on April 10, 2013
Okay, I am an audio junkie. I LOVE sitting for hours listening to a wide variety of music. I have a thumping home theater with 70-inch TV and seven speakers, five of them have powered subs built in. I love sound. If I had to give up a big screen or big sound I'd take a 27-inch TV with huge sound over a huge TV with only the dinky built-in speakers for sound. Yeah, great audio is THAT important.
I'm also an earbud junkie. I NEVER give my wife a hard time over her shoe collection because my earphone collection is well, almost as big and just as expensive. It started with me looking for the "ultimate headphones or earphones" and a monster was created. In my nightstand I currently have a set of Klipsch S4is, Shure 535s, Shure 215s (broken cable), Shure E3cs, cheap Sony buds, Bose QC15s, Ultimate Ears 500vis, Apple's new Earpods, Apple Dual Driver In-earphones, Sennheiser HD 280 Pros, Klipsch x10is on in the mail and on the way and these new UE 600vis. And this doesn't count the ones I've sold on eBay or given away to my brother or friends. Yeah, it's a sickness.
Truth is I find that every pair of ear/headphones that I own provide a distinct listening experience that makes listening to the same songs over and over different each time. Voices and instruments all have unique nuances that are hidden or highlighted by the medium in which they are presented to the listener. The earphones are all so different that it actually makes it fun to "relisten" to songs over again to see if I can pick out the differences.
So, if I have a $500 pair of Shure se535's, why the heck did I buy a pair of Apple Dual Drivers? Why buy a $70 pair of UE 500vis AND a $80 pair of UE 600vis? Because I've noticed something, none of them are perfect. None. Shure's have great sound that require a lot of power to realize their full potential. Seriously, imagine my disappointment when I realized that the 535s hooked up to an iPhone sound only moderately better than the 215s, not four point five times better. BUT, when hooked up to a Denon receiver (one of the old, good ones not the cheap Best Buy versions) they sound AMAZING! Ten times better. Guess what, I don't sit in my home theater four feet from my receiver listening to music with earphones and I bet you don't either. We use earphones to listen to music on our pocket devices. Yes, some people haul around portable amps rubber-banded to their iPods...but do you? No. Also, I love having in-line iPhone controls. It's so convenient! I hate digging my iPhone or iPod out of my pocket to skip songs. A new requirement of mine is that all my earphones have in-line controls and have you seen Shure's answer to the in-line controls? They should be ashamed of themselves.
My idea of great earphones are ones that sound great plugged into your run-of-the-mill iDevice or Android. Currently I've been spending a lot of time with my UE 500vis. They are comfortable, have iPhone controls and sound really good. Not se535 good but better than average a great for listening to music while grocery shopping.
I recently pulled out the 215s and was surprised at the how much cleaner they sounded but the bass was really lacking in comparison. Then the left ear went out. Stupid connections. Shure needs to fix that.
I went back to the UEs and was again impressed with the fullness of sound but began to realize that they were mellow but not über clear.. So with a little discretionary money to spend I decided to buy my way into awesome sound with iPhone controls and pop for a pair of UE 900s! Yeah! BUT, I read this great review that talked about how bulky they were and how they couldn't be worn for long periods of time with out ear pain. Hm, my se535s were like that. I paused and decided to buy the UE 600vi set I'd been eyeing AND a pair of Klipsch x10i for the price of the UE900s.
Once the 600s arrived I spent about two hours listening to them and swapping them with other sets to compare. No matter the set, I always like the foam type seals, like Comply or Shure (black olive or yellow foam) so I used the included Complys. After that initial session, I let them burn in all night and the next day to see if it helped. Some say that balanced armature earphones don't benefit from a break in period. I disagree. The 600s initially sounded good but had a noticeable distinction between highs, mids and lows. Plus, the low were disappointing, even for earphones that are supposed to be lacking in bass. Overall, I wasn't impressed. After breaking them in at high volumes for 24 hours my opinion changed. The sound smoothed out and the bass deepened. Both good things.
I repeated the same comparison exercise the next night and noticed the amazing detail these earphones offer. The bass still wasn't as full as the UE 500vi or Klipsch S4is, but it was way better than the Shure 215s or the Apple Dual Drivers.
Let's stay with like products for a moment. The UE 500vi is a really well rounded set that will make most music lovers very happy. They are mellow sounding phones that smoothly transition from all three ranges without any gaps or drop offs. But, they lack crystal clear clarity and they aren't terribly dynamic. Also, those drivers need power. It takes a higher volume level to get the 500s to output the same sound levels as the 600s. The sensitivity of the 600s was surprising. Where the 600s lack in bass, they make up in clarity, almost a clear as my Shure E3cs but with more low end. I listened to ADELE singing Set Fire to the Rain and wow! Her light vocal rasp sounded light and airy and I could hear the little clicks of her tongue and lips lightly smacking on her teeth as she enunciated her words. Yeah, they are that clear. I read where some people think that the 600vis reveal too much detail. I can see why they wrote that but I like that detail. In Rihanna's Stay, there is a really cool digital bass note that rolls off at the end of Mikky Ekko's chorus that stands out with the 500s but get's lost with the 600s but if you haven't heard Rihanna or Adele's voices through Shure E3cs or UE 600vis you're missing a real treat. Seriously, you need to try it.
Tanya Tucker sings a song called "What's Your Momma's Name?" The chorus has great harmony with a guy singing a cool bass line but its hard to hear it in the UE600s. The se535s blow it out, shoving the deep bass voice in your face. It brings a smile to my face when I hear it but I had to really pay attention to hear it through the 600s.
How about compared to the popular Klipsch S4i. The S4i has been a disappointment for me from the beginning. I was expecting great bass and terrific detail but got neither. They are closer to average in each category. Plus, they broke very early on. One of the phones came off the cable when pulling out of my ear. Klipsch replaced it for me, but still. After burn in and hours of listening I feel like the Klipsch are really good middle of the road earphones. In comparison, the less expensive UE 600vi offer something unique and special. Crystal clarity that rewards the listener to details otherwise missed. Right now I'm listening to Don Henley sing the last resort off of the Hell Freezes Over album and when the crowd applauds at the beginning it sounds like I'm in the room. Also, the piano stands out more this time around. Want to hear something cool. Try the Carpenters "Tryin' to Get That Feeling Again" and when you get to 1:53 you'll hear Karen turn the page on her sheet music. Also, at 1:50, right before the page turn, listen to her vocal cord vibrate together at the word "again." It's magic, especially through phones that showcase the details like the 600s.
In conclusion, here's what I think. The UE 600vis are what I call specialists while the UE 500s are all-rounders. The S4is are over rated. The Shure se535s are over-priced, cheaply-built power hogs that don't really give you your money's worth in a mobile environment. If you are looking for a set of earphones that have iPhone controls and enhance the normally subtle nuances in voice and instrument, you may be interested in the 600vis. But if you're not an audiophile and want a good, all-around, mellow, easy-to-like set that hides imperfections and has decent bass, the 500s are a better choice for under $80.
Remember, looking for the perfect earphone is like searching for the perfect pair of shoes. Every pair matches something specific and every pair has it's best use. Stop looking for perfection, reach into your night stand drawer and swap earphones from time-to-time. You'll find it's like looking at a sculpture from different angles. Each earphone will showcase something different from the same song allowing you to enjoy your music, again and again, as if hearing it for the first time. If that helps you justify buying the 600vis, for crying out loud, for only 80 bucks get them. You won't be sorry.
on September 11, 2011
This is the first time I've bought myself a pair of nice earbuds before, and all I can say is WOW.
Design and Comfort
These earbuds, when you first use them, you will notice that they are extremely light on the ears. In fact, I've used these for about 1.5 years, have tried many earbuds in-between and yet have found an earbud that is comparible in weight. The engineers at Logitech took the idea of "disappearing in your ear" to the next level! These earbuds also have two different types of eartips as well (which will be discussed more in the "Extras" section). Logitech also did a good job at subtle things, such as "red for right" on the earbud, which is unobtrusive enough, yet makes a big difference actually in wearing the earbud. Furthermore, the curved back design really makes putting on the earbud a breeze. You get used to it quickly, and there is no question on whether the right one is on the right ear. Style wise, these earbuds are good, but don't make a statement like Dr. Dre Beats, which is great for me. It's stylish, but not an eyesore in my opinion. However, unfortunately, the insignia of my earbud rubbed off after prolonged use, which was very saddening to me.
5/5 Style (Sleek, unobtrusive. Good.)
5/5 Strength (Never broke on me, and dropping them never cause me worry either. However, I wouldn't stomp on them either (obviously). The 2 year warranty is a great bonus too, and the people at Logitech are wonderful to work with)
4.5/5 Portability (Very portable, they are earbuds. However, the case is a tad bit obtrusive, but I'd easily trade in peace of mind for space)
This is the most important part of the earbud, and these don't in anyway disappoint.
Ok, I lied. Maybe the only thing that these earbuds lack, are the bass response, so bassheads, stay away! This is mostly due to the type of sound driver utilized in this earbud. You get a premium "balanced armature" driver in comparison to the more prevalent "dynamic armature" sound driver. The main difference between the two is the fact that the balanced armature drivers are far better at accurate sound reproduction, but dynamic drivers can have a better bass response. This is due to the fact that balanced armature drivers can be more finely tuned than their dynamic driver counterparts. Furthermore, the more you climb the ladder to "audiophile In Ear Monitors (IEMs)" the more prevalent these balanced armature drivers become. The famous music artists of today use IEMs that have 8 drivers or so in each ear, with multiple different balanced armature drivers for different sound reproduction, many being 2 for bass, 2 for midrange, 2 for treble, and 2 for either lower bass or higher treble. However, I digress. My major stipulation about these earbuds is their lack of bass response do to the balanced armature.
However, in everything but bass response, I think the balanced armature driver is superior. This is due to the finer tuning of the driver that is achieved. Midrange typically is a tossup between balanced and dynamic driver earbuds, balanced being more accurate, and dynamic having better feel. It is purely subjective at this point, many of the time the argument is subject to the two earbuds being compared, however, I think that these earbuds are the finest at midrange than anything in it's price range , dynamic or balanced. I don't know what audiophiles mean by "hearing inbetween the strings" but with these, I can definitely understand what hearing the strings to their fullest potential is like!
This... is the best aspect of the earbuds as a whole. Imagine knowing your song. Well, you're wrong, the treble sounds better. These earbuds are absolute killers when it comes to the treble, and they don't leave anything behind. These earbuds are pin point accurate in this department, and they make sure to be true to what is thrown at them, whether this be good or bad (See Kilobits per Second: the part lost in translation). These earbuds redefined the way I see music, and for electronic (probably not dubstep) lovers like me, oh, the musical delight you'll experience (shudders in delight). In short, the treble is nothing less than outstanding, and if this doesn't make you smile from ear to ear, I don't know what will.
3/5 Bass Response (I was disappointed. The bass is very little, but this is natural for a balanced armature driver unless it is specified for bass)
5/5 Midrange Response (Very good. It won't disappoint by any means.)
9001/5 Treble Response (ITS OVER NINE THOUSAND (sorry, I had to). The response by the treble portion of this earbud is absolutely outstanding, and if it doesn't make you smile at least once, then you must then be deaf or the ear bud isn't properly burned in (See Burning in an Earbud/Headphone))
Kilobits per Second: The Part Lost in Translation
Commonly, the average person won't understand what Kilobits per second (kbps) are, however, it is 100% relevant to the music you love and enjoy. When a song is made digital, it is associated with a kbps, which dictates the amount of information stored per second on a music file. How is this important you way? Well, with these earbuds, without the proper amount of kbps, you're missing out on music! The most commonly seen kbps seen in music online and in music libraries (the music you stored on iTunes, Windows Media Player, Foobar 2k, etc.) are 128 kbps. However, with these earbuds, 128 is simply not enough anymore. Potential music, is being lost. Furthermore, you can't upscale music from lower kbps even though music players will do it for you, that would be adding music that wasn't there before, which isn't possible. If you were to "upscale" a 128 kbps song to 320 kbps, all you would have is a 128 kbps song with 128 kbps information. You gain absolutely nothing (I have done this before too. Silly me.). A good kbps to have is 320 kbps, as having higher, it becomes increasingly arbitrarily better, it is is merely subjective unless you have a 5 figure music rig. To get this 320 kbps, I know you don't want to hear this, but the song would either have to be downloaded again (specifying the kbps) or ripped from the CD again (again, specifying the kbps). If you have 192 or 256 kbps, you're typically fine, and it might not be worth the trouble of redownloading/ re-ripping the CD. However, if one of your favorite songs is BELOW the 128 kbps threshold, most definitely fix that. You wouldn't believe what you're missing!
Burning in a headphone or earbud is a very important to the final outcome and sound reproduction of it. Though speculated on it's validity, it is generally accepted by most people. Burning in is the ideology that headphones or earbuds improve in sound overtime due to their drivers being used. This can be done by just listening to your music over prolonged time (which I do), playing music through them slightly louder than usual, and leaving them to the side, or playing pink/ white sound through them at slightly louder levels. This is extremely important for these earbuds, as the Burn in for these are extremely dramatic, and the sound first hear by these are an extremely poor representation of what they can display. Be patient! You'll hear a difference!
There are just a few extras that come with the earbuds. These are a case for the earbuds, and 7 (Yes, I said 7) pairs of eartips. The case is quite basic, but more than gets the job done. At first, it may seem obtrusive and space consuming, but like me, you might find the peace of mind and security more important than the negligible space saved and split second consumed. On the eartips, they are among the most comfortable I've used (actually I still use those eartips on other earbuds as well!). The Foam comply tips (you get two pairs) give the best sound response and help on the lacking bass, however, they are a collector of ear... stuff, and I tend not to use them. The other 5 pairs are silicone tips ranging from XXS to L size. I tend to use these, as they are easy, and quick to use.
4/5 Case (It's basic, and gets the job done.)
5/5 Eartips (If you can't find something that works, I don't know what to say...)
Well, this was exhaustive to write. I hope this is a good representation of what this earbud displays. Hope it helped!
Well, I had to get these swapped out once, and it was the most painless thing in the world (minus not having them). Getting to customer service was a pain, but afterwards, it was all smooth sailing. The took care of all of shipping and sent me a brand new, unopened pair, Awesome! That was last July, and since then I haven't had any problems at all!
on March 11, 2012
I absolutely love the sound from these IEMs! I own the Audio Technica ATH-M50s as well as the Sennsheiser CX-300B Mk. 2, and the iPhone earbuds as well as some others not worth mentioning. Since getting these I often use them at my PC instead of the ATH-M50s. Comparing them to the CX300 is not a competition. The reason is that these use armature speakers. Look them up. They are full of win.
If you compare these to the Etymiotic HF3, look at the Frequency Response and 50Hz Sine Wave graphs. The HF3 are kind of a gold standard (aside from the Klipsch X10) in IEM headsets. If you compare them with the above mentioned graphs you'll be hard pressed to find a difference, aside from the 600Vi's having about 3-4Db higher in the bass part of the graph. And these are quite a bit less expensive and don't have me worrying about the "deep insertion" style of the Etymiotics. (Yes, that's the real marketing term they chose).
Also, as they are described as analytical IEMs, (meaning that they have a comparatively flat frequency response graph) you'll be able to analyze music better (hence the term analytical). In practical terms this means you can hear the music more closely to what the sound engineer intended. Case in point: listening to the Wall the other day I was clearly able to make out each instrument in Another Brick in The Wall (Part II) throughout the entire song. You know, with some headphones, when the bass notes hit it drowns out the other instruments, not so with these. You also get the sense that the lead singer is front and center, lead guitar is to his right, bass to his left, and drums behind all three. Really crazy, but try them and you'll see what I mean.
The isolation is impressive as hell- I was staying at my dad's house recently when some workmen came in at 9AM and proceeded to do everything they could to make me hate my life. Put the UE600Vi's with the Comply tips in and they literally disappeared. Very impressive considering the noise going on made me feel like I was living in End Times.
Aside from that there are a few negatives.
First is the placement of the microphone. It is placed so low that grabbing the correct wire when you go to pause the music or answer a call is impossible without feeling or looking. Also, because of this, you have the tendency to want to pull the microphone to your ear when you are on an important call.
Second, you hear yourself talking in the IEMs when you are on a call. How this was overlooked I cannot say. But I was on the phone the other day and heard a car alarm in my ear. I asked the caller if that was on their end, and they said no. The isolation was so good that I did not hear the car alarm from a car only about 30 yards away.
Third, the microphonics suck; meaning if I tap the left monitor while the right one is still in my ear I can totally hear it like a 'pop', as well as when you wrinkle around the cables you will sometimes hear it in the monitors.
Lastly, I would've preferred a jack like the Sol SL49/SL99s or the Beats Solo HD have. (Yes I am aware that Beats are Crap and the Sol's are dynamic drivers and they suck compared to these.) I just wish I was a little more confident about the plug. If they are going to go for a right angle plug (which I do prefer) why not make it rugged? As it is, the angle sits about 1/4" above the casing of my iPhone, enough for a pencil to get between the plug and the phone, whereas the Beats Solo HD cable (I have one for my ATH-M50s modded to accept a removable cable) sits flush with the housing.)
So, to sum up, or tl;dr in forum nomenclature:
Once you go armature you are more mature (trying to emulate another saying but it's not working)
They sound amazing
Analytical, without sounding cold.
Isolation with Comply Tips is unreal!
3D Soundstage effect which allows you to hear each instrument in a track separately
Microphone placement sucks
Microphone itself sucks
Microphonics are somewhat annoying
Plug style is a bit disconcerting
P.S. When you get them, hook them up to a source, turn the volume to about 150% of normal listening volume, stick them in a sock drawer and keep them there for about 3 days. (Or do it like I did: when I wasn't listening, they were in the drawer pumping out music). After this, they will sound a good deal better.