UE 5 Sound Signature Deep Dive

UE 5 Sound Signature Deep Dive

Take a deep dive into the unique design of UE 5 to discover what makes it ideal for creating and enjoying music.

The UE 5 sound signature is a dependable, everyday solution for those that want a high quality audio experience. Whether you’re a musician ready to make the leap from wedge monitors to IEMs, an audiophile looking to upgrade from bulky over-the-ear headphones or earbuds that just weren’t faithfully reproducing your music, or a business traveler wanting to escape with the best sound quality and noise isolation you can get—UE 5 will get you there. “UE 5 is our original in-ear monitor,” says UE Service Manager John Talley. “If someone is new to the game and jumping ship from universal IEMs and they want to invest in solid in-ear monitors, I point them towards UE 5.” In this article, we’ll dive deep into the unique design of the UE 5—the sound signature that started it all—to discover what makes them ideal for creating and enjoying music.
The UE 5 Story
On Van Halen’s 1995 Balance tour, drummer Alex Van Halen was frustrated. To hear himself and his bandmates above screaming crowds, Alex asks his monitor engineer to turn up the mix, but the volume becomes overwhelming—and painful. On the bus after a tough gig in Irvine, California, Van Halen’s sound engineer had an idea: what if instead of using loud wedge speakers, Alex wore fitted earpieces? They could be custom molded to fit the exact shape of his ear, so they block out ambient noise, and with a two-way crossover, they’d pack enough low-frequency oomph to make the bass drum really slam. That’s how Ultimate Ears was born. UE 5 was the first commercially-available sound signature offered by Ultimate Ears, and it was a huge hit. Soon, artists around the world were embracing the benefits of in-ear monitors on the biggest stages. But what exactly does UE 5 sound like?


Balanced Sound for Any Application
The key to the UE 5 sound signature’s balanced sound is its dual-driver design and two-way crossover. Unlike headphones and earbuds built around a single speaker, the UE 5 signature splits treble and bass frequencies between two precision-tuned drivers for clear and accurate audio reproduction across all frequencies. “Their sound signature is pretty flat, with some enhancement on the high and low frequencies,” says Talley. Compared to single-driver designs, the UE 5 sound signature delivers a tighter and punchier (but not exaggerated) bass response as low as 5Hz, more detailed midrange and transparent treble clarity all the way up to 22kHz—well beyond the limits of human hearing, which sits between 20Hz-20kHz. With two precision-tuned drivers dividing the audio duties, each driver can focus on reproducing only the frequencies it was designed for, instead of being a “jack of all trades, master of none,” like headphones with a single dynamic driver. As a result, each driver works at its optimal efficiency for the most transparent audio reproduction available. It’s a powerful and accurate personal listening experience that rivals the recording studio control room.
Superior Acoustic Isolation
All UE sound signatures are designed to block up to -26dB of ambient noise. When you’re in the studio or listening at home, you can focus on what’s important—your music. All UE earphones and IEMs block noise using passive noise isolation, which is preferred over active noise cancellation, or ANC by audiophiles and musicians alike. What’s the difference between passive noise isolation and ANC? Passive noise isolation blocks sound naturally, whereas ANC is known to cause ear fatigue and distorted sound quality. Worried about feeling too isolated on stage? UE PRO models have an ambient port option that allows ambiance to reach your eardrum through a -12dB filter. When the ports are closed, you’ll experience the full -26dB of noise isolation.

On-Stage or Off
Though Ultimate Ears started with musicians in mind, UE 5 is far from a stage-only tool. From making long-haul flights more bearable via our Bluetooth cable to mixing and mastering in the studio, UE 5 is a great sound signature for both work and play and is ideal for a wide range of genres and applications. For stage use, select the PRO cable to connect to your beltpack of choice. For casual listening at home or on-the-go, select the Bluetooth cable to connect your UE 5 to your mobile device. In the studio, the UE 5’s balanced audio reproduction makes it a perfect companion to traditional studio monitors.

Personalize Your Ears

No more limiting yourself to just one faceplate design—now you can have as many as you like and swap them out any time. Customize your design with a variety of colors, materials and decorative details, or even use your own custom artwork. A simple twist-lock mechanism makes swapping styles easy. The UE SWITCH option is available for all models, as well as any existing pair via mail-in upgrade.

Choose Your Fit
There are multiple way to get a custom fit. Your choice of fit depends on personal preference.  Using an audiologist option for fit creates an in-ear monitor that reaches the second bend of the ear canal for the ultimate fit. We use the impressions taken from an audiologist to create an accurate fit shaped to your exact earprint. This fit is popular among performers and musicians who are constantly moving on stage. 
The other fit option is the at-home FitKit option which creates an earphone that reaches the first bend of the ear canal. To create this fit, we ship to you our convenient at-home FitKit to make your ear impressions. We find that audiophiles and music lovers prefer the ease of the FitKit, but these high-quality earphones are great for critical listening in the studio and the stage, too. A universal fit option is also available. 

Handcrafted for Your Ears Only
Each set of UE 5s is handcrafted with over 100 touchpoints. no matter which fit you choose. After we get your impressions from your audiologist or your at-home FitKit, our team will turn around your UE 5 IEMs or earphones in just a few weeks. We also offer an industry-leading white-glove customer service. Sometimes, small adjustments need to be made to ensure that you get the perfect fit for optimal comfort and passive noise isolation. Our team will hop on a video chat with you to discuss any opportunities to make your fit better and can make small changes to your IEMs or earphones to optimize your fit—free of charge via our 90 day Perfect Fit Guarantee. “They almost look like jewelry,” says Talley. “I’ve had mine for thirteen years now and I’ve never had to send them in.”


Find Your Perfect Pair
If you’re still unsure which pair is best for you, take our quiz to get a recommendation.  We’d love to hear from you! If you have any questions, contact us to get advice from our experts. 
Email: uehelp@ultimateears.com
Phone: (800) 589-6531


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