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Ultimate Ears UE PRO 18+ Discussions and Impressions

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  1. rantng
    IPX connector?
  2. Snowball0906
    Nope.. 2pin. The version before ipx.
  3. soullinker20
    i had the gold plated silver copper cable sold by ue before and I like how it sounds compared to the stock cable.
  4. uelover
    I have one, but I haven’t been using it for a long while.
  5. Snowball0906
    I have the gold plated silver copper cable sold by UE. Now looking for alternative..
    soullinker20 likes this.
  6. Snowball0906
    May I know which cable are u using?
  7. soullinker20
    actually if it's possible, planning to have someone to reterminate it to ipx for 3rd gen 18+ and ue live demo
  8. uelover
    I am using the lightning cable with my iphone. UE previously sell them as well.

    Yes UE offers the retermination services. It costs US$200 to reterminate the CIEM and another US$100 for the cable.

    soullinker20 likes this.
  9. soullinker20
    thanks for the info
    didnt know it cost that much to reterminate a cable
  10. K.I. Unlimited
    No you misunderstand. It's not for the cable; it's for overhaul of the CIEMs themselves. I mean they did come up with the tech themselves.

    If you decided to reterminate the UE18+ themselves with 3rd party (and I have no idea who would do that or why) you would effectively void your warranty, and UE would probably charge you a sum for fixing it.
  11. IMsoSchur
    So I took the plunge and ordered my 18+ CSX. This weekend I will have the fikit ready to go, and will enter the desperate waiting stage for the arrival of a pair of IEM's that cost more than my entire first Stereo system. I have for years dabbled, beginning with Etymotic (ER4 maybe?) ones the wires broke on, replacing them with some Shure SE5 somethings, and then UE Triple Fi's that I really liked. Over all of those the thing I tended to hate was always around the fit, not so much the sound. I tried umpteen versions of tips on my Triple-Fi's, but eventually decided the best thing was Custom...and if I was going custom I was going to go all in, so the UE 18+ CSX.

    Before my question I'll describe a bit about what I like, in case the context matters. What I love about good (in my experience so far) IEM's is the ability to sort of "lose myself" in the music. I love the little bits like finally hearing the sound of a pick against the string, or the sound of a singer taking a breath. Being able to focus on the instruments individually, and as well as the whole. I fully admit (despite reading the super helpful stuff on this forum already) I suck at my ability to actually describe stuff like warmth or sparkles or other stuff. I listen to a wide range of music (Celtic folk, Harp, NWA-era Rap, Folk, Americana, Rock, Metal, Alternative and even classical are all on my playlists). I do travel a lot, so whatever my choice is needs to be portable. The same rig needs to work on an airplane as it does for my hotel or even working in my home office. My music is in 3 categories. I ripped my whole CD library to FLAC some years ago. I have some basic fidelity MP3/iTunes downloads, and I am slowly converting those (and my new purchases) to HD sourced tracks as I get the urge. I am not big on streaming, although I'll stick Spotify on a rental car bluetooth link sometimes, but that is sort of irrelevant to my "active listening mode" that I want the CIEM's for.

    Right now I have two options on my planned source. Straight out of my Galaxy S9, or through my Oppo HA-SE2 assuming I can get the stupid OTG cable to finally work with my S9 like it used to work on my S7. So yea, I am nowhere near the league of some of you guys in setup. So here is the question...how big a deal will the DAC really be? I know at 105db sensitivity, the actual amp function of my Oppo is not really critical, although just getting it into a slightly cleaner power source than the phone I will assume is some benefit. Now I know that the Oppo is not exactly in the high end DAC league (or even mid range tbh), and maybe isn't really that big an upgrade over a Snapdragon S9 even. I will plan to do the basic things. Enjoy my new cans, try them with and without the Oppo, even try out the Bluetooth (although I find it weird they don't even try and support a better Codec than SBC).

    For next steps though. Do I look at a DAC only, skipping an amp stage? If I am going for an upgrade ANYWAY, does going to a DAP make sense given the ease of portability of not trying to fit a rubber band around my DAC/Phone? Am I really wasting the potential of these phones plugging them into basic components, or is the whole DAC/DAP thing in that hard to qualify "slight incremental improvement" step?
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  12. AmnesiacSix
    I have the 18+ pro universal fit version and have gone through similar setups with phones and dacs. I used to have the oppo ha2 and did the whole stack with my old note 4. Loved the sound from the ha2 vs the note and thought it was worth the trouble of carrying it around wrapped with a rubber band up until I got tired of the hassle. lol. I'd take it to the gym so maybe it just became too much to deal with in that environment but I found it difficult to simply stick to the phone. Keep in mind that at the time I didn't have the 18+ and had the flc 8s instead but regardless, the point is that the dac did improve the sound. Kept this up around the time the LG V20 debuted and took the plunge after my note became sluggish to deal with.

    A/B testing from the ha2 to the v20 showed that the phone, although not as good as the ha2, had more than enough improvement over the note for me to be happy with just the phone. The ha2 was warmer and just felt fuller compared to the v20 but not enough for me to deal with the stack. Eventually I got a pair of isine 10's and fell in love with the v20 and how good it was. I didn't use the ha2 as much unless I watched or played video games off my laptop but every now and then I'd hook up the dac to the phone and would enjoy the fuller sound. The dac just sounded meaty but again, the v20 was good enough. I kept this up until the v20, as a phone, kept pissing me off. Great as a music player but horrible as a phone. That's when I started to look into a dap since I knew I didn't want to get another LG phone and their phones are the only ones with a dedicated dac for music so a dap would be my only option because I wasn't willing to do another stack to carry around a small tank in my pocket.

    After tons of research on here, reddit.com and various audio sites, I decided to get a Sony zx300 due to its stellar battery life. Right before I gave up the v20 the battery would last 6hrs-8hrs. At that point I already had a new phone and was using the v20 as a dedicated music player but the battery was bad, regardless of me constantly buying a new battery for it every 6 months. I knew battery life would be a big selling point for me. I do wish I could have gone with an A&K Kann but I read enough on those to hear about their shoddy quality control. There were enough reviews about unlucky customers having bad eggs and I didn't want to deal with the hassle although, even now, I still want a Kann if only because it's supposed to be the best sounding dap for the price. Anything else is more pricey for a smaller return in sound.

    Now the A/B testing on the zx300 vs the v20 kinda made me second guess my purchase. I knew the sound off the v20, using USB Audio Player Pro and nothing but flac at 16 bit or higher files so when I first listened to AM by Arctic Monkeys and The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails, I was instantly hit by disappointment. The zx300 was cold, dry and anemic compared to the v20. I was surprised but I was aware as well that it needed 200hrs of burn in per input. This is the only time I believe burn in actually mattered because after leaving it to play overnight for the week, the sound easily passed the v20 and the ha2. Suddenly the v20 was the anemic player with shrill highs and no bass. Selling that was easy. Between the ha2 and the zx300, it was closer. It's been a while but I remember the ha2 being a smudge warmer but what the zx300 gives over it is a much larger soundstage with obvious separation of instruments. I'd say the separation of instruments, being able to hear each note without anything overpowering anything else, is the best part of the zx300. My isines felt like brand new headphones! Same with the flc 8s and music suddenly sounded like the first time I bought a higher fidelity pair of iems, some shures 2 somethings way back in 2009. Couple the sound with the small form factor of the zx300 and at minimum, 16hrs or more of battery life and both 3.5 and 4.4 balanced outputs, I was and still am in love with my zx300 Walkman.

    Finally to talk about the 18+ 3rd gen since that's what this forum is about. I just wanted to give you an idea of why I decided to splurge on a dedicated dap vs an LG phone (because that's the only phone worth getting for music). I did A/B tests on the 18+ out of a note 8 using USB Audio Player Pro and the zx300 out of the 3.5 output. The sound quality was close although I attribute this to how good the 18+ is. Biggest difference is instrument separation and the soundstage is only slightly bigger on the zx300. Between these two, I'd say you're good using the phone if you don't want to dish out 600 for a zx300 or a different dap. The 18+ is easy to drive but having a dap does make them sound better. Once you adjust to the better source, it's hard going back to something lower tiered. I prefer the sq on the zx300 because I can tune the 18+ better to give me more bass and raise some of the higher frequencies, like a big bump on 4k. The sq on the zx300 is amazing. And overall it's warmer off the zx300. But the headphones are already great as is. For me, knowing I started with a walkman way back in the 90s, it just feels good having come full circle to Sony again after all these years and the zx300 is such a gorgeous player with all the quality in the sound in a perfect size. I could care less about my phone nowadays, don't even feel much of an urge to upgrade it and when I do listen to music, with the 18+ out of zx300, it's a damn joy every time. For the foreseeable future, this is my endgame. I just need a full over the ear size pair of headphones now because I can't imagine getting another iem. I can always reshell these for a custom fit too although they already fit pretty great.
  13. IMsoSchur
    Thanks for the detailed perspective. I'll consider that if a good audio phone like an LG is still worth replacing with the DAP then certainly a Samsung with a Snapdragon DAC is likely to be noticeably worse. Will start with My HA2, and put the Sony on the list. Maybe battery life and the convenience of just one device will be good enough alone, and SQ improvement is a bonus.

    How do you find the convenience of the Sony for PC-synch and its UI?
  14. AmnesiacSix
    You're welcome! I prefer in depth comments since I know how helpful they can be whenever I'm reading on here. Also, I just realized I meant to say EQ and not SQ although sound quality definitely is best on the zx300 for me, between that and the note 8. Yeah, the Equalizer is awesome on the walkman, can color any headphone, some better than others although don't expect it to perfect an inherent flaw in any iem/headphone.

    Also forgot to mention storage, since it has a microSD slot and can take up to the new 1tb card. I have the 400gb size on mine plus the on board storage. As for the UI, it can be a little slow to startup since it has to create the database for the music and that depends on how much you carry. I have 400gb + 64gb on board and after timing it, it takes about 2min to go from no power to loaded up into the UI. It's not an issue for me. The UI itself is fine. It can sometimes slow down for a second or two but it's infrequent. It's fats enough and I have zero complaints except for it not splitting up some of my flac files. I think it's an issue the .cue file for the album? I've come to enjoy just letting those files play from beginning to end and since I'm from the 90s, I'm used to that. Plus it helps me keep my memory sharp by memorizing where the songs begin and end. lol. Again, not an issue for me. Adding music is as easy as dragging and dropping. I never have to use the program sony supplies although you can. All you gotta do is make sure you have a folder on the microSD card named "Music" and you're good to go. Add all files to it. It can also be a DAC for the PC but it's only viable for music. Movies and games bring a 1-2 second delay. Are there better daps? Yup, that ibasso dx220 looks beautiful and I hear sound much better. I still haven't found anything though that strikes a better balance between the size, battery life and functionality/sound quality of the zx300. Everything else will be bigger and have a smaller battery life.

    If money wasn't limited though, I'd have the dx220 or a Kann Cube for home use and the zx300 for gym use. Still, the ue 18+ are awesome. Even the 3rd gen. Jebus, I love them soo much. The ipx cable is beautiful and stellar. They're waterproofing at the connections so gym use has been sublime, the fit blocks out noise better than anything I've ever used before and the sound is neutral although I've colored mine using the EQ to pump more bass. But no sibilance and, at least to me, it's just clear. Voices really are beautiful on them and although the soundstage is small, you can still get that beautiful directional sense from them. I love when the songs uses an effect to make a verse sound as if it's being whispered right behind you. My runs have never been soo enjoyable. I just wish they made an official 4. 4.4 balanced option on the cable only because my Walkman has the option so why not? haha.
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