The UE900 price will certainly make you stop in your tracks, not long after you have picked up the box from the shelf. However, once you come to terms with that, we would like to point out that the performance pretty much justifies that. And so does the neat set of extra features like an additional cable, in-line volume controls and mic for Apple devices, a unique looking carry case and a generous amount of ear-tips. The only real niggle is that when the volume is pushed up, bass tends to distort a bit. Not as neutral as what Sennheiser spoils you with, but the slight bias towards the LFEs makes this a tad better for certain music types. Do consider, before finalising on any particular earphone. But, you might end up feeling a tad underwhelmed…
Build & Design: Unconventional, but comfortable
The unique design of the UE900’s immediately catch your attention. These earphones are meant to sit snugly in the ear canal, with the cable twisting over and behind the ear. These are L-shaped, exactly because of that. At first, it could be a tad confusing to figure out how these earphones go into the ear, but once you get the hang of the behind the ear wearing process, that is sorted. While the design and the wearing method is slightly unconventional, they are surprisingly comfortable to wear. The way the UE900 slots snugly in-ear, is extremely comfortable. And happily for us, tends to block out most of the ambient noise.
The package includes one blue cable, with the in-line call handling controls for the iPhone, and also a replacement black coloured one, but without the controls and mic. The UE900 has the pull-to-detach mechanism when you want to change the cable, and it is a real value add to have a replacement pair available in the box.
That’s not all, because the UE 900’s package also includes ear cushions in eight different sizes additionally – 5 silicon and 3 foam. While they are very comfortable, the foam cushions tend to tear apart very easily, if you don’t install them carefully.
As we had mentioned, putting these earphones on every time is a bit of an activity, since you have to thread the cable behind the ear at a particular angle. But, good to note that the cable does retain the shape to a large extent, over time, which makes the process relatively less time consuming and annoying after a while. Absolutely no issues with the build quality either, and the Ultimate Ears 900 feel very premium. But, somehow, they do not look expensive, which is a bit of a mystery. The glossy finish on the outers where the shiny UE logo sits tends to get scratched and smudged very quickly. The partially transparent earpieces, our review unit was a blue one, do not lend the desired visual impact it may have been going for. Could be the fact that lot of it is shiny plastic, and Logitech would do better to do away with the transparent element and go for something more conventional and less shiny.
Sound & Performance: Luxury, and expectedly excellent
The very fact that you are ready to splash this much cash on a pair of earphones does mean you will want absolutely no compromises with the experience. Important to specify then, that the quad-driver UE900 does very well with almost every variety of music we threw its way.
Shift over from any other in-ear pair, and you will immediately notice that the sound is more like you would get from a much larger on-the-ear headphones, and the wider soundstage is just the beginning of the goodness. While the UE900s are fairly neutral in terms of the out of the box sound, good to note that the dual sub-woofers do pack quite a punch. However, all through, the treble never misses out on detail. The only real aspect that feels slightly recessed is a part of the mids, when you are listening to artists like Delain and Evanescence. While the sound doesn’t have any perceptible bias, it is rather satisfactory to note that it doesn’t remain flat when actually playing something. The ease with which it handles the vocals on Adele’s Skyfall and the bass on Armin’s Intense is excellent. The wide soundstage means you can hear elements of a track that you normally wouldn’t on other earphones. There are distinct layers you would hear on most rock tracks, with the vocals leading, and the other instruments lining up behind in order of importance. It is not just how wide the soundstage is, but the real essence is the depth.
Vocals are very nicely handled for most songs, except the “Live” recordings. This is where the wider soundstage actually goes against it and the vocals tend to fall behind a bit.
Buy one? If you have a lot of money for luxuries!
If you are willing to put down so much cash for these earphones, the performance will delight you. Not a surprise then that the quad-driver earphones have a rather wide soundstage and the sound is well balanced. The use of dual-woofers don’t make the UE900’s uncomfortably bass heavy, unlike certain Sony XBA earphones. But be certain of one thing, you should not end up listening to low bit-rate tracks on this!
All in all, you will pay a lot of money for the UE900s. And once you do, this will be another feather in your richness cap. Because the sound you get from this will spoil you. And anything less will be unacceptable.