TouchMyApps » Ultimate Ears http://www.touchmyapps.com All Things iPhone and iPad for those who like to Touch. iOS App reviews, News, New Apps, Price Drops and App Gone Free Wed, 27 Aug 2014 20:51:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.4 Ultimate Ears 700 Earphones in Review – “Bling Bling” Jube Jubes http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/06/29/ultimate-ears-700-earphones-in-review-bling-bling-jube-jubes/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/06/29/ultimate-ears-700-earphones-in-review-bling-bling-jube-jubes/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2009 17:26:06 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=14476 Introduction After Jays released its dual micro balanced armature Q-Jays at $180 in late 2007, there was a big party. For the next few months everyone raved on and on about their unique design and sweet, neutral sound signature. About a year later, and in response to the Q-jays, Ultimate Ears released the UE700 that … Read more]]>

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Introduction
After Jays released its dual micro balanced armature Q-Jays at $180 in late 2007, there was a big party. For the next few months everyone raved on and on about their unique design and sweet, neutral sound signature. About a year later, and in response to the Q-jays, Ultimate Ears released the UE700 that house, you’ve guessed it right … dual micro balanced armature drivers. The bottle shaped plastic UE phones come at a $50 premium to the q-Jays at $229.99, but how do they stack up the the cheaper Swedish earphones?

When Ultimate Ears generously sent a UE700 demo unit, we were gripping the edge of our chairs in anticipation. The earphones arrived in a simple square retail box with a clear facing window – it was a beautiful moment. Without waiting a second, it was business time with these “bling bling” jewels.

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Specifications
Variation: Silver with Red and Blue Accents only
Transducer: Dual Micro Balanced Armatures
Impedance: 40ohm (@1kHz)
Frequency Range: 10Hz-16.5kHz
Sensitivity (1mW): 113dB SPL/mW
Weight: 11.6 grams
Cord Style: Y-cord
Mini Jack Style: Gold plated Straight (First Gen iPhone Adaptable, and tested individually)

Accessories
I was rather disappointed, however, after opening the box looking for the “Ear Jube Jubes”. Inside was pretty spare – two Sets of Comply Foam sleeves, four sets of soft silicone sleeves, an Airline Attenuator for reducing loud bursts volume and a cheap-looking plastic case. The competing Q-Jays tramples the Ultimate Ears 700 in this category – complete with seven pairs of silicone sleeves, two pairs of foam sleeves, two extension cables, four pairs of filters, along with a leather carrying case. In the end, if you are someone that usually has problems finding a perfect fit because of sleeve sizes, the Ultimate Ears jewels may not be suited for you.

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Fit
I am one of the lucky ones – usually never experiencing fit issues with universal in-ear monitors and earphones – the UE700 fits me spectacularly. However, I have found each earbud so small, that they tend to fit better with the smallest sleeve that goes deep in the ear. This way, the fit is better, they will not fall out, and provide a clearer, more accurate sound. The medium silicon piece fits me well, and when I say well, I mean well as in the sense of going deaf. Isolation on these isn’t shy of 30dB. In other words, trains and bus stations sound like exam halls; even lawnmowers are hushed in likeness to bees collecting pollen.

The UE700 are one of the most comfortable earphones I have tried, whether over the ear or straight down and using both the Comply sleeves or the silicon pieces. After ten to fifteen minutes, you stop realizing you’ve got earphones in your ears and they begin to feel like a part of your body. Even when you are walking, hiking, running, biking or go-carting with them on (I really wouldn’t recommend swimming with these), the UE700s are still as comfortable as when you are still.

The only problem I found when running and biking to work is that their non-braided cable is “bouncy” – they get hooked on my hands, etc., but they hardly emitted any microphonics at all. These, like the Q-Jays also don’t hiss too much, but you will notice the rushing sound like a whisper in your ear with noisy sources.

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Audio
If you are coming to high-end earphones from iPod earbuds, then you may not appreciate these as well as you could if you have other hi-end gear. Owners of other hi-end earphones, however, who are looking for something that is small, portable and lively, have just hit earphone central.

During this review, I focused on several of of my favorite songs that I truly think a headphone or earphone needs to perform well on in order to receive praise. First, “When You Believe” By Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. This song tests an earphone’s ability to present deep, separated and smooth bass while clearly describing high and high mid frequencies. “Whenever you call” by Mariah Carey and Brian McKnight is an excellent test revealing a headphone’s soundstaging character, emotion and the lushness of mid frequencies. Last but not least, “When you were young” by the Killers stresses the low frequencies which need power, speed, and depth in order to sound good. I believe that this combination really covers everything important. Let’s get testing shall we?!

Highs
If you are familiar with Ultimate Ears, you will know that the company has some of the most impressive high frequency performance in the Industry – and the UE700 is no exception to the rule. The inner earphone is characterized by crystal clear highs with lots of detail. Some may find them irritating as they are extremely crisp and sometimes even a little sibilant. Even when compared to the king of high-frequencies, Etymotic’s ER4, the UE700’s are not far behind for clarity and detail. When listening to “Whenever you Call”, high notes sung by Mariah are no less then extraordinary with the Ultimate Ears 700. They reached the pinnacles of her song without distortion and deliver her music and her calibre of performance perfectly to the listener. Just great.

Mids
Overpowered, why? The Ultimate Ears 700’s mid presentation is definitely not disappointing. Smooth, gentle and buttery, mids are characterised by decent detail and excellent manners. However, because the high frequency band on the Ultimate Ears 700 is so forward and powerful, the mid frequency tends to be overpowered so that you lose a sense of vocal and instrumental emotion which is especially evident in “When You Believe”. When comparing these to the Shure SE420 and the Q-Jays, both competing models are above and beyond the Ultimate Ears 700 mids by a couple of leagues.

Lows
Ahhhh, finally the most popular frequency band. Looking at reviews of Earphones, where most comments reflect in unison, “There’s no bass!” gets me to think why is it the most popular frequency band and why many won’t listen to music without it. The low band gets your foot tapping – that has to be it. Ultimate Ears 700 is definitely quick enough, punchy enough, and low enough for “When You Were Young”, however, they lack power. When directly comparing to the q-Jays, or Earsonics Sm2 which are both dual driver configuration, the UE700 is blown away. If you are someone who likes to be enveloped in low frequencies (the so-called bass), you may want to stay away from these.

Soundstage
Soundstage is the accuracy of a speaker system or monitor to produce the size, shape, location, and depth of a specific sound in the recording. The UE700 is a tad on the small side. While not disappointing and much wider than stock Earbuds or low-End Earphones, I was expecting more from an earphone that costs $50 more than the similarly staged Q-Jays. The Earsonics SM2 on the other hand, really puts you in the centre of a live performance where you hear every instrument clearly. The UE700 gives you a very good stereo sound and feel, but won’t envelop you in the music.

When comparing sound quality to the competing q-Jays, the Ultimate Ears 700 presents a more detailed, clear high, with a faster low-end – wrapped up in a wider soundstage. The q-Jays, on the other hand, better the Ultimate Ears 700 in mid frequency band and add a more powerful punch to the low end.

Quality
The Ultimate Ears 700’s are one of the best-built plastic earphones that I have come across. The molding and gluing of the earpieces are smooth, and bind together tightly. Ultimate Ears use hard, dense acrylic that is almost as solid feeling as the Q-Jays’ polycarbonate. Its cable is very well made, but again the Jays’ Kevlar cables are a step up in quality. The Cables are also connected and managed very well, so microphonic is not a problem at all – not as good as Westone’s or Earsonics’ cable design, but better than the Jays cable. Strain relief is the only down side I see as these do not have any at all; only little plastic rings that lead the cable out from the Earpiece protect the cable. However, I understand that it is quite difficult to make strain reliefs on earpieces that are so small, as the strain relief may come into contact with the wearer’s ear and could cause discomfort.

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Conclusion
Overall, the UE700’s are earphones endowed with a great listening experience. Music is lively and “fun”, just not as neutral and balanced as the Q-Jays. What they provide is a dynamic listening experience which many look for. However there is a big problem that you have probably guessed: the competing Q-Jays. Jays offers the same comfort, same isolation, better build material, three times the accessories, and 95% of the 700’s sound, with a two-year warranty instead of one. What’s more, you have to pay $50 more for the UE 700. So in the end, it is easy to conclude that the Q-Jays are a better price/performance purchase. However, if the Ultimate Ears 700 price ever reaches down to the same level, it might be better to grab at the Ultimate Ears 700 for its slight edge in sound quality over the Q-Jays’ package.

The UE700 are very definitely good IEMs, but not good enough to be Grab.
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App Summary
Title: Ultimate Ears 700 Developer: Ultimate Ears
Price: $229.99
  • Great “jube jube” looks
  • Non-microphonic cable
  • Good detail-resolving sound
  • Comfortable
  • Extraordinary high band frequency
  • Not as robust as Q-Jays
  • $50 surplus in comparison to the Jays phones
  • Could be more solidly constructed, e.g., stress relief and housing quality.
  • Needs more accessories

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Ultimate Ears MetroFi 220vi Review – Sleek, shiny and mic’d for your iPhone! http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/06/26/ultimate-ears-220vi-review-sleek-shiny-and-micd-for-your-iphone/ http://www.touchmyapps.com/2009/06/26/ultimate-ears-220vi-review-sleek-shiny-and-micd-for-your-iphone/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2009 15:11:28 +0000 http://www.touchmyapps.com/?p=14355 Ultimate Ears are one of the most influential custom earphone company’s out there, catering to bands like the Killers, Billy Idol, Van Halen, Metallica and John Mayer among many others. Frankly put, they are masters of the high-end domain. But like all high-end companies, Ultimate Ears also produce consumer-oriented gear that compares well with the … Read more]]>

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Ultimate Ears are one of the most influential custom earphone company’s out there, catering to bands like the Killers, Billy Idol, Van Halen, Metallica and John Mayer among many others. Frankly put, they are masters of the high-end domain.

But like all high-end companies, Ultimate Ears also produce consumer-oriented gear that compares well with the market in terms of price and performance. We will be looking at several of the iconic company’s products in the next few months, but today, the MetroFi 220vi will sit in the hot seat.

The Metro Fi series is characterised by good looks and solid engineering. The 220 has a special titanium coated speaker diaphragm which is purported to enhance your music’s mid and high range. Our job is to see if its marketing matches its performance. Of note, the 220vi, like its less expensive sibling, the 170vi, sports a microphone and four-pole jack for use on mobile phones like Apple’s iPhone 2G, 3G and 3GS. It also works with the likes of the iPod touch 2G.

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Specifications:
Earphone type: In-ear
Speaker type: Single, high performance, propriety, dynamic speaker
Input sensitivity: 103 dB SPL/mW at 1 kHz
Impedance: 18 ohms at 1 kHz
Cable length: 116.8 cm
Weight: 14.4 grams
Input connector: 3.5 mm gold plated
Frequency response: 20 Hz — 20 kHz
Noise isolation: 16 dB

Package Contents
Alas, for the somewhat pricey MSRP of 99.99$, the MetroFi 220vi come with nothing more than a hard plastic case, the earphones, and 3 silicon flanges. This is in stark contrast to Nuforce’s NE7M or even Zagg’s Z-buds, both of which stocked their packages with goodies and for less money.

Unfortunately, if you don’t get on well with the small, medium and large sized flanges, you are going to have to look elsewhere for comfortable sleeves. I found them problematic only with extended listening of probably over 30 minutes where my inner ear began to ache. Fortunately, I have many sleeves at my disposal and found the longer flanges of Yuin’s RE2 (review forthcoming) to work best as the sound tube of the 220vi is quite long which makes the use of short flanges somewhat difficult.

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All is not lost, however, as the ‘liquid silver’ outer housing is stylish, catching good light vibes and with clean lines that encompass both the cable and its remote and mic, make for a very stylish earphone. In fact, while the Q-Jays are stylishly adorned with rubber and shiny plastic bits, the UE model outdoes its Swedish competitor in preserving a moderate, yet chic design.

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Cable
Another surprise that Ultimate Ear have thrown into the mix is a very stiff cable. While it looks and feels nice, it is simply too energetic and transfers excess of noise to the ear. In fact, I would say even more energetic than the Monster Turbine cable. Fortunately, it does not tangle at all – in fact I have tried tossing the 220vi in pockets, crumpling it in my hands and rolling it around in hopes that it might snag on something. Nothing. Nada.

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So, while it loses points for energy (and ultimately, touch-noise), the 220’s cable is when out and about in situations where you might just toss it in your purse or pocket. However, Ultimate Ears cheaped out concerning joint and stress reliefs. There simply are none anywhere. The jack has a small rubber sleeve, but neither the Y-split or the mic (two points that are apt to be stretched) have any moulded rubber sleeve support. The units housing too is secured as haphazardly as the Jays Q-Jay is which could spell trouble after extended use.

That said, the cable’s length is just about right at 116 centimetres and broken up in three places: 15cm below the right housing, again at the Y-split and finally a little lower, where the remote control button rests. Pocketing your DAP is no problem whilst listening to the 220vi.

But, due to the touchy microphonics of Ultimate Ears’ product, walking, moving, hand motions – everything will cause the cable to emit thudding sounds in your ears, but it is not nearly as bad as Zagg’s Z-buds.

The remote is relatively easy to use and the microphone sound quality is excellent with clearly rendered voices and not too much inclusion of background sound. Finally, you can use these either over-the-ear or earbud-style.

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Onto the Music!
I’ve changed my music this time around, opting rather for the usual trance, but adding into the mix some Nick Cave and Yelle. MC Solaar remains my benchmark for hip/hop and Feist will join the mix.

Nick Cave – The Boatman’s Call
While still a dark Cave album, the Boatman’s Call is wrought with soul and some very keen melodies that sing out in songs like Into My Arms, There is a Kingdom and People Ain’t No good.

Yelle – Pop Up
Yelle is everything to all people – maybe. She is a pop musician, but has her hand well in rock and speedy electronic music. Ce Ju and Les Femmes hit with hard bass, but are well controlled songs with a great focus on vocal energy.

MC Solaar – Mach 6
Mach 6 is simply phenomenal. Pop, hip hop and great, great bass. MC Solaar’s voice is silky and yet quick which sound great with hardware that can do male vocals well. La vie est belle and Introspection remain my benchmarks for hip/hop. Introspection has some of the deepest bass lines in its introduction and La vie est belle is fast, featuring great electronic instruments, male and female vocals.

Bass
the 220vi is a performer in the lower end of the spectrum. Its titanium coated driver produces prodigious bass, both in depth and resolution. This is where the price of 89$ does not look so bad. The Nuforce NE7M may be a benchmark for low-cost earphones, but the 220vi smashes them in every category. Bass can be boomy (evident in Solaar’s Hijo de Africa), but it simply rumbles where the music needs rumbling.

Markus Schulz’ Mainstage was stunning, vibrating unlike any other phone in my current possesion (my dad stole my Turbines) while Nick Cave’s Boatman’s Call was appropriately moody, but not as smooth as I had expected. While I consider the bass of these sub 100$ earphones to be among the best I have heard in the price range, it can at times, boom, but not excessively so.

Fans of very fast bass-driven music may find these a tad too hot, but they stand up well for electronic, hip/hop, jazz, classical and pop.

Mids and Treble
While bass is the 220vi’s mainstay as a headphone, mids and highs are done quite well. Though not a ‘detailed’ i.e., treble-spiked earphone it has a good sizzle up top with decent instrument separation and placement. Fans of symbols and high hats will like these, but will probably wish for a bit more sparkle.

Similarly, mids are decent, but subdued. In particular, female vocals, ala Yelle and Madeleine Peyroux seem dry and in some cases, short on emotion and feel. It is not altogether a bad thing however as electronic music sounds great.

MC Solaar’s bass is a wonderful showstopper, but vocals on the 220vi congeal well enough for a good listen. While not impressed by female vocals at all, Nick Cave’s ballads were powerful and the dark edge that comes through the earphone lent a sombreness that some other headphones lose.

Soundstage
Remarkably, the 220vi are an interesting mix of performance and maturity with regard to both separation of instruments and their placement around your head. Nothing like Sleeks bone-conducting customs, these earphones have a compact stage that is neither very wide nor very long to the front or the back. However, placement is great. The 220vi don’t litter your head with indiscernible globs of sound. Rather, a piano is well separated from the drums and the bass. These don’t perform like armature phones, but they bring a maturity to presenting instruments that is altogether pleasing and for the price, a nice surprise.

Isolation
We have until now, reviewed inner earphones whose intrinsic ability to block external noise is often second to none. Dynamic phones like the 220vi and Sennheiser’s IE8, however, rely on an open port to help passive bass amplification. This open port makes the UE phone perform less well when compared to its rivals, but by no means is it a slouch. In fact, the open port, in allowing for better bass, has made a great trade off for isolation. You will hear the hubbub of people around you: conversation, shopping noises and lots of other distractions, but it will all be slightly muffled. Ultimate Ears rate the 220vi for 16db of isolation which is enough to allow you to focus on your music, but you will never forget your surroundings.

You may also notice some hiss from your player (assuming you don’t own an iPhone 3G or iPod touch 2G), but not too much. With a sensitivity of 103db, your player will have to be pretty archaic to really bother your music.

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Conclusion
Am I happy with the Ultimate Ears 220vi? For the most part, quite. They are well-designed, good sounding earphones that have a great mic and remote nub. With little hiss to bother the listener and some good old-fashioned isolation to muffle the geezer beside you, this 99$ product is great. But, for a 99$ middle-level product, there should really be a better selection of accessories, attempts at strain relief and a cable that doesn’t sound like a drum set.

Had these been priced about 20-30$ lower, I could overlook these failings, but 99$ is a lot to ask for a product that lacks a few decent additions for a customer’s comfort. I would like to grab these, but in good conscience, I cannot. Therefore, the 220vi from Ultimate Ears gets Tapped from TouchMyApps.

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App Summary
Title: Ultimate Ears 220vi Developer: Ultimate Ears
Price: $99.99
  • Great Looks
  • Good Mic
  • Small and chic
  • Great Bass performance
  • Decent mids and highs
  • No stress relief
  • Microphonic!
  • Poor fit kit
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Please also take a look at our Headphone section or, if you want to read our other inner earphone reviews, check below:
Westone’s UM3X Review – Q-Jays in Review — Sleek Audio’s CT6 Custom Earphones in Review — Phonak Audeo PFE 112 Inner Earphones and 121 Mobile Phone Compatible Earphones in ReviewNuforce NE7M Mobile Phone Compatible Inner Earphones in Review — Zagg Z-Buds Mobile Phone Compatible Earphones in Review — Monster Turbine Inner Earphones in Review
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