Ultimate Ears UE 4 Pro Custom Monitors Review

Performer gets the perfect custom fit as we review the Ultimate Ears UE 4 Pro Personal Monitors

We’ve previously reviewed the $999 UE Pro Remastered in-ears, a joint collaboration between Ultimate Ears and Capitol Studios. And while we fell in love with the customized fit and clarity of sound for both recording and listening, the price tag has the potential to turn off artists who’re dealing with a more limited budget.

Not to worry, UE was kind enough to hook us up with a pair of their more affordable UE 4 Pro personal monitors. Now, what’s great about these is they’re under $400, but still utilize UE’s proprietary ear-scan technology to custom mold a set that perfectly fits the contours of your ears. Luckily, my 3-D digital ear impression was already in their system from our UE Pro Remastered review, so getting my new UE 4 Pros was simple. Taking the digital scan, they custom cut a set for me and put on a killer natural wood faceplate that I requested. Now, if you don’t already have a scan in the system, UE will hook you up with a local specialist who can sit you down for a scan. It only takes about 15 minutes, and is totally non-invasive. It beats the old “let’s stick some goo in your ears and make a mold” way of doing things.

Anyway, that’s all great, but how do they stack up to the $999 set we reviewed just a few months back? Well, these are designed with session musicians and home recording in mind, and as such, that’s how we reviewed them. Having already produced a few demo tracks before using some synths, drum loops, electric guitar, scratch vocals and bass, we ran the same stereo session from our DAW using both pairs of UE in-ears. The results were about what we expected, a tad more clarity on both high and low ends of the spectrum using the UE Pro Remastered set, but the UE 4 Pro’s held their own for the most part. I mean, they cost less than half the price, but I wouldn’t throw them out of bed (is that still an expression people use?)

The UE 4 Pro’s feature a dual-driver system, and about the same noise isolation as the Pro Remastered set, but that set is engineered with three balanced armatures with multiple passive crossover points, so each frequency band comes through with just more clarity and separation than the lower-priced alternative can muster. Again, the UE 4 Pros are no slouches, it’s simply that a direct comparison reveals just how amazing the more expensive ones are. But that’s to be expected – if it were the other way around UE would have a lot of explaining to do!

As far as the engineering inside these little beauties is concerned, UE delivers a specially-designed dual-driver system that’s got a really well-designed 2-way passive crossover. Physically speaking, the dual-bore sound channels cut into the casing keep all the frequencies separated and phase-aligned. This really comes through when listening back to stems. On some headphone monitoring systems, certain areas of the audible spectrum can muddy up quickly, but the Ultimate Ears design ensures that high, mid and low band all come through with equal clarity and dimension.

Bottom line is this: the UE 4 Pros retain much of the character of their bigger siblings in the lineup, but at a way more affordable price point for most musicians and home recording enthusiasts. The fact that you can still get a custom fit and much of the same quality at the $399 price point is pretty impressive, so we heartily recommend these as an investment in your rig.

PROS:

Ultimate customized comfort, great sound.

CONS:

None.

PRICE:

$399/pair

SPECS:

Input sensitivity: 108 dB @ 1 kHz, 1mW

Frequency response: 5 Hz – 18 kHz

Noise Isolation: -26 decibels of ambient stage noise.

Impedance: 17.5 [email protected] 1 kHz

Internal speaker configuration: 2 proprietary balanced armatures with 1 passive crossover.

Input connector: 1/8” headphone jack; compatible with all systems

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