The Surprisingly Good Logitech UE6000 and UE9000 Page 2

Tyll Hertsens's picture

Sound Quality---Wired, Passive
Wow! Man, do these headphones sound very, very good in passive mode. No, I wouldn't call them "Audiophile Grade", but I can't think of any sealed headphones that really cut the mustard anyway. And they do a fine job of isolation in passive mode. If it weren't for the fact that the UE6000 is very attractively priced, I'd encourage Logitech to remove the noise canceling feature and sell a model at $149. But at $199, I simply can't think of a better sounding pair sealed cans, passive or active. In fact, I can't think of a better sounding pair of sealed cans, period.

Both the UE6000 and UE9000 are cut from the same cloth, and sound quality differences are vanishingly small...so small, that the difference between the two pair I had could easily be chalked up to the slight differences in capsule geometry due to the change in electronics and battery. It did seem like the UE6000 was slightly cleaner sounding than the UE9000, however.

These are warm sounding cans, with a modest bass-heavy tilt. Low notes are rendered with good texture and are well extended into the lowest octaves. Bass tightness is good, but not great, and sometimes delivers a bit of confusion in the bass-to-mid transitions. The mid-range, while slightly lower in level than the bass, remains very nicely proportioned, and vocals are rendered with a natural balance. Mid-to-treble transition is quite good, bringing well balanced presence to vocals and strings. A slight emphasis in the mid-treble coupled with a mild rolled off top octave means they won't deliver a sense of air that a really great headphone does. Imaging and dynamics are surprisingly good for a sealed headphone, but again fall somewhat short of the best headphones available.

Please note the number of times I used the words: small; modest; slightly; a bit; mild; etc. I've reviewed a lot of headphones that do much well, but fail in one way or another only to deliver a frustrating listening experience. Not so the UE9000 and UE6000 in wired, passive mode. These cans simply deliver a full-bodied and nicely controlled listening experience across the board. I'd call it very good mid-fi, and if they only did a couple more things really well they'd click over to audiophile grade right quick.

Noise Canceling Sound Quality
While I was quite content with the sound of these cans in passive mode, the audiophile in me let out a groan when I turned on the noise canceling feature. As soon as you've got an active circuit inside the cans, engineers have a bit more liberty to tweak the sound, and, of course, marketing people can then push their requests for "moar bass!" with vigor.

Again, both headphones are very similar in sound in active mode. But now the bass is markedly more present in the mix, and markedly more loose and bloated. Additionally, the mid-range is somewhat more recessed, highlighting the presence range which remains at previous levels, making for a "harder" sounding presentation. There's now a more "U" shaped frequency response, rather than the nicely coherent and balanced response of passive mode. However, while it doesn't necessarily make the audiophile in me happy, and I think the EQ changes are a step too far, I also think they may actually improve the listening experience for movies and video on portable devices with a bit more oomph and intelligibility in loud environments.

I compared these cans head-to-head against my reference noise cancelers, the Bose Quiet Comfort 15, while playing brown noise on speakers at about normal airplane cabin noise levels. The Bose simply trounced the UE headphones in noise canceling ability---frankly, the QC15 trounces everything I've heard with it's noise canceling abilities. Sound quality was a sort of a toss-up though: the Bose sounded clearer in the bass, while the UEs were preferable in the highs. I'd prefer the Bose if I were a hard-core traveler, but the ability to operate without battery power and sound terrific, and then turn on the noise canceling when needed, will make the Logitech UE heaphones more satisfying for most folks, I believe.

UE9000 Sound Quality Bluetooth Wireless
Using the UE9000 in noise canceling and Bluetooth wireless mode, I found virtually no change in audio quality when compared to noise canceling wired...which makes this a pretty darn good sounding Bluetooth headset. Generally, I've been pretty unimpressed with Bluetooth headsets, but I thought the UE9000 sounded mighty fine, so I went over to HeadRoom to borrow my previous favorite---the Sennheiser MM 450-X---to do a little comparison. While I found the noise canceling of the MM 450-X better (though not as good as the QC15), I thought the sound quality of the UE9000 easily superior. The MM 450-X was somewhat dry and grainy compared to the warm and nicely articulate UE9000. Yes, it was still a little too bass boosted for me, but I clearly preferred it.

Being somewhat surprised with the Bluetooth sound quality, I asked my Logitech contact what Bluetooth protocol was being used. Here's the answer I received:

It has two modes:

Bluetooth Hands Free Profile (calling with your cellphone) called HFP. Labelled 'Bluetooth Headset' on Mac. In this mode, the audio band is limited to narrow band audio for telephony. Audio performance (specifically audio bandwidth) in this mode is a legacy audio standard defined by the Bluetooth SIG standard for phone calls. For now it is narrow band, mono audio similar to a landline telephone for both mic and speaker paths. HFP specs are publicly available though on the Bluetooth SIG website.

Bluetooth stereo audio called A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile). Labelled 'Bluetooth Headphone' on Mac. This RF transport protocol uses the SBC codec(standard BT stereo audio that is compressed), AAC (for Apple iProducts) and APT-X (uncompressed full band wireless audio over Bluetooth). All are included in UE9000. APT-X is included on most of the newer Apple computers (Mac Mini + Macbook Air). In this mode, the audio band is full band (20Hz-20KHz) as the web specs suggest for each of the audio codecs. Depending on the type of source device you have streaming BT from you get varying amounts of compression. APT-X is the best quality being uncompressed. AAC is the next best from your i device. A2DP is the standard codec for BT stereo audio that has compression. UE9000 will automatically choose the best quality A2DP codec available from your source to optimize you listening experience. UE9000 will also automatically switch from A2DP music mode over to HFP when a call comes in. The converse is true when the call is ended.

All the devices I used to test the Bluetooth (MacBookPro, iPhone, iPad 1, Galaxy Nexus phone) are fairly new, so likely I was hearing operation in the second mode...and man, I could certainly live with the sound I was getting. I spent a couple of nights watching movies, and it was really a pleasure to hear fairly good sound and be unencumbered by wire as I made a midnight snack. Very nice.

Summing Up the Logitech UE6000 ($199)
No, it's not my favorite noise canceling headphone---the Bose Quiet Comfort 15 is going to keep that title---so I don't recommend these for hard-core travelers. However, most of us don't really need that kind of isolation for day-to-day use. As a general purpose headphone for home, office, and going out-and-about, I found the UE6000 very satisfying. It's good looks, good comfort, sturdy build, great sound in passive mode, and very fair price, make this a really good general purpose headphone. The fact that you can flick on some extra isolation with it's noise canceling---even though at the expense of some sound quality---is just icing on the cake. A big thumbs up from me, these are going on the Wall of Fame as a full-sized sealed headphone.

Summing Up the Logitech UE9000 ($399)
Good sounding Bluetooth headphones are few and far between, in my experience, and the good ones are brutally expensive. I found the UE9000 a pretty terrific compromise of some fairly complicated factors. The sound quality was very, very good as a passively sealed, wired headphone. The noise canceling was good, but not great. It's Bluetooth performance, however, was the best I've heard to date, so it's going up on the Wall of Fame as a stand-out performer for those who want freedom from the wire, and a dandy headset for your calls.

Resources
Logitech UE home page, and product pages for the UE6000 and UE9000.
Head-Fi thread on the new Logitech UE line.

Company Info
Logitech UE
7600 Gateway Blvd.
Newark, CA 94560
510-795-8500
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Comments
Phos's picture
Wireless passive?

I dunno if I'm just missing it or something, but does the 9000 allow for non noise canceling opperation over wireless?  

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Sadly...

...no. Noise canceling is active when ever it's "on".

ScaryFatKidGT's picture
Wow! I was going to ask this

Wow! I was going to ask this too. Deal breaker for me. I really like the looks and metal on the 9000's but I guess il save $200 and go with the 6k's if I did.

 

Being how good these sound I really wish they would ditch the noice cancelling gimick and take $50 off the price.

Dinny FitzPatrick's picture
Interesting

I think the AAAs were a last-minute change because iirc, when I met with them, they were very much pro-rechargeable and anti-alkaline.  I see the pros and cons for both, but I prefer the ease of having AAAs.

Del7a_Kris's picture
The stand

Can you give me the name of the stand please? Im looking for a nice stand for my Beyer DT880 Pros, and so far the omega looks very appealing but the one above looks nice too.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Klutz Design Can Can

You can find them here:

http://www.klutzdesign.com/CanCans-headphone-stand.html

kixxit's picture
how do they compare to....

In the article you've referred to the Logitech headphones as being the best "sealed" cans you've heard lately.  If so, how do they compare to the AKG 500's?  You seemed to be pretty impressed with those as well and I believe they are "sealed" cans.

hifi_dude's picture
vs AKG K550

In the video review he said the UEs sound much better than the K550s.

Tyll, can you elaborate a little on the comparisons? Are they better across the board or in certain aspects like lows/mids/highs/soundstage etc..

I own the Denon D2000s and am looking for a reasonably priced upgrade.

Thanks

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Sure.

The K550 sounds a little more open, but has a somewhat artificial sounding treble.

The UE6000 sounds better balanced and a bit cleaner, but it's also a bit boring sounding.

In the end I preferred the UE6000 because of the balance, and the isolation is a bit better, too.

ulogin's picture
vs Sennheiser Amperior

Hi Tyll,

How would you compare the SQ of UE6000 with Sennheiser Amperior, which is also on your wall of fame?

Thanks.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
.

I'd say the overall balance may be better on the UE6000, but the Amperior is more articulate and punchy...though a tad bright.

wilzc's picture
Edition 8

They look ...  rather similar to the Ultrasone Edition 8s!!1

 

HMMMMMM

 

Especially the 9000

hifi_dude's picture
Exactly.

Yeah, those were my first thoughts.

I love the Ed8 design so I don't mind them copying that at all!

Qwasd's picture
Noice leakage and ANC compared to in-ears

Hi,

I'm planning to buy the UE 9000 for use on public transport so I would like to know how the isolation of over the ear design and ANC compares to basic in-ears? Also another important thing that I would like know is how good/bad is the noice leakage on these?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Leakage...ewww.

I think the UE9000 probably doesn't leak too much sound---the seal is pretty good. 

In-ear headphones have far more isolation and less leakage than other types.

lubczyk's picture
Soundstage?

This UE9000 being preferred over the AKG K550 purprized me. Is the soundstage bigger with better imaging than the AKG K550?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Surprised me too.

Yes, I think the imaging is better on the UE.  Actually, that was one of the big surprises on these cans: Usually, really good imaging cans have really fast and transparent treble.  The UEs treble seemed pretty ho-hum, but the imaging seemed quite good to me. Go figure.

ssoedi's picture
UE 6000 and UE 9000

Hi. I am currently looking for a pair of good headphones. I am not an audiophile, but I appreciate well balanced, well build headphones that can last for a while (3 years or more) without any problem.

I am interested in Sennheiser Amperior and V-Moda Crossfade M-80 until I read this post. I like the look of both UE 6000 and 9000. I do not have the money to purchase the UE 9000, though. I, however, do not like batteries (that is why I am interested in Amperior and V-Moda).

I am a student, so I want to listen to my music without interupting others. I also do not want to be completely oblivious to my surroundings. I listen mostly to rock, jazz, blues, soul, and acoustic. I do listen to R&B sometimes, but I am not fond of thumping bass.

After knowing about UE 6000, I am considering noise canceling headphones (unlike Bose, the music is still on when the battery is off.)

Do you have any recommendations for me?

Thank you in advance.

~ssoedi

Tyll Hertsens's picture
They're all up to the task,

They're all up to the task, but this statement "I am a student, so I want to listen to my music without interupting others. I also do not want to be completely oblivious to my surroundings" makes me think the M-80 might be the way to go.

ssoedi's picture
I see,

but now the question is: Does the M-80 leak? How bad is the leakage? Is the M-80 cheaper than the UE6000?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
More leakage....ewww.

They're about the same price.  

The M-80 leaks a bit more than the UE6000.  The thing is you say you want no leakage but want to remain somewhat aware of your surroundings.  You can't really have both. Isolation and leakage are essentially the same thing. More isolation=less leakage. The M-80 is a decent compromise. But if you don't want any leakage, the UE6000 is better.

ssoedi's picture
I now understand

I wonder which one you would personally get/prefer. M-80 or UE6000?

Thank you for answering my questions, Tyll. I never really know whom to ask.

USAudio's picture
Subjective

It's all subjective and one man's (expert) opinion, which I value and visit here often.

As there are no real expensive headphones here in the full-size sealed category, so I assume the UE's are judged to be as good sounding as the vastly more expensive higher-end cans like the Ultrasone Edition 8's and Signature Pro's?

I wish there was a UE version available that didn't have all that bluetooth, active noise cancelling, etc. stuff and was just a pure, closed, quality headphone.

Dinny FitzPatrick's picture
Me too

FWIW, one of the reps at the launch party asked me, "ok but what do you guys (meaning headphone geeks) really want to see next?"  I said something non-noise canceling for certain.  Then look to the high end offerings from Senn, like the 800, give it some more bass, and undercut it on price.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Me three.

The Monkey wins.

John Grandberg's picture
Worth bothering with?

As a user of sealed cans (by necessity) I am still not quite clear - are these to be considered top sealed headphones? Or just better than most of the failures like Sony Z1000? 

I already have most of the important high end models: Thunderpants, Signature Pro, Lawton modded Denon D7000, top Audio Technica Woodies, Edition 8, etc. Should I bother with these?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I think they're close.

It's probably worth you having a listen at an Apple store, John. I'm still a bit stunned, and to be truthful, am looking forward to other's impressions. I'd prefer them over the Ed8, SigPro, and prolly the ATs (they tend to be a little bright to me). TP and Lawton D7000 are probably better. 

The thing to me is these seem so nicely balanced and clean...not as resolving as I'd like, though.

peterroumian's picture
solos

there's a new definition of stupidity
buying solos over these

one question Tyll
how do you compare these to the HD598 ignoring the sound isolation of course

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Been a while...

...but I remember the 598 as a bit thicker sounding than these. Again, not as well balanced. But I might be off on that comment. Been too long.

aznmage27's picture
M50's and DJ1's

I already have a pair of DJ1 pro's but i feel like the s-logic is a bit hollow sounding and it was too bulky for portable use, was looking for something different.

Finally, I narrowed it down to the HM5, the M50's and the UE6000. The price difference doesn't bother me that much, but which one would be better sounding. I care a lot about soundstage, clarity, instrument separation. Bass would come second.