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UE 900s In-Ear Headphones

The look of the UE In-Ear Headphones
The look of the UE In-Ear Headphones
Kurt von Behrmann

Ultimate Ears 900s

The Ultimate Ears 900s

Are these the Ultimate In-Ear Heaphones

Most users, it is fair to assume, content themselves with the earbuds included with their various products. The reality of in-ear headphones is that they are not created equal. If all you know are standard issue ones, then you are in for a huge surprise.

Ultimate ears, known as a leader in professional IEM’s (In-Ear Monitors), they have created a model that is more accessible to a larger audience. For users seeking quality, but not necessarily the large price pointes associated with custom built in-ear headphones, Ultimate Ears 900s could be considered an entry into the highest echelon.

While $ 399.99 is not exactly a small figure by any estimation, it isn’t in the four figures that custom built professional IEMs can command. Clearly the audience here is for audio enthusiasts who want a very high quality level product, but may not be too comfortable for the stratospheric price points.

Inevitably the question has to come up, and that is “Are the 900s really worth the price of admission?” The answer depends on how important detail in sound matters to you. Another issue to address is time. If you happen to loose earbuds, then this is probably not for you. If on the other hand you want to invest in a device that will last, this is something to consider.

A big advantage with the 900s is that it comes packed with accessories. Lower cost headphones may not include the “bonus” extras. Including these additions can certainly extend life expectancy.

The first thing to go are wires. Ultimate Ears has included two detachable ones. One simply connects to your device and the other has mic and volume for phone calls. Of note, the remote and mic are supported only by iPod nano® (4th generation or later), iPod classic® (120 GB, 160 GB), iPod touch® (2nd generation or later), iPhone 3GS® or later, and iPad®.

In order to achieve the best possible sound, a good fit is essential. If you fail on this point, you are dealing with deterioration in quality, and guaranteed discomfort. To ensure the best possible fit, there are 36 ear cushions included. Six are memory foam and the remainder silicon.

Fit is essential. Where the 900s differentiates itself from other headphones is how it fits the ear. There is a stiff wire that goes around the ear. Placing them requires a little bit of effort. After a while it becomes less cumbersome. The advantage of this configuration is that you avoid the earbuds from falling out of your ear.

The bottom line is always sonic quality. In this area, the 900s is a high achiever. One expects quality at this price point, and it does come through with the goods. Base tones are handled with grace and the upper register is very clear. Detail is well served. There are no muddled sounds or distortion. For those familiar with lesser quality devices, these in-ear headphones will be nothing short of a revelation.

I think it is a safe assumption to say that most people settle for the earbuds included with their devices, like mp3 players, smartphones and the like. It can also be assumed that most users would not consider earbuds as a big ticket items. For serious audiophiles and professional musicians IEM’s (In-Ear Monitors) are something to be taken seriously.

Geared to a market where price is not an obstacle to quality, there is a demand for IEM’s that reach into some rather high price points. If you look at the Ultimate Ears Professional Web Site, you get a very clear idea of just how high end earbuds can be, and who their better known customers are. Ultimate Ears has an established presence in the industry and a solid reputation that comes with having that kind of customer base.

For those of us who cannot afford the luxury price of custom built IEM’s, Ultimate Ears has found a way to make what was inaccessible to most of us a bit more accessible. Their answer comes in the form of the Ultimate Ears 900s noise isolating earphones.

In contrast to the upper echelons of earbuds, the price points on the U.E. 900s appear reasonable. At $ 399.99, they are not exactly inexpensive. However, for a segment of the market, they are within reason.

For a good number of people, no matter how you look at it, $ 399.99 is a serious investment in earbuds. Once the question of price is raised, the next question that swiftly comes to mind is value. Are these earbuds worth it? Am I getting a great value and superior sound, or just an expensive accessory?

The big selling point here is audio quality and durability. Inexpensive bargain basement earbuds are not going to give you excellent sound. They are also susceptible to premature death due to faulty wires. Comfort, always an issue with anything resting this close to the body, can be seriously compromised.

What the U.E. 900s bring to the table first and foremost is better sound. In this arena, it is a given that music will be faithfully reproduced. On this critical front, there are no problems.

As expected, the quality of sound here is superb. Lows are low, highs are high and there is a clarity to the sound that does not exist it lower end earbuds. No matter what style of music it was confronted with, each musical style was rendered well.

If you are used to deep lows, the U.E. 900s gracefully handle bass without over embellishment. There is power to the sound, but it is not obnoxious. Voices, tones, sonic detail that are missed by less sensitive systems are front and center.

Obviously the 900s is designed for a more demanding listener who wants a superlative sound, but without the greater cost of customization. There are certainly audiophiles for whom $ 399.99 is not an issue. What you get when you purchase in-ear headphones from the same makers that well known professional musicians use is greater sound fidelity and accessories that extend the life of the product. Another plus here is a comfortable fit and a highly elevated experience. If you are looking for a high end in-ear headphones and are looking for a device that will endure, Ultimate Ears has produced a winner.

What Comes With The UE 900s

1. Ultimate Ears 900 IEM
2. 36 ear cushions
3. Two Cables, one with mic and controls, the other without.
4. Maintenance Gel
5. A carrying case
6. User Documentation
7. Jewel Case Container for all of the assorted elements

Technical Specifications
• DRIVER TYPE:4 proprietary precision balanced armatures
• IMPEDANCE:30 ohms, 1 kHz
• SENSITIVITY:101.2 dB (50mW, 1 kHz)
• CONNECTION:3.5 mm (1/8 inch) gold plated
• CABLE LENGTHS:48 inch (121.9 cm)

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