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Ultimate Ears UE6000 Portable Headphones and UE18 Custom In-Ear Monitors Review

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Ultimate Ears UE18 Custom Ear-buds

UE18 Custom In-Ear Monitors

Ultimate Ears designed the UE18 for professional musicians and music enthusiasts who demand nothing but the best. The UE18 was designed to allow one to hear all the detail in any recording. The innovative design features six speakers and three acoustically designed sound chambers.

The multiple crossovers create very wide instrument separation and produce fantastic inner detail. The transparency in the UE18 is something to behold.

The UE18 frequency response is 20-20kHz. Bass is very deep and extended. The UE18 had terrific bass slam on recordings that have deep bass. Their sensitivity of 110 dB makes them a very easy load, and they can be driven with an iPad, iPod or other portable players easily and without using a separate amplifier.

The UE18 has a nice cable that can be removed for those audiophiles who may decide to upgrade the cable. I found the stock cable excellent. It is well built, very durable, low in distortion, and non micro-phonic. The sound is not harsh and the cable in my opinion is excellent, and I saw no reason to upgrade it.

The UE18 has terrific isolation down to -26dB, which makes it very good for listening in any environment. I could hear very little noise on my recent fight to San Francisco. Listening at home was also very quiet as I could not hear any noise coming through and nothing disturbed my listening sessions.

The UE 18 is priced at $1350. The price includes the in-ear monitors, but not the visit to the audiologist to have the ear impressions made.* I visited an audiologist in Philadelphia to have impressions made, which were then sent to Ultimate Ears in Irvine, California. The in-ear monitors were ready and shipped to me three weeks later. The fit was perfect and needed no further adjustments. I have been listening to the UE 18 for about three months for this evaluation. Ultimate Ears kept me updated as to what was going on with the order. They are very committed to customer service.

One can choose from a variety of colors for the UE18. Custom artwork can be used to design or to make the UE18 fit your personal style. The pair I have are in clear plastic casing. Each ear is color coded to distinguish the left to right ear monitor. There is a red symbol on the right monitor and a green one on the left ear monitor. They are designed to have the cable go over your ear. The fit is very comfortable and I have no fatigue or discomfort while wearing them.


The UE18’s six proprietary speakers make this one of the most dynamic and detailed portable headphones I have used. The sound coming from the UE18 was an out-of-the-head experience. The sound stage was very wide and instrument separation was outstanding. The vocal reproduction was incredibly lifelike and I could hear deep into the recordings. Listening carefully there was no masking and everything that was on the recordings was clearly audible.

Nat King Cole’s Love is the Thing has some of the best-ever recorded male vocals. The outstanding SACD recording let me hear how well the UE18 can do instrument separation. The album, with its full orchestra, let me hear the amazing sound stage that the UE18 was capable of providing. On “When I fall in Love,” Nat’s vocal was front and in the center of the stage and the orchestra was to the rear and I could hear deep into the recording. Every musician had his own space with air around the instruments.

“Stardust” really showcased Nat’s soothing vocal. The orchestration by Gordon Jenkins is incredible. The layering of the orchestra was easily identifiable and sounded as good as any full size headphone I have heard. The inner detail of the recordings was pretty amazing from a miniature ear monitor.

Hugh Masekela’s Hope album is a tremendous album to use to test both bass and treble extension on any piece of equipment. Listening to the “Abangoma” track I could hear the kick drum very clearly. The treble was very extended. Masekela’s flugelhorn was as clear and full as I have heard it reproduced on any headphone. The instrument was not harsh, but I could hear its bite. Masekela’s vocal was also reproduced accurately.

Track three’s “Mandela” was a revelation. Listening to Masekela’s vocal with the back up singers showcased the sound stage again. Masekela was front and center and the background singers were layered slightly to the left. The drummer in the rear of the stage was really hitting the skins and I could feel the impact of the bass drum hitting hard. The bass was really extended and left nothing to either want or give me the feeling anything was missing. The separation was extraordinary and the flugelhorn — the centerpiece of this track — stood out with air and space. The music just came to life. The sound was so good that I easily forgot that I was listening to recorded music.

16 Responses to Ultimate Ears UE6000 Portable Headphones and UE18 Custom In-Ear Monitors Review

  1. Adam says:

    Hi Frank,

    Thanks for the great read. With the price of the EU18 one is looking at some pretty tough to beat competitors, especially in the over-ear headphones. How would you compare the LCD-2 or 3 to these? What about the soundstage of the K701. Was the EU18 bigger, or just more detailed?


    • Frank Iacone says:

      Thanks Adam. The UE18 and lCD2 are very different headphones. The LCD2 is designed for in-home use and the UE18 is very portable. I think the differences between IEM and full size headphones are very different. The IEM have more of an out of head experience and the UE18 gets it all right. The lCD2 is a musical full size headphones that gets lots of everything right. The differences in the UE 18 is sound stage and more balance. The K701 is not in the same class as either of the two headphones you mention. There is more detail and a better defined stage in the UE18 with terrific bass which the K701 is a little shy on. If you deciding on the lCD 2. 2 or the UE18 I would think you need to see if you listen more in the home or more to portable audio. The UE 18 will work either way and do it exceptionally well The lCD2.2. has more in home qualities and is an excellent headphone as well. two great choices for reference quality headphones and I also own the lCD 2.2 and love the planar sound. I take the UE18 everywhere I go and thoroughly enjoy them. Both are excellent cans.

  2. Nice review frank – good read. Gotta try out that UE6000 one of these days. The price is sure right….

  3. baka1969 says:

    Thanks for another great writeup Frank.

  4. magiccabbage says:

    good stuff again frank, well done!

  5. Peter says:

    Great write up Frank! Really enjoyed it. Having owned the UE9000s, I completely agree with your assessments of the UE6000s. To bad my ears don’t seem to work with IEMs or I’d be really tempted to look into the UE18s.

    • Frank Iacone says:

      Thanks Peter. The UE 18 are really special IEM and if you have the opportunity you should check them out. I have noissues with the comfort or the fit and my ears are large. LOL

  6. dubstep girl says:

    another good review!!

    the UE6000 is a pretty good headphone! i like the build quality as well.

  7. GREAT read Frank! You’re killing me. Now I’m thinkin’ about spending more money!
    Your passion jumped off the screen

  8. Matthew Poe says:

    This is another great review. A very interesting review of two very different products. I appreciate the use of specific titles for description of sound. It really helped me to put the product in perspective.

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