Ultrasone IQ And IQ Pro

Disclaimer: Both Ultrasone IQ and IQ Pro, were purchased by me through Audio One, an online retailer here in Japan. IQ pro starts from 599$ USD, and IQ goes for quite a bit more.

I’ve little doubt that Thomas Tsai will cough up a cat over this article. I love the IQ. I’ve loved it since the first day I picked it up. And, I have hated it. It’s an earphone that not only sounds great when things are in its favor, it’s an earphone that fits like few other cable-over-the-ear earphones out there.

But it’s got gotchas out the wazzoo. And does does the IQ Pro.

Trademark

In typical Ultrasone: IQ is all flash and bang in its gawdy-awful gold and glint. Its matte aluminum shell is great, its solid metallic body feels luxurious. But the flashy bits, which Ultrasone trimmed from the IQ Pro, are simply ridiculous. Far too easily, flash picks up scratches, and prints, and glints too much in the sun. If I lived in a big American city, I’d stick them up with gaffer’s tape to keep my ears safe from thieves.

IQ is too much Edition for their own good.

And then there’s the Pro. Its stoic color scheme reflects much less light. It looks serious. It’s got the same cable, and the same ear tips. From its zippered carrying case to its slim box, it is understated.

It is German.

Chassis and Fit

The strange angles Ultrasone’s art director chose for both earphones’s commercial imagery show neither earphone in the best light. But those odd angles and inexplicable weaving angles do a good job of showing it stoic, at least next to the IQ.

Strangely, IQ Pro’s matte gray surface picks up oil and wax more so than the IQ. Its sides and bottom look mottled after just a few days, and never wipe away as clean as IQ.

Apart from that, they’re basically the same thing. Aluminum, Volvo-boxy, flat-sitting, and horned by ergonomically-angled sound tubes. Despite neither earphone being a custom-cum-universal earphone, they fit fine. but assuming that your ear concha is large enough (medium-sized ears will do), IQ and IQ Pro are über comfy. They lie flat and low in the concha while the narrow sound tube drives gently up, into the ear canal. Fit perfectly, IQ is one of, if not the most comfortable cable-over-the-ear earphones I’ve ever used. And for all its comfort, it is stable, and robust.

Just so you know, beside the Comply foams, I didn’t get on with any of the included tips. They are awful. Not only do they not fit, nor isolate, they do a horrible thing with IQ’s contrasty treble, casting too much sibilance into the canals.

Instead, I use Shure’s low-density yellow foams, with are comfortable and make the best-sounding combination with either IQ earphone. Their problem, of course, is that they get nasty pretty quick. The Olives work nearly as well and isolate even better.

Cable

The basic difference between the two is this: IQ’s cable comes off; IQ Pro’s does not. That, and IQ comes with two: one with a remote and two evenly yoked channels, and one with a horrid wrap-around-the-neck j-cable. Both cables are strong, free from microphonic noise, and the right length. They are resistant to the deleterious effects of sweat and body oils.

I do not like memory wire. IQ and IQ Pro’s cables are strapped with lots of memory wire. In the IQ Pro, that wire is long, semi-flexible, and can be tied behind the head pretty well. Inexplicably, IQ’s cable lacks a neck cinch. Otherwise, it is a great cable. In fact, I’d like to see more IEM companies use robust cables like this- just sans memory wire, and with neck cinches.

Of course, IQ’s cable is removable. Generally, I have something from Linum, or PlusSound, or Charleston Cable Company attached. The IQ Pro’s cable is fixed. Part of the reason is so that it wont twist out of a musician’s ears when performing.

Audiophiles are sedentary. And impatient. IQ’s detachable cable fees the latter while respecting the former.

Sound impressions after the jump:

Ultrasone IQ And IQ Pro
4.3 (85.71%) 7 votes

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Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

6 Comments

  • Reply March 15, 2015

    ohm image

    Really?

    • Reply August 9, 2015

      Shoghi Sadeghi Afshar

      For Trance Is there any other iems you would recommend over the IQ Pro (at any price)? I love balanced sound btw. So do you know how some other iems compare, like Sony Z5, DN2000J, IE800, Westone W60, etc, basically I’m asking what is your all time favorite iem for Trance music.

  • Reply September 29, 2015

    derSchallhoerer

    Do you still use your IQ’s, Nathan? I ordered the Pro today. I’m curious if they can compete with my Stagediver 2.

    • Reply October 20, 2015

      ohm image

      I still do use them. I even love them. I’ve met a number of people that really dislike them. And a number of people that really like them. These are very divisive phones.

      The Pro are quite different: no bottoming out, softer highs.

      Is it the Pro or the regular IQ that you dislike? My guess is that it is down to personal preferences. I’m part of the CK10/DT880/ER4 posse. IQ is a wilder evolution of each.

      If you’re not part of that posse, I understand. I’m glad you got return.

  • Reply September 30, 2015

    derSchallhoerer

    Got them today, listened for 2 hours and repacked them. What a waist of money. I really don’t know what Nathan heard in them. Not only that the packaging looks incredibly cheap (not that it really matters, still strange though) but they also sound like some 100-150 EUR IEM’s and not like 450 EUR. Thank God for Amazon and their Money-Back Service.

    BTW: I got a good seal and know when something sounds “off” because of lack of isolation. But they just don’t sound good to me at all.

    • Reply October 20, 2015

      ohm image

      For clarification: did you get Pro or regular IQ? I’m sorry you didn’t like them. Like I said: it’s really a personal thing. Even Joker likes them. But I see where and why you could hate them.

      I think when using them in genres that don’t ruin their low bass overhead and don’t excite highs too much, they are lovely. But then again, they can be problematic.

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