Review of Logitech/Ultimate Ears UE900 headphones w/lots of pics!!!


  1. twister6

    twister6 Guides Guide

    This is a review of Logitech/Ultimate Ears UE900 noise isolating quad-armature driver design headphones. UE 900 Noise-Isolating Earphones - Logitech

    When you think about headphones, especially in-ear headphones (IEH), the word "investment" doesn't come to mind. Why? Because most of us has been through at least half a dozen of earbud pairs that came either with our phone or mp3 player/iPod or just replacement ones we got with some funky design/colors. You can hardly think of it as an investment because most of them sounded mediocre, had poor built quality, lost a sound due to a broken wire connection, and overall felt like a disposable product. Once you decide to spend more money, you realize how much improvement you will get in sound and build quality. With smartphones and tablets becoming replacements of our home/portable entertainment system, getting a quality headphones becomes an investment, something you will continue using with a next smartphone and in between your smarphones and tablets. Although the selection of high quality headphones is not as wide as the ones in a budget pool, after careful research I settled mine on UE900 - Logitech flagship IEH model.

    You don't have to be audiophile to be familiar with Ultimate Ears brand name. We all have seen our favorite stars on stage performing with a wire wrapped around their ear planted with a clear in-ear headphones. Most of these are UE headphones with a price tag of around $1k or more, and out of reach of general consumers. Keeping that in mind, Logitech/UE designed UE900, incorporating technology of their Pro series into these consumer buds. It's still pricey at $399 in comparison to other "budget" headphones, and some might argue it's insane to spend so much money on a pair of IEH. But once you put them on to get your first listening experience or if you look at some of the classifieds where there is still a demand to buy it at prices not too far away from original - you will realize that you investing into quality. So, let's take a look at what makes them so special.

    Introduced about a year ago, these were replacement of another flagship UE model, Triple.fi 10 (TF10) which considered to be highly regarded in audiophile world. Since I don't have any previous experience with TF10, based on extensive reading of comparison UE900 was a big step forward in both design and sound improvement. I always like to start by mentioning the packaging and content of accessories. As expected, every detail of the package speaks of a premium quality product. Taking the outside sleeve box and opening the magnetic flap of the inner box, you see a pair of translucent in-ear headphones and jewelry box quality storage case. There is also a pocket with manual instructions and anther product brochure with high quality images of various artists using UE headphones. Other accessories included in this package are draw-string travel pouch, 1/4" adapter, 3.5mm airline attenuator, a shirt clip, a very generous selection of 5 silicone premium eartips (XXS, XS, S, M, L) and 3 pairs of Comply Foam TS series eartips (S, M, L). Very unique feature of hard case-box is rubber inner lining with a spot to secure 1/4" adapter and another spot in the cover of the box to attach a spare pair of eartips.

    Included cables deserve a special mentioning, one in black intended for audio only and another one in blue with in-line remote and mic identical to the one used on UE600 (with volume up/down and multifunction button). Some people might want to enjoy audio only and don't care about in-line remote, while others will be happy to know they can use UE900 with their favorite smartphone or tablet. As expected, in-line remote volume buttons intended for apple products, but multifunction button works perfectly with any Android phone to play/pause/call/hangup and double-/triple-click to skip next/prev song. Cables are removable and attach to headphones through SMB rotating connectors. Everything is labeled with "red" for right, and white for left. #1 failure mechanism of any headphones is broken wires, either at headphone or 3.5mm plug. No matter how great is strain relief (protective sleeve) around those connections, sooner or later it will be broken and headphones become useless. In this case, you can just unplug it and replace it; and considering you have 2 pairs of cables - you have a spare! Looking at the cable itself, you will see something very unique - a braided design. For enhanced audio quality and isolation of the signal to avoid any interference, each wire has it's own shielding with each headphone having a twisted pair interweaving into a braided design after y-joint. Furthermore, both audio and remote cables have a special non-removable clear cable piece (about 4") next to headphone connection. That piece has a flexible wire to bend it into any shape for a more comfortable fit around your ear. Yes, the intention of these headphones is to be connected with a wire going over the top of your ear with a bend behind it. This makes it super comfortable to wear it and keeps your headphones securely no matter what activity you are doing. You can also position headphones with wire dangling down, due to rotating nature of the connector, but it's not very comfortable with shape-wire connected to the base of headphones. If this is your preference to wear headphones, I noticed some replacements available without shape-wire piece. The 3.5mm plug is gold plated and angled which is always great as an additional strain relief. Although a lot of attention is paid to these wires and their design, putting headphones on does take a bit of a time with adjustments (even with pre-shaped wire), and they are prone to some tangling when you wrap and store them in the hard case. I guess its a price to pay for high quality cables and sound delivery.

    That brings us to the most important part of the review - sound quality (SQ). Although accessories and cables are a nice touch, without mind blowing sound performance and even if you add a name of a popular rapper next to these - it will not justify a price tag if SQ is sub-par!!! Well, you can rest assure - these deliver a sound quality you can only dream of. You can have the best smartphone or dedicated audio player, but everything comes down to drivers delivering this sound to your ears. I have mentioned in the past the sound quality is highly subjective and matter of a personal taste. But no matter what is your personal taste, anybody can distinguish a difference between a single driver trying to cover the whole entire spectrum of lows, mids, and highs versus a design with 4 (!!!) dedicated drivers fed through a crossover to work on details of each part of sound spectrum. In case of UE900 you have 4 dedicated armature drivers, 2 woofers dedicated to details of low frequency content, 1 for mid range, and 1 for high frequency content. With its translucent design, you can actually take a peak of how they all fitted inside. After a proper burn in (the usual white/pink noise loop for 4-5 hours), the results had depth and clarify like you never heard it before. Everything from a rich texture of bass to a natural sparking of highs and all the details of midrange makes sound come alive. I would consider a sound to be balanced with a slight enhancement in bass and high frequency, but not too much. The intent of these headphones (in my hearing opinion) is to deliver every detail of original sound in its full clarify with a subtle enhancement of low end and treble. I was using my new favorite audio app player with this one, Neutron Media Player (the only way to appreciate sound quality with its high bit rendering audio engine and dsp effects), and have to warn you to better use higher quality audio because any lo-fi mp3 files will hurt your ears lol!!! With these headphones, your sound is under microscope and every imperfection will be revealed. At the same time, you will discover details and sounds you never knew existed in your favorite songs, either if its a classic, pop/rock, hip-hop/r'n'b, or my cup of tea - EDM. The soundstage (width of the sound) is unreal to the point that you feel like you are on stage. It's hard to believe you are wearing two little pieces of earbuds. Also, I have to add the passive noise isolation (rated at 26db) is very impressive. You can increase it further by going with supplied Comply Foam tips which always do a wonder for a more secure fitment and enhanced bass response through better sound isolation. Oh yeah, and making phone calls was great too (loud and clear, no complains from either sides).

    Overall, what can I say - if you have extra money and were planing to invest into audiophile quality headphones, you have to give UE900 a serious consideration. For me these are almost must have, but I do have to mention that I don't have other audiophile references to compare these to (not yet) and base my judgment on listening experience to every other headphone in my my review collection and an extensive reading I have done about other audiophile IEH. Is it pricey? Sure, at $400 its a lot of money. But its an incredible value for quad-armature driver design with all the available accessories and in comparison to other headphones in the same price category. Definitely gets my high recommendation!

    Here are the pictures.

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  2. twister6

    twister6 Guides Guide

  3. mosleynormal

    mosleynormal Member

    thanks much twister for another flawless review.
    i have been on the fence for awhile now with these iem's but with this great review have decided to drop the hammer and lie to my s.o.
    please do the follow-up with the wire down config as i wear glasses and am slightly concerned with the over ear recommendation.
    also, would love to hear how these performed with your latest review of the FiiO E18.
    thanks much...


    btw: sg note2
  4. twister6

    twister6 Guides Guide

    I should get those replacement wires in about a week. Wire down config and in-line remote with VOLUME that actually works on Samsung phone - that's what I'm after as well.

    Regarding test with FiiO E18, my comments about audio quality was based purely with use of UE900. I'm not sure which phone do you have and if it supports USB OTG. If you read our discussion in my E18 review, for example if you are using Note 3 with an improved DAC - E18 might be just a nice gadget, but not absolutely "necessary" to have. So, I'm speaking purely from an experience of Note 2 + E18 + UE900. The sound felt a lot more tighter, with more control and slightly better definition. Your get additional headroom where you can increase volume higher without hearing any strain in the sound.

    Some people might not appreciate or benefit from that. I personally enjoyed having an analog volume knob - with its symmetrical placement you just need to roll it with your thumb and it works perfectly. The biggest advantage of using E18 and UE900 together is the bass boost. As I mentioned before, UE900 has a balanced sound across the whole frequency range. Once you kick Bass Boost on E18 - it adds another low frequency dimension to it. It's not like any of the EQ settings, even parametric EQ I tried on Neutron player. As one of the reviews on head-fi analyzed it, the bass boost is applied in two different low frequency points. But you also need to keep in mind, UE900 has 4 armature drivers with 2 dedicated specifically to bass. So Bass boost on UE900 will sound a lot better then on some cheap headphones. Actually, the same bass boost worked well on Etymotic HF2 (single armature drive) and UE600 (also single armature driver).
  5. twister6

    twister6 Guides Guide

    As promised, here is my review of replacement UE900 cable which also supposed to work with some Shure headphone models. The direct store link: USD$22.00 - 1.2m Handmade Cable + Remote For Shure se535 se846 ue900 earphone headset Iphone/Samsung - lunashops online shop in case if their ebay listing (1 2M Handmade Cable Remote for Shure SE535 SE846 UE900 Earphone iPhone Samsung | eBay) is not available.

    Without a doubt, UE900 is the top headphones pair in my collection with one of the best sound quality. Being high end audiophile IEM, these come with detachable cables which mean if down the road wires brakes or the connection is compromised - you can replace the cable and continue using headphones. The cable that comes standard with UE900 is twisted pair which gets braided after y-joint. The intent is to keep signal isolated, away from any interference. Although I found these original cables to be very unique, to be honest I wasn't too happy about it because they were easy to tangle and felt fragile. Another thing I wasn't too crazy about was the memory wire next to earpiece that supposed to retain shape around/behind your ears. First of all, you spend the time making a perfect loop adjusted to your ear, but when you wrap and store the cable in the pouch or hard storage box, it gets bent. Also it takes longer to put these hoops on and to adjust and align earpieces. You also don't have an option to wear headphones wire down. Not to mention that for Android you can only use multi-function button and not volume controls - common for all other in-line remotes.

    So here comes Lunashops custom UE900 cables which I can with certainty recommend as MUST have replacement, especially if you have Samsung Galaxy phones. First of all you get a very generous length cable, 1.2m, which is perfect for keeping your smartphone in the pocket while having complete playback control under you fingertips. Multi-function button works perfect with any Android phone to play/pause/call and control playback with double/triple click, as well as long press to start Google Now. Built-in microphone was OK too, and I had no problem with phone calls or speaking with Google Now. I also didn't notice any microphonics effect. But what makes it standout is Volume up/down buttons which I confirmed to work with my Note 2!!! Samsung uses different set of resistors in their OEM headphone volume control which is different from iPhone controls. I haven't seen anybody else making headphones with a specific Samsung volume control. These work perfectly!!! Lunashops also has HTC in their list of compatible devices, but I'm not 100% if that includes volume control as well. They offer different versions of these cables with Samsung and iPhone in-line remote/mic. Multifunction button will work with any android phone, while I confirmed volume on Samsung version to work perfectly with my Note 2. Furthermore, you also get an option of straight 3.5mm plug or with 270-degree angle which I found to be a lot easier to handle than a regular 90-degree angled connector.

    The cable itself is very easy to bend and it has a nice soft rubbery protective cable jacket. In-line remote/mic had a solid durable plastic construction, and so does the y-splitter. The piece with SMB connector is clear plastic with something that almost looks like a little bit of cloudy glue residue. But despite its look, the workmanship is very good and clean. I do have to question the decision to use red cable with white plastic connector tips. In my opinion it would have been better to use a neutral black color instead since for example UE900 is blue while Shure headphones vary in colors between black, clear, and other choices. But from a functional perspective - these are just PERFECT!!! Of course, the most important test is the sound quality. I have done a lot of a/b comparison between original cables and these replacement cables and found them to sound identical to my ears. As a matter of fact, the sound actually improved. Now with wire up I get a much better fitment and seal which improves the bass response significantly. Even so I'm not a big fan of over the ear wires, these are a real pleasure to use due to soft nature of the cable which effortlessly goes behind your ears. Also now you can use UE900 with wire down, although the angled design will make them stick out a little bit. Furthermore, it also compromises a seal which means you will get less bass wearing UE900 wires down. But it's still manageable considering that now you have an option to wear it both ways. For my particular taste I will continue wear these wire-up because I value bass :)

    Overall, I consider these replacement cables to be a fantastic addition to UE900. It gives you flexibility to wear headphones wire up or down, provides a much better fitment/seal with wire up which improves bass response, and gives you ability to control volume up/down if you have Galaxy smartphone. For $20 plus change - this is no brainer! My only comment is that I wish this cable would come in neutral back color. Otherwise, it's perfect!

    Here are the pictures.

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  6. twister6

    twister6 Guides Guide

    As much as I was excited about my UE900 replacement cables with Samsung in-line remote/mic AND volume controls (
    USD$22.00 - 1.2m Handmade Cable + Remote For Shure se535 se846 ue900 earphone headset Iphone/Samsung - lunashops online shop), I felt that red color of the cable wasn't as appropriate for these blue color earbuds. After discussing this with lunashops.com, they mentioned about being able to make the same cable in black. So for anybody interested, go ahead and contact them with a request for the same cable as I mentioned in my original review above but in black color.

    It has the same excellent built quality, flexible cable to go over ear, 270-degree gold plated 3.5mm connector, and in-line remote with mic that has multifunction button for play/pause/call, double/triple click transport control, long press Google Now, and volume up/down adjustment for Galaxy phones.

    Here are the pictures.

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  7. twister6

    twister6 Guides Guide

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