The Ultrasone IQ's are high quality in ear headphones. They have a dual driver design and come with MMCX connectors so you can use them with the stock cables, the included headset kit, or optional after market cables.
Pros - Tasty low end, aggressive, clinical, focus sound, great isolation when proper sealed, great leather pouch.
Cons - Pushy high-mid, quite expensive for what it is, uncomfortable to wear, stock cable not so good, lack of air and for this price no cleaning tool?
I went to shop for upgrade from my beloved Westone 4.
Didn't bother to get custom. Aiming around $500-1000 options
1. Ultrasone IQ $730
2. AKG K3003 $1,140
3. Sennheiser IE800 $ 660
4. Aurisonics ASG-2 $653
5. Heir Audio IEM 5.0+ $ 690
Here are the mini review of IQ and versus of the other candidates.
Sub low to Low End
IQ: has great sub low to low, thanks to the hybrid drivers design, I like it rumbles and has great impact low and moderate decay time. not too tight not too loose, just right.
great low end texture and very controlled and tasty. Still a little bit bloated and affecting mid range but VERY slightly. Only purist will find it annoying.
VS K3003 : K3003 tighter, mrore controlled, very close to neutral response (still a bit boosted though)
VS IE800: IE800's low end few lazy and slow, decay time too long
VS ASG-2 : BLOATED, Basshead will love it.
VS IEM 5.0: Bloated and hollow
Low Mid to Mid
IQ: Very very noticeable low mid dip around 200-400Hz range. result lacking body and richness despite it has great sub low and low.
Smooth mid but due to great low end power, Vocal sound a bit laid back but very smooth,
VS K3003: very enjoyable lush mid range presentation, vocal also a bit laid back but a bit more forward than IQ.
VS IE800： similar approach to K3003 but better sibilant control
VS ASG－2： clouded mid range, probably because of bloated bass.
VS IEM 5.0: right amount of low mid, sounding rich. Out of phase sound mid, I ssuspect faulty unit or design flaw
IQ: VERY VERY pushy, VERY VERY Hot!!!!!
high mid spike all over the place, especially 5.5k - 8kHz range.
result very clinical and overall forward sound, This is where IQ's uniqueness, I imagine not every people love this approach.
Because in other word : Ear Fatigue.
Kick drum click sound prominent, Snare snap sound somtimes too much, Vocal sibilant prominent, crash cymbals sound a bit harsh and upfront, distortion guitar sound bigger, better detail revealing ability.
VS K3003: more controlled high mid, long time listening friendly
VS IE800: smoother approach, a bit dip in high mid region, sound lazy and not enough presence.
VS ASG-2: High mid?What high-mid?
VS IEM 5.0: pushy High mid but not as much as IQ
IQ： The high end are there(12kHz and upwards), but noticeable roll off start around 12-13kHz ish.
But due to prominent high mid, the air are less noticeable , result a bit narrower sound stage(still pretty wide for IEM though)
VS K3003: SUPER wide sound stage, very airy but personally think it's too wide result the sound lacking focus.
VS IE800: wide sound stage but in a better sense than K3003
Vs ASG-2: High End? What High End?
VS IEM 5.0: airy, a bit too hot.
Accessories and Comfort and others
1. At this price point and doesn't come with ear wax cleaning tool is ridiculous.
2. The leather pouch is nicely done, very classy but the size a bit too big
3. come with 2 cable, one with mic and control for your smart phone and one J-cord (J cord? seriously?) and I personally found memory wire quite irritating, replaced cable immediately
4. some selection of tips, been tip rolling and settle with medium Shure olive with wax filter. Triple flange can rectify and pushy high-mid but in trade of bass quality.
5. come with flight adapter and OMTP adapter.
IQ has quite unique sound tuning, I don't imagine many people will love it but I do.
Not neutral sounding IEM, rather a fun sounding IEM with slight V-shape EQ and with great resolution and detail revealing ability.
Best suit for Rock, Metal, EDM.
A bit overpriced for what it is.
painfully uncomfortable to wear for long session.
Proper seal not easy to achieve.
Stock cable sound too bright, easy to tangle.
In 4 candidates, K3003 sound technically superior to the rest. I didn't choose it because of it's SUPER WIDE sound stage, lack of focus tuning and flimsy looking non-detachable cable, other than that. K3003 is every bit superior to the rest.
ASG-2 sound vastly inferior, one can get similar quality and tuning IEM for much less money.
IE800 are great IEM but just not suit my preference.
IEM 5.0: Very weird tuning(if not faulty unit)VERY hollow sounding, Low end are there but sound muddy and no attack at all. I don't imagine ANY person would love it and QC issue, the unit I audition left ear piece SIGNIFICANTLY louder than right ear piece.
Been tip rolling and switching cables again
Finally settle with
Cable： Labkable Supernova 7N
Tip: Westone original triple flange with stem and first flange cut off.
Supernova 7N reduced reasonable amount of low end quantity and added a bit of air , made IQ sound wider and bass quantity became just right for my taste
Westone Triple flange with stem and first flange cut off, isolation lessen but tamed all high-mid spike and retain the low end texture.
I am really happy with IQ now, the SQ so much closer to K3003 without overly airy and lack of focus like K3003.
On a side note, IQ really need an amp. Don't let 20 Ohms fool you.
I had westone 4 and they doesn't sound much different on different source and amp.
But IQ sound massively different on different amplifier
and I was able to listen W4 on my cell phone(HTC one), the SQ is almost as great as output from delicated headphones amp.
I can't do it with IQ. IQ sound incredibly weak, trebly, no body on cell phone. IQ needs an amp.
Pros - Everything about them aside from the Cons, Sound Stage excellent, Detail Amazing.
Cons - Getting the right seal, if it isn't there, or you can't achieve it, then they sound awful. Very recessed lower fequencies
THIS IS MY FIRST EVER HEADPHONE REVIEW. EDITED SLIGHTLY, PLEASE SEE FURTHER COMMENTS --> I recently bought a pair of these, and this is the story as far as I am concerned. Experience base goes from Etymotic's, through the Shure 535's and IE8's (Although I suspect my IE8's are knock off). I went to a high end store where they would let me listen as they had spare tips etc etc, and paid £595. They are the IQ9 model. I saw them and thought that an Ultrasone IEM might be interesting so I had a predisposition to wanting to like them. I listened to some Ultrasone over ears in the same store a few weeks before, and wasn't impressed by the sound, but was by the build quality, I can't remember what they were, magnetic planar things that came in special editions with fancy titanium swirls and stuff, came in a wooden box about as big as a tea chest. So even though I had a poor experience with the brand, for some reason, and reading some reviews on here an IEM offering from them peaked my interest. I brought my C4 to the shop with me so I could hear them through what would be my main source. I plugged them in at the shop and after about 30 seconds took them out and told they guy that there was no bass whatsoever and I really wasn't interested, as much as I wanted to like them, my ears told me no. I have pretty big ear canals it seems. He suggested that the lack of Bass was that I didn't have a perfect seal and scurried off to find some fatter tips which he did. As soon as I got the correct seal I handed him my plastic. There was a lot of Bass there, but totally non existent without the seal, and I have noticed that even the slightest hint of a gap and the amazing bass vanishes. Then I got them home and spent some more time with them. I considered taking them back but circumstance would dictate that I had to travel so I just took them with me and hoped that playing around with different tips and positions to get a seal would improve what was a bit of an unsettled sound really. It was almost as if they simply couldn't process quickly enough, they seemed not to be keeping up with the music although there was suggestion that these things could be something special at times. It was quite confusing, but I persevered. Then they just got better and better and better and better. At first the bass was just plain lazy and sloppy, but certain tracks would sound good, they were really inconsistent for at least 100 hours I would say. The details were there but not separating enough, the sound stage was there, and sometimes it was massive for IEM's and sometimes it tightened up so much that it made me think that these were a waste of time and a waste of money. Now they seem to have settled into what I consider to be the best IEM that I have ever heard, I haven't heard that many though so please bear that in mind. I find the detail to be amazing, and the sound stage even better, this was really brought home more when I used them with my Mac Air only for watching a TV Series (House of Cards)...all of a sudden, as it was not swamped by music, the sound stage became clearly apparent with sounds coming from where they were laid down in the track, really impressive stuff straight out of a Mac. They do have an amazing sound stage for music also in my opinion, although it did take some time for this to fully settle. Now the instrument separation and the details are simply incredible to my ears, and the bass is lovely. I would describe them as Ultra refined. Amazing to hear how they completely change when I change the EQ on my Colorfly, really responding to the different demands. I don't get a massive feeling of a warm sound, they seem more technical than that, they seem to achieve many things, but tiring they are not, there is still a certain amount of reservation if you like, they don't punch any one frequency above others in my opinion, they are so very very balanced. Incredible to listen to stringed instruments, and as mentioned they almost take away from the visuals when using them for audio from a video, they are that impressive. To be honest I kind of have an admission and a comparison. This is my second go round with House of Cards, first time I watched it on my top shelf surround sound kit at home, to be totally honest the sound coming straight out of my mac into these was much more detailed, you could really hear the separation more, exactly what the recording engineer was up to, it was interesting and ridiculously detailed. Maybe people will say that of course this is the case with all IEM's, I don't know, but they are very different to my Shure 535's, another league I would say. Kind of glad I had to travel now and didn't take them back. Maybe it just my Dumbo ears, but the fit really really works for me. They are beautifully built, there is no questioning that, the build quality is the best I have seen or felt for IEM's, like little tanks. I find the cable and the way they have coated the bit to bend around your ear to be ultra comfortable, after a while it just sits in the perfect shape, they hook on and press in very quickly and with minimum fuss. I am not very experienced with IEMS's, but I really really like these and genuinely think that they are worth the money. In my opinion the sound quality is beautiful, I have them in right now, and they still blow me away. Very happy with them, although the relationship got off to a rocky start.
At the end of 2012 I started looking for my Shure SE530 replacement for IEMs and for me the Ultrasone IQ was really a gamble that paid off.
The sound signature for these IEM's is what I prefer. Very clear precise bass response, excellent separation in all ranges. I really love the mid tone clarity and extension in high range.
With that excellent mid and high range you really need to ensure a good seal otherwise it is not a good listening experience. The silicone tips sent with did not seal at all for me. The compy Tx tips and triple flange worked well.