Logitech Ultimate Ears 900 vs Heir Audio 4.Ai - Part 1
I am going to do two parts of this comparison; the stock comparison and then I will make a mod on the UE900 and re compare. So here is part 1:
These are two IEMs that where going to have to meet at one point and I have been looking forward very much to making this comparison. I was the first to review the Heir Audio 4.Ai and it I said it was the best universal IEM I have yet to come across, over its life it has had its ups and downs but there is no denying that the majority of users have agreed that it is amazing. The UE900 was released quickly after the Heir and also featured 4 balanced armature drivers and a price tag of $400. The opinions of the UE900 equally seem to be good with most saying these are both better than the Westone 4 and many over universals and the UE900 also received highly praised reviews from the likes of |joker| on head fi and review websites like Heafonia. This really did look like it was going to be a clash of the titans and I was really excited when I finally got my UE900s confirmed.
As packages go they are two different things but I do think that the UE900 wins for consumers. The Heir is your typical CIEM package with some tips added and an awesome tank like Otterbox case. The UE900 comes with everything from airplane attenuators that is great as an accessory for a few reasons (it is an impedance and adapter, very handy), a luxurious travel case and pouch, huge range of tips including foams and lastly a spare cable. These have one cable with a 3-button microphone and I think the two included cables wins it here.
They both do really have awesome designs and while I am sure most of you, like me wood take the 4.Ai with its beautiful burl, I really do like how the UE900 look with their shocking blue housings and metallic faceplates. The Build quality of the two is similar with acrylic shells and faceplates and they both use nice cables but I guess I do prefer the Westone pins of the 4.Ai over the UE900s cable connector but both fairly faultless here.
Comfort is in my experiences better on the 4.Ai as it is more ergonomic in respect to your ear and the smaller but thicker UE900 digs in to my ear causing slight pain. Both are extremely small thinking they have four drivers and I am sure neither will cause to many problems here. Isolation on both is rather impressive although I think I insert the 4.Ai a tad deeper resulting in slightly better isolation.
So let us get to the sound quality and of course the most important bit. I will mention that my UE900 are stock, I have not made any mods to them like close up the pinhole sound bore although apparently this happens with use. Let us start with the soundstage size; I think the Heir is slightly more airy but they are both equally large with nice sense of depth to them. However I think the imaging, which is one of favourite properties of the 4.Ai, cannot be matched by the UE900, you really can pin point what is happening where.
Bass I think is the real separating point of the two IEMs. The UE900 instantly has a noticeable bigger bass impact and better extension, actually providing you with some rumble and nice texture, the 4.Ai does not really have any rumble but still has some nice sub-bass texture before it rolls off, before the UE900. Mid-bass is bigger and slower on the UE900 with a bigger boost than the 4.Ai has which is only a small one. The 4.Ai has amazing bass; it is fast, refined and just boosted enough to satisfy needs if your someone who does not think something more neutral like an Etymotic. The UE900 has too much mid-bass and it just does not have the details that the 4.Ai have or the speed.
Low mids are amazing on the 4.Ai, so clear with the smallest taint of warmth and amazing honesty. The UE900 is veiled from the mid-bass in this region and sound too warm and a bit blurred as well as lacking a bit in presence. It makes male vocals and low mid timbre just sound vacant and lifeless in comparison to the 4.Ai that runs away with the prize. High mids on the other hand are clearly more present on the UE900 and sound airier and smoother but they do not have the rawness or detail that the 4.Ai offer in comparison.
Highs are more present and detailed on the 4.Ai and have more sparkle and a nicer sparkle that is less splashy. Both have very good trebles and are confident in this are but just for things like detail, the 4.Ai takes it and they both extend beautifully although graphs suggest that the UE900 goes further, I think the 4.Ai sound airier.
In all honesty I think the two are not even that close (they are vey close of course but I thought it would be closer, just in terms of speed and detail), on my IEM round up you may know that I gave the 4.Ai a 9.2 in SQ, PFE 232 a 9.1, Sony MDR EX1000 a 9 and I will be giving the UE900 a 8.9 for stock sound. Overall I listen to the UE900 an just want to tear it out and replace it with my Heir, I really think that Heir Audio have done a much better job with 4 drivers than Logitech and in all honesty will not be able to recommend the UE900 because I think the 4.Ai is that much better, I really do and I was hoping that the UE900 was going to be on the same levels, I really did. Now I am not saying it is wrong that anyone likes the UE900, they are a great IEM, in the top few that I have heard but they are as far as I care, beaten out by the 4.Ai. Now bring on the mod.
These should help you distinguish the size difference of the two. They are both actually rather different in shape and i was expecting them to be a lot closer than they were. they are both small and well designed however.