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Last Updated: October 5th, 2012

At $400 (I know, I know - stay with me here), the Logitech UE900s are well out of many people's perceived reasonable price range for a set of headphones. Especially earbuds. But I'd like to remind everyone that there is a definitely a market for headphones at this level, and it's not just reserved for the well-to-do and audio geeks. The fact of the matter is, when it comes to sound, you can spend thousands of dollars to find the "ideal" system. Audiophiles amass huge collections of equipment over their lives devoted only to reproducing sound - setups that can be valued at more than the cost of a nice midsized sedan.

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For most of us, though, the earbuds that come in the box are often enough. The idea of spending more than forty or so dollars on a pair of buds you're probably going to lose or break when they get caught in a door or wrapped around something as you're walking is silly. But four-hundred? Well, that's just right out.

But Logitech, after buying the world-renowned Ultimate Ears, has continued to produce stunning in-ear monitors used by hundreds of popular musicians on the stage. These "IEMs" can cost thousands of dollars per pair. Seriously, just go to the UE IEM website - you can find stuff like this. But they're also basically designed for use as on-stage equipment, and are balanced and tuned as such.

Logitech's Ultimate Ears consumer lineup has been relegated to less exciting fair, but has typically still produced top-notch earbuds. The TripleFi series, now defunct, ended on a sweet note with the TripleFi 10s, a pair of headphones I actually reviewed. When they went on sale a few years ago, the TripleFi 10s matched the UE 900's $400 price tag, though over time they could eventually be had for significantly less than half that amount.

The UE 900s replace the TripleFi 10s, and I'm going to spoil the ending now: they've managed to absolutely demolish the precedent those headphones set. It's like lifting the fog from your ears, going from the TripleFi 10 to the UE 900. But it's a fog that you wouldn't really know was there in the first place. You kind of have to hear to believe it. The UE 900s also just sound different. Gone is the intense, booming bass of the TripleFi earbuds, and replaced is a much more natural, though still thoroughly powerful, low frequency response. The UE 900s are simply a different animal.

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Logitech Ultimate Ears UE 900

  • What are they? Earbuds. Really good (and expensive) ones. They also have quad-armature drivers, a swappable cord, modular earbuds, and more.
  • How much? $400 (buy here).
  • What's in the box? A lot more than you would expect. 9 sets of earbud tips, including 3 Comply foam tips. A carrying case. An airline attenuator. A 1/4" stereo plug adapter. There's more I'm forgetting, too.
  • What's so special about them? They. Sound. Amazing. If you haven't listened to something in this range, just know it really is a different experience. Your tracks will come to life.
  • Do I want them? That all depends. The issue of actually wearing them may leave some folks dead set against the UE 900s, while others might not be bothered, or even like the loop method. The sound signature also isn't for everyone. And, of course, they are quite pricey.

The Good

  • The Perks: Your UE 900s come with so many extras that accessories alone add exceptional value to the package. Like I said, tons of earbud tips, including foam Comply tips, airline attenuator, 1/4" adapter, a spare main cord (without controls), carrying cases (soft and hard), and a two-year warranty. Also, if your cord starts to go bad, no worries: Logitech will sell you replacement cords. And they're extremely easy to swap in and out. Remember, the inspiration here is something designed for musicians, so maximizing the lifetime and value of the headphones is actually something Logitech considers.
  • The Sound: Oh. My. God. I've listened to some decent earbuds in my time, like the predecessors of the 900s, the TripleFi 10s. I also own a pair of Etymotic hf2s, a great entry-level reference headphone. I've used some mid-level Shures. The UE900s flat out blow them away. The premise for the UE 900s was bringing some of the performance of the company's professional IEMs to a more reasonably-priced consumer headphone (the cheapest quad-armature UE IEM with noise isolation costs $1150). The sound character of these is much flatter than the old TripleFi 10s, bass is more subdued, but also feels a little deeper. Mids and highs are decidedly superior - there is more detail, more range - the tone, though, is noticeably less warm. These are much more analytic. The 900s are clearly more concerned with accuracy than the TF10s, and less worried about providing an energetic, V-shaped response curve. This may be a turn-off if you want something with booming bass and screeching highs (eg, not natural). I'd say if you're into electronica, pop, or hip hop, the UE 900s may not be your cup of tea, at least not as much as the TF10s were. Equalization may help you tune them to taste, but that only does so much.
  • The Fit: As long as you're looping them over your ears as is suggested, the UE 900s stay put, and easily get a seal. The TripleFi 10s were much more difficult about this. Once I found the proper size of rubber eartip, I felt confident every time I put them on.
  • Isolation: When music is pumping, you're not deaf to the world, but pretty close. I wouldn't put the isolation on par with my Etymotic hf2s, but the UE 900s definitely drown out a great deal of ambient noise, decidedly more than the TF10s did.

The Not So Good

  • The Fit: If you refuse to wear these headphones with the bendable cords looped over your ears, you'll hate them. With the TF10s, it was possible. With these, it's not. Some people find the looped wearing arrangement very annoying, but with the UE 900s, you simply won't be able to avoid it. You have to wear them this way, or they will fall out / break seal constantly. The bendable cord segment isn't quite bendable enough for my taste, either - it's extremely stiff. Fatigue was pretty standard for a headphone this size. Hours upon hours of wearing would probably get tiresome.
  • The Cord: The cord gets tangled / knotted exceptionally easily. It's a task to unravel the earbuds - and it happens every time I roll them up. Major nuisance. It also just doesn't feel like a very robust cord in the first place, because it's twined (see pictures) and relatively thin.
  • The Swiveling Earbuds: So, you may have noticed the actual driver housing "swivel" around the point where they connect to the cord. This does make it possibly to get a more comfortable fit, but it also means they'll spin around while you're not using them, and they have to be realigned appropriately before each use.
  • The Price: $400 is a lot of money to drop on earbuds. Even ones with modular parts and amazing sound. Are the UE900s worth the price? Maybe. I'd say a slight drop from MSRP will happen within a year (maybe a $50 cut), but I'd also confidently assert that if you do buy them now, I highly doubt you'll feel like you've in any way been swindled. These are truly great headphones - I certainly love them.

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The bottom line: The UE900s are an excellent choice for an entry-level IEM / high-end consumer headphone. They sound brilliant, they fit securely (if you wear them as suggested), and they come ready for almost any situation right out of the box. But if you're looking for something you can pull out of your bag at a moment's notice and stick in your ears without thinking, these simply aren't for you. The UE 900s require a little patience, a substantial investment, and the willingness to deal with a few ergonomic, shall we say, quirks. However, if you're looking to get into IEMs from a pair of mid-range headphones, they will absolutely open your ears up to a new world.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    The modular mechanism looks so much more superior compared to my UE SuperFi 5 Pros. Finally they figured out how to do it right.

    Not sure I'm digging the plastic, translucent housing though, but glad to hear they sound amazing.

    • http://twitter.com/Darkmyth_pt Darkmyth PT

      better than beats?

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        I'm willing to put money on it. Beats makes mediocre and overpriced products.

        • http://twitter.com/Darkmyth_pt Darkmyth PT

          thanks friend

        • http://twitter.com/louiedog louiedog

          It's worth the price for a product that Dr. Dre personally kisses before it leaves the factory.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

            I lol'd.

  • Tripp

    400$ for ear buds? Srsly just got my Teufel Aureol Massive and Groove for 100€. They sound just too good.

  • Ricky

    you need to hear them to believe them. Not everyone is willing to dish out that much money but $400 headphones are seriously worth the money. I have shure 535 and they cost $500.

  • http://twitter.com/vinceklein Vince Klein

    Thanks for the informative review!

  • http://twitter.com/louiedog louiedog

    Most of my earbud use is walking around town, taking the train, etc. They get snagged on things, the cord gets rigid when subjected to very low temps, and various stuff happens to kill them. I like the Sony earbuds that I can get on Amazon for $8. They sound pretty good and I'm okay with them lasting 8 months (although my current set are closing in on 2 years). I do have a nice set of noise isolating $50 earbuds, but they stay in a case and mostly only get taken out for air travel. I don't really have a place in my life for such luxurious earbuds, but I'm sure they're great.

    • BestJinjo

      I wore my TripleFi 10s for 4 years in New York and Toronto 5-6 days a week. If you use $400 IEMs all the time, their $400 cost doesn't seem expensive when you consider the total usefulness they provide over their lifetime and that a $20 cable can be replaced readily on all these high-end offerings.

  • Sootie

    Does the loop go under your ear then back around the top of your ear or go over the top then around and end near your earlobe?

    Sorry thats a weird question to try and ask

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Nope, just over the top and back. They probably won't touch your earlobe, either, the bendy portion is pretty stiff.

  • IEF

    Wow, really? They took a good look at the Shure SE215 and up series connector. Early UE series had 'detachable' connectors (two prong, I believe), but these are a straight up ripoff :)

    Aaaanyway. These look overpriced. Why? You can get Shure SE215 IEMs for around $90, and these probably sound about the same. I've been using these for ~6 months now, and there's just no comparison. Honestly, try them. Logitech has taken the UE brand, overpriced it and killed it imo.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Yeah, it definitely looks like the Shure connector. And from what I've heard, Shure's quality vs price hasn't exactly been up to par lately, either. I'd give these a try before you're so certain, I've got 4 pairs of $100+ earbuds lying around and the UE900s really do blow them all away.

      • http://www.facebook.com/gregg0518 Greg Martin

        Maybe a bit late, but. i have ue 900's and shure 215's. the cables are the same connector. you can use the shure cable on the ue's and vice versa. i don't, so i don't know if long term there would be problems. but they work.

        • marco angel

          mr, between the se215 and the ue900 how big the diferences are?

  • rafael

    Great review man, but one part made me especially concerned -
    does wearing the earbuds down like the Apple earbuds (not looping it like you suggest) pose a significant problem? Would they be constantly falling out from casual walking? They won't stay in my ear (like the S4is I'm listening to right now)? I was really psyched to get these, but this lessened my enthusiasm as I like to wear buds like that :(
    however I am glad you addressed it before I could buy them!
    thanks in advance

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      They have to be looped over the top of your ear with the bendable cord or they will fall out, or simply not keep a seal. I tried. They're also just really, really uncomfortable when worn that way.

      The end of the cord at the earbud is surrounded by thick, shapeable rubberized plastic. Wearing them in the down position (not looped) just won't work. It did with the old ones (the TripleFi 10), but with these, not going to happen. They're meant to be worn a particular way, and if you don't wear them that way, they aren't going to work.

  • NemaCystX

    I stopped reading at $400, whats the point of reading an article about something I can't and will never afford. Plus, spending that much for headphones is something the rich people do

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Or people with different values from yours. You may save up years for a new car and someone else may do that for a new bag (usually women). Some people, especially those who use their headphones religiously daily, may prefer to spend their earnings on a $400 pair of outstanding earbuds, all while not being rich.

  • John

    Nice review David. How was the microphone? I would be moving over to these from TF10vis and the one part I would like to have a little better is the microphone...quality and placement?

    Whatcha think?

    Thank you.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I never had the V cord for the TF10's, so I cant comment, unfortunately. The mic on the the UE900's is OK, though I've never used one that's particularly great on any headphone.

  • Wolfson samsung galaxy s3

    Westone 4r would be a friendlier choice for all genre of music

  • Wolfson samsung galaxy s3

    Westone 4r would be a better choice

    • Nick

      Considering the different price range, the UE 900's take the cheese.

  • BestJinjo

    Everyone who tried my TripleFi 10s is stunned at their sound quality and some of my friends have $1000 sound systems with receivers. This review says the UE900s are even better. $400 is a lot but to get comparable sound, you either have to spend $1500+ on a home sound system or more, OR get over the head headphones which of course would sound amazing but you can't really carry Sennheiser HD800s with you to work on the train......

  • Sonoblaise

    I personnaly own a pair of shure SE535, and the guitar player from a band i'm mixing is looking forward to buying those. About the swiveling buds, they are actually great: usually, when you put the bud out for any reason, they always end falling back in your ear. With the swivel, you can just turn them around and they will never be in the way. Putting them back into place is just a matter of getting used to it.
    For those complaining about the price (comments like: no headphones arr worth 400$, and such) just think about the use you have for them. If you are listening to poorly encoded MP3s all the time, do yourself a favor and buy 10$ headphones because quality buds will destroy you listening experience. The day you hear mp3 compression for the first time is always a sad day! But if you are a musician looking for headphones to be used in live situation, put the money on the table

  • Sonoblaise

    If you stay in the consumer market, i'm willin to agree, but if you are a musician using them on stage, i'd say that it's a pretty good deal considering the history behind the UE brand!

  • darktrain

    owned a few good pairs of iem's including shure se 215/535's/pfe 012/232's but these blow them all away..very natural sound good tight bass excellent treble..only downside is the cable is a poor design,cable too stiff especially at the ear where the plastic just doesnt mould and stay in shape..i swapped it out for the shure se535 cable..much more flexible and comfortable

  • frank p

    UE 900 awesome, a bit of trouble getting them on and off but the sound is just plain wonderful I can't wait to use them each and every day, just love them!

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