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Sound Reinforcement - Forums for Live Sound Professionals - Your Displayed Name Must Be Your Real Full Name To Post In The Live Sound Forums => SR Forum Archives => Product Reviews: Sound Reinforcement FUD Forum Archive => Topic started by: ThomasDameron on November 30, 2006, 05:58:53 pm

Title: Ultimate Ears 5 Pro [Review]
Post by: ThomasDameron on November 30, 2006, 05:58:53 pm
I’d been on the market for some decent earphones for sometime.  My use is mainly for monitor mixing for one-offs, ipod/movies off the laptop, and occasionally pretending to be a musician.  I couldn’t justify the cost of custom molds especially since it wouldn’t be the same earpiece as the band most of the time.  I believe that I’ve heard every earpiece made by Shure and none of them quite had what I was looking for in audio quality except possibly the e5, which has twice the cost of the super.fi5’s and most of the way to the cost of a custom mold.  I also had used Future Sonic generic fits a lot.  I think they sound great for what they are, but I don’t like them ergonomically (also all the guys at work had them so I had to outdo them).  I never did get to hear any of the Westone generics.  So eventually I settled on the pro 5’s, having to deign go to banjo center to get them in clear.

Way back in highschool I had a little bit of cauliflower ear from wrestling, so my ears are a little tough to fit and more sensitive than most.  The UE’s are not really any more or less comfortable than any other generic earpieces I’ve tried.  I probably have about 45 minutes of wear time before my ears get sore.  Some other earpieces have been equally comfortable, most are less, but as a reference even wearing something like Sony 7506’s I have a comparable amount of time before they start to bother me.  UE includes I think 5 different types of sleeves in various styles and sizes as well as two cool carrying cases and some neat knickknacks.  The fit and isolation is good enough that I have started using them as earplugs at shows in favor of foamies or my 15dB custom molds.  One quirk about them is that their body has an elbow in it probably about 140 degrees, and they way come, the bends come out of your ear so they end up jutting out of your ear about 90 degrees from your head.  I found out that if you reverse the left and right, the elbow actually hugs the inside of you ear nicely.  This also makes the cable more effective in holding the piece in your ear.  Fortunately the cable is detachable and reversible, so the correct stereo image can be preserved.  If that didn’t make sense you may have to see it to get it.

The sound is excellent.  The high end is a little bit hyped, but not as “zingy” and 4k-ish as e5’s.  I would say that they have more HF extension, where I would say that the e5’s have a big ramp up but then run out.  The low end is tight without being boomy.  Again, not exactly a good studio reference, but very enjoyable to listen to.  When I first got them I remember being a little bothered by a 90-100hz bump typical of this kind of earpieces, but somehow it hasn’t bothered me at all.  Maybe it was a wear-in thing or maybe I got used to it, I can’t say.  In all, for certain program material I prefer the very warm sound of the Future Sonics, but all other times, especially for live monitoring, I prefer the pro5’s over any other generic earpiece.

One major thumbs up to Ultimate Ears customer support.  After about 8 months the cable started to pull out on one side of the junction where they start to split off for each ear.  Looking at it, it looks like it was a combination of being pulled and twisted despite my best efforts to baby them.  Eventually the cable frayed enough to fail.  I was a little concerned with how it would work out because at the time I didn’t realize the cable was detachable and it was an MI product and all.  Once I called UE they never put on hold, never asked for a receipt or anything like that, the whole call was probably 3 minutes.  They asked me a little about the failure for their purposes and shipped out a new cable assembly, free of charge, no questions asked.  Very impressive!

Hope my rambling review is use to someone.  In the end I highly recommend them for sound, ergonomics, and support.

thomas d.
Title: Re: Ultimate Ears 5 Pro [Review]
Post by: ThomasDameron on December 05, 2006, 05:01:27 pm
A quick update, I just got the replacement cable today (basically 3 business days after I called them).  The replacement is much heavier duty than the original.  The juction is the same style, but slightly larger.  Time will tell if that piece will hold up better, but the rest of the cable certainly will.

thomas d.