Logitech's new line of UE headphones includes the powerful, comfortable, and wireless UE 9000. At £299 (direct), it's one of the pricier Bluetooth options we've tested, but it doesn't disappoint from a performance standpoint, offering distortion-free audio with deep bass response.
It can also be used as a wired pair – a cable is included – and has a built-in remote for controlling iOS devices and handling phone calls. There aren't too many downsides to the UE 9000 other than its price, which is significantly more than some of the comparable competition, like the Beats by Dr Dre Wireless.
The latest UE designs from Logitech all have a common thread – the colour blue that graces the audio cable and the inside of the earcups, and the generally futuristic styling, with glossy black-and-metallic colour schemes and angular, jagged contours. The UE 9000 features all these things, as well as an exceedingly comfortable circumaural (over-the-ear) fit. Plush earcups are accompanied by a slightly-less plush underside of the headband, but overall the fit is comfortable and ideal for long listening sessions.
There's a Listen Through button on the left earcup, which can be pressed to mute music and hear the outside world. The right earcup houses volume, playback/navigation, and phone controls, as well as the power switch, which at least on our model, felt a little poorly designed – loosely fitting in its slide compartment. The volume controls work independently of the controls on the sound source itself.
Although it is wireless, the UE 9000 can also be used as a wired pair – the 3.5mm cable also connects to the right earcup, along with the USB recharging cable. This would be a big plus even if you had to use the rechargeable headphones in active, powered-up mode in order use the cable, simply because not all sources you can connect cables to will support Bluetooth streaming. But Logitech took the convenience factor one step further here – you can use the UE 9000 as a wired pair with the power off, in passive mode, thus saving battery life. The overall power of the drivers drops off noticeably, but the UE 9000 can get so loud, this is hardly a hindrance in terms of enjoying them.
The included detachable cable has an inline microphone and remote for controlling Apple iOS devices and making phone calls. Call clarity is pretty par for the course – you'll be able to hear who you’re calling, and they'll understand you just fine, but since we're dealing with cellular audio fidelity, don't expect to hear a pin drop.
Also included is a USB charging cable that detaches from a wall outlet charger (so you can charge direct from the power adapter or from your computer's USB port), a cleaning chamois cloth, and a sturdy zip-up case that the headphones fold down flat into.
The pairing process with a typical mobile device, like the iPhone 4S, is simple and quick, and the headphones use a clever, cool sounding audio alert, rather than blinking LEDs, to let you know the status of your connection.
Logitech doesn't specify what Bluetooth codecs and versions the UE 9000 supports, but it will work with any iPad, every iPhone since the 3GS, and most iPods that are still made. Battery life will vary with usage, but Logitech estimates a full charge will last roughly 10 hours for wireless listening, and 20 hours for powered listening through the audio cable.
On deep bass tracks at top volumes – on both the source device (in this case, an iPhone 4S) and the headphones, the UE 9000 did not distort. Even at maximum volume, the Knife's "Silent Shout" and Thom Yorke's "Cymbal Rush," both tracks that provide challenging low frequency content in different sub-ranges, were delivered cleanly.
Occasionally, there is some system noise that sneaks into playback, usually between tracks, but at times I heard it during a song – it's a subtle crackling, whirring that doesn't come remotely close to overpowering the music, and can barely be heard when there is no music playing, but in the interests of being thorough, it's not something I hear with every Bluetooth headphone pair I test.
In passive mode, with the power off, you can still use the UE 9000 with the included cable. The overall output is slightly less intense, but it still includes powerful low frequency response with no distortion, even at top volumes.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West's "No Church in the Wild," the kick drum loop is delivered with a healthy thump, but there's less emphasis on the treble-heavy attack of the kick than we're used to hearing on this track. Again, things don't ever sound muddy, but the low-end takes centre stage over the highs. The high-mids are sufficiently tweaked, however, so that the vocals are delivered clearly over the rumble of the drum loop and bass synth hits.
If you're looking for a solid wireless Bluetooth stereo headphone pair, but £299 is more than you want to spend, the good news is you have a multitude of options – but they won't all be as powerful as the UE 9000.
In the big-bass-for-less-money department, the aforementioned Beats by Dr Dre Wireless has a more exaggerated sound signature and isn't as comfortable, but it costs significantly less. On the other hand, the Sennheiser MM 550-X costs £50 more than the UE 9000 and delivers an excellent sound quality, but its ineffective noise cancellation and even higher price make us pause for thought.
For far less, there are still plenty of quality Bluetooth headphone options, like the exercise-friendly Sennheiser MM 100. There are also solid in-ear wireless choices, like the Denon Globe Cruiser AH-W200 (at around £160). The Logitech UE 9000 is a powerful, comfortable, distortion-free wireless option, but even with its solid performance and wired versatility, the price feels a bit high. Despite this fact, the UE 9000 is unlikely to disappoint if you do take the plunge.
Manufacturer and Product
Logitech UE 9000
Bluetooth, Wired 3.5mm jack