As a musician who goes from the studio (both behind the desk and in the booth), to the rehearsal room, to the stage, I need an IEM that does a lot. As a guitarist, bandleader, and a singer, I need to cover a large frequency range so I can really hear what’s going on at all times. So when I was looking for a new set of in-ears, the Ultimate Ears Pro 18+ really jumped out at me. They’re the flagship model from UE, and I already have the 7’s (which are great but a little more narrow frequency-wise than I wanted), so it was the obvious choice.
The process for getting fitted for IEMs has changed drastically since the first time I got it done – instead of filling your ears with pink goop (which I really enjoy, actually), they use a 3D scanner device that is far more accurate and efficient method (not to mention futuristic AF). This also matches the process they use now to manufacture the IEMs – 3D printing (watch our factory tour here to see how it’s done). Either way, it’s fun and painless, and you can get it done for free if you go to the NAMM show and you can have it done at certain UE dealers as well.
There are two main concerns when it comes to IEMs – fit, and sound. You can customize the look of them, of course, but I just kept it simple and got some blue ones because I’m not that picky. The fit is of the highest priority to me, because these are things that are going to be in your ears for long stretches of time, and you don’t want to have to cut short a session or stop what you’re working on because of discomfort, regardless of how good they sound.
The fit on my 18+ pair is perfect. I wore them for a 4+ hour vocal tracking session and forgot they were in until I took them out. I wouldn’t sleep with them in, but damn near – they’re very comfortable. Of course, any piece of hard plastic pushed up against a body part for a length of time is going to eventually cause you discomfort, so it’s really a matter of delaying the inevitable, but the 18’s did so spectacularly.
The UE 18+ set has 6 drivers, which may not sound like a ton (64 Audio’s flagship IEMs have 18 drivers, which is something I need to try), but the sound is proof that more isn’t necessarily better. Inside the 18+’s are 4 passive crossovers that direct the frequencies to the right armatures, ensuring a full and clean sound. I used them primarily for tracking my own vocals and performing with my band In Virtue at rehearsals and shows, and I think for what I do, they perform sensationally. I can hear my voice among the dense mix of metal elements extremely well, which is important mainly because I’m not the most experienced singer and good monitoring will keep me from losing my voice.
If you’re looking for top-notch IEMs, and you have the means, I can’t imagine any way in which you’d be disappointed with a set of Ultimate Ears UE 18+ in-ear monitors, I for sure wasn’t!