At the urging of Audio-Head’s Brian Hunter, I thought CanJam would be a most excellent place to explore the world of custom In-Ear Monitors. IEMs are popular with all manner of folks, especially folks that are willing to tolerate the extremely weird experience of getting fitted for them. When Christian Tanimoto of Ultimate Ears told me that they were offering free fitting sessions with an audiologist, I figured I could find a way to swallow my gag reflex long enough to have someone shove pink goo into my head. Maybe.
The question would be where to start. The Reference Monitor ($999) is usually the first stop recommended on the UE train — the sound is said to be extremely neutral. So, with some universals and some disposable ear-foams, I took some time to explore the lineup.
Personally, I found the three-driver per side Reference Monitors to be ‘neutral’ if and only if you equate “neutral” with “boring”. The sound was delicate, detailed, airy and altogether polite. Christian seemed surprised, perhaps despairing of my general lack of taste, suggested we move down in the line to the slightly warmer-sounding UE 7 Pro ($850), which I found to be more interesting in my rather brief session, but still lacking … something. We then moved to the UE 18 Pro ($1,350), which features six drivers per side. The sound I got out of these little buggers was a huge step up, simply electrifying, with the entire frequency band seeming to snap into their place. I promptly signed up for my fitting. My new IEMs, my first customs, will be showing up in November.
Interestingly, they UE folks were doing a free giveaway each day of the show — Sunday’s big winner of a free pair of custom Reference Monitors was none other than Brian Hunter! Lucky bastard.
Christian grabbed my camera and had a field day, with Brian cheerfully directing the action. Ha ha. Yeah.
Humiliation pictures follow.