Model 700 Noise Canceling In-Ear Headphones
Company: Ultimate Ears
Price: $180 to $200 online
When you are demanding enough and affluent enough to spend two hundred dollars on tiny, premium, in-ear headphones, your two most important questions are:
• Do they sound very, very good?
• Do they fit really, really well?
Your third question may then be:
• Do they have strong, gut-churning bass?
Surprise! Ultimate Ears 700 are exceptional in the sound and fit/comfort categories, but (brace yourself) they do NOT have a powerful bass response. They do have best-of-class presence and clarity in the crucial midrange and treble zones. Bass is heard clearly, but it is not felt from tonsils to toenails.
The company made a strategic decision to step aside from the booming bass bandwagon, and deliver a delightful seamless sonic spectrum for enjoyable listening in all ambient environments, for every type of music. It’s true that other reviewers have raved about the awesome bass in these dual driver, broad-frequency earphones. Even so, do not purchase Ultimate Ears (UE) 700 if this feature is your primary goal. For a lot less money you can obtain bass-rich headphones from this company and their competitors, but none have the even distribution of crisp sound to match UE’s latest entry in the premium $100 to $250 price range.
I was concerned that perhaps my demo headphones weren’t “ripe” enough to deliver adequate bass, but the company representative assured me UE 700 are ready to rock ‘n’ roll right out of the package. Once I became accustomed to these excellent in-ear noise canceling headphones, they quickly became my constant companion for a diverse selection of test tracks, including:
“O Come O Come Emmanuel” by Carter’s Chord, “Boots of Spanish Leather” by Nanci Griffith, “High Heel Sneakers” by Tommy Tucker, “Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac, “I Ain’t Never” by Webb Pierce, and “Freight Train” by Peter, Paul, and Mary, plus a selection of jazz and classical pieces. (If you ain’t never heard “I Ain’t Never,” the original Webb Pierce version is a masterpiece.)
My reviewer’s notes during numerous test sessions are full of comments such as: loud and efficient, amazing presence mid to top, clarity, precision, accuracy, immediate and immersive, and bass somewhat thin, but always enjoyable.
Noise isolation is passive, meaning it is achieved by total insertion of the comfortable ear tips that are provided in multiple sizes and materials. Don’t shove UE 700 in farther than necessary to hear the music you love, and don’t play the volume higher than reasonable levels. No inline microphone is provided; these headphones are exclusively for listening, not talking.
Promotional literature from Ultimate Ears promises “pro-quality sound reproduction,” and a “cleaner, more precise audio experience.” All the above is an accurate description of what you will hear in UE 700. The dedicated web site for this product has full specifications and a useful demo video.
The term “unique” is overused with audio gear, but Ultimate Ears 700 Noise Canceling In-Ear Headphones sound very, very good, fit really, really well, and are worth two hundred dollars for their world-class clarity and accuracy.
Strong recommendation, with a MyMac Review Rating of 9 out of 10, when throbbing bass is less important than magnificent midrange and tremendous treble, in a seamless listening experience.