Review: Ultimate Ears UE LIVE – Save the bees

In this article we’re looking at the UE LIVE stage monitor from Ultimate Ears.

 

Disclaimer: I was sent the Ultimate Ears LIVE free of charge in exchange for this review, via Fischer Amps in Germany. Ultimate Ears and Fischer Amps are in no other way related to Headfonia and the sample doesn’t need to be returned

Ultimate Ears

Founded in 1995 Ultimate Ears Pro created a new market for custom in-ear monitors which are now used by most of the world’s top touring musicians. The first in-ear monitor was developed for Alex Van Halen by his monitor engineer to give him a way to protect his hearing while allowing him to perform better on stage. In 2008, UE Pro partnered with Logitech, a company as passionate about premium audio and connecting people through technology as UE are about changing the way you hear music. UE have since created over 100,000 sets of in-ear monitors in the last 20 years for musicians and music lovers.

For 20+ years the UE team is continuously challenging itself to innovate, improve quality, and advance delivery times. As part of our continuous drive to be better, UE Pro has combined artisan-handcrafted techniques with cutting-edge technology. UE have embraced the advantages of digital processes to advance time to customers and deliver an acoustic experience that is second-to-none. Each product is handcrafted, precision-tuned and custom tailored to fit the unique contours of the ear, isolating it from any external noise. This starts with a unique digital scan or physical impression of the ear. UE experts modify the shape to improve comfort and fit for all of the key audio and electronic components where each detail is meticulously developed. The custom ear shell is printed using the latest 3D printing techniques. UE have been 3D printing since 2015 to ensure we are producing a better fitting, more accurate product. UE have a team of lab technicians that work on multiple details to ensure your product matches your specific fit and design. This includes experts on 3D software and custom in-ear manufacturing who have been making products for more than 20 years, and also graphic artists who can reproduce your custom tailored design of choice.

It’s not the first time we look at UE gear on Headfonia.com. Previously we have reviewed the U900 and UE9000, but regarding this review, the Pro Reference Remastered and the 18+PRO V2 are the most linked as they are CIEMs. You can find the previous reviews here.

https://www.headfonia.com/thoughts-on-the-ultimate-ears-ue900/

https://www.headfonia.com/ultimate-ears-ultimate-the-ue9000/

https://www.headfonia.com/review-ultimate-ears-pro-reference-remastered-default-capital/

https://www.headfonia.com/review-ultimate-ears-18pro/

UE 2018 Award

Just a few weeks ago we handed out our Best of 2018 awards and Ultimate Ears won the award for being the most innovative company with two new top level CIEMs in on year and the introduction of the IPX, Superbax and use of True Tone drivers. You can find the full award article here: https://www.headfonia.com/blog-2018-awards/

Fischer amps

Based on 20 years of experience in pro audio and hi-fi, the Germany based Fischer Amps are one of the outstanding manufacturers of solutions for sound engineers, artists and audiophiles.

From year one, Fischer Amps have been striving to simplify the work for artists and their sound engineers, to enable them to focus on their show and joy for music during live performances. In collaboration with renowned sound engineers and artists, Fischer Amps are constantly developing new products which satisfy the requirements on stage and which show their reliability on stage.

Jochen Fischer took over the Europe-wide distribution for Ultimate Ears Pro in 1999, at a time when in-ear monitoring was still in its infancy! With passion and expertise, they train their dealers & acoustic partners, provide easy, fast support and help ensure that all UE feel that they are in good hands.

LIVE!

In this article we’ll be looking at the UE LIVE, the actual reference model in the Ultimate Ears Pro Line-up.

“The UE LIVE is the culmination of everything good. The hybrid design brings in the warmth of the dynamic driver, the punchiness of the UE11 and UE7, and the clarity of the reference. This monitor goes all out to make sure you hear everything. When you listen to these, you will notice nuances that you have never heard before. It is a perfect balance of detail and musicality. It is our best monitor yet.”

According to Ultimate Ears the LIVE is the ultimate stage performance piece and the key words are: power, clarity, crispiness and boldness. It’s supposed to be the ideal monitor for festivals, arenas and stadiums.

The LIVE version’s internal construction is quite unique. Inside it features 8 drivers using three different technologies. We have 6 normal balanced armatures, 1 True Tone Plus driver & one 6mm neodymium dynamic speaker. Check out this picture which shows you how complicated this design really is.

As it is the reference model, it will set you back around $2,199.00 without special personalization options. If you’re already familiar with True Tone, IPX and Superbax, you can skip to the Breakdown part.

True Tone

The True Tone technology is an Ultimate Ears technology. True Tone drivers are proprietary balanced armatures that focus on the overtones and harmonics, so that you can hear and feel the emotional qualities of the music.

With the UE True Tone Drivers – which extend the frequency range and deliver a flat response to 18KHz – you can now hear the harmonic structures and overtones that are usually missing from most headphones. As a result, the notes from hi-res audio recordings can be heard just the way it was captured in the studio.

IPX

The LIVE and 18+PRO with the TT-drivers aren’t the only new things UE recently put on the market. All of UE’s custom monitors now come with a new cable and cable system. This new system, co-created with Estron – which we of course already know – provides a lightweight, IP67 certified sweat-proof, durable connection between cable and connector, allowing for easy swapping between different cable types. The Ultimate Ears SuperBax is a road-worthy cable, strong enough to hold a 12-pound barbell, yet so lightweight and transparent that it becomes virtually invisible. With significant reliability improvement, this new system can handle thousands of cycles of connect-disconnects. The new IPX Linum SuperBax cable is available from UE for $199.00.

Linum/Estron and the SuperBax cable aren’t new to the portable audio scene and we’ve reviewed and approved their cables on several occasions already:

https://www.headfonia.com/review-linum-cables/

In fact, we’ve already reviewed the SuperBax cable as well but in that review it “just” didn’t have the new IPX connector.

https://www.headfonia.com/review-linum-superbax/

You can find the UE SuperBax cable’s dedicated product page right here:

http://pro.ultimateears.com/superbax

So, what’s new then?

The design is built upon Estron’s already good T2 system, but added new features to make it more reliable and reduce intermittence. The design update also made it IPX 67 compliant. The industry needed a sweat-proof and tour-proof cable system for in-ear monitors, so UE co-developed a solution from the ground. The Ultimate Ears IPX Connection System was designed to handle everything a musician deals with nightly — sweat, makeup, hairspray, humidity, set up, break down and travel. There have been some issues with the old T2 system regarding sweat and connection issues, so this should be solved with this new cable.

Does that mean I may use my “old” T2 cable with the new UE monitors? Yes, you may, but you will not get the water and sweat proof benefit by using older Linux Bax and SuperBax cables

The Ultimate Ears SuperBax is unparalleled in its quality and construction. It is a low impedance hi-fi audio cable.

  Silver plated copper litz wires

  Quad twisted – 168 strands

  Weight: 8-9g / 0.28-0.32oz

  Impedance: 0.75 Ω

  Pull strength of cable: 12lbs

  Microphonics: Low

 

LIVE Technical Specifications

INPUT SENSITIVITY:  105 dB @ 1 kHz, 1mW

FREQUENCY RESPONSE:  5 Hz – 22 kHz

NOISE ISOLATION:  -26 decibels of ambient stage noise

IMPEDANCE:  10 Ohms @ 1kHz

INTERNAL SPEAKER CONFIGURATION:  6 balanced armatures, 1 True Tone Plus driver & 1 6mm neodymium dynamic speaker.

INPUT CONNECTOR:  1/8” headphone jack; compatible with all systems

WARRANTY:  1-year

 

The article continues on page two, click HERE or just the jump below

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.

7 Comments

  • Reply January 11, 2019

    Jonathan Sudharta

    So what is the Live purposely build for, only for artist or audiophile can enjoy this? Quite surprising because they mention its the mix of UE7 and UE11, because i have the ue7 and the high really sparkle and it make string guitar sounded like string, it doesnt change the sound of the string to more timber-ish sound.

    Is the UE18 got more treble sparkle or just flat sounding?

  • Reply January 11, 2019

    Lieven

    UE18 is flat and has more sparkle in treble.
    It’s made for Professional use but some audiophiles will like the typical sound as well. It’s all explained int he review really.

  • Reply January 17, 2019

    Darren

    I’m debating back and forth on whether to purchase the UE REFERENCE REMASTERED vs. UE LIVE. Do you find that the LIVE colors the sound too much for studio applications where a flat response is needed, or as you say in the review, is it indeed the perfect solution for those who use their monitors both at home and on the go? I appreciate any insight or recommendations you have as to which option to choose.

    • Reply January 21, 2019

      Lieven

      I wouldn’t use the LIVE ina studio no, go reference or 18+PRO for that

    • Reply March 20, 2019

      zenmaestro

      go reference for studio. i have live and ue7. i looove the live. so enjoyable for listening to music. just joy. definitely color sound. i would buy another live, without question. they making listening to music so enjoyable. smooth, warm, detailed, visceral, rhythmic, fun, non-fatiguing. they just make me wanna move. i can listen for hours without stopping. for enjoying music, get’em. to master music, not so much.

  • Reply April 6, 2019

    Lee

    I can’t tell you how excited I was to receive my UE LIVEs in the mail a few weeks back. I was expecting to be totally blown away by the flagship IEM from a company with such a stellar reputation and so much seniority in the field. I am an audio engineer, professional musician, and audiophile; and as such, I own countless pairs of headphones, studio monitors, and sound systems, ranging from dirt cheap to embarrassingly expensive. However, I can honestly say, without being hyperbolic in any way, that these are my least favorite headphones I’ve ever owned; bar none. I wanted to love these so badly, especially after dropping $2,250 on them. But, by the time I got to the chorus of the first song I played through them, I was devastated to realize that I didn’t and wouldn’t ever like them at all.
    That said, $2,250 is a lot of money to spend on some ear candy, and I wasn’t ready to give up so easily. So I listened to over 100 hours of music on them, and performed live with them at six shows and a few rehearsals, but I still cannot trick myself into thinking they are anything but well-marketed garbage.
    The best thing about them is the way they fit, but anyone now a-days can make a well fitting CIEM.
    Why are they so awful? The bass and low mids bleed into each in an unparalleled manner. It sounds like there are actual marshmallows stuffed in the sound holes (without the marshmallow’s sweetness, I might add). I know audiophiles hate the word “muddy” when describing how something sounds, but Jesus, these things are so painfully and powerfully muddy. The release of the sub bass is so slow and uncontrolled that it’s just right out distracting. (To be clear, I LOVE sub-bass to a level that makes my wife a little bit jealous.) Here’s how I would describe the sound signature. It sounds as if someone took a parametric EQ and boosted 15 – 20db at 100hz with a ridiculously wide bell curve, and then cut -10db of everything from 450hz to 10khz with high shelf and then rolled off the rest. It’s strange and bewildering to listen to. The mids are so far recessed that you have to crank the volume to unhealthy levels to really hear vocals clearly. As for the treble, it’s not just rolled off; it sounds like you are listening from the room next door.
    At first I thought I must have a defective pair, but it sounds just as bad in both ears, and what are the odds of both sides having matching faulty drivers?
    To test my sanity, I went to a local dealer who sells a number of the big brands, and I got to demo over 25 different models from UE’s competition… I liked every single IEM I heard better than the UE LIVE.
    Also, the SuperBax cable, which I actually loved initially, is already starting to come apart, and UE charges $250 to replace it once it’s out of warranty.
    On the bright side, UE is one of a few companies that has a return policy. But, with the 25% restocking fee, it will still cost me $562 just to return them. Let that sink in for a second… It’s painful to think about.
    Through the demoing process I was able to find hear some IEMS from other companies that are absolutely incredible. I would tell you what models those are, but at the risk of being accused of being an undercover sales rep for another company, I wont post that here.
    All that to say… I would definitely try to demo as many different products as you can before purchasing IEMs, and unless you get to demo and for some odd reason absolutely love the UE LIVE, I would simply look elsewhere.

    • Reply April 26, 2019

      Lieven

      That description doesn’t sound like anything my LIVE sounds like, but it’s clear these are stage monitors, not studio gear
      I have a lot of Linum cables,a nd apart from the very first T2 ones, they all still work perfectly.
      I guess you really had bad luck with this set :/

Leave a Reply

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