For some time, I’d been bound by morbid curiosity to try the Ultrasone IQ. It has been panned almost universally even before it came out, and today, I shall add further insult to injury. About a month ago, in a show of insanity, I assailed aural cacophony on my senses.
You guessed it. It is bassy and sibilant.
Amusingly, I knew that going into the audition since everybody and their mothers told me so, but I thought it was going to be bassy and sibilant in a good way; you know, like fun thumping bass, with airy highs… No.
It was none of these things.
The bass was bloated and slow, and the highs featured the most annoying display of sibilance I’d ever come across in an IEM. It wasn’t that the sibilance hurt my ears — I can handle that. I own or have owned several IEMs prone to sibilance, including, but not limited to, the FI-BA-SS, CK100PRO, DBA-02, Tzar 350. I can handle my sibilance. But the iQ was a different beast altogether; it was just… irritating.
Every single time I encountered anything with a hint of sibilance on a track, I was met with extremely distracting sibilance that was akin to a blown tweeter rattling about in a cheap car stereo.
This thing is nearly $900! Ugh.
In its defense, the L-plug on the cable is pretty attractive.
If you must have an Ultrasone IEM, I can’t stress this enough: Tio >>>> IQ. Everything about it was more pleasant; it wasn’t sibilant at all, had an equally spacious presentation, had balanced, un-bloated bass, and engaging, solid mids. The housings were also very comfortable, in stark contrast the the weird box-like shape of the IQ (which was surprisingly not uncomfortable, though not exactly the zenith of ergonomic design, either). Unfortunately, the TiO is a case of “I’ve heard this before!”, and the UE600 can deliver 98% of what the TiO brings for a quarter of the price.
Again, pretty L-plug.
Pictures have been taken from Ultrasone’s downloadable press kit.