Tag Archives: Ultimate Ears

View From the Top: Philippe Depallens, VP/GM, Ultimate Ears Pro

Philippe Depallens, VP/GM, Ultimate Ears Pro
Philippe Depallens, VP/GM, Ultimate Ears Pro

“Music has always been part of my life,” says Philippe Depallens, vice president and general manager of Ultimate Ears Pro. Music and the fundamental understanding of its importance—emotionally, culturally and economically—was always present in the small Swiss city where he grew up, as it was home to the famed Montreux Jazz Festival. Great artists from around the world would travel there to create intimate musical moments for rapturous audiences. Perhaps it was only appropriate then that years later, Depallens would champion Ultimate Ears Pro’s in-ear monitors (IEMs)—products intended to both help musicians create those live moments, and imbue even casual listeners with that same sense of aural intimacy.

Fascinated tinkering with audio gear at a young age, Depallens went on to apprentice in electrical engineering before eventually earning an engineering degree and heading overseas. “Moving to the U.S. right after school continued my exposure to the diversity and richness of a global perspective,” he feels. While he joined Logitech—itself a Swiss entity—in the 1990s, it wasn’t until the consumer electronics powerhouse acquired Ultimate Ears in 2008 that Depallens finally began working in pro audio.

Ultimate Ears Bluetooth Cable – A Real-World Review

“When I joined Ultimate Ears Pro, I was able to combine my passion for music, my engineering knowledge and everything that I had previously learned at Logitech about creating meaningful and impactful experiences around our products,” he says today. “This was well before the global headphone revolution was underway, and way before the dominance of true wireless. Actually, this was during the early stages of the smartphone, when everyone was predicting the imminent death of the PC. I volunteered to oversee the acquisition because I knew that I could retain Ultimate Ears’ pro-audio roots and heritage while helping commercialize the core in-ear technology that is now ubiquitous today.”

Since then, both Depallens and Ultimate Ears Pro have re-envisioned the company’s approach to custom IEMs; whereas once it focused almost exclusively on product specs, today, the brand takes a larger view of the customer experience, and has put considerable effort into simplifying and accelerating the customization process. Early on, that meant creating mobile demo stations that allowed users to discover their preferred sound signature. Later, the company pioneered 3D scanning and 3D printing for custom in-ears—a move that reduced lead times from weeks to days. All the while, Ultimate Ears Pro continued to evolve its product designs based on user feedback, aiming to make its in-ears as reliable and sweatproof as possible.

Ultimate Ears Fitkit, 18+ CSX IEM – A Real-World Review

With Ultimate Ears Pro well-established in the live sound industry, Depallens looked to put that brand awareness to use. “We fostered very different types of partnerships to expand the market and to cater to the needs of more pro audio segments,” he recalls. “We were the first to partner with Capitol Studios to address the needs of recording engineers. Inevitably, we helped expand the idea that in-ears are for everyone, not just for top touring musicians.”

Of course, bringing a product to “everyone” means being accessible to them; in that regard, Depallens notes, “We are lucky to be based in Southern California, very close to our customers and partners; that helps us stay grounded and connected. We also have the luxury of being part of Logitech, a multinational team with a huge global footprint that provides access to technology, engineering capability and operational competencies around the globe. By combining these two aspects, we are able to organize around obsessing over the customer and their experiences, no matter where they are located.”

The latest result of the company’s fixation is its new UE FITS true wireless instant fit custom earbuds line for consumers, which Depallens cites as an example of the brand’s focus on continuous process improvement. Meanwhile, for pros, the company now offers a line of premium UE CSX custom-made earphones that include an at-home Fit Kit to capture the user’s earprint in a few minutes. Taking custom-fitting processes created for pro IEMs and adapting them to a consumer experience for the UE FITS and CSX lines is part of a larger remit to ultimately help raise the bar—and consumer expectations—for all listeners when it comes to in-ear audio experiences. “Just like how Mercedes invests in Formula One to push the limits of performance, safety and technological advancement for all cars, we see a very clear parallel in what we do for experiencing music,” says Depallens. “The developments pioneered onstage radiate out for all music lovers.”

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

The Pro Sound News Holiday Gift Guide 2020

PSN Gift Guide 2020

Coming off of what could easily be described as the craziest year in my lifetime, the holidays will hopefully give us all an escape from the current Covid-19 reality. And to help the escape be even more successful, dig into our latest holiday gift guide — you’ll find a host of great new products (and a couple of older ones) that can make for the perfect gift for your favorite producer, engineer or musician.

Every Pro Sound News Holiday Gift Guide Ever!
Earthworks Audio ICON USB mic
Earthworks Audio ICON USB mic

USB mics are a dime a dozen these days and the majority of them feel (and sadly sound) like they are disposable. Not true with the Earthworks Audio ICON USB mic (www.earthworksaudio.com); this thing is made to last a lifetime. If there’s a USB mic whose look, feel and performance can be compared to driving a Ferrari, the ICON is it! The mic has a built-in pop filter, looks fantastic on camera and incorporates the legendary low-noise, non-colored, musical sound that has made Earthworks famous. The cardioid mic has a 20 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response, and after spending time recording with it, I found that besides voice, it beautifully captures virtually any instrument or sound source.

To top it off, the mic includes a custom Triad-Orbit base, and based on its impressive specs, you’d be hard pressed to think you weren’t recording with a high-dollar studio microphone rather than an affordable USB mic. Speaking of the studio, I should mention that there is also an ICON PRO studio version of the mic, equipped with an XLR connector rather than a USB port.

pro audio gift guide - Sonic Presence SP15 USB-C Spatial Microphone
Sonic Presence SP15 USB-C Spatial Microphone

At only $149, the Sonic Presence SP15 USB-C Spatial Microphone (www.sonicpresence.com) is absolutely the best way to capture stereo recordings, and using it is a complete blast. I fell in love with the first version of the Sonic Presence mic a couple of years ago and the current USB-C version is as close to perfect as imaginable. The stereo microphone set incorporates two small, omnidirectional mics that hang over your ears, sitting just in front of the ear canal so you can still use AirPods or IEMs for monitoring if desired. The Sonic Presence website has recommended apps depending on the desired quality, as the mic supports 24-bit/96 kHz. I’ve loved recording with the mic and it’s discrete enough to easily sneak into a concert (don’t tell anyone I said that, though). The SP15 is compatible with Android, Windows, USB-C equipped iOS devices and Mac OS. The mic can be used with USB-A computers by utilizing a USB-C to USB-A adapter cable.

pro audio gift guide - AcoustiTools
AcoustiTools

AcoustiTools from Acoustic Masterminds (www.acousticmasterminds.com) is an awesome iOS audio analysis app. The $24.99 module-based app allows four modules to be viewed and utilized simultaneously. Modules bundled with the basic application include Augmented Reality (allows the user to tag specific locations in an acoustic space and calculate the volume level, distance and delay for each tag), dB Meter and Real-Time Analyzer modules.

The RTA module looks fantastic and can be switched between spectrum color and solid blue displays; it includes a red problem frequency line that allows you to instantly find a problem frequency that has a tendency to feedback. The Diagnostic PEQ and Diagnostic GEQ are accessed via in-app purchases and each cost $14.99. The Diagnostic PEQ uses an innovative, real-time Diagnostic Parametric Equalizer module to analyze pink noise played through a system and then recommends a corrective parametric EQ setting for the system. The Diagnostic GEQ is essentially the same feature, but it recommends a corrective graphic EQ setting for the system rather than a parametric setting. The number of bands in the software is adjustable, so it can be set to match the number of bands on the system’s GEQ.  Besides configuring a space for sound reinforcement, this feature is also great for setting up a home theater or tweaking a car stereo.

UE SWITCH
UE SWITCH

In-ear monitors have become as much of a fashion statement as a tool for many artists and musicians. Ultimate Ears (www.ultimateears.com) was at the forefront of allowing users to customize the look of their IEMs, and now the new UE SWITCH system takes customization one-step further by allowing users to swap out custom-designed faceplates, providing unlimited visual options. SWITCH-equipped IEMs look identical to previous models, but their face plates are easily removed and replaced by using the SWITCH’s simple twist-lock mechanism and simply rotating the faceplate, removing it and replacing it with another in seconds.

The new interchangeable faceplates are just like the current faceplates, except for the twist-lock mount on the back. The SWITCH faceplates can incorporate any of the faceplate colors, materials and design options offered with standard IEMs. The UE SWITCH option includes three Faceplates and is available with any new UE Pro or CSX model for $199. The UE SWITCH upgrade is available for any existing UE Pro or CSX model for $199. This upgrade includes a three pack of faceplates.

Beyerdynamic TG D70 and TG I51

Beyerdynamic (www.beyerdynamic.com) has a pair of useful new mics that are worth checking out. The TG D70 utilizes the legendary M88 capsule and is designed specifically for kick drum, and it works extremely well for that purpose. It’s quite versatile as well, as I had good results using it on floor tom, bass and guitar cabinets, and trombone. Meanwhile, the TG I51 is an amazingly affordable workhorse microphone that lends itself to electric guitars, but also sounds great on snare, toms and bass guitar. Both mics are well made, include a carry bag and feature a built-in mounting system.

Patch & Tweak with Moog

Nothing beats a great book and there are a couple of fantastic ones that simply can’t be missed. Patch & Tweak with Moog (www.bjooks.com) is a beautifully designed book and a fantastic read. The book was written and designed by electronic musician Kim Bjørn and features a foreword by Hans Zimmer. The book covers a wide range of Moog synthesizer-oriented topics, including professional artist interviews, creative patch ideas, sound design tips, in-depth discussions with Moog engineers and an overview of Moog’s history.

There’s also a view of the Moog factory in Asheville, North Carolina which I’m fortunate to have visited multiple times. It truly is an amazing experience to see the precision and finesse that goes into building a synthesizer by hand, and if you can’t visit the factory in person, this book is the next best thing. Patch & Tweak with Moog is the ultimate studio coffee table book!

Sound Man: A Life Recording Hits with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, Eric Clapton, the Faces...

Sound Man: A Life Recording Hits with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, Eric Clapton, the Faces… by Glyn Johns (www.penguinrandomhouse.com) is a stunningly good read. The book sucks you in like a great novel, while secretly feeding you tons of wisdom in regards to producing, engineering and knowing how to interact with artists, managers and labels. I somehow missed the book when it was released in 2014 [It was in our Holiday Gift Guide that year! – Ed.], but thankfully superstar engineer Doug Sarrett turned me onto it last summer and I couldn’t be more grateful. Glyn Johns played a strong hand in the creation of many of my all-time favorite albums, and hearing the stories gives you a fly on the wall perspective as to what went into creating many of these masterpieces.

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Ultimate Ears Now Available on Apos Audio

Apos Audio is proud to announce they are now an authorised reseller for Ultimate Ears! If you’ve dabbled in the audio hobby in the past few years, you’d certainly have heard of the Californian company. They’ve had some sensational hits like the UE Reference and UE18+ that remain staple recommendations today. As always, Apos are offering an extended 2-year warranty, free returns and a 30-day lowest price guarantee.

You can browse Apos Audio’s UE collection here and read an excerpt about the company below:

Ultimate Ears has a legendary origin story. Founded in California during the mid-90s by the husband-and-wife team of Jerry and Mindy Harvey, Jerry Harvey was working as the principal sound engineer for Van Halen. Harvey was tasked with creating an earpiece for Alex Van Halen that would filter out unwanted stage noise during live performances and instead concentrate on the desired sounds that the drummer wanted (and needed) in order to play with the band. That initial creation for Van Halen spread by word-of-mouth and eventually became a line of bespoke In-Ear Monitors that would grace the ears of Paul McCartney to Coldplay, or The Rolling Stones to Faith Hill. 

Original Resource is The Headphone List

Ultimate Ears Fitkit, 18+ CSX IEM – A Real-World Review

Ultimate Ears Fitkit, 18+ CSX IEM
Ultimate Ears Fitkit, 18+ CSX IEM

Though no one realized it at the time, the face of live music was forever changed nearly three decades ago when Jerry Harvey, Van Halen’s monitor engineer, created a pair of custom in-ear monitors for drummer Alex Van Halen. In that moment, Ultimate Ears (UE) was born. Since then, the company has manufactured more than 100,000 in-ear monitors (IEMs). While there are dozens of companies in the market, UE remains at the top, no doubt in part because of its continued investment in new technology.

Historically, creating a pair of custom-fit IEMs would begin with an audiologist using a mold to create an impression of the musician’s ear canal, then using that impression to create the IEM’s custom fit. A few years ago, UE developed a computerized scanning process that allows bypassing the mold process, which many people consider very uncomfortable. While the scanning process is faster and more accurate, it still requires a trained professional to carry it out.

Real World Reviews: Ultimate Ears Bluetooth Cable

This brings us to today. In an effort to make IEMs even more accessible, Ultimate Ears developed and released the patented Fitkit system. Fitkit is currently compatible with four CSX IEMs: UE 5 CSX, UE 7 CSX, UE 11 CSX and UE 18+ CSX. Each pair of CSX IEMs includes the UE custom-fit IEMs, sweat-proof Bluetooth and auxiliary cables (each with a built-in mic), USB charging cable, extra battery for the Bluetooth cable, and a personalized hard case. Fitkit allows users to easily and accurately create their own ear impressions from home. I had the opportunity to give the Fitkit a try and found the entire process fascinating.

I began by selecting the IEM model. Since I have had great results with the standard UE 18+ Pro model, I went with the UE 18+ CSX. Similar to the UE 18+ Pro, the UE 18+ CSX incorporates a four-way crossover, triple bore with six proprietary, finely tuned balanced armatures (essentially, tiny speakers) per monitor design, along with the proprietary UE Pro True Tone Drivers that are integrated into the UE Pro Reference Remastered IEMs. That design results in impressive separation, precision and detail, along with an extended frequency response. After using the UE website to customize my IEMs, I placed the order.

A few days later, the Fitkit arrived at my door. The package includes two sizes of patented gel-filled molding tips, a mirror, a fitting device, a power adapter and a return shipping label. Users navigate the fitting process via the free Ultimate Ears Fitkit app (iOS or Android), which walks them through the entire process.

After you’ve inserted the molding tips in your ears, the app triggers the impression procedure: the molding tips warm up, shape themselves to your ears and then harden, perfectly capturing your ears’ geometry. After 60 seconds, the app prompts you to remove the tips and voilà, the impressions are complete. The process is quick, easy and completely painless. (And quite frankly, the in-ear warming is rather soothing.) Send the impressions back to UE with the included shipping label, and custom-fitted IEMs will be delivered a couple of weeks later.

The weak link in most in-ear monitors is the point at which the cable connects to the IEM, but UE’s CSX IEMs (and its professional models) use a nearly indestructible cable connection system that provides a quick and easy transition from one cable to the other, removing the weak link.

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about how the UE 18+ CSX would fit. I’ve owned several pairs of IEMs that fit perfectly, and this whole review would go to hell if UE’s amazingly simple fitting process yielded IEMs with a compromised fit. No surprise, but I had nothing to worry about. The fit was impeccable, and after listening to them nonstop since their arrival a couple of weeks back, I couldn’t be more pleased with their performance. The UE 18+ CSX IEMs are comfortable, extremely easy to insert and remove, and provide near-flawless sound reproduction. Anyone in the market for IEMs should give the CSX IEMs top consideration.

Ultimate Ears• https://custom.ultimateears.com/

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com