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Ultimate Ears UE-x Pro Custom; Appreciation, Review & Discussion thread

post #1 of 263
Thread Starter 

Several of us, way out west, decided to take advantage or the offer UE made to us at our big meet (2/19/11). So, it has been deemed necessary to create a thread to discuss our new UE Customs instead of cluttering up the Meet Impressions thread with our "It's like Christmas" banter. So here it is. **

 

My UE-4 Pro Customs arrived yesterday (3/14) at my office (notice the lovely furniture).

 

And so, because these images are so terrible (Blackberry, of course), I've decided to post them again here on the now official thread.

Maybe this weekend, if I get time, I'll take some real photo's of these beauties.

 

 

** Of course this thread is open to all members... not just us Left Coasters.  wink_face.gif

 

 

3fa93736_IMG00196-20110314-1055.jpg

 

8320a31e_IMG00197-20110314-1056.jpg

 

59b12f1d_IMG00200-20110314-1057.jpg

 

42206d8d_IMG00204-20110314-1059.jpg

 


Edited by shane55 - 3/15/11 at 9:35am
post #2 of 263
Thread Starter 

I've decided to reserve a couple blocks for my reviews and follow-ups to those reviews.

I have a funny feeling that my impressions of these are going to change as time goes on.

 

After just a couple hours of listening, I can say one thing very definitely... they are not for Gym use. More on that later.

 

What you'll read immediately below are my FIRST impressions. Fit is critical and the sound is remarkably dependent on many factors, with little room for error or adjustment.

 

Packaging is beautiful, with monogrammed box and earpieces. The carry case has my full name, and the earpieces, my initials in bold outlined letters.

The cable is fantastic. It seems incredibly durable, like chain-mail, but lighter and flexible. The cinch is very tight, but movable. The 90 degree 1/8" plug is right-angled.

The earpieces are clear with silver UE embedded. The UE-4 don't allow for customization (colors, images, etc.), and that's fine for me as I can't see them anyway...

 

Fit is very good... or so it would seem at first. They slide in fairly easily, and seat as you would expect. It takes a little practice and I've yet to determine if mine fit perfectly or just well enough. Hard to tell for me as this is my first pair of customs.

The more I use them, the more I'll know about their fit.

 

My initial impressions of the sound is fairly positive. They seem mostly natural and 'neutral', but with a slight roll-off in the upper highs (as compared to the DBA-2), but are just slightly brighter than the UM2.

The bass is not slammin' punchy, but adequate. They are definitely mid-centric. This is actually how I had hoped the SE535 would have sounded.

 

That's as far as I want to go at this point, it would be unfair to say much more without more wear-time.

 


Edited by shane55 - 3/15/11 at 8:22am
post #3 of 263
Thread Starter 

Reserved.

post #4 of 263

They're not comfortable to sleep in. lol. 

post #5 of 263

Just how much of a discount did you get from UE? I'm very much in the market for some customs...

post #6 of 263

I would like that cable on my customs. It looks more friendly for those who get glasses. I'm gonna end up with a UE custom for just the cable one of these days :P

 

I'm looking forward to some more impressions as you put more time on them to get used to the sound as well as the fit. The fit should take a day or so to get used to since you are not used to having a piece piece of acrylic inside your ears compared to a small earphone.

post #7 of 263
Quote:
Originally Posted by illquid View Post

Just how much of a discount did you get from UE? I'm very much in the market for some customs...


 

The discount was limited to those at the meet and has expired.  It was free impressions and 25% across the custom line.

 

 

 

 

post #8 of 263
Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

I would like that cable on my customs. It looks more friendly for those who get glasses. I'm gonna end up with a UE custom for just the cable one of these days :P

 

I'm looking forward to some more impressions as you put more time on them to get used to the sound as well as the fit. The fit should take a day or so to get used to since you are not used to having a piece piece of acrylic inside your ears compared to a small earphone.



Well the funny thing is, the customs are easier to get used to than universals. I was worried at first too, but after wearing them for several hours last night, I'm not quite sure if I can go back to universals. lol. =P

 

Also, Even though some may say that the treble is rolled off on the UE4's, I find that I prefer the treble of the UE4's to the treble of the Westone 4's. In my particular set, they seem to sparkle more. The trade off that I find is in the bass... it seems the bass on the UE4's isn't as good in both quantity and quality in comparison to the W4's.


Edited by PANGES - 3/15/11 at 9:39am
post #9 of 263
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

I would like that cable on my customs. It looks more friendly for those who get glasses. I'm gonna end up with a UE custom for just the cable one of these days :P

 

I'm looking forward to some more impressions as you put more time on them to get used to the sound as well as the fit. The fit should take a day or so to get used to since you are not used to having a piece piece of acrylic inside your ears compared to a small earphone.


 

Yes! I really like the cable. It's rugged, like the SE535, but without the rigidity and thickness. Looks great too. !

The earpiece cable wire part is also pretty nice. As I too wear glasses, and I didn't find them the least bit obtrusive (as others I have known).

They seem very well made.

 

Yeah, getting used to the fit (and sound?) might take longer than a day (or so) for me. I'm persnickety that way. wink_face.gif


Edited by shane55 - 3/15/11 at 9:59am
post #10 of 263

I'll throw my first impressions also, I ordered the UE18 and since its arrival yesterday I've been wearing it all day. In terms of fit/seal my left one is perfect, and the right earpiece sticks out slightly more, but still 98% comfortable and not really enough to warrant a re-fit. Maybe it'll become more comfortable as time goes on, maybe not, but I sometimes (sub)consciously use my fingers in attempt to nudge the earpiece in deeper (lol). It's much more comfortable than universals with Comply tips.

 

The packaging is the same as Shane's, but my carrying case is the larger version with a hinge (see Shane's pic with the foam-cut out), and I found that too large to be carrying around. I'd actually prefer the smaller carrying case. Accessories-wise, its surprisingly bare - aside from the personalized case, the only other thing was a cleaner tool. The TF10s came with a 1/4 adaptor and a flight attenuator, so I thought maybe those would be standard on the customs too. No big deal though.

 

Build & cable: Solid craftsmanship. No visible defects, cracks, or bubbles. The tips where the the tubes end are a bit rough/unsanded if you rub your fingers on it, but this had no bearing on comfort. The color is translucent slate grey. Being an artsy guy, I was very specific and demanding on my custom art, and emailed Todd a lot on the details of what I wanted. The result came out very good, but not as ideally perfect as I wanted. The colors aren't perfectly spot-on, the white is every slightly greenish, and I suspect this to be because I ordered them in a translucent color. I wanted to see the inner components of my monitor; if you changed the backplate or ordered a solid shell color the results would definitely be better. In terms of detail, it's as detailed as it'll ever be with a less-than-an-inch high space. My art was pushing the boundaries of acceptable complexity, and I would recommend others to have more simplified art in their future orders. :P

 

1000x500px-LL-595dacf6_UE18.jpg

 

1000x500px-LL-56fd4f7c_UE18B.jpg

 

1000x500px-LL-eca52827_UE18Left.jpg

 

From this artwork Am2bg.jpgto this comp  Benjamin Kwok UE18.jpg The art department took the liberty of resizing and moving the art to fit inside the printable area, which was fine.

 

 

I ordered them with a 64" cable. The cable one of the best I've ever seen, and completely outclasses the TF10 cable (which frankly is crap). Double twisted cable, very sturdily built, flexible, and not super prone to microphonics. When I move around most of the extraneous sound is from bone conduction and my pulse (the seal is just too good), not the brushing against my clothes. I found the 46" TF10 cable just a couple inches too short if worn from the back to reach my iPod & amp, but 64" is more than enough but will require cable ties for extra length management. I don't see these cables going bad anytime soon, and will probably perform fine for the next few years of wear & tear.

 

 

Sound: Of course, very impressed. Of Cowboy Bebop's Tank! live recording by Seatbelts, the imaging is deadly accurate - it's now super easy to locate instruments. The soundstage is very open and airy, plenty of depth and height. I'm noticing more of the "room dimensions" and the sound reflections from walls/stage, compared to the other gear I own. The soundstage is also exceptionally wide. I think the air is what surprised me the most - when I listened to the piano intros of Shokkaku no Hyouhon Hako from xxxHolic OST or My Soul, Your Beats from Angel Beats! OST (not the most technical songs, I know, just happened to be the songs on the iPod at the time), the space was just phenomenal, very natural sounding. I could play that on a grand piano and get the same exact sound, no walls or invisible barriers there.

 

I can also reaffirm Jude's impressions on the UE18; it's definitely north of neutral, with a lot of emphasis on midbass. Not as much as the UE11 I demo'd at the meet, but definitely very present. While this makes the UE18 sound very full bodied and present with classical music, I found with electronic/industrial (notably, Fukui Kenichiro's Badlands from Einhander OST, one of go-to demo tracks) the lower end to be overpowering, and will most definitely require EQing to bring down the bass to more acceptable levels. But! The low end is quick and detailed, plenty of resolution, so it's good bass, just a tad louder than usual. The overall signature is warm, sort of like my ESW9. The mids are sometimes overshadowed by the low end, but it's still a great performer. I feel if the midbass got smoothed out some decibels, you'll get a truly phenomenal IEM that's beautiful across the entire spectrum. The extensions are great both ends, it's very accurate at the very low end, and just the same at the high end, but I feel it is a tad light at the very highest treble. I need to do some more in-depth listening to make any solid conclusions though.

 

There's plenty of details as expected of UE's flagship. It's very clean detail; it's fun to pick out individual voices from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody overdubbed/lip syncing parts, or the Guitar squeaking and picking by Ferenc Snetberger's solos - those fingers brushing against the strings, etc.

 

 

Overall 9 stars out of 10. Here's a requency graph of what I *think* the UE18 sounds like, so it'll be like a TL;DR version:
UE18 graph.jpg

 

By no means when I say "weaker" that it's bad, it's amazing in its own right but just compared to the other phenomenal aspects of the UE18 it seems not as great.

 

I'll do a much more thorough review when I've devote more time listening an dsettle in to these magical IEMs.

 

@ PANGES: I was able to sleep with the UE18s on, although not very well, but because of a different reason than usual. I'd get annoyed (eventually) when I have headphones on because I'd be very tired and the sound prevents me from falling asleep, but last night was different; I was awake at 3AM listening to the details and sparkle and had to physically force myself to remove the earpieces, otherwise I wouldn't catch any sleep. :P

 

- tengen

 


Edited by tengen - 3/15/11 at 2:03pm
post #11 of 263


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shane55 View Post

Yes! I really like the cable. It's rugged, like the SE535, but without the rigidity and thickness. Looks great too. !

The earpiece cable wire part is also pretty nice. As I too wear glasses, and I didn't find them the least bit obtrusive (as others I have known).

They seem very well made.

 

Yeah, getting used to the fit (and sound?) might take longer than a day (or so) for me. I'm persnickety that way. wink_face.gif

 

Glad you finally got your UE set of customs!

 

I bought the exact same cable (64" & same colour) for my Westone ES3X about 8 months ago and love it - I find it MUCH better than the SE535 cable, too, BTW.

 

Now, please don't give us any more excuses and give us some more proper SQ impressions NOW!  :)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

I would like that cable on my customs. It looks more friendly for those who get glasses. I'm gonna end up with a UE custom for just the cable one of these days :P

 

I'm looking forward to some more impressions as you put more time on them to get used to the sound as well as the fit. The fit should take a day or so to get used to since you are not used to having a piece piece of acrylic inside your ears compared to a small earphone.

 

I think if you're having issues with the Westone ES cable's memory wire, you'll find the UE cable even worse, because the memory wire is even longer (approx 40mm), and a little thicker, ie it's even more 'intrusive'. I don't have a problem with either cable, BTW.
 

 


Edited by music_4321 - 3/15/11 at 11:43am
post #12 of 263
Thread Starter 

@ tengen.

Nice writeup! And to say again, your earpieces look GREAT. Fantastic artwork for these, and it looks like UE did a great job (even with the liberties they took  wink_face.gif )

 

Interesting, your drawing of how you think an FR graph would look is very similar to what I hear, but with the 'hump' a little further into the lower mids. The roll-off of the highs for me is not quite as early as one would gather from your drawing. More of a fairly steep drop starting at about 8khz.

post #13 of 263
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

 

Glad you finally got your UE set of customs!

 

I bought the exact same cable (64" & same colour) for my Westone ES3X about 8 months ago and love it - I find it MUCH better than the SE535 cable, too, BTW.

 

Now, please don't give us any more excuses and give us some more proper SQ impressions NOW!  :)
 


 

 


Yes, thank you. As I (somewhat jokingly) said to a friend... how could I otherwise find out how much I dislike customs, unless I get a set?  wink_face.gif   

 

Also, indeed, my favorite cable so far, with the UM2 and DBA in second and third position. Oddly enough, being that the SM3 had the same cable as the UM2, I'd have to put it in a tie for second... but only cable-wise.

I really disliked my UE SuperFi 5 cables, and the ear wire was awful.

 

Sorry... no in-depth SQ impressions just yet, regardless of how persuasive your demands might be. tongue.gif
 

 

post #14 of 263

music_4321, the issue I have with the Westone ES cable is the short memory wire. If it was a bit longer I would have no issues with the comfort and as a matter of fact the 1964 Ears cable I have which is almost the same as the ES cable except the tube length is about twice as long but the memory wire is the same and I prefer the comfort of that cable. Just curious but it seems to me that you have a pair of the UE cables. if I have a flush connection would the UE cable work on other customs or is it just UE customs that work with them since I've been wondering since they released their new cable.

post #15 of 263
Quote:
Originally Posted by rawrster View Post

Just curious but it seems to me that you have a pair of the UE cables. if I have a flush connection would the UE cable work on other customs or is it just UE customs that work with them since I've been wondering since they released their new cable.


I do have a set of UE cables for my ES3X as stated above.

 

Check this link. The 2nd & 4th cables (from the top) are meant for 'standard' custom IEMs, ie the same connectors as those used with Westone ES cables and older UE cables. I have the 4th (64" clear) cable.

The 1st and 3rd are only meant for the newer UE customs (built after Feb/ March 2010). People with older UE customs (UE10/ UE11), and built before Feb/ March 2010, should get the 2nd or 4th.

 


Edited by music_4321 - 3/16/11 at 8:30am
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