I know what you are thinking before you even ran through your head: Jerry, why the hell are you reviewing a pair of $1,000-plus in-ear-monitor headphones that are wired when almost no smartphones these days have stock headphone jacks, and almost no one uses anything other than their smartphone as a source when listening to headphones? And I hear you, but you need to take a deep breath. There is a method to my madness even if you think that I big be guilty of huffing a carburetor cleaner to get through the pain of day-to-day life.
Tremendous effort goes into the professional recording and mastering process to make music come out sounding exactly as the artists, producers, engineers, and mastering folk want it to. Even if you have the exact same million-dollar console, the same electronics, the same near-field monitors, the same house monitors and so forth that were used to mix and master your favorite album, there’s almost zero chance you’re listening in the same room where the music was mixed.
These Ultimate Ears UE Pro Capitol Records Remastered (UR RR for short) in-ear monitors get you a whole lot closer, though, for $1,079 per pair.
These earphones were designed to take the variables out the process of hearing and experiencing a record without the added coloration of the room. And while most audiophiles (myself included) fancy themselves record producers or mastering engineers, we aren’t. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need these absurdly good headphones, even if they are “wired” in a 100 percent wireless world.
What Makes the Ultimate Ears Capitol Records UE Pro In-ear Headphones So Special?
- The Ultimate Ears Capital Records UE Pro Remastered IEMs are designed to sound neutral from 5Hz (way deeper bass than you can actually hear) to 25kHz (higher than any human can hear). In short, you like boomy-ass Beats, these IEMs are not for you. Not even close, I would say. If you want ultimately accurate, noise blocking IEMs that are unique, then keep on reading.
- These IEMs are light but they are wired. You likely will need an adaptor to use with more modern smartphones and tablets, which is admittedly a total pain in the ass. Adaptors are easily procured from Amazon or Apple.com with one-day shipping for less than $20. If you want wireless IEMs, Ultimate Ears has them and for way less money (think: under $200 before fitting), but none of those more affordable offerings even claims to be a studio reference in-ear monitor.
- The cool factor on these IEMs is off-the-charts. The multi-driver technology. The neutral sonic voicing. The custom fitting. Even your name engraved on the metal case all adds up to “special.” It is very unlikely that the guy sitting next to you is going to be rocking reference level Ultimate Ears.
- The custom fitting experience means you might want to to make a trip to an audiologist, but it’s a painless process and genuinely pretty cool. If nothing else, it’s an experience. They sit you down and inject a type of foam into your ears and make molds. Those molds are then used to make custom-fit earphones that literally fit no one but you. I have done this process a couple of times for different pairs of IEM now and I find that I like a more “loose fit” than the technicians like, but that’s something to discuss when your IEMs are being made. These days, UE will also send you an at-home kit and allow you to make the impressions yourself, but that takes away from the experience to a degree.
- One thing that I learned that was new in the review process is that Ultimate Ears offers a CSX Fit Techology which allows you to do the custom fitting at home. Here’s a video that shows the seemingly easy-painless process.
Why Should You Care About the Ultimate Ears Capitol Records UE Pro Remastered?
• These IEMs sound unlike any “headphone” that you’ve ever heard. They are “dry” or “flat” sounding, which might take time to get used to, but for true audiophiles who can pop for $1,079 for IEMs they present you a very realistic representation of how your favorite music sounded in the studio.
• Given the truly custom fit, they also have passive noise isolation unlike anything you’ve likely ever experienced. You might find yourself sticking them in your ears on a crowded flight or when mowing the grass even if you don’t want to listen to music—just to enjoy the golden silence. No “adaptive noise control” (ANC) needed here like you find on other varieties of wireless headphones and IEMs.
• The Ultimate Ears Capitol Records UE Pro Remastered IEMs deliver mastering studio sound in a tiny, travel-friendly package made just for you.
• I’ve only seen these in-ear-monitors in a clear finish (very on-stage or “pro” looking” but their Ultimate Ears website has all sorts of color options ranging from black to gray to pink to blue and others. Technically, you could switch out faceplates for a new look for $199 per. In my case, the issue of travel weight and simplicity are paramount thus no extra faceplates for me.
Some Things You Might Not Like About Ultimate Ears Capitol Records UE Pro Remastered IEMs
• I might go out on a limb to suggest that they are tricky if not dangerous to have in your ears if you are walking busy city streets or working out outdoors, simply because you’re so disconnected from the ambient noise of the world around you (like, that car approaching you from behind whose driver isn’t paying attention). I feel the same way about good, noise-canceling traditional over-the-ear headphones, mind you, but these take it to the next level. UE does offer what they call an Ambient Feature—a small port in the bottom of the faceplate that will allow some ambient sound to pass through—which is an optional add-on at time of purchase. Just know that this will affect bass performance.
• Custom fit IEMs requite time, effort, and (often) money to get fitted. So does your bespoke Brioni suit, but damn you look good in it versus a more Prêt-à-Porter look right off the racks at Neiman Marcus (or Men’s Warehouse, depending where you shop for clothes).
• These IEMs aren’t wireless. We’ve cover this but I need to make the point again, since we obviously live in a wireless world and Ultimate Ears have less “hardcore” wireless IEM headphones as a fraction of the price called UE Drops ($399).
• If you are looking for a very flavored sound with perhaps pronounced highs (which a lot of audiophiles like because it gives the illusion of enhanced detail) or booming low bass (which makes the music hit harder, obviously, but at the expense of accuracy) there are many other headphones better suited for your tastes.
Listening To the Ultimate Ears Capitol Records UE Pro Remastered IEMs…
On “Love Her Madly” from The Doors’ L.A. Woman (AIFF 1440 – CD Resolution) (buy at Amazon on limited edition vinyl), what stood out to me was how easily you can hear the layering of the nicely-aged mix. Jim Morrison’s voice sounded rich, while Robbie Krieger’s guitar had a non-abrasive twang that really came to live. The organ sound was round and robust for the solo. 50-year-old classic rock can sound this good? Remarkable.
The Ultimate Ears Capitol Records UE Pro Remastered IEMs handle complex music with ease as I heard with Earth Wind & Fire’s “Get Away” from their Best of Vol. 1 (buy at Amazon) (AIFF 1440 – CD Quality). There is so much grooviness going on in this recording, and with all of the outside noise negated, you can really dig into the beauty of this important music and its excellent mix.
Do These In-Ear Monitors Hold Their Value?
This is a personal sounds solution ultimately made for you and only you. They come with a custom case with your name etched on it. They are custom fitted to your ears. I guess you could sell them to somebody who redid the fitting, but I can’t see that happening. This is an investment in your personal audio enjoyment. We love blue-chip audio gear that retains its value on the secondhand market but these ultra-unique IEMs are not that.
Who Is the Competition For the Ultimate Ears Capitol Records UE Pro Remastered IEMs?
• Perhaps UE’s biggest competition in this arena is Westone, a company that also makes custom IEMs with a variety of different drivers and a variety of different price points. Perhaps Westone’s biggest secret weapon is a material they call the Flex Canal, which is heat activated and responds to body temperature to provide a softer but no less through fit and seal.
• There are lots of companies that make high-end custom IEMs for a variety of purposes. Then again, few of them were made in collaboration with Capitol Records Studio. That makes these quite distinctive.
• At the consumer level, you can compare them to any number of IEMs – nearly all being a little less expensive. I have likes Etymotic EA4 in-ear-monitor headphones (buy on Amazon) for years and while I got them custom fitted years ago, they don’t have to be. The Etymotic headphones are a fraction of the price but not built with the same pro-quality, as I have broken two pairs over the years by snapping them in and out of the molds while putting them in my ears. The Ultimate Ears Capitol Records UE Pro Remastered IEMs don’t have that issue.
Final Thoughts On the Ultimate Ears Capitol Records UE Pro Remastered IEMs…
The Ultimate Ears Capitol Records UE Pro Remastered IEMs are an ultra-niche product and I am glad I wrote the check for them. They are light. They offer stunning noise isolation and are perfect for an audiophile’s travel setup. They are fancy, yes. They are expensive, no doubt. But they allow me to bring a little bit of what I love about my audiophile rig out from my main listening room.
All that said, there is nothing reasonable about these IEMs. Still, they rank a 10/10 on the cool factor. Consider them a custom suit for inside your ears.