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got worship? Reviews : Ultimate Ears UE 4 Pro

ultimateearsOne of the most commonly searched terms here on “got worship?” pertains to in-ear monitors.  For that reason, we like to keep you in tune with the best products for your in ear mix and, from time to time, get the opportunity to review products that you might find worthwhile.

Today, we have the pleasure of reviewing a set of custom molded in-ears from Ultimate Ears – the UE 4 Pro.

The General Stuff

There is something to be said about custom molded in-ear monitors to begin with – but most have a pretty hefty price tag to go along with it.  Ultimate Ears decided to take their high standard in custom in-ears and break it down into a more cost-obtainable package called the UE 4 Pro.  Dubbed the in-ear for emerging artists, this custom molded in-ear comes in at only $399.00.

The UE 4’s look a whole lot like the pricier UE 10 or 11’s – with a a few cutbacks.  First of all, you can’t get them in custom colors and designs – you get your choice of clear, clear or clear.  That isn’t too much of a problem since clear doesn’t look too gaudy onstage.  The in-ears even have the customization of having your intials on each ear bud in red and blue to indicate which ear to place them in.

Now, while I mentioned that they look like the 10’s or 11’s – don’t forget that there is a reason in the $500 plus difference in price…they don’t sound the same.

The UE 4 Pro has a proprietary dual-armature speaker system.  It also has an integrated passive crossover circuit  – tech talk for a dedicated speaker just for the bass and mids and a dedicated speaker for the highs.  Its a good blend even if your desire is true reference sound – but it’s a contrast to the 11’s with quad armatures and three-way crossovers.

In true custom mold fashion, these guys also provide -26dB of isolation and passive noise cancellation and, with an extra $50 – you can get an ambient noise pass-thru.

Now, cool stuff…if something is bound to break on any given in-ear – it is usually going to be a cable.  The Ultimate Ears crew opted to go with a detachable cable which means easier replacement.  I can easily buy a spare cable and swap it out rather than send my in-ears off for a few days and use a less-reliable backup.  Kudos for that gem.

Techincal Stuff

UE 4 Pro  Specifications

  • Input Sensitivity: 108db @ 1mw
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 15,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 17.5 ohms at 1 kHz
  • Internal Speaker Configuration: 2 proprietary precision balanced armatures
  • Noise Isolation: -26dB
  • Input Connector: 1/8″ (3.5mm) Gold plated

Personal Listening

The Test Song

For all in-ear reviews, I use  “Footloose” from the Footloose soundtrack for a few reasons:

  • The song has a great mix of highs, lows, and mids to judge the different qualities.
  • It is a “busy” song in that there are plenty of separated instrumentation tracks to try to pick out.
  • It, by virtue of being under the category of “80’s Music”, happens to be first in my iPod.

The test song was played via the same iPod at the same volume level (20 and then max for a second listen) in order to be fair in my assessment.

Overall, the UE 4’s had a good balance.  All the voices and instruments seemed to be right in the pocket where they should be, though the sound at 20 was not as “hot” as some of my other in-ears.  I do wish the bass had a bit more “umph” to it.  Still, the sound was stellar crisp and clear.  No complaints in the personal listening department…but I don’t think UE is looking for a niche in the mp3 player headphone department at close to $400 – nor do I expect most would buy them solely for that reason.

Stage Performance

Worn in a full-on FOH mix with AVIOM personal mixing station at my disposal.  The venue is a theater-type hall with great acoustics but with drums that will tear you up without having proper noise cancellation.

The UE 4 Pro’s did the trick.  I didn’t have any muddled sound, which is what I would have expected with a low-end in-ear.  While these are not UE 10’s or 11’s by far, the sound is great for a worship leader or musician working on a budget.

Oh…remember my earlier complaint about the bass while jamming to Footloose?  That actually becomes a redeeming factor on stage.  FOH (Front of House) mixes tend to be bass dominant by nature, so if you are like me and play acoustic while you sing, you fight to hear yourself in there.  The less than enthusiastic bass in the personal listening category actually made for a good balance on stage and allowed me to make a good mix.

I could really only find one complaint with the UE 4 Pro’s and even it isn’t trully a complaint…Cord length – this is actually a hit or miss type thing.  When I have on a wireless pack, the cord length is actually perfect – but it is entirely too short when hard-wired into an Aviom.  This can, however, be resolved by purchasing a separate cord from UE…so kudos on having accessories.

Overall Summary

The UE 4 Pro’s are definitely great for a low-end price custom mold one piece.  The $399.00 price tag may not reach everyone’s budget…but it is still a far cry from some of the 700,800,900, and 1,000 dollar alternatives.

The ownership experience is nice…I got an email from the Ultimate Ears team telling me that my in-ears had shipped followed up by an email from UPS with a tracking number provided by Ultimate Ears to track the package.  Then, I got a “welcome” video from Ultimate Ears that told me a little bit about how to properly wear my new in-ears and how to care for them once they arrived.  The ownership experience continued when I got the package – they come in a sturdy case that is personalized – a nice touch…while the in-ears themselves bear the purchaser’s initials, too.  The kit also comes with a wax loop and brush making maintenance fairly easy for the in-ears.

My ultimate take-away is this :  if you have around $500 to spend and you are dead set on getting your first pair of custom one piece molded in-ears…then you will enjoy these UE’s.  Make sure that you understand that these are not intended to be the “ultimate” monitor for vocalists and musicians, but a cheaper alternative without having to sacrifice all matters of sound quality.

Ultimate Ears: http://ultimateears.com
UE 4 Pro: http://ultimateears.com/_ultimateears/store/custom/ue4pro.php
[album: http://www.gotworship.net/images/UltimateEars/]

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