After living with and making recordings using the Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Monitors for the last four years I have a good idea of how they sound. The new Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered in-ears have a strikingly similar sonic signature. Simply stated the new RRs are as accurate in the midrange as the original UERMs. The UERR’s bass is more extended with a flatter response that doesn’t add as much warmth in the midbass. While I can’t vouch for whether the UERRs have “extended treble up to 18kHz” since my hearing tails off around 14kHz, what treble I did hear sounds almost identical through the two. On some recordings I noticed the upper leading edge was a bit softer through the UERRs than the UERMs.
Both the UERRs and the UERMs handled midrange micro-dynamics in the same manner, but when there was additional low bass or sub-bass, the UERRs captured the low-frequency push of air and additional dynamic activity with greater acuity. Not only did the UERRs generate greater low-bass energy, but when they did generate that additional low bass it didn’t intrude upon the mid and upper bass.
The Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered image beautifully with 3-D dimensionality and finesse. A fine example of the UERR’s imaging can be heard on the Mollie Moore cover of the Sinatra classic “Come Fly with Me” from her recently released EP. Full of multiple voices and synths, the soundstage covers a huge expanse, but unlike some multi-driver in-ears that spread the stage laterally, without front-to-back depth, the UERR imaged with exceptionally dimensional clarity.
A $1000 budget for an in-ear monitor opens up a lot of options. One of the best choices in universal fit in-ears is the Astell&Kern AK8iE. The Astell&Kern single Tesla driver has superb phase coherence that translates into impressive three-dimensional imaging and clarity. The Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered has the potential for a better fit since it is a custom in-ear, but the AK8iE’s large comply tips proved to be almost as comfortable for long-term wear as the UERRs.
Another $1000 universal fit in-ear monitor worthy of serious consideration is the Westone W60. This flagship of Westone’s new universal-fit line also delivers impressive bass extension and a huge soundstage that rivals many full-sized open-ear designs.
Jerry Harvey Audio has a quad-driver custom in-ear available for $895. The JH11 delivers the same amount of isolation -26dB as the RRs, but it is 19db more sensitive and has a very low impedance of only 18 ohms. If you have a history of being especially hard on your in-ears. the Jerry Harvey monitors, which have been torture-tested by almost every big-name rock act in the business, will stand up to your lifestyle.
Nowadays consumers and reviewers alike receive a constant barrage of products that promise a “newer/better” experience than the previous models. Often times the actual results are less spectacular than the promises. The new Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered is an exception to this cavalcade of under-fulfilled expectations. The UERR is noticeably better at the frequency extremes than the original UERM while retaining the UERM’s accurate midrange and three-dimensional imaging.
Getting back to the original question posed at the beginning of the review—are the UERRs a worthwhile upgrade over the original UERMs?—I would say that if you listen to or make music that where low bass clarity is important you will find the UERRs well worth the additional outlay. Even if you aren’t a basshead, if you’ve been using your UERMs as your primary in-ears for the last five years and love their sound, you will find the new Ultimate Ears Pro Reference Remastered retains all the UERM’s attributes while making good on Ultimate Ears Pro’s promises of delivering even higher fidelity.
Specs & Pricing
Input sensitivity: 100dB at 1kHz,1mW
Frequency response: 5Hz to 25kHz
Noise isolation: -26dB
Impedance: 35 ohms at 1kHz
Warranty: 1 year
Ultimate Ears Pro
3 Jenner Street, Suite 180
Irvine, CA 92618