Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered

General Information

The Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered Monitors - High Resolution studio reference monitors developed in collaboration with Capitol Studios. Tuned for Hi-Res Audio they feature True Tone technology - providing expanded highs and lows, defining their commitment to fidelity.

The Ultimate Sound Remastered - They are the second collaboration with the engineers from Capitol Studios and are based on the sounds of their state-of-the-art facility, using the UE Pro Proprietary True Tone Drivers they have extended the frequency range to deliver a flat response out to 18 kHz. With their commitment to fidelity you can now hear the harmonic structure and overtones that are usually missing from most headphones.

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Pros: very natural and neutral...
...yet musical and not sterile
pleasant, warm and qualitative BA bass...
Cons: ... which could have a little more quantity, despite reference
rather a professional tool than an everyday listener
slight subliminal peaks
Rating: 9.2
Sound: 9.2

Intro
First of all I would like to thank R+R SonicDesign AG for providing the demo earphones of Ulitmate Ears and thus making this and the following reviews of the current UE family possible.
R+R SonicDesign AG is a full-range event company from St. Gallen, Switzerland, which includes the sale, installation and integration of components and systems of event and media technology, with a longtime background in the rental business. R+R SonicDesign AG is also an official distributor of Ultimate Ears products in Switzerland since 2011.

Ultimate Ears has been appreciated by musicians and professional music users all over the world for over 20 years (founded in 1995) and is mainly used for stage or production purposes.

With this background, I also thought about the price tag, which might put some people off. UE has specialized in developing in-ears for musicians and live performance. With this, the company is clearly addressing a group of people who use the products as a "tool" for their job and have to rely on them for years.
Ultimate Ears was also, with the exception of one or two other companies, somewhat unrivalled in the beginning, which allowed them to set the prices and over the years, also in connection with their reputation, they have achieved a price level which they still maintain today. Could they also sell the products cheaper and still make a profit? Surely! But Ultimaten Ears has made a name for themselves and the sales market seems to be high enough for them to succeed. I can partly understand the price tag of UE better than I can with some of the companies that are starting to pop up and suddenly charge over 3000 dollars for their new world coverage.
But since I have a very good comparison with cheaper models, some of which perform the same or better, I must also say that UE is not always worth the money. Especially the UE Live does it to me in a particularly sour way.

I have thought about it for a long time with which UE-IEM I start the test series and decided to start directly with the two models I see the strongest for my taste. These are the UE REFERENCE REMASTERED and the UE 6 PRO, which couldn't be more different, but in their own musical world with their respective strengths convince me the most. Let's start with the UE RR!

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Handling
>> Identical to all tested models of Ultimate Ears <<

The UE RR is basically a custom IEM, but can also be manufactured as a universal IEM. If you decide on the custom variant, you will receive an individually adapted in-ear based on a personal ear impression, which is also only "compatible" with your own ear canal.
With universal IEMs, there is no way around a silicone or foam attachment (which is of course included in the scope of delivery in this case), but this can influence the sound characteristics and the sound can be falsified both positively and negatively.
The scope of delivery consists of a cleaning tool for the sound tubes, a removable cable, which was especially developed for stage use and the IEM itself. All this is in a screwable, round and black metal case, or square folding case, where the respective name of the owner is engraved.

Ultimate Ears relies on a specially developed IPX connector in their products. This connector is not compatible with MMCX or other connectors. I personally find it better than the one I know so far. It's more compact, sits bombproof and is easier to detach than the MMCX. The tight closure of the two connections (male/female) prevents moisture or dust from entering the connection, which is very important for stage use.
The cable is available with or without ear-loop, clear or black, and with a length of 125 or 160cm. There is also a balanced version (4-pin 2.5mm mini-jack) and a Bluetooth cable incl. remote for telephoning and controlling the Smartphone / Player.

With a custom IEM you don't have to worry about the fit, comfort and isolation. No matter which acrobatic exercises you perform, the IEM will not move from the spot and will also isolate you almost completely from the outside world. If something does pinch, or an adjustment is necessary, you can have it done free of charge by the respective distributor, or directly by Ulitimate Ears.

The cleaning tool is not only practical, but also really necessary, because as with many universal IEMs by now, there is no protection (mostly by a metal grid) in the sound tube, so earwax and dirt can get into the in-ear more easily. For the careful user cleaning is certainly not a foreign word, but it should be mentioned nevertheless.

The design of the UE RR is individually left to each user. What remains the same is the transparent 3D-printed housing with a view of the inner workings, but with the faceplate you can let off steam to your heart's content and the ear side is individually made to ear impression anyway.

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Sound
To me, reference means to reproduce the sound as naturally as possible, to keep the frequency spectrum linear and to prefer neither bass, midrange nor high frequencies. I'm not sure if such an in-ear can exist at all, because apart from the fact that everyone perceives sounds differently, I have the feeling that reference probably always means that suddenly no real sub-bass is allowed to exist and the music should be transported as emotionless and flat as possible into the ear.
If music is produced with this claim, then I'm not sure if the producers hope that we will breathe life into the music afterwards with our "Bass-IEMs", living room systems or club systems and bring back the rhythm. That's where "Hyde" speaks for me: The louder, more pressing and on the crap, the better! ...give me that bass...

But when "Jekyll" also speaks out, he remarks that what we get from the music industry today is far from natural and mostly serves to satisfy the "Hide" in us, at least as far as the popular part of the music is concerned. Of course there is still the other world, but not everyone knows about it or has access to it. If I'm honest, I prefer to let myself be sprinkled and I don't find this reprehensible. As is well known, one can argue about music and about taste even more.

Well, if I apply the first part about reference to the UE RR, then I realize that the RR is not really showy with its bass and the sub-bass is only to be guessed, but the RR is pleasantly musical, probably also by its warmer basic tuning.

In my opinion the bass of the RR does quantitatively only what is necessary to give the music some basic elements. It makes sure that vocals and instruments have enough body and warmth to prevent them from slipping into sterile conditions. Does this cause boredom? Admittedly I do from time to time. But hey, you get used to everything and somehow it's a welcome detox cure for me to reflect on what is usually overshadowed by the bass. The bass of the UE RR is a typical BA bass that acts fast, is precise and brings out fine bass passages without excitement. Only the last pressure from below is a bit missing, but the sub-expansion is there, even if not very level stable and that makes the bass of the RR harmonic and balanced. The bass fits perfectly into the warm and upwardly brightening natural signature of the RR. There's nothing wrong with it in terms of quality, it's only quantitatively that it should be a bit more for me. Not a top-down mentality, but something for the finer details. But I would not have expected anything else with the IEM name.

To me, reference means to reproduce the sound as naturally as possible, to keep the frequency spectrum linear and to prefer neither bass, midrange nor high frequencies. I'm not sure if such an in-ear can exist at all, because apart from the fact that everyone perceives sounds differently, I have the feeling that reference probably always means that suddenly no real sub-bass is allowed to exist and the music should be transported as emotionless and flat as possible into the ear.
If music is produced with this claim, then I'm not sure if the producers hope that we will breathe life into the music afterwards with our "Bass-IEMs", living room systems or club systems and bring back the rhythm. That's where "Hyde" speaks for me: The louder, more pressing and on the crap, the better! ...give me that bass...

But when "Jekyll" also speaks out, he remarks that what we get from the music industry today is far from natural and mostly serves to satisfy the "Hide" in us, at least as far as the popular part of the music is concerned. Of course there is still the other world, but not everyone knows about it or has access to it. If I'm honest, I prefer to let myself be sprinkled and I don't find this reprehensible. As is well known, one can argue about music and about taste even more.

Well, if I apply the first part about reference to the UE RR, then I realize that the RR is not really showy with its bass and the sub-bass is only to be guessed, but the RR is pleasantly musical, probably also by its warmer basic tuning.

In my opinion the bass of the RR does quantitatively only what is necessary to give the music some basic elements. It makes sure that vocals and instruments have enough body and warmth to prevent them from slipping into sterile conditions. Does this cause boredom? Admittedly I do from time to time. But hey, you get used to everything and somehow it's a welcome detox cure for me to reflect on what is usually overshadowed by the bass. The bass of the UE RR is a typical BA bass that acts fast, is precise and brings out fine bass passages without excitement. Only the last pressure from below is a bit missing, but the sub-expansion is there, even if not very level stable and that makes the bass of the RR harmonic and balanced. The bass fits perfectly into the warm and upwardly brightening natural signature of the RR. There's nothing wrong with it in terms of quality, it's only quantitatively that it should be a bit more for me. Not a top-down mentality, but something for the finer details. But I would not have expected anything else with the IEM name.

Where a "reference IEM" has to perform for me is clearly the mid-range, because that is where all the important information to which our hearing is particularly sensitive takes place.
The mids are wonderfully transparent and airy. The separation works without problems and there are almost no annoying peaks. The RR has a very slight sibilant tilt, but that's probably also due to the fact that not all recordings are mixed equally well. Sure, some voices tend to be more so than others, but often the music producer behind the desk also contributes to the mix, or not. When someone sings unplugged, I have never paid attention to sibilants or noticed them strongly. Only as soon as an amplification takes place does it become more noticeable and is, through the direct sound entry into the ear, especially present in in-ears. With UE RR the problem is negligible, but not perfect either.
The mids are flatter but not without emotion. Voices are excellently positioned and have a grandiose radiance, both male and female. The clarity and accuracy is as extraordinary as it is impressive, and that again and again. Everything sounds as it should and if mistakes were made during the recording or the amp cracked, you can hear that too. Really strong! If it weren't for the light sibilants here and there, the 10 would be perfect for me.

In contrast to the mid-range, the tweeter doesn't take much, but can't quite keep up. It is quite similar to the tweeter of the UE 6 Pro, but in the case of the UE 6 Pro, it is a little more emphasized (not judgmental), as in the UE 6 Pro, we also find a bass and treble-emphasized signature. With the RR it doesn't jump in your face like that, but there is absolutely nothing that remains hidden from the RR. They bring liveliness to the signature and brighten it up, which provides clarity and harmonizes well with the mids.
The airiness and brilliance of the highs provide a fine sound image, which is almost without unpleasant peaks. As with the mids, the emphasis is on "almost", but absolutely nothing that causes me problems or greatly impairs audibility.

What rounds off the excellent listening experience is the stage. It opens up generously in all directions and is particularly multi-layered, despite the subtle bass. You literally get lost in the music and that is a great compliment for an IEM. In general, I have to compliment Ultimate Ears concerning the stage of their IEMs. However, the stage is not everything, which is painfully noticeable in some of their models.

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Outro
With the RR the music always remains exciting and you always discover something new. It takes a little getting used to, but the RR brings the music into the ear as naturally and uncompromisingly as it should be. In spite of the reference claim, it also makes fun to simply listen to music. Here, it is rather the fine highs and the grandiose mids that bring the fun factor into the house. The bass supports the whole thing as best it can, but at no time more than it has to.

For everyday use, I see the RR as a bit of a giveaway, especially when I look at the price tag. It's clearly made for professional use and stage use. You have to be sure what you want to do with the UE RR and with Ultimate Ears products in general, because to just listen to music with the IEMs, you have to be financially well-off. UE's marketing is clearly aimed at artists and less at the normal music consumer. This is of course strongly reflected in the price of the products.
It also has to be considered that the IEMs from UE are all custom-made (except for the UE ToGo), for which a personal ear impression is also required. This makes the UE IEMs a bit of a lifetime purchase, since no one else can achieve a good fit with them and therefore will not enjoy the full sound.

Of course, you also pay for the brand, because custom IEMs are also available for less money, but here it's not about the price, but only about the sound. Nevertheless, the UE RR does not replace the CAMPFIRE SOLARIS or ORIVETI OH500, because I see both as more versatile.

You can get the UE RR from the official website or from an official distributor of Ulimate Ears products. On the company website the prices seem to be a bit cheaper (RR - $ 999, but keep in mind that you have to pay import fees, which of course are not applicable for the local distributor and you have no personal support.
Here I recommend "R+R SonicDesign AG" to you in Switzerland. Here you can get the complete UE service from one source and in addition you can make a personal appointment without obligation and free of charge. This includes consultation, test listening and a digital ear scan.

By the way, one song where the UE RR surprised me musically, is "Je ne parle pas francais" by Namika. Admittedly it sounds very good on many IEMs, because it is well produced, but here I really enjoy the RR and that also in the bass :)

!!! The pictures don't show the original product, but are specially made universal demo In-Ears from Ulimate Ears !!!

https://www.sonicdesign.ch/ue/de/

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More reviews: https://david-hahn.wixsite.com/chi-fiear
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Pros: Sound-stage, vocal presence, fidelity, clarity, SQ, build, value.
Cons: Bass may be lacking for some.
The Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered
By Crashtest33


Have I finally found what I'm looking for?

Why?

Choice of headphone comes down to more than just sound, and the changing of life and work circumstances can perpetuate the process. For some time I've been after a headphone that not only sounds great but best suits my current home and work life. After several months of reading, testing and pondering, I pulled the plug on the 'Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered'. I feel I've made the right choice and here's why.


Who?


My name's Nick. I live in Cambridge, UK and I've been a music nut my entire life. The son of a music teacher and formidable pianist and singer, I've been exposed to music of all genres for as long as I can remember. I first dabbled in hifi in my late teens ending up with a Monitor Audio and Denon-based system which was featured in 'Home Cinema Choice' magazine.
A semi-detached home purchase put an end to music listening on loudspeakers so my good friend Kevin from 'Sevenoaks', Cambridge suggested I try listening to some headphones. I owned an iPod 5.5g but required some more fidelity. I spent a modest amount and built my first rig consisting of a CF modded iPod 7G, an iBasso amp and a pair of AKG K450s. The rest is history.


What?

As life circumstances changed my Focal Spirit Classic and later Focal Elears became redundant to requirement and I needed some more portable IEM's. I used the incredible sound-per-pound Dunu DN-1000s for about 3 months but never really enjoyed the music as much as the Focal's. I was really after an IEM with the fidelity and soundstage that I assumed only an over-ear headphone could provide. After a few messages and posts on here, it became apparent that I would require a CIEM (custom in-ear monitor) and a formidable one at that.


The UE Reference Remastered,...


I remembered the superb announcement video that Jude produced on Head-Fi TV and the very premise appealed to me even at the time of it's release. A neutral Hi-fidelity studio mastering monitor, tuned to replicate the juggernaut PMC QB1-A studio active monitors newly installed at Capitol Studios?! This sounded extremely exciting. Now, off the bat I will admit, I'm not a bass-head and not a massive fan of V-shaped sound signatures so this would make me look at the RR perhaps more than others who may not even contemplate giving them a listen.


Test Equipment:

iBasso DX120 DAP.

Balanced, SE & LO 3.5mm. Digital 3.5mm Coax Out. Single AKM AK4495 DAC (THD+N = 111db)

Pro-Ject DAC Box S FL non-oversampling DAC
TDA1543 x 4

Vorzüge Pure II+ Headphone Amp
3.5mm SE Output (SNR = 110db, 320mW x2 into 32 Ohm)




Testing, Ordering and unboxing - 5/5


Before even contemplating a CIEM, I first checked to see if I had a dealer near me. As it turns out, I'm a short blast down the A10 from 'The Custom IEM Co. Ltd.' in Ware, Hertfordshire here in the UK. I called Paul and booked myself for a listening session with as many CIEM's within my budget. These ranged from the JH Audio 3x and UE Pro 5 to the UE RR, Empire Ears Bravado and 64 Audio A3e.
I took my portable rig and spent about two and a half hours trying out the various universal fit versions of the CIEMs.
Once I was decided on the UE RR (I will explain why later), I booked back in with Paul (a qualified CIEM fitting technician) to have my ear canals and drums examined and ear impressions taken. We decided on a colour scheme/design I was happy with and parted with my money.
Later that afternoon, Paul would place my ear impressions in a 3D, hi-res scanner and email the CAD files directly to Ultimate Ears in the States.
After 12 days I received an email from Paul saying my CIEM's were in stock and he'd carried out his own personal QC checks and they were in the post to me Special Delivery. I received them the following morning.

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The earphones were presented in a sturdy black textured cardboard box containing the round custom storage case, a care manual and serial number card. The box presented the round case and provided ample protection. To be honest, It's probably overkill but made the unboxing experience a little more classy than usual.
As a free option, UE provide a choice of round or oblong 'Peli' style cases and 14 laser-etched characters. I copied Paul and chose a round case with my name and mobile number.
The round case resembled a top-end moisturiser rather than earphone storage but perfectly crafted regardless.

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Once you unscrew the lid, you are presented with a closed pull-chord pouch with a UE logo tab containing the CIEM's and silver cable. Underneath this was an aircraft adapter cable, 3.5-6mm adapter plug and a funky plastic tool with a nylon brush at one end and an earwax scraper at the other. Useful.

Build Quality - 5/5


The 'Y' splitter includes a self-tightening, silicone adjuster


A good quality, if unremarkable 3.5mm right-angled jack plug terminates the silver plated, OFC cable.


Each CIEM cable end is terminated with these insane quality IPX 'Coax style' connectors which are IP67 certified and factory tested to 3000 removals!



The shells themselves are made using 3D printed SLA (Stereolithography) technology and the finish is close to perfect. They are nearly blemishless and the thickness of the plastic is extremely uniform.

Fit & feel - 5/5


A bit of a moot point when it comes to custom IEMs I feel. Do they fit? Should they fit? If not, do I return them?
Paul nailed the fitting process first time round and UE reciprocated Paul's base impressions by creating a perfect fitting, snug and comfortable shell that causes me no discomfort whatsoever even after 8+ hrs of wear.


Sound - 4.8/5

The sole purpose of entering the high-level CIEM market was to finally end up with a portable earphone that could destroy any mid-level IEM for sound quality but also match my Focal's for stereo separation and soundstage.
Compared to all the others I tested, the UE-RR's were the only earphones that did just that. Where the resolution of say the UE 5's was comparable, I still felt like I was listening to my old Dunu's or a set of headphones with a poor quality DAC. I didn't feel like I was even in the audience or at least not without a large rug between myself and the musicians. The UE 7's came closer. I was definitely in the audience but possibly had a nasty cold that removed me ever so slightly from the performance.
The RR is a different beast. It presents the music without a veil of any kind.

Bass

Bass is probably the only element of the RR's reproduction that the masses could really take issue with. It's there. It's controlled and it's not lacking (for me) but there's certainly not lots of it. The polar opposite of the JH 3x, The RR's bass presents itself when required. 'Fasten your seatbelts' by 'Pendulum' enables the RR to show off it's bass control without it being overbearing. It's tight, punchy and drops extremely low without any volume change. Bass-headz and Dance music enthusiasts may want more...

Mids/Treble

Where to start? Creamy, heavenly, controlled, present, expansive. The RR was designed to reproduce vocals as accurately as possible. The tuning done by UE and Capitol has paid off and I'm sure PMC are as impressed as to how, like the QB1-A, UE have managed to get them to sound. During Diana Krall's 'A Case of You', you would not be surprised to feel her breath in your ear. Likewise with Greg Porter's 'No Love Dying', the smooth gravelly vibrato is so clear and real you could swear he was singing live, right next to you.
Instrumentals are equally impressive, whether it's the complex timpani of John Williams' '
Buckbeak's Flight' or Mark Knopfler's spacing masterpiece 'Good on You Son' , spacing and clarity is impressive. every instrument is separate and doesn't get involved in another other than the harmony they are trying to create.

Overall

The Reference Remastered is stunning, plain and simple. I intended to find an IEM as spacious and revealing as my Focal Elears and I succeeded. In my humble opinion (as always something that should be observed in hifi) they match them. In every regard! An £800 pair of over-ear open-backed headphones matched by a set of IEM's?! Yup, I was as surprised as you will be.
If you're after a neutral IEM that retains musicality in abundance, demo the Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered. These can do it all, not just in the studio.

Nick.

Attachments

money4me247
money4me247
crashtest33
crashtest33
@Deftone Treble?! You must have a dodgy set pal. Sounds like one of your crossovers or BA drivers is shot. Treble is as forward as it could be without being harsh.
crashtest33
crashtest33
@Deftone Not at all! Quite the opposite! A very forward CIEM.

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