Learn what makes high-end stereo systems sound so full, clear and detailed, and how we engineer UE Custom earphones to deliver the same level of sound quality.
Audiophiles are known for spending thousands of dollars on boutique speakers, precision-engineered turntables, high-end preamps and even gold-plated cables to maximize the performance of their systems. But there hasn’t always been a good option for audiophiles when it comes to listening to music on-the-go.
UE Custom earphones and in-ear monitors bridge that gap by delivering audiophile-level sound quality straight to your ears with a customized fit and unsurpassed comfort so you can enjoy your music in its purest form. How did we do it? To understand that, we need to start by defining what “audiophile” means as a measure of sound quality.
What is audiophile sound quality?
When we say “audiophile sound quality,” we’re actually talking about several different factors. When something sounds great, it’s a combination of all these elements coming together to provide fullness, power, clarity and detail. Here are just a few of the most important aspects of sound quality:
This is what most people think of when it comes to sound quality. High-end listening systems are always full-range, meaning they’re capable of reproducing sounds from 20 to 20,000 Hz (the range of human hearing) or more. The “curve” of these frequencies can vary, and this is what gives each piece of equipment a unique sound. Some systems aim for a neutral, transparent sound, while others are tuned to accentuate certain frequencies. What sets audiophile equipment apart is that this tuning is always done tastefully; never loaded with excess bass or mids just to make it sound louder. The goal is to hear music the way the artist intended it to be heard.
This term describes how quickly the system responds to short, fast sounds that last just a few milliseconds, such as drum hits or acoustic guitar picking. The larger and heavier a speaker cone or headphone driver is, the more time it takes to move back and forth, and the less detailed these “transients” will sound. This is part of the reason that most speakers feature small tweeters light enough to reproduce detailed transients.
In high-end audio, distortion doesn’t just mean the abrasive sound of an overdriven guitar amp. Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) is a measure of how similar the sound coming out of the system is to the sound going in—essentially a measure of sonic purity. No analog component can reproduce an input signal with 100% accuracy, but most high-end equipment measures less than 1% THD.
All analog components introduce at least a small amount of noise, called “self noise.” Try turning your speakers or headphones all the way up while nothing’s playing, and you’ll hear the low-level background noise (called the “noise floor”) increase to an audible level. Noise levels in well-made equipment are usually too low to notice, but products made with cheaper components usually have a higher noise floor.
How do UE Custom earphones and IEMs deliver audiophile sound quality?
Many off-the-shelf consumer earbuds and speakers sacrifice one or more aspects of sound quality in the name of affordability and convenience. But with UE Custom, we didn’t see a reason to. Here are the key reasons why UE Custom earphones and IEMs deliver audiophile sound quality on-the-go:
Even before you consider the electronics that go into UE Customs, the ultra-personalized fit has a huge impact on sound quality. Because our earphones are custom-molded to form a complete seal around your ear, they’re excellent at blocking outside sound so you can hear your music as purely as possible.
This also means that they transfer sound energy extremely efficiently, which is especially noticeable with bass frequencies—without that seal, a lot of energy would escape, leading to a thin, weak sound. Finally, since UE Customs reach farther into your ear canal than most, there’s almost no interference between the sound and your eardrum. It doesn’t get any purer than that.
Custom Sound Signatures
Because sound quality is subjective and everyone has their own idea of what sounds best, we offer a range ofearphone models with unique sound signatures. If you’re a true purist, UE 18+ offers a super neutral response and plenty of headroom for your music to “breathe.” If you prefer a bass-heavy sound, UE 11 will let you feel the energy of the drums and bass. With seven distinct models to choose from, the UE Custom range has something for everyone.
But that’s not where the customization ends. For even more flexibility, all UE Custom earphones and in-ears are compatible with our Bluetooth cable. The cable communicates with the UE Custom App to let you fine-tune your sound with a full graphic equalizer. This way, you can sculpt the sound until it’s exactly how you like it—or even create custom settings to bring out your ideal sound for different genres.
Premium Components and Engineering
Just like any boutique audiophile speakers, we use the best components we can find (or design) and strategically combine them for maximum sonic performance. It all starts with our proprietary balanced armature drivers, which are tuned to resonate at specific frequencies for maximum efficiency and detail. The UE LIVE even features a custom 6mm miniature subwoofer for extra bass.
Each model features a different configuration of precision-tuned drivers powered by a crossover circuit that sends different parts of the sound to each, which is what gives them each a different “flavor.” These drivers are precisely aligned so that they act in harmony rather than interfering with each other, creating a sound that is much more than the sum of its parts.
Ready for the ultimate listening experience? Customize your dream earphones today!