Review Roundup: Logitech Ultimate Ears Headphones

From left the right: UE 4000, UE 6000, UE 9000

Logitech’s Finest: The UE 4000, UE 6000, UE 9000

The Logitech Ultimate Ears headphones comprises a family of 3 variations – the UE 4000, UE 6000 and UE 9000. The Logitech UE promise is an attention to detail and sound quality. Audiophiles will know that almost anything (and everything) affects audio performance. It’s not just the drivers but also the manner in which the cans are housed, cables used and much more. How does the UE 4000, 6000 and 9000 hold up? This article is a detailed joint review and cross comparison of the 3 models available. The UE series are priced at S$159, S$319 and S$599 respectively.

 

 

Specifications & Differences

The combined specifications have been put into a table for easy cross referencing.

 

UE 4000 UE 6000 UE 9000
Driver diameter 40 mm 40 mm 40 mm
Frequency response 20 Hz – 20 kHz 20 Hz – 20 kHz 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Noise isolation 7 dB 10 dB 14 dB
Impedance 32 ohms 50 ohms (no amp), 1000 ohms (with amp) 32 ohms
Sensitivity 92 dB 97 dB (no amp), 99 dB (with amp) 105 dB

 

All 3 earphones utilize 40mm drivers. However, drivers are just one portion of the equation. The frequency response stands at 20 Hz to 20 kHz which is again standard across the board. In terms of noise isolation, the higher end models spot a slight increase in noise isolation. However, the increase is minute and rather negligible. Sensitivity is also roughly similar as seen in the table above.

The biggest specification difference is on impedance. Impedance is a tricky specification. It is not necessarily the higher the better. The level of impedance must be weighted by the voltage when considering the power of the device. The UE 4000 and 9000 shares the same impedance while the UE 6000 has a huge jump should the onboard amplifier be switched on. Based on the specifications of the devices, the UE 6000 does have an advantage in this area. This is not surprising considering that it is the only one of the three that sports an onboard amplifier powered by two AAA sized batteries. The specifications do not vary by much, the main differences between the three comes in its feature set.

 

The specifications do not vary by much, the main differences between the three comes in its feature set.

 

I will list the differences in point form:

  • The lowest end UE 4000 is an on ear headphone. It doesn’t cover your entire ear. The UE 6000 and 9000 features around the ear cups which most audiophiles will prefer.
  • The UE 6000 has a unique feature of having an onboard amplifier. This amplifier is powered by two triple A sized batteries. With the amplifier on, noise cancelling is improved. More importantly, amplitude (volume) and  some upsampling occurs. The onboard amp is well implemented because it will shut off when your batteries run out without affecting music playback. Without batteries (or with dead batteries), the UE 6000 reverts to one without the onboard amplifier.
  • The UE 9000 has the most bells and whistles but lacks the onboard amplifier of the 6000. What the UE 9000 has is wireless Bluetooth connection to devices. It can pair up to 8 devices which is similar to what the UE boomboxes could. This wireless feature is powered by a built in battery. The battery is non removable and must be charged via a micro USB cable. Battery power is rated at 10 hours of playback or talk time.
  • The UE 4000, 6000 and 9000 can make calls via a corded mic on the cable. What the 9000 has is dual mics located on the headphone itself. This means that there is no need for a cord to make calls. The cord can be used when the 9000 runs out of battery. This is a very helpful feature and you won’t be out of options should you forget to charge.

In short, the UE 9000 has an excellent feature set. It is the most complete headphone out there. You can take calls wireless, pair up with many devices and in a worst case scenario, use it corded. The UE 6000 is a corded headphone with an onboard amplifier. The UE 4000 on the other hand is a basic headphone and, like the rest, has the ability to make calls. The differences in feature sets is accounted for accordingly in the retail prices.

The onboard amp on the UE 6000 is driven by 2 batteries.

The onboard amp on the UE 6000 is driven by 2 batteries.

 

 

Hardware Tests

Putting audio performance aside, the most important test for the headphones is the ease of use. The accessories for the headphones are very similar. They use similar cords and are crafted very similarly. The cord feels sturdy and is crafted to be tangle free. The controls on the cord are built for iOS. You can use the middle button to play, pause and pick up calls on all phones but the volume buttons will only work on iOS.

 

The build quality on all three headsets is great. The UE 6000 takes the cake for being the most comfortable.

 

The headphones felt comfortable overall. The UE 6000 felt the most comfortable as it sported the thickest head cushion of all three. In terms of the around-the-ear cups for the UE 6000 and 9000, they did the job without fuss. The only downside is that your ears may feel a little warm over time but this is to be expected of all around-the-ear cups.

All three headphones can be adjusted to fit different head sizes. The mechanism for extension is well built and smooth. The build quality on all three headsets is great. The UE 6000 takes the cake for being the most comfortable.

 

 

Audio Performance

In terms of audio quality, the headphones were plugged into a Creative X-Fi Titanium sound card. The X-Fi Titanium was set at 96kHz at 24 bit as that is the best performance the card can offer. I used a series of different audio files to test the headphones. These include six 3,000kbps FLAC Hi Def audio files from HD Tracks and twenty 320kbps MP3 files. The genres range from orchestral live performances, vocals, country, blues, rock and pop. This would allow me to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the headphones.

Besides pure audio files, I also tested the headphones with a high definition video file. An 18GB MKV H264 1920×1080, 23.976 FPS Transformers II file was used. This master copy utilized DTS Audio (6 channels) @ 48kHz and was the highest quality movie I had.

 

The audio performances of all three headphones were similar in most situations.

 

Interestingly, the audio performances of all three headphones were similar in most situations. You can put this down to the almost equal specifications of all three headphones. There is a distinct difference between the UE 4000 and the rest due to the on-ear vs around-the-ear cups. The onboard amplifier did help the UE 6000 create a slightly wider soundstage but it was not too significant.

The audio performance is delightful. It is bright, energetic which makes it well suited for music on the go. However, some details were not as clear when compared to other headphones and speakers. Overall, the Logitech UE headphones performed well, almost equal on all fronts.

 

 

Conclusion

The UE 9000 packs the largest feature set seen on headphones.

The UE 9000 packs the largest feature set seen on headphones.

The question on which headphone to get is dependent on features rather than audio quality. The UE 4000 delivers good sound without frills. Unlike most headphones, it allows you to take calls which is a very nice feature. If you want an around-the-ear pair of headphones, the UE 6000 is the right choice with a small boost in audio performance. It is also the most comfortable of the lot. The UE 9000 is pricey but it has everything you can ask for on a headphone. It takes calls wirelessly, delivers great sound, has good controls on the headphones itself and its Bluetooth connectivity is top notch. I have yet to experienced a drop out.

Logitech’s UE headphone series is targeted at a balanced performance. It has everything a headphone lover would want and the manner in which each headphone is made enables it to cover varying segments of the market.

 

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