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Ultimate Ears 600 appreciation thread

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 

Got 'em, love 'em. Apparently a rebranded Super.fi 5 (non-pro), these are fantastic IEMs in my opinion, not just for the price but are able to hold their own against IEM that cost several times as much from my experience. In particular, I find UE600 very similar, almost shockingly so, to Shure's SE535. We all know how much SE535 costs - with half a grand MSRP not many people can afford these. Well, I think UE released an SE535 alternative for a whole lot less dough without even realizing it with their UE600. I know graph aren't everything and all but they are the only objective evidence we have of sound quality, so they are pretty significant IMO, and UE600 measure really well. Their frequency response is almost identical to that of Shure SE535 and I think that frequency response curve is quite natural. I am a big fan of Shure SE530 and 535 sound and I adore these UEs as well. They have the same full, rich, enveloping sound with a seductive sweetness in the mids while maintaining a very natural tone that allows real instruments and vocals to shine through with a realism that I probably haven't heard with the majority of other IEMs, nor any but a small handful of full sized cans. Incredibly, the single balanced armature driver in the UE600 is able to deliver a soundstage and dynamics that can almost rival (if not up there with) 3+ driver BA setups. Actually, UE600 doesn't really try to wow the listener right away from my experience, so upon first listen it probably won't be obvious to most just how good they are. It wasn't obvious to me, until I listened for some time. In this respect, they are very much like the Shures - the sound is laid back and subtle, and requires you to pay attention to it before the magic of the presentation can grab you in return. The imaging and soundstage of UE600 is also surprisingly close to that of the Shures and can make me feel like I am listening to good full sized cans quite often. They have an excellent soundstage height and very impressive depth as well. Detail resolution is generally in the ballpark with SE535, except maybe lacking just a bit in the upper treble and details are very nicely integrated into the sound without unnatural hyper detailing of something like DBA-02 or, to a lesser extent, the Etymotic ER4, both of which achieve much of their perceived detail simply by boosting the treble and/or upper mids. Imaging is sharp and well defined which is also clear from the square wave response which is amazingly clean looking for a $100 product. The 300 hz square wave response, in particular, has very few artefacts and looks really nice which from my understanding indicates a black background, which I am definitely hearing. This basically means that the headphone is very accurate - it hardly adds anything to the sound that comes from its own character/coloration, but mostly reproduces what's there on the source and recording. I heard very few headphones that can achieve this. For comparison, here are the measurements for UE700, which is the more expensive dual driver TWFK based bigger brother of the UE600. As you can see from that graph, while UE700 still measures reasonably well, but not as well as UE600. Actually, the impulse response for UE700 looks pretty mediocre to me. If you then scan through other headphone measurements on that site as well as on headroom, you will see that there are actually very few headphones that can match or surpass the square wave response of the UE600. I am not trying to say that UE600 is one of the best headphones out there simply based on graphs, but considering that I am also hearing them as one of the best I ever tried I think that may say something.

 

But anyway, enough of the ramble and let's get back on track here and let's appreciate Ultimate Ears 600! biggrin.gif Those of you who have this IEM and like the sound, this is the thread to share your impressions with other UE600 lovers like myself. Cheers. beerchug.gif


Edited by Pianist - 3/4/12 at 5:45pm
post #2 of 57

Agreed, they are one of the best IMO for that price range. Also one of the most comfortable IEMs i've ever owned, which is hard because I have a very small ear and find it difficult to find universals that fit properly. I loved them and was sad to see them go. Will definitely be saving up for them again in the future.

post #3 of 57
Thread Starter 

Bass and treble are tricky to evaluate, but I can say with certainty that nothing I heard below $150 can match UE600 for realism of vocal reproduction and consequently the instruments that fall within the range of human voice IMO. These beat my previous sub $100 favorite - Hifiman RE0 - and in my view also outperform the $150 RE262 in the midrange as well, providing a significantly more natural tone and seemingly more detail as well to my ears. I find them every bit as good as SE530/535 in the mids and without any driver overlap issues that multi driver IEMs have. I found the Shures sounded very odd and unrealistic at times and I blame it on their multi driver design and the inability for the drivers to work together properly.

post #4 of 57

At $99 street price, I don't see a point for these.

 

UE700 regularly can be had for $100 and out class these. UE 700 is basically a Audio Technica ATH-CK10, the Fischer Audio DBA-02 and Brainwavz B2 with the worst tuning out of the bunch. Technically, UE600 is not even on the same tier.

post #5 of 57
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vloeibaarglas View Post

At $99 street price, I don't see a point for these.

 

UE700 regularly can be had for $100 and out class these. UE 700 is basically a Audio Technica ATH-CK10, the Fischer Audio DBA-02 and Brainwavz B2 with the worst tuning out of the bunch. Technically, UE600 is not even on the same tier.

 

Have you seen the measurements I posted for UE600 and UE700 above? UE700 sure doesn't look better to me technically based on measurements.

post #6 of 57

Frequency response = lol. You can't translate between SQ and frequency response.

 

 

post #7 of 57

graphCompare.php?graphType=0&graphID[]=3481&graphID[]=3471

 

Frequency response only says something about the general signature style.  It doesn't translate into properties at all.

 

 

post #8 of 57

 

Originally Posted by Vloeibaarglas View Post

Frequency response = lol. You can't translate between SQ and frequency response.

You can if you know how to read them very well, in general those that graph in a more linear fashion are the more technically capable ones. Flat isn't always best though, one has to pay attention to detail and frequency interaction. Those that usually dismiss FR graphs are those that lack the knowledge of them imo. 
 

 

Originally Posted by tinyman392 View Post

graphCompare.php?graphType=0&graphID[]=3481&graphID[]=3471

 

Frequency response only says something about the general signature style.  It doesn't translate into properties at all.

It says everything, these aren't a rough draft, they're the full detailed picture of how it responds to each frequency. A flat close to flat bass is going to be have definition and detail, there's a reason why the budget stuff graphs with humps and dips.

 

Graphs can be very tricky and variable in the treble though and problematic, due to HFGT and tips. I think they're most accurate in the bass to mids but those graphs assume a good seal just as achieved by the dummyhead/mic. 

 

post #9 of 57

The UE600 was my first BA, and I still use it pretty often, agree with OP that the sound is very laid-back. Makes listening a very easy and enjoyable affair (: Good fit too, I have slightly smaller than standard ears, and they fit beautifully, just that the wire doesn't stay behind the ear very well. 

post #10 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inks View Post

 

You can if you know how to read them very well, in general those that graph in a more linear fashion are the more technically capable ones. Flat isn't always best though, one has to pay attention to detail and frequency interaction. Those that usually dismiss FR graphs are those that lack the knowledge of them imo. 
 

 

It says everything, these aren't a rough draft, they're the full detailed picture of how it responds to each frequency. A flat close to flat bass is going to be have definition and detail, there's a reason why the budget stuff graphs with humps and dips.

 

Graphs can be very tricky and variable in the treble though and problematic, due to HFGT and tips. I think they're most accurate in the bass to mids but those graphs assume a good seal just as achieved by the dummyhead/mic. 

 


Show me specific spots on the graphs that show the following parts of the signature (it may not be part of this graph, but show me how a graph would show this):

  • Timbre
  • Sound Stage
  • Bass body
  • Bass impact (note, it's not punch)
  • Bass texture
  • Muddyness (in bass)
  • Clarity (through mids)
  • Midrange energy
  • Harshness
  • Sibilance
  • Resonance

The reason I chose these specific ones is that they don't rely on any part of the spectrum.  How they actually acquire these properties is based on signature, true, but the actual graphical pattern or representation is not as known as something like texture.  Even that has it's odds.  For each property above, I can find an IEM with the opposite signature that does the same (or a same signature shape that doesn't have the property).  These properties are chosen in my reviews because any signature can have them. 

 

post #11 of 57

how is the soundstage on these compared to the IE80s?

post #12 of 57
Originally Posted by tinyman392 View Post

Show me specific spots on the graphs that show the following parts of the signature (it may not be part of this graph, but show me how a graph would show this (quoted below)

 

  • Timbre
  • Sound Stage
  • Dynamic Range (added)

 

Soundstage (size), timbre and dynamic range are probably the only things that simply can't be graphed. Timbre is specially tricky, IME every IEM with a good tonal balance are good in timbre while there are dynamics that have good timbre with poor tonal balance like the HJE900 and FX700. Dynamic range is somewhat correlated to FR, but it's mostly it's own identity synonymous to SNR and soundstage depth. I do think source and recordings have a bigger say in dynamic range than headphones do.

 

Soundstage as a whole has different properties, but this how you can break it down: imaging (separation), height/width (size) and depth. Size is the only thing that can't be graphed. Soundstage is frequency correlated in regards to projection, a v-shaped response pulls you further away from the main instruments while a mid-oriented one does the opposite. I do not agree that a forward projection is always needed as there's no pure forward projection. Those IEMs that are said to have a forward projection just pull you away from the main instruments such as the voice, but put things such as the bass get even more forward in. I think this is something we just have to live with as headphone/IEM users, the drivers are just too close to the ear. Size does help in getting you closer to that sense of projection and for some a big factor in performance that just can't be graphed and correlated to the amount of actual environmental air that is let in and how it's done. 

 

Transient response is related to imaging, those with faster transients will have the speed to spread out and organize each instrument more properly. Transient response is read in the impulse response and the 300 or 500hz square wave response (usually a lobsided square in the right side means slower response). 

 

 

Some of those terms are very broad and need to be broken down or properly defined. Like I mentioned, FR is also based a lot on interaction, there are areas that work on specific properties though. 

 

Going to break it down form treble to bass. 

 

 

  • Harshness
  • Sibilance
  • Resonance

"Harshness" is too broad of a term to break down to one region. Basically I can say it's when there's too much of a frequency once you reach 2k-11k. Edge specially resides in the 3-5k region and pierce at 8-11k, sibilance regions are also a form of harshness that reside in the 4-9k region. Resonants are the result of either a dramatic dip or peak, a common tip resonant resides in the 9-10k region. In other words, many times the IEM/tip interaction causes a big peak at 9-10k. 

 

 

  • Muddyness (in bass)
  • Clarity (through mids)
  • Midrange energy

Midrange energy is actually how much midhighs the IEM has. Take the FXT90 for example, epitome of midrange energy, it's no coincidence that it also has one of the flattest 2-6k (midhighs) response. Crunch is a big factor of energy and that specifically resides in the 2-3.5k region. 

 

Clarity through the mids is relied upon how well balanced the boom/punch(100-180hz), warmth (150-190hz) and fullness are (200-450hz). When you have too much of any of these, micro-details/clarity  in the mids are sacrificed, no matter how fast and linear the bass is. The biggest offender is the 200-450hz region which also can be called the mud area, too much of that and you have muddiness and bleed. 

 

 

  • Bass body
  • Bass impact (note, it's not punch)
  • Bass texture

Texture will be mostly depth oriented. If an IEM lacks in the subbass region, it's missing that layer at the very bottom, texture in the midbass is always there as long as the bass isn't recessed which is almost never the case nowadays in IEMs, usually a problem with earbuds. Body will be the overall weight of the bass, midbass and subbass presence, think IEMs like the MD tributes. Bass punch is 100-180hz as mentioned, but bass body I assume also factors in the decay involved in the subass. If you have a more specific definition of impact, I'm sure I  can give you a more specific answer.

 


The reason I chose these specific ones is that they don't rely on any part of the spectrum.  How they actually acquire these properties is based on signature, true, but the actual graphical pattern or representation is not as known as something like texture.  Even that has it's odds.  For each property above, I can find an IEM with the opposite signature that does the same (or a same signature shape that doesn't have the property).  These properties are chosen in my reviews because any signature can have them.

But I just showed that they do, signature is the whole picture, those specific properties, are made by specific frequencies. Sure when you get broad such as "harshness" you have to look at different parts, but at the end it's still an specific region doing that.  Tell me what those IEM examples are and maybe we can break that down if I know enough of them (real-time listening and graphs). Once you have an specific definition of what a signature is (which involves a frequency breakdown), not every signature can have those properties. Many IEMs are in between cases that are hard to define into a category, that's the issue there. FXT90 can be said to be mid-forward, balanced (v-shaped) or bass oriented, I have no issue with any of these definitions, but the properties it has or does not I know are a fact that are broken down by it's response. 

 

Also, tuning of IEMs involves bass and treble tuning, the way the midrange is portrayed is the result of that balance. When you play music, you're playing frequencies, no other magic is involved, so how an IEM portrays that information is huge. 


Edited by Inks - 3/5/12 at 1:59pm
post #13 of 57
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyman392 View Post

  • Timbre
  • Sound Stage
  • Bass body
  • Bass impact (note, it's not punch)
  • Bass texture
  • Muddyness (in bass)
  • Clarity (through mids)
  • Midrange energy
  • Harshness
  • Sibilance
  • Resonance

Actually graphs can measure most of these things I think. Here's my brief comparison of the UE600 based on your criteria above vs. other headphones I had and I owned plenty (see my profile):

 

Timbre: UE600 has exceptional timbre for the most part. Except for a select few recordings, which are probably just poor quality, UE600 reproduces real instruments and vocals with a sense of realism that I rarely heard anywhere else. Graphs can't really show how accurate timbre is, but the more natural the frequency response, the more chances that the headphones will have good timbre.

 

Sound stage: deep with great height and imaging. One of the best in the IEMs I tried and better than that of many full sized headphones I tried. I am pretty sure that 300 Hz square wave response is a good indicator of soundstage and especially imaging performance. The cleaner the square wave, the darker the background between sounds and the sharper, more vivid the imaging becomes. UE600 measures exceptionally in this area. I can tell that it has a very balck background.

 

Bass body: UE600 has a very full, rich sounding low end. The low bass, mid and upper bass all have equal presence with this IEM, which you can actually see on the graph as well - a flat line from sub 20 to 250 Hz and above.

 

Bass impact: These are quite powerful sounding in the bass when the recording calls for it. I find them very satisfying for listening to my favorite dance and trance music. Again, they are better than most headphones I tried in this regard because they can hit hard without sounding overblown and without overpowering the other frequencies. I don't believe graphs can measure this.

 

Bass texture: Great. UE600 has a very nicely defined and detailed low end that can compete with the low end on some of the best headphones I tried regardless of type. All details in the bass seem to be clearly audible with UE600. There is no smearing of detail and the bass is precise and controlled. The 30 Hz square wave graph is a good measurement of bass extension and control. UE600 does better than most there as you can see.

 

Muddyness in bass: I haven't heard any yet with the UE600. I heard it with many, many other headphones many of which cost more than UE600. UE600 has none I can detect. The bass is really clean. I believe that the square wave graphs tell the story well.

 

Clarity through the mids: Top notch. UE600 has better clarity than any dynamic driver IEM I tried in the midrange and better than most full sized dynamics as well. It has better mids to me than any multi driver BA I tried so far except for maybe the Shure SE530/SE535. Can this be seen from graphs? Maybe not everything, but you can definitgely see that UE600 has very nice frequency response through the mids which I think does tell a good deal about the midrange performance of a headphone. Headphones with poor mids are very unlikely to measure this evenly in this frequency region. The graphs do also show that UE600 clearly has a warmth to its sound. The mids are not a flat line, so they may not be technically neutral, but they are even in response with gentle downward slop from thelower mids on which indicates a tasteful warmth without serious coloration.

 

Midrange energy: An great strength of the UE600 to my ears. The midrange balance is spot on with these for my liking. Neither too forward, nor too recessed. Very well balanced with the bass and highs, especially with the bass. Maybe the graphs can show this if you read them properly, but it does largely depend on personal taste as well. This is mostly a matter of personal taste I think, unless you are a pro and use headphones for monitoring rather than music enjoyment. In that case, you may need something more neutral.

 

Harshness: There was a bit out of the box - just a tiny bit in the mid/upper highs, but with very few recordings and only low bitrate ones. After a little burn in time, the UE600 doesn't sound harsh to me at all anymore. I am quite certain that the 300 Hz square wave response is a good measurement of how much edge/aggression a headphone has to it. In particular, it is the leading edge of the square wave that tells the story - the larger the edge, the more "edgy" and harsh a headpohne can sound, though not necessarily a guarantee that it will sound harsh as the music, source and ear sensitivity can really affect the perception of harshness a lot. UE600 has almost no leading edge in the 300 Hz square wave, which I think is a clear indication that it is not harsh sounding unless the source or recording is, the fit is poor or the ear canal shape of the listener introduces some resonances to the sound that are not there with the artificail ear of the dummy head used for the measurements.

 

Sibilance: Same as harshness. There was a bit out of the box, it it is now gone. I think significant peaks in the low to mid highs are a good indicator of whether the headphone will tend to exaggerate sibilance or not, as well as the 300 Hz square wave response. You can see that UE600 has no peak in the highs that overshadows the low and mid frequencies, so it is unlikely to exaggerate sibilance unless the fit is bad or something.

 

Resonance: Parasitic resonances? UE600 has none that I can detect. They are really clean sounding. I am pretty sure the square wave response graphs can pick them out in the form of wierd wiggles of the square wave.


Edited by Pianist - 3/12/12 at 7:27pm
post #14 of 57
You misread my question. In relation to a frequency graph alone, what frequency shape, focus, etc will only cause a given property. EG, if you say mid-bass hump creates a punch, there must be 0 examples around about an IEM that doesn't have a mid-bass hump with punch.

Similarly, what is the precise cause of timbre as shown on a frequency graph, etc. Spitting out that the 600s compare to other IEMs in terms of property doesn't prove that the frequency graph gives input to what it'll sound like. We already know that different frequency = different property's. By stating that the 600s differ from IEM x is saying nothing since we already know their frequency is different.

So prove a shape, focus, etc of the frequency graph (universal; it doesn't only apply to 600s, but applies to ALL IEMs with said property) and not anywhere else. That is what I'm asking since the original statement was that you can see properties in a frequency graph. I want you to prove it.
post #15 of 57
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyman392 View Post

You misread my question. In relation to a frequency graph alone, what frequency shape, focus, etc will only cause a given property. EG, if you say mid-bass hump creates a punch, there must be 0 examples around about an IEM that doesn't have a mid-bass hump with punch.
Similarly, what is the precise cause of timbre as shown on a frequency graph, etc. Spitting out that the 600s compare to other IEMs in terms of property doesn't prove that the frequency graph gives input to what it'll sound like. We already know that different frequency = different property's. By stating that the 600s differ from IEM x is saying nothing since we already know their frequency is different.
So prove a shape, focus, etc of the frequency graph (universal; it doesn't only apply to 600s, but applies to ALL IEMs with said property) and not anywhere else. That is what I'm asking since the original statement was that you can see properties in a frequency graph. I want you to prove it.

 

Uhh, where did I write that? I said that UE600 measures well. I actually don't look at frequency response all that much. For me the most important measurements are the square wave graphs.

 

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