Review: Ultimate Ears 18+PRO – Take my money

3. Cable

 

In last week’s EM10 review I said the following: In my opinion a top level monitor deserves a good cable, and most of the popular CIEM companies nowadays are working together with a boutique cable maker. Ultimate Ears clearly agrees as they’re now working with Estron/Linum from Denmark. The SuperBax cable is now being offered with the full UE line-up and they even developed the IPX connector together.

We already know that the SuperBax cable is an excellent cable in both sound and comfort. The SuperBax doesn’t tangle, is light, comfy and hardly noticeable. You can perfectly wear it above the ear and it won’t bother you a single bit as it’s light and soft. This new SuperBax cable does come with a new feature though as it now has a new cable tie where the cable splits left and right. With this new splitter you can lock the mechanism and that way the splitter will always stay perfectly in place where you set it (for me that’s under my chin). That way the cable never gets in the way, it won’t snag the monitors and it won’t bother you at all.

We’ll have to see how the new connecter behaves in the long run but it seems to be very sturdy so far and thousands of confirmed connections, it should last very long indeed. Cable-wise, UE from me gets a double thumbs up. The actual Superbax IPX-cable only comes in a 3.5mm termination for now and it of course can only be used with T2 and IPX connectors.

4. Price & Accessories

The UE 18+PRO starts at $1499 (LIVE! is $2199) and compared to other top level 6-drivers that price is conform the market. Sure you’ll find a lot of cheaper 6-drivers, but a whole lot of more expensive ones too.

For that price your 18+PRO comes in really beautiful box. When you flip it open you’ll see the UE labelled inside of the box, a manual saying “Thank You” on the front and a famous Fischer Amps sticker. Under the manual, there is the roadie case which I chose.Inside the roadie case you’ll find the monitors, a soft pouch to put them in, the SuperBax cable and a basic cleaning tool. It’s a really nice package with standard accessories but they’re all very well done.

I had no idea to expect when I chose that case but it has very quickly grown on me and I’ve been using it ever since for all my monitor transports. During these last months the case has a tough life as you can see in the pics, but it’s still perfectly protecting it’s precious cargo. An awesome tough case!

5. Customer Service

I didn’t deal with the UE customer service directly as everything was discussed with Fischer Amps. I can only say that Fischer Amps is a really good company, they have a lot of experience and they have an excellent service.

As said FA has over 20 years of experience and they’ve been doing the European UE distribution since 1999, so also almost 20 years. That clearly means both buyers and UE are very happy with the level of support they’re getting from FA, and I’m sure the UE service is just as good.

6. Sound

The UE 18+PRO was the monitor I started listening to after the Earsonics EM10 and if you’ve read that review you’ll remember that the EM10 is warm, smooth, big bodied and musical. It’s linear yet far away from neutral and so going to the 18+PRO was quite the shock.

When you start listening to the UE18+PRO, the clarity and precision are what will strike you first and most. From bass to treble the 18+PRO delivers a high level of clarity with a very clean back ground. It’s perfectly black and dead silent. The UE 18+PRO also strikes you with its excellent Left/Right balance and stereo image, but it doesn’t stop there. Technically this is a really good monitor that is linear and oh so precise. UE gave it a neutral tuning and linear presentation, but it at the same time is dynamic and musical. The UE 18+PRO has good separation and excellent detail but it doesn’t get lost in details and never becomes overly analytic. THE UE 18+PRO is transparent, fast and precise.

The UE 18+PRO from bass to treble is tight and the pace is really good, together with its dynamics. The sound stage width is good (wider than it is deep) but at the same time it isn’t the widest compared to some other models on the market. UE is/was aware of that slightly intimate presentation and in the V3-version which is available now, you should get more headroom and a bigger stage with even better spaciousness. The layering from bass to treble is quite good and when playing high quality tracks, this really is nicely audible. Love it!

I like different kinds of sound and I can both enjoy neutral and warm sounding monitors. The older I get, or the longer I have been doing this “job” however, I seem to pick up neutrally tuned and precise monitors more than the warm, full bodied and big bass ones. The UE 18+PRO to me is an excellent sounding monitor of the first category, especially seeing how well it performs with only 6-drivers. It outperforms several monitors with a higher driver count, though driver count isn’t everything.

Bass – Mids – Treble

Bass is neutral in quantity and presentation. That means there’s no special focus on the bass section and it’s perfectly in line with the mids and treble. Bass body thus is neutral but that in this case doesn’t mean at all it’s not good. In fact, the UE 18+PRO’s bass is great: it comes with good depth and layering, carries good detail, is presented with an excellent pace and it’s tight in all circumstances. This is quality over quantity but in a very positive way. What’s not to love from a detailed, clean and precise bass with the right amount of presence to keep everything enjoyable and musical. Very well done bass, especially with high quality recordings.

The mids more or less share the same characteristics and you get a neutral tuning with excellent timber and exemplary clarity and transparency. The mids also have good layering with great dynamics and they’re presented in a neutral way body-wise with a good amount of air and space. Separation is good and they connect perfectly to the bass sections. The vocals perfectly fit in with all the rest and they don’t sound forward or laid back. They’re very clear and natural and when you close your eyes you could think someone singing right there in the same room with you.

The treble section coherently flows from the mids and it’s perfectly in line with the bass and those mids. The linear presentation means that the treble section is also neutral both in tuning and body presentation. The True Tone driver’s extension actually is pretty darn good, though I can see why UE would want to create an even more extended and wider presentation. Treble is clear and rich and come with great timbre. The TT drivers make treble very energetic and dynamic. I really like the precise, clean, rich presentation and the way it is layered. Like the bass the treble really gets to another level with high quality source files.

All in all a coherent, precise, detailed and clear presentation from top to bottom. The sound quality, detail level and layering for a six-driver is impressive and the tuning simply is well done.

More on sound can be found on PAGE FOUR of the review RIGHT HERE.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

8 Comments

  • Reply June 21, 2018

    Thomas Alessandro

    Great review as always. I have had the UE18 rps for 6 years the best thing about UE is the repair service its a flat fee of $99 US and no matter what’s wrong with your monitors they fix them for this price. I just loss my bass in both ears and UE came to the rescue and upgraded my monitors to the new UE 18 pro + free of charge. Hows that for customer service.

    Eagerly awaiting your Astell and Kern SP100 review as thats on my list to purchase! I also have the Campfire Vega which musically are brilliant, unfortunately i cant find any tips to make them comfortable for more than 30 minutes so i have them on the market and will probably get some Vision Ears to compliment my UE. Love the site and all the reviews are fantastic thanks Headfonia team keep up the great work.

  • Reply June 22, 2018

    JH

    Interesting, getting a $1500 product for free and not a single bad point. And the opening feels like a marketing blurb that UE/Logitech wrote. I’d believe it if you paid UE for real rather than scream take my money in the title

    • Reply June 22, 2018

      Lieven

      Reading, it’s not for everyone I know. But there are several negative points in the review, especially regarding build quality. And then there’s the IPX connector that we don’t know how will react in the long run.There’s the missing things in the online creator tool, etc etc.

      cfr the intro: If you look at the UE site, you’ll see its what they wrote, there’s no secret about that my dear reader, it’s also why that part is in Italic.

    • Reply July 1, 2018

      XiaXueYi

      You’ll just have to listen to you for yourself. There are no headphones or IEMs that cover everything and every taste, but it’s like what he’s written, and looking at /audiophile under Reddit you’ll see a lot of UE18+ love as well.

      I only wished they told existing UE18+ owners or those buying UE18+ within ~6months of buying that they would be rolling up the new cable system. Many other IEM companies like Noble do inform their customers about upcoming upgrades and it’s a bummer some of us bought the older UE18+ just months before the new Superbax came out. It’ll be a pain to send it back for an upgrade.

  • Reply June 30, 2018

    Thomas Alessandro

    i thing to add is if you are an existing UE CIEM customer pretty sure you will get a 30% discount which is substantial.

  • Reply July 1, 2018

    XiaXueYi

    Thank you for finally posting this review! In my opinion the UE18+ is one of the most well-received TOTL CIEMs and every CIEM lover should at least listen to it once, if not buy it.

    Some people would disagree with me but I would describe the UERR as the younger brother; similar sound signature with slightly lesser performance in the technicalities.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.