The Surprisingly Good Logitech UE6000 and UE9000
Logitech UE6000 ($199) and UE9000 ($399)
Amidst the avalanche of new personal audio gear recently released under the Logitech UE brand (InnerFidelity article here), are two full-size, around-the-ear, sealed, noise-canceling headphones. The Logitech UE6000 is wired, while the UE9000 adds wireless Bluetooth capabilities.
Physically, the two headphones are fairly similar. Both are gloss and matte black plastic primarily, with gray and blue accents, and appear to be very well built. The ear-pads are medium density memory foam covered with protein leather, and the ear-cup size is not particularly large, but is fairly deep, providing a cozy but quite comfortable fit.
The headbands are substantially different. The UE6000 is similar to the Beats Solo allowing the earpads to fold inward for compact storage in the included soft case, while the UE9000 ear cups rotate flat for less compact storage in the included hard case. The gimbals and swivel of the UE9000 headband are an all-metal construction, which appears to be very sturdy indeed. Headband padding is more ample on the UE6000, and while the UE9000 padding is a little more sparse and the headphones slightly heavier, I found both headphones to be quite comfortable for fairly long listening sessions. Like many sealed cans, I think these would be uncomfortably warm in hot, humid climates.
Both headphones come with four foot long, Apple compatable, 3-button remote cables, which are terminated with a 90 degree angle mini-plug. Cable entry is on the right earpiece for both headphones. Cable accents on the UE9000 are black, while the UE6000 is blue throughout.
Logitech UE6000 Features
The UE6000 electronic features are simple and straight forward. A button on the bottom of the left earpiece releases the ear piece cover and reveals a compartment in which two AAA batteries are inserted to power the noise canceling circuit. I think using AAA batteries for noise cancelers is a good idea as it permits replacement of dead batteries at airports.
The noise canceling circuit is activated by a sliding switch on the top of the right earpiece. An adjacent led glows green when powered on with good batteries, and red if batteries are low. It does work---and rather well as we'll see shortly---when the batteries run out. Simply turn the switch off, and it works as a passive sealed headphone.
Logitech UE9000 Features
The UE9000 has a nicely thought out set of features. With the power off and cable attached it works as a passive sealed headphone. Turn the power on and the noise canceling circuits are enabled. A small LED to the rear of the switch will glow green when batteries are charged, and red when batteries are low.
To use it as a Bluetooth headphone simply remove the cable and slide the power switch forward and hold until the blue LED (forward of the switch) blinks rapidly to indicate it is ready for pairing. Then go to your host device to complete the pairing. One interesting thing of note is that when pairing with my MacBookPro, and setting the system preferences for sound output, the UE9000 had selections available as both "UE9000 Bluetooth Headset" and "UE9000 Bluetooth Headphones". The sound quality was much, much better with the "headphone" setting. The UE9000 uses the Bluetooth 2.1+EDR protocol, and pairing was straight forward and simple.
When operating wirelessly, volume and tracking controls are on the rear of the right earpiece, and are intuitive and simple to operate. When wired, these controls are disabled in lue of the on-cable three button remote/mike.
A "talk through" button is on the top of the left earpiece. Push it once and the music is muted and mikes are opened to your surroundings. Perfect to hear the stewardess' ask if you'd like peanuts with your soda. The talk through feature is enabled only while wirelessly listening to music, and is unavailable while on a phone call or during wired operation.
The more time I spent with these cans, the more I liked their physical qualities. It's rather easy to take for granted simple, straight forward industrial design in the world of ever gaudier headphone bling these days, but after a few days I really began to appreciate the handsom, understated looks and very nice build quality of these cans.
With regard to styling, ergonomics, and features, I think Logitech UE have produced a couple of winners here...the remaining question is: How do they sound?