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REVIEW: UE Reference Monitors

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

::Spoiler Alert::

 

Oh my god!

 

Sorry to jump right to the conclusion but I'm listening to Robert Plant's first solo album, Pictures at Eleven (remastered in 2006) and I am in a bit of a euphoric state.  I've always loved Plant but I could never understand what the heck he was singing half the time.  These monitors are so detailed and clear, I could literally transcribe his lyrics.

 

Some background:

 

I am new to Head-Fi and not an experienced reviewer.  I'm a composer/producer of ambient, film score-ish electronic music and have always mixed at home.  The last incarnation of my studio was pretty serious and featured a nice Benchmark DAC, Dynaudio monitors and decent room treatment.  I was reasonably happy with the accuracy of my mixes but never entirely satisfied.

 

What I really wanted was an accurate system that I could crank and now that I'm married with little kids I can't get away with that.  Recently I discovered the Head-Fi site and started reading voraciously.  When I read Steve Guttenberg's review of the UE Reference Monitors I was intrigued -- this could be the solution!

 

I was always leery of mixing with cans but knowing that these were engineered to be as flat as possible I decided to give it a shot.  I love in-ear monitors (I have several Klipsch Image models and have liked a few of the top end Shure monitors) because I commute on public transportation and they isolate ambient noise pretty well.

 

So I found a good audiologist in NYC and got impressions made, Fed-ex'd them to UE and waiting on pins and needles for a few weeks before receiving my personal monitors.  To my dismay, the right monitor was poorly fitted and caused me some pain if I forced it into position enough to get a decent seal.  I futzed with it for a week before deciding it wasn't me, there really was something wrong with the mold.  I contacted UE and they were gracious and asked me to send them back with a form describing the fit issues.  I wasn't sure how they'd fix it from my verbal description but I just got them back today and the fit is now PERFECT.

 

I won't be able to fairly assess their flat linear response until I do some mixing but based on the detail and balance I'm hearing in the Robert Plant tracks I am pretty confident I'll be able to do some great work with these.  They don't seem hyped in any particular area.  The bass is solid but not aggressive.  The midrange is incredibly active and clear without seeming too clinical.  I'm really impressed with the separation and imaging.  The soundstage is wide (nothing like with a good set of open headphones) but does extend beyond my ears convincingly.  There is a nice bit of depth front to back as well.

 

Now I'm listening to Steely Dan - Gaucho and hearing details and microdynamics I'd never experienced.   The backup singers on "Babylon Sisters" sound magical.  Donald Fagen's voice has nuance and subtlety I didn't realize he possessed.  

 

I've barely scratched the surface with these and if they get better as they burn-in, my head might explode.  I should mention that I'm driving these from a NuForce Icon Mobile DAC/Amp out of my MacBook Air.  I can only imagine how good they'll sound fed by a high-end DAC and amp.

 

Are these worth $1,000?

 

Every penny.

post #2 of 3

 

Congratulations! Show us some pics. I like the black ones on the main picture
post #3 of 3
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