Logitech's acquisition of Ultimate Ears has caused many changes. With the absence of audio genius Jerry Harvey, the new Logitech/Ultima
Moving its focus from its original "Super.fi" family, an entirely new naming system is now being used. Rather than Ultimate Ears being its own company, the new buds are called "Ultimate Ears" and a model number follows. We already covered the UE 700 buds in a previous review and we are now taking a look at the lowest of the lineup, the Ultimate Ears 100 noise-isolating earphones. We hope this will be the second of a series of reviews to cover the new UE spectrum. It should be noted that the current Ultimate Ears 600 is identical to the old Super.fi 5. Now let's get to the least expensive, the dynamic driver UE 100 buds.
On first glance the Ultimate Ears 100 looks like a solid set of earphones. It is made with very sturdy plastic and seems like it could take a lot of abuse. It comes in a number of designs, see below, but I ended up with the blue robots. Some of the others look good too, but I really love the deep blue of the robots. Along with the earphones, the box also houses four sets of tips of sizes XXS, XS, S, M. I seem to have tiny ears because I found the XS to be quite comfortable.
I have to say that from the very first time I put them in, I have been impressed with the Ultimate Ears 100. I, like many people, assumed that you just couldn't get decent headphones for $20. I found them very comfortable and to provide good sound isolation. I suppose that it shouldn't surprise me because it is in their name, but I still was impressed. I did some random tests with the Ultimate Ears 100, the Ultimate Ears 700, and the default iPod ear buds, the latter two as references. When only dealing with one or two instruments, the music comes through with high quality across the full range of frequencies. It has a nice strong bass, which I really appreciated with rock. Sadly, likely due to the driver design, the sound quickly gets muddy as more instruments begin playing. It isn't terrible, but the music lacks a certain crisp character that the Ultimate Ears 700 is able to provide. The Ultimate Ears 100 are also a bit less bright than the Ultimate Ears 700. On the the other hand, the Ultimate Ears 100 blows the iPod earbuds completely out of the water. In terms of comfort and sound quality, the Ultimate Ears 100 are a major upgrade.
Overall, I think that the Ultimate Ears 100 does exactly what it should do. It is a clear upgrade over the earphones that come with most media devices, like the iPod, but does not cost a lot. It will never really threaten the higher quality earphones, but that is perfectly alright since the rest of the Ultimate Ears line covers that area. At $20, these earphones are a great deal and I would highly recommend them to anyone that is still using the iPod's earphones.
Cable length: 115 cm
Product weight: 12 g
Sensitivity: 105dB/mW (1KHz)
Frequency response: 20Hz-20KHz
Impedance: 16 ohms
Noise isolation: 24 dB