Logitech Ultimate Ears 700 Review
What seems like forever ago now I came across my first IEM that I truly loved both at the time and to this day and that IEM is the Fischer Audio DBA-02. So why have I started this review talking about a completely different earphone? Well as you may already know they share one thing in common that is rather important and that is their drivers. They both have the Knowles TWFK dual balanced armature unit. So since I found out that the DBA-02 shares drivers with many other earphones I wanted to try them, would they be identical sounding? Would they be completely different? Reviews and comparisons seemed to go along with the latter and they actually varied quite a bit but I had to know for myself.
So this brings us to the Ultimate Ears 700 (UE700) that along with the Brainwavs B2/DBA-01 and the new Rockit R50 are the cheapest end of the TWFK driven IEMs compared with the more expensive Vsonic GR01 and Audio Technica CK10. Looking at these and the DBA-02’s they do not share many things in common and if the drivers were different they would have no similarities. One difference between them which is a mighty win to the UE700’s is the availability of these both in the UK and worldwide due to them being part of the large Logitech branding.
So Ultimate Ears (UE), which also intrigued me, makes these and this is my third venture into UE now. My first was rather disappointing with the now very old Super Fi 3 and the second was rather great with the Triple Fi 10 so how will these fit in with my mixed bag of results with Ultimate Ears.
I would also like to quickly point out that there are two versions of the UE700, the older version and the new Logitech version, these are the new Logitech version and you can quickly tell that by the packaging.
I have been listening to these unamped, to a mixture of genres, with both my iPhone 4 and Cowon J3. The file formats are a mixture of MP3 and AAC of all bit rates but mainly 320KBPS and also FLAC.
Tip wise I have tried a few but settled on the medium single flanges that come with the earphones for both the best comfort and sound.
Now these are real tiny earphones with miniscule little shiny silver housings, nothing like there older brother the Triple Fi 10 which have a huge housing and these also have a nice little colour coding feature with a red nozzle for the right earphone and black for the left. The cable is quite discreet and completely black.
The build quality okay everywhere apart from their big let down, which is the housing strain relief. Starting with the housings they are all plastic but do not feel weak anywhere and have a large nozzle for their small housing which will not need to be worried about like thinner nozzles like the DBA-02 has. But then we move to the strain relief or better put, lack of a strain relief that is rather worrying and although nothing has happened so far to worry about just a quick search on Google have let me know it is a problem that happens but I plan to resist.
The cable is quite nice and the top half of the cable is actually satisfyingly thick and a quick comparison with other IEMS and this may just be the thickest and sturdiest. It also has a cable cinch, which is something I find almost necessary. The y-split is a super strong plastic and goes straight into the bottom cable with now strain relief, in fact these earphones do not feature a single standard flexible strain relief. The bottom half of the cable is only slightly thicker than the already pretty thick top cable so everything is fine here. It has a right-angled jack with a skinny hard plastic housing and a gold plated plug.
After the plethora of accessories that come with my Super Fi 3 (SF3) I did have big expectations in this department. What you get is not as much by any means but you get the essentials. The plastic hard travel case you get is not bad but it does not have the same appeal as the old metal crushproof one I got with the SF3 but that is just me being spoilt. It has a good opening mechanism, which is easy to operate and also holds it closed nicely. It is perfect pocket size and also light and will protect from drops but I would not like to tread on it due to it being ever so slightly flimsy.
The tip selection is fairly modest to say the least with four pairs of different size silicone single flanges and then on top of that two pairs of the ever so comfy Complys, which will please many fans of them, tips.
The fit of these is great and finding the ideal seal is a pleasant and easy experience due to their size you will find it easy to place these into your ears.
They are very comfy earphones (can be boosted by wearing the included comply tips). The comfort is down to their size, weight and moderate insertion depth. They are obviously super small and this of course means they weigh hardly anything but they also have a nozzle that goes deep enough into you ear canal to isolate but not be annoying or fatiguing like Etymotic IEMs. One tad of bother is that as these are design to be worn cable down the cable can touch you lower ear or cheek but that is me just being picky and you can of course still were them over you ear. These are in a different league to the Triple Fi 10 for comfort so if you had a bad experience there do not be put of by these as they are actually one of the comfier IEMs I have heard and would make great for sleeping earphones as well I guess.
As I have already spoken about there moderate insertion depth these leads to a very good level of isolation, especially for their small size. I have had no problems with any of my families’ noises while in the house and they have passed all my usual isolation tests I have thrown at them. Only when I have taken them near some of my Dad’s gardening tools have they succumbed to the isolation of my Etymotic HF5s.
Microphonics (Cable Noise)
So these are cable down which to some people spells “CABLE NOISE”. It is present here of course but is not bad at all; in fact perhaps as good as it gets for cable down earphones.
There is also the easiest solution for it, which is to switch these to being worn over the ears, which is no problem at all with these earphones, and they take to it naturally and it removes the microphonics to absolutely ZERO.
Soundstage and instrument separation
These are only average in width soundstage but are complimented with a depth that makes these truly 3D sounding which is great. The other main contributor to the 3D sound is how full of air the soundstage has. In terms of the airy feel they are up there with the very best with there twin sibling the DBA-02.
They also have absolutely phenomenal instrument separation and although I will still give the nod to the DBA-02 and the Sony MDR-EX1000 in this department these still can hold there own with each instrument separated from the rest with in a little bubble of air.
The bass is very neutral with the other frequencies and does not lack behind at all which can be a problem for some earphones using balanced armature drivers (BA). The mid-bass quantity is not a lot at all but is more than the DBA-02 and quite a few other BA earphones I have owned. However if you’re an owner of the TF10 looking at these do not expect anywhere near as much bas from these. Personally I think it is a near to perfect amount complimenting the rest of the spectrum just great. The quality is not quite as good as the DBA-02 with slightly less tightness, the same level as the Etymotic HF5, but still fantastic with top class punch. The less tightness to the DBA-02 is made up by the bigger body it punches with which actually makes me prefer the UE700 bass to the DBA-02.
The sub-bass exists on the UE700, which is a lot more than I can say for equally comparable earphones in similar signature and price, the HF5 and DBA-02, and these do rumble with great extension. Yes this is not like you get with dynamic drivers so do not expect head shaking or anywhere close but it is there and for that I am impressed.
The mids are amazingly detailed due to their transparency, which is really top notch. It is again neutral in positioning and never over whelmed by other frequencies and also not influenced by them so feeling neither bright, like the DBA-02, nor dark like the TDK BA100. They are actually quite dry in nature and very natural because of this. In fact more than the DBA-02 as their brighter mids can sound false and wrong at times.
When it comes to detail these are up there with as good as it gets and I will have to say that the DBA-02 are crowned kings here these do take the HF5s and sit only a tad behind the TDK BA200s which is not shabby by know means.
Treble is the real reason I fell in love with the TWFK driver in the first place when listening to the DBA-02. What you get here is a still amazing but different case altogether of it. These are still very sparkly with great extension and guitar solos and high hats sound surreal but they are a lot more laid back than the DBA-02, which had a treble dominance. Now the problem with the DBA-02 is that because there was so much treble sparkle it got near to points of fatigue and it was not unheard of for people to find it unbearable. What we have here is a much more user-friendly version, still containing the great detail but just not quite there in presence.
What we have here is no DBA-02 beater but a perfect alternative for those who found the treble fatiguing or even just wanted a similar sound that could be worn cable down. I think that UE have done an awesome job with these earphones and have made in my opinion a more relaxed and consumer friendly version of the DBA-02 and the price (street price especially) is a lot better and availability even better again. Why the DBA-02 (Brainwavs B2) have always made a huge rage on the web and on forums like this I am actually confused why these have never had the same popularity and recommended as an alternative and I will now for sure. I would definitely say that these are worth picking up and you will not be disappointed.
Edited by Swimsonny - 6/16/12 at 8:36am