Pros: •now finally available as "To-Go" universal fit version
•widely linear tuning
•"Reference Remastered" very fitting name compared to the UERM
•more linear and therefore realistic treble tuning compared to the UERM
•good detail retrieval, separation and realistic imaging
•no "fake" details
Cons: •die-hard UERM fans will likely miss a bit air and sparkle
Originally posted on my German audio review site, the "Kopfhörer-Lounge", here comes my review of the Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered To-Go - yes, the UERR are now finally available as universal fit version!
For an audio lover, there might be some reasons to pick universal fit in-ear monitors over the custom fit variant, such as handling/cleaning/comfort preferences, better resale value or just the preference of how they feel in one’s ears. Whatever it is, there are definitely people who would rather pick the universal fit option if an in-ear was available with custom-moulded or universal fit shells.
I am one of those people (my reason is mainly the handling and that I pretty much never have fit issues with universal fit in-ears), and have encountered several other like-minded people over the years.
For the majority of time, Ultimate Ears’ Pro in-ears were only available with custom-moulded shells – while this fact was not matching my personal preference, I purchased the now discontinued UERM (reviewed here) anyway. They fit very well and seal immediately, but I would have still picked the universal fit option if it were available at that time. And I heard of others who would have done the same and were wishing that Ultimate Ears would also offer their in-ears for sale with universal fit shells, since the more recent universal fit demo models that are available for demo at their partner stores and distributors have got excellent comfort and ergonomics.
Fast forward, Ultimate Ears, who definitely don’t really need an extended introduction since pretty much everybody who is into the in-ear hobby/passion knows them and their story, now offer the UERMs’ successors, the Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered (UERR), as universal fit “to-go” version, which makes me and those other people who prefer universal fit in-ears really happy.
Rather new is also Germany’s new Ultimate Ears partner, “Hearing Berlin”, located in Berlin, who just opened a second branch, “Hearing Dortmund”, located in Dortmund. They don’t only have a full physical showroom where customers can demo the in-ears, but also a laboratory for servicing defective in-ears.
Now how do the new UERR sound, especially when compared to the UERM? That is what this very review is all about.
Full disclosure: The UERR to-go in-ears were sent to me free of charge for this review. As always, my words are nonetheless true, unbiased honest and written without any guidelines or requirements for the review, no matter how it would turn out.
Available as: CIEM and “to-go” UIEM
Type of Drivers: Balanced Armature, three drivers per side
Acoustic Ways: three acoustic ways, triple-bore construction
Sensitivity at 1 kHz, 1 mW: 100 dB
Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 25 kHz
Impedance at 1 kHz: 35 Ohms
I was a bit surprised by how small the delivery box of the UERR to-go in-ears I received for review was, compared to the large box my UERM came with. This is because the UERR in-ears come with Ultimate Ears’ new, compact round storage/carrying case whereas my UERM arrived with the large “Roadie Hardcase”.
Just as with every Ultimate Ears Pro in-ear, one will also find a sticker on the outside that says who the in-ears were crafted for, what’s inside, along with the serial number and the initials of the person who inspected the in-ears.
Inside that cardboard case, one will find a holder for the universal fit silicone and foam tips that obviously come included with the universal fit to-go version, a round, black transport/storage case with the in-ears inside, and last but not least a 6.3 to 3.5 mm adapter, impedance adapter and a combined cleaning tool/brush.
Looks, Feels, Build Quality:
The standard design of the UERR consists of white faceplates with a black UE logo on the left shell and black Capitol Studios logo on the right shell, which is the exact opposite of the UERMs’ design with black faceplates and white logos. Personally I also think that this design option is the best-suited for the UERR, resembling the UERMs’ iconic appearance but with inverted colours, however options for custom colours, materials and designs do exist too and the buyer has got full control over that during the order process, but it’s important to note that then the Capitol Studios logo would be replaced with a UE logo when choosing a different faceplate design than the standard one.
The body of the shells is clear and transparent wherefore one can see the three drivers, crossover components, wiring and acoustic dampers. Comparing the inner layout to the UERMs’, one can easily see that the UERR feature a different driver layout and internal sound channel architecture. This also becomes obvious at the end of the nozzle where the UERM have a dual-bore sound output whereas the new UERR feature a triple-bore construction with each driver getting its own sound tube and output bore.
Quite clever is the nozzle design of the universal fit to-go version, since the collar on the nozzle sits further in the back wherefore the tips don’t really protrude, which means that the ear tip material will have as little influence on the sound as possible.
Build quality of the shells is really good and I cannot spot any air bubbles.
The custom fit version would have two initial letters as well as a serial number printed on the inside of each shell, with red for the right and blue for the left side.
When you order the in-ears, you can choose between various cable lengths, colours, and lately also material. Bluetooth, digital and microphone cable options were recently added as well, along with the option to go with MMCX connectors instead of the proven Ultimate Ears 2-pin connector type.
Not much surprisingly, the black, twisted quad-conductor cable is very soft and flexible (although the silver cable that I chose for my UERM is even a little more flexible), with proper strain relief near the angled 3.5 mm plug, as it should also be expected in the professional and high-end sector.
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The compact, threaded carrying case that is made of metal on the outside and plastic on the inside has got a softly padded lid and bottom. For absolute perfection, solely bolstered or rubberised walls on the inside are missing.
This new carrying case is definitely a nice addition in Ultimate Ears’ line-up compared to the other, larger cases that were offered as only option in the past.
The universal fit to-go version’s silicone and foam ear tips are nicely soft and colour-coded. People who also own the UE900S will definitely recognise them.
The fit and comfort of the custom-moulded version will of course highly depend on the quality of used ear impressions, while the universal fit to-go’s fit and comfort will depend on one’s individual ear anatomy.
Shape-wise, the UERR to-go are quite ergonomic and feature a size that should make them fit quite well if your ears are at least averagely sized. In my large and deep ears, fit and comfort are very good and I really appreciate that Ultimate Ears broke with their old tradition and finally offer some of their Pro models, such as the UERR, as universal fit to-go version.
Cable noise is pretty much inexistent, which is due to the over-the-ear fit as well as flexible cable.
Provided you get a properly tight seal with the universal fit version, noise isolation should be about on the same level as when you are using an acrylic custom-fit in-ear, and this also is the case when I compare my custom-moulded UERM to the universal fit UERR to-go monitors that feature a level of passive exterior noise reduction that is very high and just marginally lesser than the custom fit in-ears’.
Neutral = Neutral?
Before I head over to the “Sound” section of my review, I will take a short discourse and look at the theory and research of neutrality with headphones and in-ears and give a very brief introduction to this topic.
With loudspeakers in an acoustically treated room, it is quite easy to define what a measurably neutral frequency response should look like. The case is different in the headphone realm: A headphone or in-ear that would measure exactly like a flat speaker in a raw measurement would sound different directly at the eardrum – this is because our ears, ear canals and upper body amplify certain areas of the frequency range, which is a totally natural and normal thing. With headphones and in-ears, these natural reflections and amplification disappear when the source of sound is directly at the ear, respectively inserted into the ear, wherefore the ear canal is closed on both sides and the “Open Ear Gain” disappears.
To imitate the natural amplification of the lack of this Open Ear Gain, a headphone should ideally show a boost in this area of the frequency response when an uncompensated frequency response chart is viewed (roughly speaking, the boost should be seen between ca. 200 and 15000 Hz, with the climax around 2.7 kHz with an elevation of up to around 15 dB here). Measured directly at the ear drum, this would result in a flat and neutral frequency response (important and related key words on this topic are “HRTF” and “Open Ear Gain”).
Of course the ear anatomy will slightly differ among individuals, wherefore the perception of the averaged diffuse-field target might not be perceived equally by everybody, especially when it comes to the perception of the upper midrange and presence area, wherefore some people might perceive an in-ear that measures flat in the presence area and lower treble according to the diffuse-field target as exhausting or even shrill whereas many other individuals would hear the same frequency response as acoustically flat and neutral. This is rather the exception than the norm though.
Most frequency responses of headphones one can see in magazines and large online sites are therefore usually shown with a compensation target, usually the diffuse-field target, already applied to the raw measurement and show the frequency response that is perceived directly at the ear drum instead of the raw measurement that might be confusing at first if one is used to loudspeaker measurements and doesn’t have much experience with the theory of headphone and in-ear tuning.
Apart from the existence of the Open Ear Gain, there is one thing that has also caused some inconsistency among researchers about what the ideal neutrally perceived frequency response for headphones should be: Listening to music, we don’t only hear the sound waves that reach our ear drums, but also feel the mechanical vibration/body-borne noise with our whole body, especially at higher volume levels. With headphones however, there is obviously no mechanical vibration/body-borne noise anymore, wherefore some people might find a diffuse-field neutral headphone to sound too thin in the lows although a neutrally measuring loudspeaker in a highly treated might not perceived this way by the same person.
Some people and researchers are therefore convinced that the lack of mechanical vibration/body-borne noise when listening through headphones should be compensated by adding a (usually) slight (!) emphasis to lower notes in order to get a headphone to be subjectively perceived to sound equally neutral as a neutrally measuring loudspeaker.
As one can see, the subjectively perceived neutrality with headphones and in-ears is a topic where there is no 100% unity even among famous researchers upon what the ideal frequency response should look like, and of course the individual ear and body anatomy might as well contribute to individual variance although major researches have come to the same conclusion of what the averaged HRTF looks like.
I solely used the included silicone tips for listening.
The original Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors were already among the more/most neutral sounding in-ears in the high-end in-ear territory, featuring a mostly uncoloured and neutral presentation (with just a tiny pinch of warmth compared to an in-ear that is even closer to the diffuse-field target in the lows, such as the Etymotic ER-4S/SR) with lows that extended flat into the sub-bass, a flat and neutral midrange reproduction, and an upper treble peak that added some extra air and clarity but could sometimes come across as just slightly unnatural and was the UERMs’ only shortcoming.
The new UERR follow this route, being among the more/most subjectively perceived neutral in-ears in the high-end range, but focus on a slightly smoother, more linear approach compared to the UERM, which fortunately also means that Ultimate Ears got rid of that upper treble peak, which, at least to my ears, is a great achievement as it makes the whole presentation even more accurate and realistic.
Their tonality is mostly “flat” and “unexcited”, which is something you want a perceived neutral in-ear to be, although not exactly “boring” or “sterile” – nothing really sticks out, nothing is really masked. Everything in terms of tuning is coherent and nothing is especially highlighted, in contrast to what you would usually find in an in-ear that still sounds balanced but is not tuned for neutrality.
The UERR claim to be studio reference monitors – and they are.
Apart from regular music, listening to white noise and sine sweeps with the UERR is a true delight – no peaks, no valleys, just an overall very smooth, linear and even frequency response with marvellous flatness and evenness, especially in the treble, which is something that definitely not every in-ear achieves. In this way, in the treble, I definitely see an improvement over my UERM that have a peak in the upper highs that makes their presentation sometimes too sharp and artificial if a single note hits that exact spot even if the recording isn’t mastered that way.
In that way the UERR highly remind me of Etymotic’s ER-4 line of in-ears that is around for a very long time and has got, in most parts, a very even, accurate and realistic tuning. Speaking of Etymotic’s reference models, the discontinued ER-4S and its successor, the ER-4SR, there still are some slight differences that can be found in the UERR and are worth to be mentioned. For example in the bass – while the UERR, just like the UERM, are among the flattest and most neutral in-ears in this area, they still have a gentle lift of ca. 3 dB compared to the Etymotic in-ears that are tuned for a diffuse-field neutral bass presentation. Definitely not much and a bit less than the, for Etymotic-standards, somewhat bass-elevated ER-4XR, but still enough to give the UERR just a little more warmth and body in the lows compared to 4S/SR, and to deliver a little of acoustic compensation for the lack of physically felt mechanical vibration and body-borne noise you would get from actual instruments or flat speakers in an acoustically treated room, since the UERR are miles away from being a remotely bassy or even mildly bass-elevated in-ear – it isn’t even “mildly balanced” but quite neutral in the lows and tuned for accuracy and linearity.
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Extension in the lows is really good – just as the UERM, the UERR don’t really have any roll-off in the sub-bass either, but also, not surprisingly at all, won’t give you an impactful, heavy sub-bass.
Midrange timbre is accurate and uncoloured, just as the UERMs’, however the UERR appear to have ever so slightly more body and their vocals seem a bit more present and forward in the mix, with greater proximity.
When it comes to evenness and naturalness in the highs, the UERR deliver a really high level of accuracy and won’t bother the listener with any dips or peaks – just a very smooth, linear, even and harmonious presentation.
Solely the 4 and 5 kHz range takes a slight step back when listening to sine sweeps, just like the UERM, but this area is still more present and neutral than the majority of in-ears on the market that have a dip here to generate a more relaxed middle treble.
The UERRs’ upper highs are where they differ the most from the UERM that had a peak somewhere around 10 kHz. Not so the UERR that are flat here, probably even just a tad too polite with cymbals, and never give you the feeling of too much sharpness but instead realism and tonal accuracy. Too hot mixes are still reproduced that way, but not as aggressively as the UERM (that were however also sometimes too aggressive while no aggressiveness should be reproduced).
Past 10 kHz, in the super treble, the UERR quite easily extend past 17 kHz.
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When there is one thing that I could change about my UERM, it is the upper treble peak that leads to some unrealism and artificiality at times. This is exactly where the UERR come in and deliver almost exactly the upper treble the UERM should always have had in order to be more even and homogenous in the highs. Therefore the name “Reference Remastered” is spot-on and describes what the UERR are – “Reference” in-ears that are based on the UERM but feature an updated, more realistic, linear, “Remastered” upper-end presentation.
High detail retrieval that only rarely leaves you wanting even more is also what one finds delivered by the UERR, just as one already did with the UERM.
Transparency is on a high level without faking details with peaks, and the whole presentation is very coherent and every part of the frequency spectrum appears integrated instead of separated. Here I even see a slight advantage in the treble for the UERR compared to the UERM.
Midrange details and speech intelligibility are on a high level and no part of the frequency spectrum really has an advantage or disadvantage compared to the others; the distribution of details is very coherent.
The bass has got a quick and tight attack and excellent control, however just a bit of added softness in terms of decay to give the UERR a bit more body without affecting control with fast and complex tracks and/or bass lines in any way. Indeed, the discontinued UERM decay slightly quicker and are a bit tighter in comparison, but control is similarly good.
The UERR, just like the UERM, will not have the largest soundstage in the range of high-end in-ears. Models like for example the now discontinued UE18 Pro are more expansive and create a deeper, wider and even more layered field of sound. This however doesn’t mean that the UERR have a small soundstage at all, since this is simply not true.
In terms of width, the UERRs’ soundstage somewhat leaves the base of my head and stops just about one centimetre before where my shoulders’ outer edges are. Therefore it certainly doesn’t lack lateral expansion at all although the UERM carried even a bit more with. This however also means that the UERRs’ stage is a bit more circular compared to the UERMs’ that is a little more oval.
What the UERR can do well is reproducing proximity, and in this regard their soundstage in general appears a bit closer to one’s face than the UERMs’ although both in-ears feature around the same amount of spatial height as well as spatial depth that is definitely well present wherefore the UERR also manage to layer well and create a good imaginary room with quite precisely placed and separated instruments as well as good spatial scaling abilities depending on the recording.
Tonally the two in-ears aren’t even all that far apart – both aim for a quite neutral, reference tonality. Both approach neutrality differently though – the UERM with a slightly cooler, airier character that could be considered “analytical”, and the UERR with a slightly smoother, less “exciting” (in terms of upper treble “bling”) character.
Objectively, both in-ears don’t really differ when it comes to bass delivery – both have got pretty much similar quantity in the lows and root. Nonetheless the UERR appear subjectively slightly warmer and (, which is probably not the right term to use since it not really is what describes the UERR,) “fuller” in comparison, which is because that upper treble peak the UERM had and that gave them their analytical character is gone.
When it comes to midrange, the UERR appear more direct, with more proximity in the mix compared to the now discontinued UERM that have a slightly more distant midrange presentation in comparison. Vocals on the UERR have got just a touch more body compared to the UERM, while still maintaining a correct, neutral timbre and high accuracy.
Where both in-ears differ the most is the treble, and the UERR feature the more realistic (although slightly de-fused) upper treble while the UERM are just somewhat more exciting in the upper highs (at the cost of less accuracy), which leads to a more vivid sound reproduction.
People who loved the UERMs’ tonality to the last bit might therefore miss a bit of sparkle and air from the UERR at the top in the upper treble/beginning super treble, while those who thought that the original UERM were tuned really well but could become a bit too sharp at times at the very top will likely find the sound signature they always wanted the UERM to have right in the UERR. Therefore I would definitely describe the UERR as more correct sounding in the highs, and to my ears the gained realism and refinement in terms of tuning is definitely a plus and rather substantial improvement.
Both in-ears resolve very well, on a pretty much similar level, and have got pretty much similar note separation, too.
The UERM have got the slightly tighter and faster bass in comparison while control on fast and complex tracks is identically good. Due to that, the UERR gain a bit more body and decay, which might be perceived as more natural.
Due to the more even and harmonious treble response, the UERR have somewhat of an advantage when it comes to coherency.
Both in-ears scale well depending on the recording, the UERM probably even more so, which could however also be related to their somewhat more pronounced spatial width in comparison, while depth and height are comparable with the UERR having the slightly closer presentation. Layering accuracy, precision and separation is where the two in-ears are about on the same level.
The UERR are the more linear, neutral sounding in-ears out of the two with somewhat less bass quantity and less warmth in the lower midrange. The RE2000 has got the more impactful bass that, while just around 3 dB more present, appears more impactful and energetic.
The HiFiMan has got the slightly airier/brighter upper mids at the same time (the UERR are flatter and a bit more authentic here), and places them a bit further in the back as a result.
The RE2000 is a good bit more pronounced around 5 kHz where the UERR are just slightly recessed (when regarded by diffuse-field standards and when one is listening to sine sweeps) wherefore the HiFiMan sounds a little more metallic and brighter here.
Cymbals on the RE2000 are splashier but also appear a bit more “spread” instead of spot-on focussed and are a little unnatural.
Generally, the UERR have got the flatter, more linear and correct tuning, but also especially the more linear highs wherefore they sound a bit more realistic and authentic up there.
It is quite remarkable how close the RE2000 comes in terms of bass speed and tightness. The UERR still decay slightly faster, but ultimately bottom-end control is relatively on the same level. Due to the slightly slower decay, the HiFiMan has got that admittedly quite pleasant dynamic driver texture and layering.
When it comes to midrange resolution though, the UERR are a bit ahead and portray the somewhat superior speech intelligibility as well as minute detail retrieval.
Treble separation is almost a draw with the UERR separating single notes slightly sharper with busy and complex recordings. Treble resolution on the other hand is comparable, but as mentioned, the UERR win when it comes to treble realism.
Playing fast and busy recordings, the UERR are somewhat ahead when it comes to control.
In terms of soundstage, the RE2000 features the somewhat wider presentation that is also coupled with a bit more spatial depth, wherefore it generates the more open appearing presentation. Borders around instruments appear slightly cleaner on the UERRs’ side with busier recordings though, and their soundstage also scales better depending on the recording.
The two in-ears’ sound signature is not exactly similar but still heads into a rather comparable direction.
Both in-ears have got about similar levels of “warmth”, if you want to call it that, in the root, with the ER-4XR being a little more forward in the mid- and sub-bass.
When it comes to the midrange, the Ety is slightly more forward, with the somewhat closer vocals due to more energy in the presence range, while midrange timbre and balance are similarly accurate.
Both in-ears feature a treble presentation that is among the most even and accurate out there, with the ER-4XR having just slightly less energy with cymbals.
Not all that much surprisingly, the UERR win when it comes to subtle air and extension in the super treble.
In terms of resolution, precision, bass speed and tightness, the UERR appear like the higher-end upgrade to the ER-4XR, with an overall higher level of minute details and an increase of control.
I would say that chances aren’t all that bad that if one really likes the ER-4XR but doesn’t mind a slightly flatter lower bass reproduction and a generally higher detail retrieval, that he or she might find exactly this in the UERR. The same goes for those who really like the ER-4S/SR but want a bit more bass than their diffuse-field flat bottom-end reproduction delivers, coupled with the somewhat greater detail retrieval and larger soundstage.
Speaking of the imaginary soundstage, the UERRs’ is about four times as large to my ears (twice the width along with twice the depth) and also appears cleaner and somewhat more precisely layered, with a cleaner and more accurate reproduction of “emptiness” between and around instruments and singers.
While die-hard fans of the UERM might miss some of that upper-end air and sparkle, the UERR feature a more linear and realistic treble reproduction, which, in my book, is definitely an improvement as well as an advantage over the now discontinued predecessor.
Should you switch to the UERR if you already possess the UERM? My answer is “only if you found the UERM to be sometimes too sharp around 10 kHz and therefore lacking the last bit of tonal realism and evenness”.
Well done, Ultimate Ears and Capitol Studios. Just as mentioned in the “Sound” section of this review, the UERR definitely deserve the terms “Reference” when speaking about general tonal accuracy and neutrality, and “Remastered” when comparing them to the UERM.
Pros: Resolving without adding Harshness, Musical yet Transparent, Sensible price.
Cons: Low bass impact at low volume, Pairing with poorer recordings can be hit or miss.
Thank you UE for supplying these review sample and Snugs for the excellent 3D scanned ear impressions.
Never before I have struggled so much to describe a pair of headphones, describing the Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered (UERR) custom in-ear monitor is like trying to describe a bottle of spring water water connoisseurs feel free to grill me on this. It’s natural, flowing and does not impart a distinct flavour to the sound. The UERR shows that driver counts should not be the deciding factor of getting a pair of CIEM.
For those who are looking for a pair of clear and natural sounding CIEM that is often over looked and want a real solid performer at the 1k USD mark, the UERR is well worth looking into.
Transparent, separation and resolution are what the most apparent character when first listening to the UERR. Unlike some detail orientated headphone, the UERR maintain the impressive detail presentation without reverting to boosting the treble.
The UERR does improve with a good source and shines with good recording.
To my ears, the vocal of the UERR is the strongest strength of the rather rounded package. Vocal sounds extremely realistic and never drown out by the bass or treble.
Unlike my FitEar MH334, which sweeten and smooth out the vocal, the UERR doesn’t impart any extra flavour the sound but is extremely resolving in the midrange and have one of the most breathtaking vocals that I have heard from a pair of IEM.
This is where opinions can divides. The bass of the UERR extends well, have surprisingly good texture and is lightning fast. However it does not slam anywhere as hard as the competition at the price range. It’s not unlike bass presentation of electrostatic headphones but the slam on the UERR is noticeably lower when stacked up to other in ears, especially when played at a low volume.
The predecessor of the UERR, the UERM have issues lacking in bass, especially outdoors.
The UERR have enough bass to not sound thin and bright in noisy situations but if big bass impact is vital, look elsewhere.
The highs just simply extends and flow, it never shows harshness unless it is already apparent in the source recording. It is unlike the brighter predecessor UERM where the bright treble can be a bit too hot,
If you liked the overall sound of the UERM but the hot treble of the UERM made you looked elsewhere, the UERR should be on your list.
Another highlight for me, the UERR have a relatively good soundstage depth forward and wide soundstage width for an IEM. It sounds precise and has enough depth to project sound in front, instead of an in-the-head sensation.
Packaging & Storage
Storage with the supplied “hockey puck” case is secure and classy, due to the metal construction it is a relatively heavy case and doesn’t comes with latches but uses an O-Ring to secure the top.
Fit & Isolation
The UERR have great long term comfort and typical isolation for a custom in-ear monitor.
The UERR unit I received is very well fitted. It is shallower fit and overall less tight than my FitEar customs, the looser fitting helps with maintaining a good seal when there is extreme jaw movement. In fact, I wasn’t able to break seal when fitted correctly.
However, the hollow shell on the UERR along with the looser fit does means that while the noise isolation level is higher than most universal in-ears, the isolation is inferior when compared to a fully filled CIEM or silicon CIEM. Quirks?
Here are some of the characters/features that only might not be apparent in a short demo. Source scaling (recording to source gear)
The UERR is not a flattering CIEM by any measures. To hear it at its best will require decent recording and capable source gear. I found the UERR sounded best out of the RNHP headphone amp connected to the Chord Mojo acting as a DAC, listening at moderate volume.
It’s not like the UERR will just fall apart when the user’s intention is to just use a smartphone and only really listen to poorer recordings. The transparent character will still shine through but compared to other IEMs that are tuned with a more flattering sound signature will perform better in this usage case.
Small diameter sound bores
Here is a topic that cannot be avoided if you wanted your CIEM to be in top notch condition, cleaning and maintaining!
I personally have easy to clean dry ear wax and not much of it, cleaning is a breeze but do note that 2 of the sound bores are very narrow in the UERR, care must be taken to keep it clean at all times.
The included cleaning kit (wire end) can only fit the largest of the 3 bores and the smaller bores will need to be cleaned out by the included brush instead of the wire tool.
Long listening sessions
As mentioned earlier, the UERR is still a very source dependent IEM compared to other IEMs tuned purely for music enjoyment. The blood of a professional mastering tool stills very much so flows within the UERR.
I found that if listening to well recorded music, the revealing character of the IEM is not an issue but adds a welcoming layer to the listening experience. I can hear details that were not revealed to me before, it is a pleasant experience throughout and it is when the UERR certainly shine the brightest.
However when listening to poorly recorded music, especially when straight out my phone, music sound less dynamic that most consumer focused IEM and flaws are ruthlessly ever so present. Depends on the quality of the recording and the playback chain, it can be a bit tiring to listening to for a long period of time on poor recording. A smooth and mellow IEM will be a better choice in this saturation, if minimal harshness with poor recording is a must.
Similar sounding system
UERR sounds detailed without the typical treble boost that a lot of the more detail oriented headphones tends to exhibit.
Here are some full size headphones that I think that sounds similar:
STAX systems, quite a similar presentation to the Lambda.
The UERR is like a blank canvas, it relies solely on the music that is being played to bring out the colour and will shine brightest when quality recording is played through it. It also scales decently with source components but doesn’t sound bad when played straight out of a smartphone.
At just under $1000USD, it provides excellent value in the current market of CIEM, providing transparency and resolution are what really matters to your listening. UERR shows that getting good sound is not at all about chasing numbers!
Pros: (Probably) Most neutral equipment on the market. Amazing Separation
Cons: May be bass light for many. A touch less detailed than its competitors.
This is a duo review written by Eu Jin Ong (@ejong7) and Andre Moore (@shiorisekine). The main body of the review are general comments on the product that are agreed upon by both side. Personal opinions on the product by each reviewer are stated in separate dialogues, indicated either by EJ (Eu Jin) or AM (Andre Moore).
EJ: The UERR unit was provided by the Ultimate Ears (UE) team free of charge in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Mike Dias and David Gutierrez who help expedite the entire process. Special thanks to Paul Best and Nick Bruce-Smith who both represent UE in the UK.
AM: I too would like to thank Mike and David over at UE. They were able to arrange for a pair of UERRs free of charge just days after discussing this whole idea with them.
For anyone who is remotely interested in the custom in-ear monitor (CIEM) market, UE has been and continues to be one of the leading companies in the field. Officially started in 1995, they have since maintained if not strengthened their standing in the CIEM echelon with the help of products such as the UE11 Pro, UE18 Pro, now revised with the brand new UE18+ Pro, and of course the famous Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor (UERM).
The UERM, first released in 2010, was an IEM that utilizes a 3 driver, 3-way crossover design which was specifically tuned for professional mixing and sound engineers for use in a studio. Known as one of the most neutral and revealing IEM in the market, it got itself many fans from both the professionals and personal audio enthusiasts while at the same time became a cult favourite among critics and reviewers as it allows them a natural reference or standard to evaluate other gear.
6 years down the road, UE and the recording engineers at Capitol Studios, who first worked on the UERM, came out with the sequel to the already legendary piece – the Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered (UERR). With its tuning design lead by Barak Moffitt from Capitol Studios, the intention is to fine tune a piece that is already held in such high regard, update the design to conform with the increasing availability of high resolution recordings regardless of the era which the music was produced in hopes of satisfying returning fans of the product and also attract potential new users to the foray.
EJ: As I’ve never heard the previous rendition, my review should appeal more to the latter, which are new users who are trying to dwell into the well-respected UERM lineage of IEMs.
AM: I have heard the old UERM, so I can do a few comparisons based off what I remember.
INFO & SPECIFICATIONS
Following the footsteps of its older brother, the UERR remains a 3 driver design using balanced armature drivers, with multiple passive crossover points and a triple bore sound channels incorporated into the design, as quoted from UE’s website itself. However, the drivers are all new proprietary drivers, which UE are calling True Tone Drivers that are able to extend the frequency range and deliver a flat response to 18 kHz.
As listed on the specifications page of the UERR, the frequency response is 5 Hz to 25 kHz, with the IEM being capable of isolating up to -26dB of ambient stage noise if fitted properly.
EJ: To my experience, the UERR blocks out enough noise for me to comfortably use them as a pseudo passive noise cancelling headphone, notably when used on an airplane or a crowded café.
AM: In my experience, the UERR blocks off enough sound for me to be afraid to use them when walking around outside and to make me have to take them out when I cross a street, as I cannot hear anything outside of what the IEM is playing.
The CIEM has an input sensitivity of 100dB @ 1 kHz, 1mW with an impedance of 35ohm at 1 kHz.
EJ: Although it is not the easiest IEM in my arsenal to drive, that remains to be the Empire Ears Zeus-R, I have yet to find difficulty in driving it on most of my portable devices, including on my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.
AM: I agree with Eu Jin here. When using the UERR on my iPhone 6S Plus, I only have to put the volume on 6/16 to be at a listening level and only ever have it at most 8/16 before it gets too loud. While plugged into an amp such as the Cavalli Audio Liquid Carbon 2.0, I have to have it on normal gain and can only turn the volume to about 7:30 on the dial.
Probably the biggest news is that UE has decided to maintain the price point of the CIEM at $999, which is a rarity in a scene that is regular to see waves of updates, improvements and refinements to a previously available product come with a significant price increase. This will surely help attract new users as they just have to fork out the same amount of money to get an updated product.
Sadly, with the release of the UERR, UE has decided that it was time to say goodbye to the UERM, and has since discontinued the UERM, so it will no longer be possible for anyone to experience the magic it once entailed on its listeners, unless you could find someone who has one in universal form. Good luck in finding one of those.
ACCESSORIES & OPTIONS
EJ: The box that was sent over by the folks from UE, which contains the aluminium case that houses my UERR unit.
The UERR arrives in a medium sized cardboard box that has both the UE and Capitol Studios emblazoned on top. The box has a premium feel to it, something you would definitely expect from a no nonsense company like UE. The top cover uses a magnetic flip cover, which when open will reveal the CNC machined, anodized round case, made from aluminium with the users name, or preferred nickname, laser etched onto the case. It is slightly different from the generic case that you can purchase off the UE website, where the name is etched below the UE logo at the top and the Capitol Studios logo is etched at the bottom of the case.
EJ: This is probably the best case I’ve received with my IEMs. It is sturdy and just the right size for me to carry around at 3 and ¼ inch diameter. CIEM companies have often supplied their IEMs with their personalized version of the Pelican case, which provides maximum protection for your IEMs but does not fit with my usage as I prefer a smaller, less cumbersome storage case. This proves particularly useful whenever I wear a top or jacket with a pocket, as I can just easily slip it into one to carry around. Do note that the case is meant to be directly lifted off and not twisted off like a bottle cap, as it will squeak like no tomorrow if you try to twist it off.
AM: Having already owned a UE product, I have always enjoyed the carrying case over say a pelican style case as it is easier to put in my pocket and not something I have to put in my backpack. It still provides protection all the same but I guess if I go swimming with my case in my pocket it might not hold up. But who needs to swim when you have headphones.
EJ: Inside the aluminium case is my UERR unit, in the ‘classic’ UERR design, which came with a UE buffer jack and a ¼ inch stereo adapter.
Inside the case are your UERRs, along with some accessories such as the typical cleaning tool and a ¼ inch stereo adapter. Something that will surprise new UE customers is the inclusion of a buffer jack, which UE claims will ‘lower audio signals on airplane entertainment systems and buffers electrical impedance mismatch. In other words, it will help allow your UERR to play nice with audio gear that is typically used for higher impedance headphones and earphones.
EJ: I have successfully used the buffer jack with a number of sources to date with continued success on its original intention but I would highly recommend that you get a source component that will instantly play well with the UERR’s impedance rating as I found the sound quality to just slightly decrease when using the buffer jack. Specifically, I found it to be less clear and revealing in nature, with just a slightly boosted lower end that may cause you to have the wrong perception that the UERR or the source component to have the described sound signature.
The UERR is standardly equipped with a 48’’ long cable, which is connected with a 2-pin connector and a 1/8 inch headphone jack as its input connector. The cable supplied was of acceptable quality and users should not experience any microphonics. If you wish to obtain a longer cable or a different input connector such as the 2.5mm balanced connector, the cables could be purchased off the UE site. You could have them custom made by a number of custom cable manufacturers but do note that the 2-pin connector slightly differs from the industry standard to fit with the recessed sockets used by UE’s CIEMs, hence you will not be able to easily chop and change your cables with your other IEMs that uses the regular 2-pin connector.
EJ: Although I find this to be a little unwieldy as it would mean that I have to make a new set of cables for them rather than use my previously available cables, I found the UERR’s recessed connectors to be particularly sturdy among my IEMs, and provides a sense of an extra level of tightness or security to the connection. However, if you do break the 2-pin connector by handling it with excessive force, you probably have to send it back to UE to get it fixed as I have seen a couple users who got their connectors stuck in the recessed socket.
AM: However, if you do somehow break the sockets on a UE IEM, UE has a very fast turnaround rate which I had experienced with my UE18s that ended up breaking before I got the UERR. I got them back within 2 days of UE receiving them.
EJ: My UERR unit, in the ‘classic’ UERR design with the stock 3.5mm cable.
As the UERR provided was a custom piece, one’s ear impressions are needed to construct it. This is where UE differs from many of its competitors. Rather than just using physical impressions, also known as silicone ear moulds, UE offers another option for their customers: digital impressions. With the help of a firm called United Sciences, they use a 3D digital scan to obtain one’s ear impression, which aims at improving the accuracy of the ear impression of a customer that will potentially reduce the already low return rate of UE’s products. To learn more about this intriguing process that may revolutionised the CIEM industry, please refer to this video.
The process is not made available worldwide yet but do contact your local UE dealer to enquire about its availability as it was made known that UE’s intentions are to have the process widespread in the near future.
EJ: Personally my impressions that were sent in are digital and were taken by a UE representative that was present in an event that I attended. The impressions were taken with my mouth closed, which I ever so slightly regret, with details to follow.
AM: My impressions were taken before UE started to use the digital scan impressions so mine were made with the old way of making impressions - silicone molds. I did however get them with a bite block in my mouth.
The impressions, regardless of form, are then sent to their headquarters in Irvine, California where the building process commence. Physical impressions require some carving and polishing work from highly trained specialist before being scanned into a digital print where as digital impressions are immediately skipped into the next step of the process: SLA-3D printing of the shells. This has significantly reduced the build time for each monitor according to the folks from UE, but has currently limit the shells to be only of the clear variant as coloured once has previously brought upon certain build quality issues that did not comply to UE’s high standards. Folks who order their UE CIEMs should have their units built within 7-10 days after UE receives their impressions, and even shorter if the rush option was included.
EJ: Personally I would have loved for coloured shells, as one of my dreams is to have a custom IEM from UE to be customized to the colour of my old UE900, my first ever higher end IEM. I received my UERRs in the UK about a week after my order was made, with the rush option and the fastest delivery option with UPS included in the package. Talk about fast. I have readily made headphones arrive much later than that upon order.
AM: While I do love having colour shells like with my Noble 5C, I do understand some of the reasoning for not being available. The UERR is a very good looking IEM. I live in SoCal where UE is based and I ordered it on a Wednesday. It was shipping on Friday the very same week, which is insanely fast. Most high end companies have a couple of months lead time before you get your unit. UE gets them out fast and this is all thanks to the 3D printed shells. Another reason that they do clear shells is so you can tell if the IEM is actually broken or just had a bunch of wax build up when you are having problems with your IEMs.
EJ: The shells of my UERRs are so impeccably crafted that I have difficulty finding words to describe certain aspects of it. It is first and foremost, bubble-less, which is to be expected but not always received from all CIEM manufacturers. These shells however had a different feel than most of the other CIEMs that I had the opportunity of inspecting, where it is much smoother than I have expected, perhaps due to the stream-lining of the manufacturing process that reduces potential of human error.
The fit of the UERR is probably the best of any gear I have owned till date. I don’t think I have anything related to audio that fits more comfortably on me than the UERR, and this is a major selling point for many. However, it does break the seal a little when excessive movements are made with your mouth. This is probably because my impressions were made with my mouth closed, as instructed by most operators if you are not a professional musician, but I think it should be made standard that the impressions should be open-mouthed to allow for better comfort when talking with the IEMs on. Not that I would really talk with the UERRs on but it’s a nice option to have.
AM: The UERR and the UE18 fight for the best fit for CIEM gear that I have. As for the problem Eu Jin has, I don't have that issue because as mentioned before I took my impressions with a bite block which I thought was always the normal way to do it, as I had to do it that way with Noble as well. So I actually can use the mic cable on mine without the seal breaking and I can eat while wearing them. However, when I got the UERR, there was a chip on the right monitor. I ended up sending them back and got them fixed ASAP and free of charge. The chip wasn't too bad though as I was able to wear them without noticing, I only felt it when I would be putting them in.
A wide array of options is available for the faceplates, with UE intending on including more faceplate options according to the seasonality. Hence you should expect a collection that is different to one another when it changes from one season to the other. Whether a particular faceplate would be available at a different season was not explicitly announced, so do ask if you are interested. The faceplate that would probably be the selection of most is the standard faceplate with UE’s logo on the left and Capitol Studios on the right with a white background instead of the black found on the UERM’s standard faceplate, which only available if you order the UERR.
EJ: Personally I went for the stock white faceplate as I prefer my CIEM designs to be clean and simple, or as ‘stock’ as possible, which is hard to come by with CIEMs. It is also nice that I could showcase the two companies involved in my CIEMs in honour of their collaboration and efforts that brought forth the product.
AM: I felt the same, plus I have a set of UEs that have custom arts on them already so I didn't need this one to be all flashy and what not. I think the “normal” look is good the way it is.
SOUND QUALITY Evaluation Process EJ: As a standard for most of the gear I review (unless under a time-limited review tour), the UERR were burned-in for about 200 hours before critically listening sessions were made. Yes, they are equipped with balanced armatures but I would like to start my reviews with a level playing field. The sessions were conducted with files that are either FLAC/ALAC from a wide variety of genres, with metal a notable exception. Not my cup of tea. The source gears that I used during the evaluation period are as follows:
Calyx M player
AM: I did my listening sessions with FLAC/ALAC as well as Tidal for some albums. I listened to a wide variety of genres including the genre that Eu Jin doesn’t like – Metal. The gear I used:
Apple iPhone 6S Plus
Cavalli Audio Liquid Carbon 2.0
Initial Impressions EJ: I would honestly admit that I was less than impressed with the UERR at first listen. For everyone’s information, the UERR I first listened to was connected to UE’s demo listening system, which although provides a unique demoing experience has led to a decrease in sound quality for most if not all of UE’s products. It sounded muddy, slightly veiled, with most of the instruments being placed in a congested area. The mids were the only saving grace of demo unit, as vocals are present and clear, but the overall picture was a mess as the instruments would just be on top of one another and not presented in clear layers. Save to say I was more than a little disappointed, but remained hopeful that the custom unit would perform differently with a different source system and a better fit.
To my delight, my hopes were merited. The custom unit when compared with the demo unit was night and day, with it being clearer and now having its separation as one of its greatest strengths as appose to one of its greatest weakness. The overall sound was more balanced, and definitely more neutral, which was the intended sound signature.
AM: Admittedly when I signed up for the review I was a bit wary because I haven't heard the UERR beforehand but I have heard the UERM and I wasn’t the biggest fan. The UERM for me was very tame sounding and at the time I was more into fun sounding headphones like the UE18. So upon getting the UERR I was kind of happy and disappointed. While I did like it better than the UERM, the kind of music I listened to didn't sound amazing, or so I thought. For me, my biggest problem was the way the drums sounded on the unit. They sounded very hollow and at the time I was so used to the way the 18s and my Hifiman HE500s sounded. I thought they sounded wrong but then after listening more and more I realized they just sounded more as if it was live. The longer I listened to the UERR the more I appreciated it.
Sound Signature EJ: The UERR is the most neutral audio listening equipment I have heard in my entire journey as a Head-Fier, though I have to remind that I have never heard the UERMs. Many CIEMs are claimed by their manufacturers to be reference in sound signature which I agree to in the overall picture but would always tilt to either end of the spectrum ever so slightly. Not this. In fact, the UERR should be a reference standard to judge all other gear, then you will truly know where your gear lies on the spectrum.
The music is presented in a smooth and effortless manner, hence making the sound of the UERR very organic. The overall sound is that of a balanced reference monitor, where no particular aspect of the sonic spectrum is emphasized over the other. It does remain highly musical, never sounding boring or sterile even across a long listening session, which is really hard to do. It sounds very clear and transparent to my ears, neither forward nor laid-back in its overall presentation, making it feel like you’re listening to the artist in the middle of a medium sized room.
The sub-bass is controlled but may prove to be subdued for many people, especially those who mainly listen to modern music, so bass-heads should look elsewhere. I do appreciate the sub-bass of the UERR as my taste tilts towards gear with less emphasized sub-bass but sometimes I do wish for a little more rumble down the spectrum, especially with my dance and electronica orientated tunes. The bass above the sub-bass spectrum is equally controlled, full but not warm, hence making it play rather well with music focussing on male vocals.
The mids are slightly more pronounced when fully dissected, but only relative to the other ends of the spectrum of the UERR. The smoothness of the UERRs mids should not be underestimated, and I found few others that can match it on smoothness even when compared to its bigger size competitors. It is decently punchy, and made a highly satisfying experience of listening to instruments like pianos and guitars.
The highs are airy, with no sibilance or rolling off found, at least to my experience. It probably lacks the crispness found in other IEMs that claim to be of the reference sound signature, but is nicely extended in its own right. There is certainly no veil on the UERR, and I found the cymbals in my music to be well-presented, a huge requirement for me to properly appreciate most of my music.
The UERR is well-detailed but never reaching the point of being analytical, to continue with its intention of producing a smooth image of your music. Perhaps its second biggest strength in its sound, after its neutrality, is the separation and layering that I found in the piece. I highly appreciated the ability of the UERR to place the instruments in my music at just the right level, making it easy to differentiate each instrument from one another, something I found particularly present when I try to picture the layers of the kicks, snares and cymbals in my music. The soundstage is not the widest nor the deepest I’ve experienced from an IEM, but it is of good depth and width.
A particular pairing that I enjoyed for my UERRs is when I used it with my Chord Mojo. As the Chord Mojo is also highly detailed, smooth but musical source equipment albeit being a touch warmer than neutral, it helped to keep the music engaging at all points while being easy to listen to. It helps me learn that the UERRs are never intended to be fatiguing, and will always play to its source equipment. The QP1R plays well with the UERR as well, just not to the synergy that I found with the Mojo.
AM: The unit for me is the best mastering IEM I have ever heard, and it’s the most neutral/ balanced IEM as well. With the UERR, I could place myself in the seat of the person in charge of mastering the music. I could imagine the potential lack of balance found in the headphones/earphones used by said person based off listening to the track with the UERR, which gives off a flat frequency response. This led me to believe that the usage of unbalanced equipment by the producer would force him/her to tune his/her music in a way that allow him/her to listen to the track with a better balance coming out, but would end up being presented as unbalanced when listened through something as flat as the UERR.
I agree with Eu Jin here about the sub bass, there will be some people that don't like it that much. I do enjoy it however because it reminds me of the AKG K701 style of sub bass that is very deep sounding and extends for what seems like a limitless amount. It’s very controlled and to me somewhat fun sounding and it did put a smile on my face once my ears finally adjusted to the sound of it.
The mids are very satisfying on the UERR, very smooth especially on acoustic guitars and female singers. Very detailed and textured sounding, the UERR has one of the best sounding mids I have heard on an IEM probably, only rivalled by the Noble Katana.
The highs on the UERR are very crisp sounding, and very transparent. I think it was the one part of the IEM where when I first put them on I said ‘Wow that is really good sounding.’ I agree with Eu Jin that there is no sibilance or rolling off in the highs, which probably comes from the frequency response extending to 18 kHz and it gives the UERR a feeling of endless highs.
The UERR is the most detailed IEM/headphone I own period. I actually think the UERR is pretty analytical but that might just be because I don’t normally use very detailed headphones. I tend to drift more towards fun sounding headphones that aren’t always very revealing except maybe the Hifiman HE-500. THE UERR has a way of making me think about how the music is produced and why they did certain things on tracks or why something sounds a certain way, unlike anything I have heard before. It has a really good sense of layering and instrument separation that make listening to metal and rock very enjoyable, because there is so much separation the sounds never get too clogged up and distorted which is a common occurrence on metal music and most headphones. I do agree with Eu Jin on the sound staging while it is not the widest or deep it does have some depth and width to it.
Comparisons (Eu Jin) EJ:The IEMs I used for the comparison part of this review, clockwise starting from top left: Noble Audio Katana (Custom), Empire Ear Zeus-R (Custom), JH Audio Roxanne Universal (Generation 1) and the UERR.
EJ: I used my custom Empire Ears Zeus-R, custom Noble Katana as well as my JH Audio Roxanne Universal (Generation 1) for the comparisons. Yes the price point is rather far apart, but I felt the UERRs deserved to be compared with the best of the best within the market. I do emphasize that these are comparisons and do not paint the overall standalone sound signature of those compared.
UERR vs. Empire Ears Zeus-R
Compared to the Zeus-R, I found the R’s to be just a touch wider in soundstage but significantly deeper. The R’s satisfies me more with just a touch more rumble down low and its seductive mids. The highs of the R’s are crisp, much more so than the UERR. The R’s sounded much more resolving that the UERRs, bordering analytical. However, the UERRs make the R’s sound less smooth in comparison, which is a difficult feat in itself. The R’s are also significantly more sensitive than the UERR’s, and most importantly, is twice the price of the UERR’s, more so when the ADEL version is officially launched. I would recommend the R’s regardless of price, but the UERR’s prove themselves to be no slouch even compared to its more expensive competitors.
UERR vs. Noble Audio Katana
Compared to the Katana, I found myself caught in a war between two smooth criminals (see what I did there). Both share a similar aim in achieving a more neutral but highly smooth sound in their design to my ears, with the Katana perhaps having a slight tilt towards the highs compared to the UERR. I still find the Katana more resolving than the UERR, but perhaps due to the Katana’s smooth signature, smoother than the UERR at times for me, the gap does not feel as big as the one when compared with the Zeus-R. The Katana is a little easier to drive compared to the UERR, and in comparison has a wider and deeper soundstage than the UERR. Then again, the Katana is easily double the price, so the UERR once again has proven its worth to be in the pen with the big boys, and might even be the better choice in terms of value for money.
UERR vs. JH Audio Roxanne Universal (Generation 1)
Compared to the Roxannes, with the bass selector at minimum bass which is my default configuration, I found myself to actually prefer the UERRs slightly. The Roxannes are more detailed, and have a wider soundstage than the UERRs, but I found the separation ability of the UERRs to be hard to ignore. The Roxannes are also just a little less balanced when compared to the UERRs, with a slight emphasis placed on the lower end, which is less suited to my current taste of more reference, perhaps slightly brighter sound signature. I do prefer listening to live music and recorded concerts through the Roxannes, but I would rather listen to my UERRs for studio recorded sessions.
One thing I can vouch for is that the UERR’s is easily the most comfortable piece of equipment I have in my arsenal currently, and triumph against everyone else in this department. I could easily wear them for hours and hours on end, not that I couldn’t with the others, but this is just a step above.
Comparisons (Andre) AM: For comparisons I used my UE18 and my Noble Audio Katana Universals.
So when comparing the UERR and the UE18, one of the first things you notice is how much cleaner sounding the UERR is compared to the 18s. The 18 is a more fun sounding IEM compared to the reference UERR. While I do enjoy both IEMs, I think the UERR is superior to the UE18 in not only being more neutral but by having a wider and deeper sound staging. The 18 is by no means a balanced IEM. It has strong low end which sometimes bleed into the mids while the UERR has an overall balance sound to it. One of the biggest differences in the UE18s and the UERR is the highs. The UERR has some of the most crisp sounding highs I have ever heard in a IEM, rivalled only by the Katana, while the UE18 has very textured highs (in a good way) but they do roll off more than I would like. If I had to choose to listen to either IEM, I would use the UERR for rock and metal over the 18s because they are cleaner sounding and most heavy metal sounds distort on the UE18s and cymbals just sound amazing on the UERR. However I would use the 18s for more pop music or hip-hop as it has the more fun sound.
So with the Katana, I would have to say that these IEMs are so similar sounding, much to what Eu Jin said above, the Katana has the UERR beat in how good the highs are. For me the Katana is much like the UERR but with a bit more edge, which isn’t always a good thing. The Katana to me has some bite to it, while the UERR is always very smooth and never really fatiguing while with the Katana on some songs I get sibilant highs. As Eu Jin has mentioned above the Katana is about 2 times the price of the UERR and I have to agree with him the UERR does hold its own against the Katana. They both set out to achieve similar things In the IEM world and I think they both have their respective uses, as I would use the UERR over the Katana for mixing or recording as it is more detailed and neutral sounding overall. Katana has a little spike in the highs. I would however use the Katana for listening sessions as I do enjoy the spike in the highs; I know I am odd compared to most of the people in the Hi-Fi world.
CONCLUSION EJ: How do you appreciate your music? Do you like it if your music is conveyed with that extra thump in the bass? Do you prefer it with a lift in the treble so that all your string instruments are more pronounced? Maybe you like a very forward and aggressive midrange so that all your vocals sound just sound more euphonic? Or, you simply wanted to listen to your music like how your favourite artist had intended to? If the latter is your choice, then the UERR is definitely the best IEM for you. To me, it succeeded in its goal of trying to achieve a neutral but not boring, detailed but not analytical and most of all balanced sound. If that wasn’t sweet enough, UE makes probably the comfiest pair of CIEM I have yet owned, packaged with the best carrying case I’ve seen so far and a plethora of accessories to go from.
Some may find the UERR too flat for their taste, especially if they crave that extra lift on the bass region. Some may find the UERR too be a little too smooth, making sound more laid back than they perhaps prefer. Due to every person’s different perspective on how music should sound like, the UERR may not be for all of us. However, these people would be missing out on what is perhaps the best separation and layering I found on an IEM, which is a key tool in music mastering.
UE’s great work on the UERR has made me very excited to listen to their new flagship, the UE18+, something that I hope I could have a listen to in the near future. Until then, I am highly satisfied with my UERRs, and it would probably be in most comparison I make in regards for IEMs as it is easily the best one to act as my measuring stick for the rest of the stable.
AM: The UERR has become one of my staple IEM, hell one of my staple headphones to listen to and to use as a reference of what neutral should sound like in my opinion. The UERR has given me a new appreciation for the neutral sound as before the UERR I enjoyed a more warm sounding signature and I never really enjoyed anything too neutral sounding.
So does the UERR do what it sets out to do? Yes, I think it does, the UERR is definitely a studio monitor. The RR was designed for studio engineers by studio engineers, and we audiophiles get to reap all the spoils of this collaboration between UE and Capitol Studios. The RR has a solid flat frequency response that doesn’t seem to roll of in the highs and extends into the low end in ways that most in-ears don’t. But there are some flaws with the unit as nothing is perfect. The flat response can sometimes make some music very non-engaging and the micro details can bring out the worst in your music which can be a bad thing but is a good thing about the UERR.
I remember hating the UERM so whole heartedly when I had heard it back at CanJam 2014, but the UERR just seems to have a dynamic that I was not prepared for, I fell in love with it. This might be due to the new proprietary drivers that UE is using, and if that is so I can't wait to hear the new UE18+ in the future as I think the 18 would benefit a lot much like the UERR has over the UERM. Would I recommend the UERR to anyone, the answer is yes, the UERR is a very beautiful sounding IEM and its comfortable which is a very important thing for a CIEM.