2020 €

Review published:




per Side






10 Ohm











105 dB








Daily Life


5 - 22000 Hz


The UE LIVE is a real beast. No less than 8 drivers flex their muscles and 3 of them are only responsible for the bass. With all the bragging, however, the definition unfortunately falls by the wayside and as good and textured as the bass is, it has too much influence on the signature and tonality. A muscleman who can't be said much and maybe has a bit too much healthy self-confidence when you evaluate him in everyday life.

UE LIVE was provided by R+R SonicDesign AG.


>> Identical to all tested models of Ultimate Ears <<

The UE LIVE is basically a custom IEM, but can also be manufactured as a universal IEM. If you decide on the custom variant, you will receive an individually adapted in-ear based on a personal ear impression, which is also only "compatible" with your own ear canal.
With universal IEMs, there is no way around a silicone or foam attachment (which is of course included in the scope of delivery in this case), but this can influence the sound characteristics and the sound can be falsified both positively and negatively.
The scope of delivery consists of a cleaning tool for the sound tubes, a removable cable, which was especially developed for stage use and the IEM itself. All this is in a screwable, round and black metal case, or square folding case, where the respective name of the owner is engraved.

Ultimate Ears relies on a specially developed IPX connector in their products. This connector is not compatible with MMCX or other connectors. I personally find it better than the one I know so far. It's more compact, sits bombproof and is easier to detach than the MMCX. The tight closure of the two connections (male/female) prevents moisture or dust from entering the connection, which is very important for stage use.
The cable is available with or without ear-loop, clear or black, and with a length of 125 or 160cm. There is also a balanced version (4-pin 2.5mm mini-jack) and a Bluetooth cable incl. remote for telephoning and controlling the Smartphone / Player.

With a custom IEM you don't have to worry about the fit, comfort and isolation. No matter which acrobatic exercises you perform, the IEM will not move from the spot and will also isolate you almost completely from the outside world. If something does pinch, or an adjustment is necessary, you can have it done free of charge by the respective distributor, or directly by Ulitimate Ears.

The cleaning tool is not only practical, but also really necessary, because as with many universal IEMs by now, there is no protection (mostly by a metal grid) in the sound tube, so earwax and dirt can get into the in-ear more easily. For the careful user cleaning is certainly not a foreign word, but it should be mentioned nevertheless.

The design of the UE LIVE is individually left to each user. What remains the same is the transparent 3D-printed housing with a view of the inner workings, but with the faceplate you can let off steam to your heart's content and the ear side is individually made to ear impression anyway.


To put it succinctly, the UE Live just sounds fat. However, this is on the one hand positive, but equally negative. The UE LIVE was developed for the big stages, where mostly acoustically all hell can break loose. Huge basses, meter-long line-arrays, over-proportioned amptowers of bass and guitarists, as well as a drumfill that could be used to fill small concert halls alone. Not to forget the audience.
This means that an IEM needs to be able to assert itself under these conditions, so that the artist can still concentrate on his vocals and the band. Without a doubt, UE LIVE has the volume and the power to do so. But the whole thing happens at the cost of accurate and natural sound reproduction.

I love bass and the bass of UE Live is a force of nature. To be honest, I have rarely heard bass passages so textured and crisp. With the UE Live, three drivers take care of that area. One dynamic driver takes care of deep sub-bass and two BA drivers for everything above. A 5-way crossover tries to put everything into the right direction so that no driver goes crazy on its own, including the mids and highs, of course, where 5 more drivers are added. Many drivers also always have the risk of not being well tuned, but here it works without you noticing a transition.
I've also never seen a hybrid combo that takes care of the bass and thus combines dynamics, depth, speed, punch, detail, pressure, texture and linearity. The sub-bass is not additionally raised, but on the same level as the mid and upper bass.
The icing on the cake would be that the upper bass drops a bit faster so that the mids don't get as much warmth anymore and the bass acts a bit harder and punchier.

The mids are powerful and voluminous. They try everything to oppose the bass and this sometimes leads to a lack of clarity and transparency and level of detail are rather overwhelmed by the pure power when the bass turns up and the mids try to keep up.
This makes them sound thicker, warmer than they should. As usual for UE, they are of high resolution and have a certain clarity and transparency, but their strengths and at the same time weaknesses are more in the physical than in the mental aspect.
The full body that the mid-range bass guitars and other instruments, where the frequency range is a bit lower, give as a basis on the way, basically meets my taste and is above all extremely musical and emotional. If you change from UE Live to another IEM, suddenly everything sounds quite thin for a short time and you have to get used to it again. But soon you notice how voices at UE Live are negatively influenced by this presentation, because they sound warmer than usual. This is the case with both sexes. You also get used to it, but it leaves a bland aftertaste.
The fact that voices are not pushed too much into the background is also due to the fact that the UE Live has been given a considerable boost between 1 and 2 kHz, which would be considered strange with many other signatures, but here it provides assertiveness and somehow works.
If you go further up the mids, they become more natural, organic and clear. I would describe it like this: What the upper mids, together with the highs, create, is to cover the spherical belly of an expectant mother with maternity clothes, so that this is not immediately noticeable from a distance. Nevertheless she is undeniably pregnant. Although UE relies on a safe tuning at UE Live, the sibilants come out here and there.

I have already mentioned that the highs of the UE models have a lot in common, both in quantity and quality. Here I can refer to the 18+ Pro, or RR & 6 Pro. However, in the signature of the UE Live, they can't quite unfold in the same way as in the mentioned models, especially as with the RR. It takes their breath away a little and they look more constricted. But depending on the music material, they also have the gift of bringing out fine details, with a touch of brilliance, but without luring treble heads out of the house. Don't you dare to put worse music material in front of the UE-Live, which is true for almost every UE model. Due to their consistently very good resolution, but unfortunately also because of the fact that there are always more or less sibilants involved, it quickly becomes artifactual and more exhausting than with high-quality music, without strong compression. I would classify the highs of the UE Live as somewhat harder (positively meant), which is to my taste. They roll off drastically after 8 kHz, only to fall back far behind 10 kHz and clean up a bit in the signature and stage presentation.

The stage is not to be blamed and compared to the 11 Pro it's not pressed anymore, with similar bass quantity, as the middle doesn't fall behind so much. Usual UE-outside-the-head-experience, but there is not the feeling of freedom like maybe with an RR. The 3D image and the separation are unmistakably affected by the bass and the warm overall performance, which means that individual instruments can no longer be separated as well and sharply.


The UE Live is a powerhouse and is not a fan of subtle compliments. That sometimes leaves you a bit disturbed. It is designed to keep the artist's back free on stage, even if the situation seems hopeless. Crashing guitars, thick electric bass, punchy drums: from below the UE Live burns a firework.
I love the bass and I like its high-range presentation. Basically, I'm also a fan of the powerful, voluminous and emotional mids. However, I have a problem with the overly colored voices here and that's a bit of a deal-breaker for me, as well as they are a bit too overloaded for me. I would also like to experience the UE LIVE in a very calm and sensitive way. No matter what you put in the UE Live, it always rushes straight away. For a one-night-stand it's fun and exciting, but not for a relationship, at least not for me. I'd stick with the 6 Pro if I had to choose UE.

What remains at the bottom line is a really good IEM who likes to push himself into the foreground, but that is also his job. Remarkable is the interaction of the 8 drivers, which are very well controlled by the 5-way crossover.

!!! The pictures do not show the original product, but are specially made universal demo listeners from Ulimate Ears !!!



Here the processing plays a role and the usability of the scope of supply. Additionally the appearance, wearing comfort and robustness.

Here I evaluate for me subjectively the price/performance ratio - does not flow into the evaluation!

Z: No Brainer

A: money well spent

B: all right, you can do

C: gives better for less money

D: overpriced

E: collector's price

Daily life:
Here, I focus on the long-term audibility and whether I can hear it well out of the box. This is of course very subjective and therefore only a minimal deduction or bonus. 

(-0.1, 0, +0.1)


Rating in Letters

S: 9.5 - 10

A: 9.0 - 9.4​

B: 8.0 - 8.9​

C: 7.0 - 7.9

D: 6.0 - 6.9​
E: 5.0 - 5.9​

F: 0.0 - 4.9​





UE 18+ PRO - 3rd GEN

UE 18+ PRO - 3rd GEN











CHI-FIEAR © 2020 by David Hahn

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