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Earbuds & In-Ear Headphones

Ultimate Ears Pro IEMs Are Built To Last: HQ Tour 2023

We visited Ultimate Ears Pro headquarters in Irvine, CA to learn more about the new Premier IEMs and their design process.

UE Premier IEMs

We have reviewed a rather extensive list of Ultimate Ears Pro IEMs over the past few years and it’s hard not to be impressed by the work of Vincent Liu’s team; my personal adventure with UE Pro started with the Triple-Fi and UE900 models. One of the benefits of coming to California early this year for T.H.E. Show was the opportunity to visit Audeze and Ultimate Ears Pro production facility which is located in Irvine, California.

Lynn Miller, Eric Pye and I were all invited to tour the facility, talk shop with the design and production teams, and watch their products being made. Eric also attended the tour so that he could have his scan completed in-house for a new pair of IEMs that he is ordering.

Eric Pye getting ears scanned closeup for custom fit IEMs
Eric Pye getting his ears scanned for custom fit IEMs

UE Pro is currently updating the facility and asked us to not take photos of certain areas which are under construction.

What makes UE Pro unique is that they have far deeper pockets than most IEM manufacturers; Logitech is the parent company and they have been quite aggressive in regard to providing Ultimate Ears Pro with the R&D resources (both technical and financial) to develop category leading products.

Ultimate Ears Pro manufactures bespoke IEMs and has a very diverse client base; both on the consumer and pro audio side.

That commitment to R&D has given Vincent Liu the freedom to create new products like the UE Pro PREMIER IEMs; which are currently under review and something that I wanted to learn more about in-person. My interview with the UE Pro team will be the subject of a forthcoming podcast.

UE Premier IEM Side Sliver
UE Premier IEM Internal Parts
Inside the UE Pro PREMIER IEM

UE Pro is not very aggressive when it comes to marketing and a lot of their focus remains on professional musicians; the brand does not refresh its products every single year and we were rather curious to find out why they suddenly decided to invest so much time and money into a pair of IEMs like the UE Pro PREMIER that are very expensive.

Vincent and I sat down to discuss their goals, the technology that is integrated into the ear shells and the pivot to the high-end IEM user.

One of the biggest reasons which we discussed was the impact of COVID on their business. When live music events were cancelled and venues closed around the globe — their business took a major hit.

For some companies, that would have been a fatal blow. UE Pro decided that it was the perfect time to take a look at its lineup, improve its manufacturing capabilities, and regroup as a company.

UE Premier IEM with DAP
UE Pro Premier IEMs

A new website with an improved shopping experience was launched, along with changes to its design and manufacturing process. The UE Pro PREMIER had been in the design phase prior to COVID, but the slow-down gave engineers more time to experiment with different driver technology and improve the crossover.

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The pandemic also gave UE Pro the opportunity to spend more time with its customer base online; the company has always been obsessed with durability to satisfy the needs of the professional musicians that rely on its products but COVID gave them more time to learn from that same group. New testing procedures were developed and the company now runs a series of durability tests that would kill most high-end headphones and IEMs.

Between drop tests, stress tests on cables using weights, water submersion, and physical abuse — every UE Pro design is built to take almost anything.

Another new innovation was a fixture to test connector strength and durability; musicians insert and remove cables far more frequently than typical consumers and UE Pro decided to conduct long-term tests on current connector options; it was discovered that bi-pins and MMCX connectors failed after 500 connections, which was determined to be unacceptable.

UE Premier IEM see thru
UE Pro PREMIER IEM uses an IPX connector

The end result was the decision to use IPX connectors which have a failure rate after 3,0000 connections and a waterproof seal (there is a gasket on the cable end).

This may seem trivial, but it was important to UE Pro because they discovered that when gold plated MMCX and bi-pin connectors got wet, the gold film would begin to flake and end up at the bottom of the connector where it couldn’t be removed and caused measurable distortion.   

When working with the Danish company that developed the IPX connector, UE Pro made sure it was watertight so the same fate would not befall users of their IEMs.

That same attention to detail is evident in all the design elements of the UE Pro PREMIER and their other models that now all have the latest PVC structure holding the drivers in place, providing a near perfect path for sound to travel from the armatures to the ear.    

Our in-depth review of the UE Pro PREMIER is forthcoming along with our conversation with Vincent Liu.

For more information: pro.ultimateears.com

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. ORT

    June 15, 2023 at 4:01 pm

    Hmmmmm…Perhaps one day I shall give these a go. I have an aversion to putting things in my ears and so have pretty much avoided IEMs. About the only thing I can stand are “foam-fitting” earplugs for use in noisy enviornments.

    These do look cool and they will be fitted to one’s ears. So they’ve got that goin’ for them…Which is nice.

    ORT

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