Traditionally, choosing a laptop has been about compromise.
Logitech UE 900 earphones
These audiophile in-ear monitors can make your music sound great
- Excellent sound quality
- Good isolation with foam tips
- Sturdy construction
- Complicated fit process
- Can be uncomfortable
Logitech’s UE 900 in-ear monitor earphones are aimed at the discerning music listener who wants the absolute best detail and widest frequency range. They’re expensive, and their comparatively large outer dimensions may not suit smaller ears, but for most buyers they’ll be perfectly comfortable with excellent sound quality.
Price$ 499.95 (AUD)
The Logitech UE 900 earphones sit at the absolute peak of the company’s headphone line-up. Beyond the range of computer and mobile headsets, and above lesser Ultimate Ears models like the $180 UE 600 and equally expensive UE 9000 wireless headphones, the UE 900s are in-ear monitor (IEM) earphones that sit deep in the wearer’s ear canals to block out external noise and deliver the best possible audio.
Logitech UE 900: Design, accessories and fitting
The UE 900 earphones, being in-ear monitors, are designed with small ear-tips that can be inserted deep into the wearer’s ears. Logitech bundles a wide range of silicon and memory foam ear-tips with the UE 900 — five silicon and three foam, in a variety of sizes that ensure that virtually any wearer should be able to find a suitable fit.
The earphones come with a a gold-plated 3.5mm-to-6.5mm MIDI plug adapter, which has a permanent place inside the glossy black plastic hard case the UE 900s also ship with. The case is a little too tall for our liking — if it was less so, it could be easily stored in a jeans pocket.
Unlike most of the other in-ear monitor-style earphones that we’ve tested, the UE 900 starts its Y-cable in a three-inch-long stiff cable segment on either ear, designed to be looped over the front and top of the wearer’s ear in the style favoured by musicians. Getting these stiff cables adjusted correctly is a process that will take a few insertions and removals of the headphones, but once optimised we found this a far better way to permanently wear the headphones’ cable than having it hanging normally.
The stiff cable section also connects to the earphones with a freely-twisting plastic segment that lets the cables be rotated out of the way to maintain their shape when putting in or taking out the UE 900 ear-tips.
The design of the UE 900 is more bulbous once you look past the streamlined ear-tip section. Since the UE 900 earphones have four balanced armature sound drivers, where most in-ear headphones have one or two, the earphones’ outer shells are comparatively large.
They also finish in a chrome-plastic lip, which is not particularly curved or comfortable if it presses against the outer cartilage of your ears. When we wore the UE 900 for an extended period, we found that the lip generally eventually ended up pressing uncomfortably; this is likely something that can be prevented with a different size of ear-tip, or some custom-made silicon ear moulds, but it’s worth considering before you buy.
The earphones have a combination volume control and play/pause/skip button, sitting around 20cm down the right earphone’s portion of the Y-cable. It’s strictly for Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods — if you’re using another brand’s smartphones or tablets you’ll want to switch out the cable for the included audio-only one. It’s black, while the standard cable is a rather bright blue, but both cables are braided in a way that reduces the chance of tangles.
Logitech UE 900: Sound quality
The Logitech UE 900 earphones’ quad balanced armature lends itself to some seriously good sound quality. Rated at 20Hz to 20KHz, the fact that the UE 900s sit deep in the ear and block out external noise means that you’re able to hear detail and nuance that just isn’t audible with worse-sealed, lower-quality ear-bud or on-ear headphones.
We’d absolutely say that the sound quality of the Logitech UE 900 IEMs justifies their price tag. If you’ve got them inserted correctly, with a tight seal, the amount of detail that these earphones can reproduce from a high-quality music or vocal track is on par with the best consumer-level earphones and headphones we’ve tested.
The UE 900s have a generally even frequency response, not tending especially towards any particular frequency range. Similarly, there’s no instance where we listened to the UE 900 earphones and thought that treble notes were overpowering bass, or vice versa. This doesn’t mean that the headphones can’t sound appropriately musical, though — with some minor EQ-ing we thought the UE 900s had excellent mid- and sub-bass response that gave rock and hip-hop music tracks a fitting sound.
Being in-ear headphones, the UE 900s can tend to feel a little shut-in, with the audio you’re listening to entirely contained inside your skull. This is a very different listening experience to wearing a large pair of over-the-ear headphones, and it can be disconcerting for first-time listeners. It’s not for everybody, so even if you can’t try some UE 900s before you buy, we’d recommend you try a gateway pair of IEMs to make sure the listening style is bearable.
Logitech UE 900: Conclusion
The Logitech UE 900 earphones are expensive — there’s no denying that. $500 for a 2-inch by 3-inch box with some braided earphone cable and two tiny earpieces, included accessories aside, is a lot of money. But if you’re going to listen to a lot of music, and if you want to listen to it with the best possible detail, buying a set of UE 900s is a smart way to go about it.
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