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Ultimate Ears 700 Noise-Isolating Earphones - Ultimate Ears 700 Noise-Isolating Earphones

By Hugo Jobling

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Ultimate Ears 700 Noise-Isolating Earphones

Summary

Our Score:

9

The bass response of the Image X5s is definitely fuller, with more punch that the Ultimate Ears 700s, but that's not to say its better. While there's less drive to the UE 700s, they do sound just that bit more balanced and precise - no doubt thanks to each driver having to do less work than the one in the X5s. A pair of the Etymotic Research hf2 earphones, which both Riyad and I lauded for their clarity and accuracy couldn't best the 700s on that front either.

Take Hayley Williams' vocals on Paramore's acoustic cover of the Foo Fighters classic My Hero. While undeniably a great reproduction of a great rendition of a great song listened to with the hf2s or the Image X5s, through the Ultimate Ears 700s it shines brighter (sorry, no prizes for getting the reference).

It's hardly surprising that the dual-driver UE 700s can take single-driver earphones in a fight, but grabbing my trusty Shure SE420s highlighted the compromise Ultimate Ears has had to make in order to make the 700s so small. Every track that sounds excellent on the 700s has just a bit more sparkle with the SE420s.

Take AFI's Fainting Spells, for example. With the Shure's the opening acoustic guitar has a greater presence and when the track really kicks in (listen and you'll know what I mean) the UE 700s don't deliver the same power. Don't get me wrong, both are entirely listenable but the SE420s are still better. Just bear in mind that the difference is marginal and the UE 700's are a lot easier to live with, thanks to their smaller design.

It's a similar situation with Kilpsch's dual-driver Custom-3 earphones and I'd be hard pushed to say which sounded better. The Custom-3's are a little warmer and deliver more at the low end, but the 700s have more mid and top end clarity - personal preference is the key here, mine siding with Ultimate Ears in this case.

As an overall package, though, the contrast is greater. The Ultimate Ears 700 earphones are much smaller, arguably prettier (magpies would definitely approve) and by dint of being smaller and lighter they're more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Plus Shure's SE420s and Klipsch Custom 3s are more expensive, so if price is a constraint the Ultimate Ears 700s have a clear advantage there.

Verdict

That the Ultimate Ears 700 earphones can be so small and yet sound so good is close to magic. That they're also priced lower than the competition is practically sorcery.

Overall Score

9

Scores In Detail

  • Value 9
  • Sound Quality 9

Orinj

September 29, 2009, 2:08 pm

It's good to have comparisons made with other products in a review but the Shure 420's seem to be mentioned in every other paragraph as the product these UE700's should have been.





That said, I'm tempted to get another pair of ear phones and these could be the ones for me. I use Sennheiser MX560's at work (noise isolation isn't suited for an office environment), Sennheiser CX95's at the gym and Etymotic Research hf2 iPhone Stereo Headset with my iPhone on the way to work.





The problem I find is that while the hf2's are great for the iPhone to I can make and take calls, they have no bass. It's a problem as I mainly listen to dance music. The CX95's sound much better but their annoying two-part cable is a nuisance.





I much prefer having earphones that can hang over the back of your neck, so if you can do that with these and they have a standard length cable and sound great (with bass) then I'll consider them.

Hugo

September 29, 2009, 3:05 pm

I mention the SE420s five times by my count. Given they are the best dual-driver 'phones I've ever listened to, comparison is only to be expected. Like I said, these are smaller, lighter and arguably more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time while still sounding almost as good so the Shure's aren't necessarily better. You could wear these down the back of your neck if you wanted, weirdo ;)

Jim

September 29, 2009, 5:04 pm

A word of caution to anyone in the UK purchasing Ultimate Ears products. I own a pair of UE SuperFi 5 Pros, and after 18 months of ownership the cables had oxidised heavily and one of the 'phones has lost most of its bass output. Ultimate Ears did not even reply to my emails and as it is not a UK registered company I have no recourse. I will buy Shure in future as the aftersales for these products is non-existent in this country.

Orinj

September 29, 2009, 8:08 pm

@Hugo, Thanks for your response. I used to think it was weird having one earphone looping around the back of my neck but I found it so useful for when I needed to remove one earphone to listen to someone. It doesn't fall down and get tangled up as the cable rests on your shoulder. It also stops both earphone cables from clinging or touching your face and around your collar when you're walking. This in turn reduced cable 'click' noises spoiling your music as mentioned in your review (though you were refering to over the ear, which is indeed weird).





Can you clarify whether one earphone has a longer cable than the other so it can loop around the back on your neck?

Mark 16

September 30, 2009, 12:02 am

Jim, I'd might say the same about UE, but they were bought by Logitech recently, and their customer service has been excellent to the point of making me sound like a shill. I had UE SF5 Pros too, and in my case the socket for the removable cables broke (ironic!). The shop I bought them from refused to do anything, citing 'physical damage', and said that UE's US arm agreed. However, I contacted Logitech, who replaced them with no quibbles with the UE700s reviewed here. This is not the first example of excellent service I've had from them, and I suggest you contact Logitech directly and see if they're willing to help.





Hugo, how did you find they compare to the others in terms of maximum output without distortion (esp. with heavy bass)? They seem to fall a little short of the UE 5 Pros in this regard (although the fit is miles ahead).

Mark 16

September 30, 2009, 12:07 am

Orinj, the cabling is symmetrical (and a little short for me - 1.2m overall).

Jim

October 1, 2009, 5:38 pm

Mark, do you have contact details of the department within Logitech that you dealt with? Thanks.

Jim

October 1, 2009, 5:56 pm

Mark, I just called Logitech and they won't do anything about it, so my advice would be if you want to spend £149 on junk then buy Ultimate Ears.

scotty

October 9, 2009, 5:41 pm

the best earphones I have used are the shure se310s... would these show much of a difference?

scotty

October 9, 2009, 6:06 pm

..and is there anywhere in the UK that even sells them?

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