough of an audiophile to know that MP3s sound better on UE 11s than they do on UE 18s - I think that's worth something

 

And second, other than falling in love, nothing moves my soul more than good music - for me, that's enough to justify the cost of good headphones

 

But you're welcome to call me a non-audiophile and I'm welcome to not really give a 'darn' what you think - that's kinda the essence of good music, anyways

 

Did I mention I'm an audiophile?

 

Love and peace all!



That's all well and good but they retailed at $500 on debut, sold for less and your explanation which does give some perspective doesn't address, they don't hold a candle to what Ultimate Ears offers  which is simply wrong as they're better than most of what UE offers and better than what they offer at a more similar price IMO. I don't doubt for a moment that the customs are better or your overall opinion of the range. Treble boost and MP3 does seem a bit odd for an review of top tier custom but any opinions are welcome. Would have been nice if you also included your impressions with flat settings with some lossless files.bigsmile_face.gifNothing wrong with compressed files if that's what you have but it's not too difficult to hear their limitations on much lower level IEMs than you're reviewing here on anything below 320.

I still thank you for your impessions. I just don't think it's the best ever.wink_face.gif


Edited by goodvibes - 11/16/10 at 7:01am
post #14 of 44
Thread Starter 

lol - fine - it's the SECOND BEST

 

Everyone happy?

 

:)

post #15 of 44

definitely not best review ever. Pretty mediocre review imho...

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