Ultimate Ears 900s In Ear Monitor Review – Features 4 Balanced Armature Drivers
When it comes to in ear headphones or earphones, many people would assume that they sound more or less the same. Most people are even satisfied with a stock iPhone earphone. But when you start to appreciate sound quality and start to venture or look for an even better sounding pair of earphones, you will be introduced to a vast array of selections ranging from different brand, design, style, sound quality and price. The truth is, these In Ear Monitor headphones are not made a like, and they are tuned differently and doesn’t produce the same sound signature (most of the time). Today we are going to take a look at and review the Logitech UE 900s IEM (In-Ear Monitor) by Ultimate Ears – a reputable and popular company and maker of high end custom In Ear Monitors used by most of the world’s top touring musicians. The UE 900s is the latest model which first became available sometime in Q2 of 2014. I’m not really sure if there is a difference between the older UE 900 with the new UE 900s when it comes to sound quality, but as far as packaging is concern the UE 900s do come with a newer and better packaging. However confusing it may seem, the older UE 900 do look very similar with the newer UE 900s. Before I proceed with the review, I’d like to thank Logitech Ultimate Ears for providing the sample for the purpose of this review. Anyway, without further delay let’s take a look on the Logitech UE 900s in my review below.
Ultimate Ears 900s Features and Specifications
The Logitech UE 900s is a universal fit In-Ear Monitor headphone featuring Quad BA drivers, or four Balanced Armature drivers. It has one dedicated driver for the high frequency, one for the mids, and two for the lows. It features a 3-way cross over that separates out distinct channels, and a dual bore design that keep the highs, mids and lows phase aligned.
According to the company, the new UE 900s is a great pair of IEM whether this is your first in-ear monitor and just starting your journey to custom IEMs, or you just need a reliable back-up unit. Like I said earlier, the new UE 900s features a new packaging and somehow has a new body design. Below is a comparison of the new UE 900s vs UE 900 IEM.
The one on top is the new UE 900s, while the bottom picture is the old UE 900.
Please refer to the photos below for the new packaging of the UE 900s.
Logitech UE 900s IEM Specifications:
Input sensitivity: 101.2 dB @ 1 kHz, 50mW
Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Noise Isolation: -26 decibels of ambient stage noise.
Impedance: 30 Ohms @ 1kHz
Internal speaker configuration: 4 proprietary balanced armatures with a 3-way crossover
Input connector: 1/8” headphone jack into any personal monitoring system.
Warranty: 1 Year
Now let’s take a closer look on the new UE 900s and find out how’s the sound quality with this IEM.
Packaging and Closer Look
The Logitech UE 900s comes in a nice clean white box. Some of its features and specifications are printed on the box. There isn’t much to see on the external facade of the box but once I pulled out the inner black box, that’s when the excitement begun.
Inside is another black box with a blue pull tab. Lifting the first layer of cover, you will be greeted with a white parchment paper with the logo of the UE (Ultimate Ears) printed on it. Beneath that parchment paper are a number of different ear tips that comes in various sizes. On the right side is the UE 900s with the stock blue cable attached by default.
I really like the packaging of the UE 900s, it’s very organized and the unboxing experience was great. Every ear tips are arranged according to size, plus they are also color coded according to size. But that’s not all, there is another compartment beneath the UE 900s which houses more accessories. I found more ear tips and these are extra pair you see from the first layer. There’s also a DeoxIT Cleaner and Enhancer for cleaning and lubricating the MMCX connector.
See those tabs where the ear tips are initially attached? You can test what size of ear tip that fits your ear well without installing them on the IEM. After you find a match, simply remove them from the tab then install it on the UE 900s. Also included in the package are some reading materials, a pouch, a carrying case and an extra black cable with no mic or controls.
It’s blue and almost everything is blue! The shell of the UE 900s is made out of translucent plastic material. You can see the four drivers depending on which angle you look at it. The blue cable has a mic and one touch control button. But I didn’t need the mic and control so I used the black cable instead. Notice the red circle on the connector? That indicates right channel and it’s for the right ear. The cable goes over your ear and you can mold it according to your comfort. Another thing is that since it is using an MMCX type of connector, the shell can literally be swiveled of rotated. I’m not sure if this is useful or not, but I find it somewhat annoying actually.
Here we have the UE 900s IEM without the cable or ear tips. You can see the MMCX socket and the dual bore design from these angles. Actually the second hole is very small, almost unnoticeable compared to the larger chamber.
It has a plain black glossy faceplate with the UE logo on it. The entire shell was somewhat small for my ears and I wasn’t really impressed with the design or look of the shell. For me it lacks that feeling of premium-ness that I was expecting from Ultimate Ears. Probably I was expecting more since their custom IEMs looks so beautiful! Below is how the UE 900s will look like when you wear it.
The shell of the UE 900s isn’t that large or small as well. I think it would fit just fine with most types of ears, regardless of size or shape. One thing to remember about universal fit, it is very important that you use the right size of ear tip with the IEM. It should be the ear tip that gives you a good seal and fit. Otherwise, it may greatly affect the sound quality or your experience when listening with the UE 900s. Some would complain that it lacks bass or it sounded muffled. That’s primarily because they didn’t have a good fit and seal. So be sure to use the one that fits you best.
Testing and Sound Quality
The Logitech UE 900s has been with me for quite some time now. I have been using it for more than a couple of months already. I use it together with the Hidizs AP100 or with the HiFiMAN HM-700. I also tried using it with an iPhone 5 and sometimes with my desktop PC as I test various DAC/AMPs like the iFi Nano iDSD, Arcam rPAC, Sound Blaster E5 and iFi Micro iDSD.
When I first used the UE 900s, I wasn’t quite sure if I was hearing the right sound since I was used to the sound signature of the Audio Technica ATH-IM02 and Heir Audio 3.Ai S. So what I did on the first few days of using the UE 900s was test all the ear tips to find out which was the most comfortable for me to wear and which size of ear tips gave the best sound quality. Finally I settled with the 13.5mm ear tips and sometimes I use the 14.5mm ear tips.
For me, the UE 900s has a lush and detailed bass section. This is definitely thanks to the two dedicated balanced armature that are configured for the sub and low frequency. The bass is not too boomy, nor has a powerful punch. But it’s warm enough for you to enjoy the sound of bass from the music and gives you that smooth and round feeling. Compared to the ATH-IM02 and 3. Ai S, the UE 900s has a fuller and richer bass. However, I think the Alclair Curve has a stronger and fuller bass presence.
As for the mid section, the UE 900s has this kind of sound where vocals becomes engaging and lovely. It’s still detailed and clair, however I do feel that it is somewhat laid back or veiled. The high section also lacks extension and refinement. It didn’t have that kind of brightness I was able to hear with the Heir Audio 3.Ai S. But the good thing about this is that it is not sibilant. I didn’t encounter any amount of harsh or sharp tone when listening with the UE 900s. I didn’t enjoy Metallica with the 3.Ai s since the TSS and TZZ sound sounds harsh for my ears. I think the highs are controlled to the point that it has become friendly for most ears.
The UE 900s has a good amount of sound staging as well. When I listen to some classical music like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or Bach’s Air, it was a lovely and intimate experience. Every detail was just there and it sound complete. The closer instruments sound nearer, while the instruments from behind sound farther. When it comes to clarity, as expected from a BA-driven IEM, it produced a very clear and balanced sound. It didn’t sound muddy or grainy at all.
Now the fun doesn’t end there. You might be wondering why the UE 900s in my photo has a different cable. That’s actually an upgrade cable from Estron called the Linum BaX MMCX. It’s a very thin and ultra-lightweight, not to mention a very discrete cable. But not only did it make the UE 900s more comfortable to wear, the sound that it produced, for me, was better compared to the stock cables. It somehow enhanced its sound quality and has taken it a step higher. I know the Linum BaX is not the best sounding cable and there are other cables that may enhance or improve the sound quality of the UE 900s. But that’s what I have right now.
Price and Availability
The Logitech Ultimate Ears 900s is available right now. It has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $399 USD and you can order one from Ultimate Ear’s site or from a third party retailer on Amazon. Some retailers are selling the UE 900s for as low as $367 USD or you might be lucky and spot a really good deal. It also comes with a 1 year warranty.
Ultimate Ears 900s Review: Conclusion
Its conclusion time, and honestly every time I use the UE 900s, it didn’t disappoint me at all. I am actually impressed with its sound quality and I was pleased to find out that I can safely use the UE 900s while traversing from one genre to another. For those who are just starting with IEMs with Balanced Armature drivers, you might find the $367-$399 price tag a bit too much. Honestly the price is already competitive compared to others. Dual BAs are usually priced somewhere in the $200 price tag, and Triple BAs are already around $300. In fact there are universal IEMs with Quad BAs that are priced higher than $400 USD.
When it comes to sound quality, the UE 900s produced a well-balanced and clean sound. The lows, mids and highs are balanced and doesn’t overlap each other. It’s generally fun to listen with and the experience is just engaging and immersive. If you have skipped to the conclusion part, you’ll have to read back for more details regarding its sound quality.
If there’s a thing that I didn’t like about the UE 900s, that would be its shell or housing. It’s not really a big deal for me, but I felt that it lacks the premium-ness or wow-factor I was expecting from Ultimate Ears. That’s probably because their custom IEMs looks so fantastic.
Overall, the Logitech UE 900s is a great pair of In-Ear Monitor headphone, and if you are serious about music and would want to put your audio experience to the next level, the UE 900s is a good place to start. It’s hard not to recommend such a great IEM, and for this I gave it The PC Enthusiast’s Highly Recommended award.