Now let’s turn to “Joanni” from Kate Bush’s Aerial: A Sea of Honey [Sony]. The song makes a bit of a bellwether test in that it can sound terrific through truly excellent transducers, but can also give variable (and sometimes borderline unpleasant) results through merely good or “run-of-the-mill” earphones and speakers. As you might expect, though, the PRM passed this test with flying colors. The song opens with synth washes and a percussion figure, where at least one of the percussion instruments is very low-pitched (so low-pitched, in fact, that some earphones lack sufficient bass reach to show you what’s really going on). With the PRM, however, those low-pitched percussions “thwacks” are fully present and accounted for, with real weight, punch, and depth. But happily, even when reproducing powerful low frequencies, the PRM remains clear sounding and well controlled—never succumbing, as some monitors do, to bass overload.
When Bush’s vocals enter the mix, another difficult test arrives. Bush’s voice is not easy to reproduce, partly because it is inherently high-pitched, but also because Bush often applies angular touches of emphasis and inflection—touches that can wind up a little bit edgy or even “squeaky” through monitors that have excessive upper midrange emphasis. But through the PRMs Bush’s distinctive voice sounds beautifully expressive, albeit a bit unorthodox at times. The PRM’s just show you what the record is capable of, without editorializing or overcooking vocal elements in a way that might shatter the mood of the recording. Finally, “Joanni” features a number of delicate but definitely grooving high percussion accents—accents that, on some monitors, can either sound way too hot or else go missing in action. Once again, the PRMs found the ideal middle path, letting the high percussion notes ring out with natural shimmer and sustain, yet without becoming overpowering or overwrought. Again, the only times I’ve heard the track handled as well have been instances where I was sampling (very) high-end speakers or full-size high end headphones.
Would the voicing settings I chose for my PRMs work for you? Probably not, but then they aren’t meant for that (my settings are unique to me and my ears). But if you acquire a set of PRMs, your set would—like mine—have custom settings geared to work perfectly for you and your ears. Isn’t that kind of personalized perfection all that one could ever ask of a high-quality in-ear monitor?
Logitech’s Ultimate Ears Personal Reference Monitors takes the concept of a truly personalized in-ear monitor further than ever before; it’s the first product of its kind to offer both a custom fit and a fully customizable voicing that can be adapted to fit the needs and/or desires of most any listener. One key to the PRM, though, is that it starts life with a monitor platform whose baseline performance capabilities are very, very high, so that custom-tuned voicing becomes a matter of enhancing what is already a “gold-standard” product. What is more, Ultimate Ears’ customer-centric mindset promises to make the PRM ownership experience a joy. Though admittedly expensive, the PRM is arguably the finest in-ear monitor presently available.
Ultimate Ears Personal Reference Monitors
Type: Custom-fit in-ear monitors with fully customizable voicing curves.
Driver complement: Three-way system featuring five proprietary balanced armature-type drivers.
Accessories: Hard shell road case (custom labeled with a padded interior), cleaning tool.
Frequency response: 20Hz – 18 kHz
Weight: Not specified (weight can very considerably depending on the size/shape of the owners’ ears)
Sensitivity: 110.6dB @ 1kHz, 50mV (Efficiency rated at 115.6dB @ 1mW)
Impedance: 21 Ohms @ 1kHz
Noise Isolation: 26dB
Warranty: 1-year limited hardware warranty
Logitech Ultimate Ears
(800) 589-6531 English
(800) 963-3479 Spanish