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1st September 2014, 01:52 AM   |  #1  
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This is a review of Logitech/Ultimate Ears UE900s multi-driver in-ear monitors. http://www.ultimateears.com/en-us/900s

The original UE900 was my first pair of hi-fi IEMs, the one which opened up my eyes and ears to higher quality multi-driver in-ear headphones. Though I have tested a lot of other headphones afterwards, in different dynamic/BA driver configurations, I still like to visit them from time to time for more listening and comparison. I also noticed comments from people who purchased their pair over a year ago with some early production batch issues (related to the cable connector), though my original UE900 pair from last October with a gold-plated connector never exhibited any of those problems. When Logitech announced UE900s model, it caught my interest because I wasn't sure if it's going to be a simple refresh or an updated version. From all the info I gathered prior to obtaining UE900s review sample, it looked like a refresh with an updated accessories. To my surprise, when I got these (and btw, they do look IDENTICAL to UE900), I found tuning to be slightly different. I can hear a bit more bass quantity and a bit less upper mids/treble brightness. In both pairs, nozzle pinhole port was clear, and I was using a stock audio braided cable. I hear it as a subtle difference, but it's still there, though YMMV. With this refresh and plethora of all new eartips, I decided to write an updated review of UE900s. Here is what I found.

Starting with a packaging, the external sleeve was updated and has a cleaner look with more detailed description of internal headphone components. Once you get to the main box and open its flip cover, you will be blown away by... the amount of eartips! Yes, the first thing that will capture your attention are the included eartips, and you will find more in the bonus tray underneath. You get two identical sets of 6 pairs of silicone hybrid eartips (XXXS, XXS, XS, S, M, L), and two identical sets of 3 pairs of memory foam eartips (S, M, L). The memory foam is not the same as Comply, and it goes in your ear without a need to squeeze it first so it's easier to setup. I assume double of each set is for backup purpose. Each eartip is color coded with a hybrid stem. It's placed in a special tray with a size label and individual removable holder which you can pick up to use in your ear for a fitment without a need to put on the actual headphone earpieces. I honestly never seen anything like this before. The clear plastic tray with a second set of backup earpieces also includes a special maintenance gel for improved conductivity of the connector. Probably a bit of an overkill, but I think UE engineers trying to cover every base to mitigate any future connector problems.

Furthermore, you get two sets of braided cables: one in black with individually wrapped wire shielding for audio only use and the other one with blue wire shielding which includes in-line remote/mic for smartphone control. In there, volume buttons are for iPhone use only while multi-function middle button works with Android phones as well. I tested it without a problem on my Galaxy Note 2 with a single click for Play/Pause/Call, double click to skip forward, triple click to skip back, and long press to start Google NOW. Mic worked great while making calls, though just like with a similar in-line remote on UE600 in a noisy background environment I had to bring it up closer to my mouth for people on the other side to hear me better. You can also use an included shirt clip to move in-line remote/mic closer to your mouth. In addition to a same synthetic draw-string pouch like in UE900, UE900s model also has a brand new hard case. The original UE900 case looked like a jewelry box with a piano finish, while this new UE900s plastic case looks like a folding business card holder. It's slick and more pocket friendly, though you gotta be careful not to snap wires when closing it. And speaking of wires, you still get two braided wires per earpiece with a shrink-wrapped y-splitter bridging 4-wire braided whip going to a headphone connector. The audio cable also has a clear chin-slider. Both cables have right angle 3.5mm gold plated connector and a short strain relief. Earpieces have a short clear tube memory wire with a right piece having a red rubber band for id purpose. The connectors are standard MMCX and the plastic shielding of the connector also has a color marking to distinguish left/right sides. In general, cable felt strong though I would prefer a better strain relief. Either way, cable is removable and replaceable, so no fear if anything breaks.

So how about the sound? The design of UE900s, just like UE900, has 4 separate Balanced Armature drivers and built-in crossover for a better separation and tuning of the sound. Its sound signature is nicely balanced with a bit of a mid-forward emphasis and overall warm feeling. You get a very good layering/separation of instruments and great soundstage in both width and depth. Starting with the bass, it's fast and punchy, accurate, not as deep sub-bass, and a slight mid-bass boost. Low end has a nice detailed quality without exaggerated quantity, but definitely above neutral level. Bass is tight and well controlled without spilling into lower mids. Mids sound natural and accurate. Upper mids are clear and detailed without being too bright, and have a slight boost over the rest of the frequency range. Treble is well extended and detailed, but not peaky or hot. Not even a hint of sibilance. That's where I found it to be slightly different from UE900 which sounded brighter to my ears. It's rare to get combination of mid-forward sound without being too bright, but in this case UE guys nailed it. I also found sound isolation to be not bad, depending on eartip selection for a perfect seal, where outside noise gets attenuated but you are still aware of surrounding. With memory foam tips, you get an even better isolation and deeper low end. Also, I didn't experience any microphonics effect.

Overall, even with subtle sound tuning differences I experienced between UE900 and UE900s (which might even level off after more burn in time), these are still great multi-driver IEMs. They have a very unique look, a great detailed sound, a nicely balanced signature for non-fatigue listening, and come with an uber amount of eartips! Of course, it all comes at a cost if you are willing to pay close to $400 for UE900s. But the good news is that if you can find the original UE900 for sale, you can get it for under $300 which is a great deal when you compare it to competition from Shure and Westone.

Here are the pictures.

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