Last week Ultimate Ears unveiled the UE Reference Remastered. It's the latest collaboration with Capitol Studios and it’s a big deal for many reasons.
You might be asking “what does remastering IEMs even mean?”
A few years ago Ultimate Ears and Capitol Studios teamed up. Their goal was to create an In-Ear Monitor that could address a rather confounding problem.
So many producers and engineers are moving from studio to studio each with its different sounds. How could they be sure of what they are hearing. A big challenge a producer or mix engineer faces is making sure that they are hearing accurate sound. They must trust the mix decisions they make. Translating across an almost infinite array of playback devices and environments is crucial.
This is less of a concern if you are working in the same room all the time. You get used to the quirks of a room and you can compensate. It also helps if your room is tuned and treated.
But being able to work in the same room is a luxury few have. Finding a mix room that has been carefully treated feels like winning the lottery. If you could create an IEM that gave you a flat response and can a sound you can trust , you have addressed a big problem. UE and Capitol set out to address that issue and in turn created a revolutionary product.
OK. But what is a "Remaster"? You’re probably familiar with the term "remastered" from the music you buy. There are some cynical people out there who suggest that “remaster” simply means “more bass.” It’s much more than that. When a record is remastered, the original tapes are dug out and gone over with a fine-tooth comb. Frequencies are analyzed, and stereo imagery is re-examined. Most importantly new formats and playback devices are taken into account. In short, the music is optimized for today and tomorrow.
Records from the 70’s were mastered to be played on vinyl, heard on FM radio (at best), and usually not for “audiophiles.” The dawn of CD’s saw the first wave of this, and now with the age of streaming and downloads remastering in full swing.
When the original Reference Monitors were released Hi-Res Audio was still in the future. Portable studios were did exist. They were not commonplace. Not that many people were thinking about mixing in headphones of any sort. Much less IEMs. My now things have changed! From online stores such as HD Tracks and Acoustic Sounds. To players like Pono and Astell and Kern. Hi-Res audio is here with a vengeance. Even streaming services are getting into the act. Services like TIDAL and Deezer elite offer lossless streaming. How long will it be before Apple announces iTunes HD?
Attention Ms. or Mr. producer / mixer. While you have a much tighter budget now — your music is now being streamed next to Steely Dan or Michael Jackson. How can you make your sure your laptop mixes are up to snuff?
Capitol Studios and UE saw this as an opportunity to update the already praiseworthy UE RM. And with the upgrade they kept an eye and ear on the future of audio.
Philippe Depallens, vice president and general manager of Ultimate Ears Pro, introduced the UE RR recently at Capitol Studio in LA. According to Philippe, several key improvements were made. A new carefully tuned structure designed for the drivers, that also securely houses them was key. Proprietary True Tone Drivers are also new. They extend the frequency range to 18kHz. With flat response. This helps flesh out harmonic structures and overtones that are missing from most headphones.
Most importantly the new Reference Remastered will still be handmade by Ultimate Ears.