Here to finally complete our review coverage of Logitech's incredibly solid headphone lineup are the UE 9000 headphones. Saying that we were impressed by Logitech's reasonably priced UE 4000 and UE 6000, the result of two experienced brands that have merged into one well oiled audio machine, is an understatement. The UE 9000 are Logitech's top of the range over-ear headphones loaded to the brim with all kinds of tech like active noise-cancellation, wireless Bluetooth connectivity, headset features and plenty of phat sound to bring them wubs to life. Should you be rocking a pair of UE 9000 in the name of wireless audio? Find out in our comprehensive review down below!
Taking a quick look at what's inside the box, you'll find that the UE 9000 come with one big hard shell carry case complete with interior cable storage to protect your investment, a micro-USB to USB charging cable, a wall adapter in case you don't have any more USB ports available, a blue tangle-free detachable audio cable with gold plated connections and a slim case-friendly 3.5mm L angles plug - and a gold plated 1/4" adapter. You'll also find a cleaning cloth and of course a getting started guide which you'll swiftly read.
Meet the heavyweight contender in the championship of wireless Bluetooth headphones
Good sounding Bluetooth headphones are expensive, and you'd be very lucky to find any solid performers for under $300. The UE 9000 will put a pretty gnarly dent in your vault with their $400 price tag. But it's worth noting that they certainly give Parrot'sZik headphones a run for their money, if not more. Speaking of the Zik, which are one of the most talked about high-end wireless Bluetooth headphones currently out there, they've got nothing on the UE 9000's mainstream design and svelte faceted curves we adore these days. They share a familiar design language with the UE 6000 as well as the UE 4000, albeit look slightly chunkier to some degree. And because of that, I think the UE 9000 look less appealing to be worn out in public. They look like they belong at an upscale movie theater where people each have their own set of premium headphones. I'm not too far off am I?
We called the UE 6000 the best looking over-ear headphones of last year, and we still think they look absolutely gorgeous to this day. On the other side, the UE 9000 bring a very similar, albeit more premium styling with lots more robust metal elements incorporated into the design. Because after all, you're paying $400 for a pair of headphones. The UE 9000 only come in one color option, and like their wired sibling, feature a design that combines different textures, materials and a complementing color scheme with subtle details of blue contrasting against the blacks and grays. Logitech knows how to design electronics in a unique way, and we appreciate that.
Indoors, the massive concert hall-like black looking plastic driver enclosures have a hidden undercoat of a blueish metallic color that reveals itself when hit with direct sunlight or any kind of bright light for that matter. It's a very subtle detail. The glossy black finish of the enclosures attracts fingerprints so much that there's a cleaning cloth included.
I'm sad to see the rubbery soft-touch finish on the headband go in exchange for a matte textured plastic on the UE 9000. I guess it's time to grow up. On the other hand, I love the upgraded feeling of the UE 9000's rubber padded headband a lot more than the standard leatherette covered foam padding. It's got a refined, precision quality to it you'll come to appreciate. Metal points separate the headband's connection points which let the inner rubber padding to flex without causing damage.
Are you ready to be blown away by the overwhelming amount of features and functions your hard earned cash is going to buy you? Well then, let's be specific. Like the UE 6000, the UE 9000 are powered using a battery, and in this case there's a built-in rechargeable battery as oppose to the two AAA batteries required to power the UE 6000's active noise-cancellation. The built-in battery in the UE 9000 is rated for 10 hours of continuous wireless streaming. In my experience, battery life has been consistent to that claim. And if you run out of juice, plug in the included audio cable and you'll still be able to enjoy using the UE 9000. Granted you won't be treated to the amplification and arguable mediocre noise-cancellation as I'll explain further below.
The freedom to roam with no wires weighing you down is a liberating and valauble feature the UE 9000 present
The most notable feature of all is of course wireless Bluetooth audio streaming. The UE 9000 headphones do this almost flawlessly out of the box. Pairing the UE 9000 with an iOS device such as an iPhone 5 couldn't be any easier and user friendly. Logitech put a lot of attention to detail to this process, and you'll notice this from things like the guitar strumming chimes of the Bluetooth pairing process. On the right top hand side of the UE 9000, you'll find a multi-function power switch that slides to turn on the headphones while also serving as the Bluetooth pairing switch. Bluetooth connection, power and battery status are all depicted using two tiny LED lights located right beside the switch.
Right beneath that switch is where you will have access to the on-board volume, play/pause and call controls. There's a middle multi-function button that lets you skip tracks, answer and end calls. It's worth noting that volume is only adjusted on-board the headphones and does not control the audio source. The left ear cup is home to a Listen Through button, and when pressed will mute the audio and utilize the dual on-board mics to actively let you hear the outside ambient environment. My only nitpick about this function is that the audio keeps on playing instead of being paused, it is only muted.
Speaking of mics, each ear cups features a mic that enables you to wirelessly talk over the phone as if you were wearing a Bluetooth earpiece. Only the left one will pick up your actual voice while the other will act as a background noise-cancelling mic. You'll also be able to hear yourself under all that sound-proofing ear cushions like a proper pair of gaming headsets such as Logitech'sF540 we reviewed. Now that's awesome use of tech by Logitech. And the quality of the audio is loud and clear with a decent amount of background noise being reduced. Microphones aside, the bottom right ear cup features a 3.5mm audio input and a micro-USB charging input.
Bluetooth paring has been extremely reliable using the iPhone 5 as well as on my iMac with no distinguishable difference in audio quality between using the UE 9000 in wireless and wired modes. Wireless range is also impressive at up to 50 feet (15 meters) of untethered freedom. The high quality codecs used in the hardware really makes these an enjoyable pair of wireless headphones that don't compromise audio quality even when Bluetooth is concerned.
But what hasn't been very delightful however, is the reliability of the Bluetooth paring with a MacBook Air. The UE 9000 for some reason aren't fully compatible with it and will require a new pairing process after being turned off. There's also a noticeable lag in audio. None of which are present when paired to an iPhone or iMac. Unfortunately I couldn't test these with a MacBook Pro or other audio sources for that matter.
The active noise-cancellation feature is a bit iffy just like it is on the UE 6000, albeit there's more background noise being isolated. But whether that has to do with the active noise-cancellation is questionable. Turning it off makes no difference as far as I could tell. The real sound isolation is thanks to those massive ear cushions and their amazing ability to seal in the sound and block out a considerable amount of ambient noise. There is a significant difference in the audio quality when turning on the power switch which amps the sound making it more rich and vibrant. Logitech does claim the UE 9000 have an amplification feature which the company fails to even mention regarding the UE 6000, and we think that's the only feature that really makes a difference here.
portability isn't exactly the UE 9000's forte, but they do lay flat inside their massive carry case for easier? transport and storage. Unlike the UE 6000's collapsible and foldable design, the UE 9000 can only twist 90 degrees in order to take up a bit less space by laying flat. The UE 6000 are definitely a lot more portable due to their collapsible design which fits into a soft neoprene carry size that's half the size of the UE 9000's.
Plugging in the included audio cable gives you access to a fully featured, iPhone/iOS compatible inline 3-button remote with a mic, which is useful if you were to lose power or be using a non-Bluetooth device. The only difference here is that the hardware is colored in black as oppose to the all-blue color scheme of the UE 6000's detachable audio cable.
You know what they say when something feels heavy, it doesn't feel cheap. The UE 9000 are one of the heaviest headphones I've held. And that's not necessarily a bad thing as you'll find out when we talk about comfort. Heft does equal better quality and that's exactly what the construction on these feels like. No matter how much plastic there is surrounding the UE 9000, they don't have a concerning cheap feeling when picked up for a head-crowning moment.
What's more is that the hinges, which is are one of the most important aspects in headphone construction, are made from metal alloy that provide great rigidity and articulating performance. Unlike the UE 6000, the hinges here are boldly exposed like some buffed shirtless dude, and have a spring-loaded mechanism that maintains just the right amount of retention for the ear cups to put the necessary amount of pressure to provide a tight, personalized seal around the user's ears.
While I do like the robustness of the build quality, there's a significant amount of plastic creaking going on, more so than the UE 6000. With that said though, the robust build and heft the UE 9000 have masks any thought of plasticky cheapness. Will that affect the performance or longevity of the headphones? Probably not. Will it make you cringe like you would from the sound a nail makes scratching a chalk board? Yes, yes it will.
Dat sumptuous padding. One cannot doubt the level of comfort offered by the UE 9000's generously sized cups and overstuffed, fluffy memory foam cushions. The padding on these massive over-ear cups is to die for. Forget all of the nuisances you've might have had previously with wearing uncomfortable headphones, these are truly designed in such a way that you'd want to go to sleep while still wearing them. Suffice to say they're comfortable enough to be worn all day and all night despite the fact that they aren't the lightest of over-ear headphones. I'm quite surprised that there isn't any real leather used in these cushions for the price. Then again the synthetic leather-like material used may actually be more durable and suitable for the job.
The aforementioned metal alloy hinges work their spring-loaded, articulating magic in ensuring that the UE 9000's ear cups conform to the shape of your head. The do an amazing job in creating a seal around your ears that without active noise-cancellation, blocks out a decent amount of background noise so you can focus on the audio output. Just like the UE 6000, these feel incredible to wear while blocking out the same level of unwanted noise.
In typical fashion, we've saved the best for last. How do a $400 pair of headphones sound you ask? Are you sitting down for this? Like a pair of $200 headphones, or to be more specific, these sound just like the UE 6000 meaning exemplary sound quality with one improved exception. And that is the low-end performance. It seems as though the UE 9000 have a much wider and detailed depth of bass that sounds absolutely awesome when called upfront by that bassy track you never knew had such a low frequency. The 40mm drivers are tuned to output powerful bass that at times, can sound like there's a mini subwoofer inside your head - all without sounding muddy nor overwhelming.
In terms of vocals, the UE 9000 have an exceptional clarity that'll put a smile on your face when you start listening to your music. But again, aren't as crystal clear as the highs the $250 TMA-1 Studio are capable of delivering. Bass is of course more neutral sounding on those as well for referencing compared to the UE 9000's thumpy low-end. The rich midrange is acceptably detailed with a spacious instrument and vocal separation. The UE 9000 do not distort at high volumes while the deep bass response only improves the more power it consumes. Overall, the UE 9000 eat the $280 Beats by Dre Wireless headphones like some tasteless aperitif.
Suffice it to say you're not getting more sound for your buck, but what are getting for that additional $200 is extremely high quality wireless Bluetooth streaming, headset functionality with on-board controls and a built-in rechargeable battery. You just have to ask yourself if these extras merit the premium price. And if not, we highly recommend turning to Logitech's UE 6000 for a near-identical performance in a wired setup.
Unfortunately, the active noise-cancellation feature shouldn't be your focus when grabbing the UE 9000 as it barely enhances the already great passive noise-isolation of the UE 9000's over-ear design. Based on our testing, it should be inaccurate for Logitech to claim these are active noise-cancelling headphones because that's plainly untrue. With that said, there's still a lot to like and even love about the UE 9000 as a whole. For those of you with just the right amount of disposable cash, the UE 9000 are truly a pleasing pair of wireless headphones. $300 sounds like a more reasonable price to pay, and a price we would have gladly paid ourselves. We just can't justify the increased leap in price over the UE 6000.