Ultimate Ears deliver on how music is meant to be heard

Do you remember the time you heard the quality of audio coming from a digital music CD and realized how much better it was over analog cassettes and phonograph records? I do. It was when I first bought a portable CD player in 1986 and installed it as an add-on in my car. I recall playing the first CD I ever bought or ever heard, it was from the rock band Whitesnake. The song was Here I Go Again, and the dynamic range and crystal clear sound blew me away. It only took me a minute to realize that I was going to want to convert my most of my collection of about 100 music cassettes to CD. At that time, many people who started listening to CDs realized they could not enjoy music that was not on CD format since they were spoiled with the superb quality of digital music.
Do you remember when you first saw a demo of a high definition TV playing a movie or HDTV program? I do. It was in a Good Guys store a few years ago walking by the TV department. I was stunned. The video playing was some kind of nature type documentary and it looked so like a window into reality rather than a TV. Most people who own an HDTV today would not even consider going back to a regular resolution TV and often question how others can go without HDTV. I recall my parents telling me stories of how they and others saw a color TV for the first time after only watching a black and white TV growing up.
I am a big fan of a wide variety of music as well as a big fan of movies. I have a large collection of music CDs and movie DVDs. I probably listen to music more hours per week than I do watching TV and movies. So music quality is important to me, and I've got a nice 10 year old Bose stereo setup both at work as well as a 10 year old Bose speaker setup at home in surround sound. For both work, travel, and general mobility, I have tried many different headsets and earphones with my music devices. I've owned the MDR-NC11 noise canceling earbud headphones ($150 retail), the Bose QuietComfort noise canceling headphones ($300) which are very good, and I've tried many others. But for me today, those headphone/earphone technologies are black and white and non high definition, so to speak.
Recently I experienced something new in technology that most people have not had the opportunity to even know about. The most perfect sounding earphones on the planet. Just as what digital did for music and what HDTV did for video, I can now hear and enjoy sounds of audio far beyond anything I've ever experienced before.
Nearly the entire professional music industry already knows about the
Ultimate Ears custom personal monitors. Check out just some of the professional music artists using Ultimate Ears. There is a common saying "you get what you pay for". In the case of Ultimate Ears, I would say it is a discount because based on years of experience with high end headphones and earphones, I've concluded that the Ultimate Ears are a multiple factor better than other headsets I've used.
I first started using the model UE-5c monitors ($550) last November. I took them on my trips to Europe and Australia. When I was on a plane or train I could not hear the engine or any external noise at all. I could only hear crystal clear audio that you would only normally hear being live in the studio or at the event during the actual recording. I recently upgraded to the high end UC-10 monitors that professional musicians use, and I can say they are at least twice as good as the UC-5c models. The UE-5c model is designed for consumers and great for portable media devices, just fine for most people to experience pure bliss listening to music like never before. The UC-10 monitors allow you to experience pure bliss, nirvana, paradise, and ecstasy all at once.
Today I was wearing my UC-10 monitors listening to a range of music from my favorite rock band the Scorpions to Fleetwood Mac's greatest hits to Beethoven's 9th Symphony to John Williams' theme for Star Wars. I heard sounds and detail that I've never heard before in that music. The sound with Ultimate Ears is so pure and so 3D in your head it is beyond words can describe. When I fly while traveling, I cannot hear people talking or any baby crying even in the row next to me wearing the Ultimate Ears, not even a tiny bit of the airplane engine. There is no better way to enjoy tuning out external noise enjoying your own world when needed.
How it works is that you get custom silicon molds made of your ears as if you were getting hearing aids for both ears. You send those molds to Ultimate Ears in California and they hand craft a pair of ear monitors that perfectly fit your ear. They act as a natural ear plug blocking out all sound. There is no noise reduction electronics at all, so the audio throughput is pure and natural. It costs about $40 to have your ears molded and takes about 15 minutes, totally painless. I had my ear impressions done at a place called Hear USA
(map) in Bellevue, WA near the main Microsoft campus in Redmond. The Ultimate Ears web site has detailed information on getting ear impressions.
Ultimate Ears recently released a new lower end
super.fi product line ($200-$250) of non-custom earphones that are designed for consumers as ready to go (no custom ear impressions). The list of retailers for super.fi earphones has just started and I was told it will be growing soon with new resellers. The super.fi earphones will not meet up to the highest end audio quality found with the Ultimate Ears custom molded, but they use the same basic electronics and we should be hearing more about their super.fi product line for general consumer use.
There are many
great press reviews on the Ultimate Ears custom molded monitors listed on their web site. I've never read a review that included Ultimate Ears against other headphones with Ultimate Ears not coming out on top as the best. Outside Online has a great recent summary with some information that compares the UE-5c model with the UE-10 model. There is also a good recent UC-5c review in Forbes magazine. People who use Ultimate Ears live by them like no other audio headset, as seen on some of the testimonials online. Ultimate Ears are not just great for music, but also for watching movies on the go with a DVD player or portable multimedia device. I've watched a few movies on a DVD player while flying using the Ultimate Ears and it is like hearing the sound system of the movie in a theater or home stereo system.
Randy Brown, who I work with at Microsoft on the VFP team, is who told me about Ultimate Ears a year ago when he ordered them. Randy read about Ultimate Ears and took a gamble at investing in a pair of model UE-5c. When he received them and described to me how they sounded, he kept raving about the audio quality. I ended up ordering a my own custom UE-5c monitors that same week. I didn't play just one song entirely when I first tried them out, but instead played short segments of many songs simply blown away at the unbelievable sound quality output in my head. Recently, Randy and I both upgraded to the highest end UE-10 models. The UE-5c model is great, but model UE-10s go to 11!
Ultimate Ears have been the best purchase of new technology that I've made since I bought my first CD and CD player in the 1980s. My enjoyment of listening to music and even my quality of life has gone up from using Ultimate Ears because of the number of hours per week I use them. I've never enjoyed listening to music more. Any music fan who has experienced using Ultimate Ears would very likely repeat my words here. Maybe over the next year I will hear from more and more people who can describe the moment in their life when they first experienced Ultimate Ears.

Comments (2)

  1. David Eckoff says:

    Ken, your review of Ultimate Ears is excellent.

    The UE-10’s are the technology product that I enjoy most. It’s great to see the passion you have for the product, we definitely have that in common.

    I’ve linked to your review from the review I recently posted to my blog.


  2. Ultimate Ears visits Microsoft June 15th, building 34/35 cafeteria Mike Dias from L.A. based Ultimate

Skip to main content