While I don't consider myself an audiophile, I do love listening to music and am trying out different earphones, trying to find that perfect pair. Earbuds will never match the dynamic range of larger headphones, but the Logitech Ultimate Ears 350 Noise-Isolating Earphones seem to strike the perfect balance between size, sound quality and cost.
The 350s come securely packaged in an attractive black box with photos of well known musicians who use Ultimate Ear brand earphones. While the 350s are likely not on par with the higher-end professional models, they certainly strive to give the appearance of a quality product. In the box you get a snap-shut clamshell carry case, the choice of 5 silicone ear cushions of various sizes, some product literature (including a cool little picture book) and of course the earphones. These are not overly flashy but they are stylish and unobtrusive. The cord and joining points seem sturdy enough but not too thick or heavy. The 3.5 mm jack is the 90 degree angled variety, not straight off the cord. My ear canals are big so I immediately attached the large ear cushions. The fit fairly snugly, though I wish they were slightly larger. Noise isolation was good, though not as complete as earbuds that use memory foam cushions. If I go for a jog they stay snug for a while, but start to slip when I really start sweating. The clamshell case is nice, but I can see that the already loose latch will wear out over time.
You know you've stumbled across a great set of earphones if you play music you've listened to many times before and hear it in a new way. Such has been my experience with the Ultimate Ears 350. I was shuffling through my digital music collection to test them out and I would find myself lingering on many of the tracks, caught up in the tunes and hearing details in the songs I hadn't noticed before. So far they were performing above my expectations. From classical to blues to tecnno to rock, the 350s handle all kinds of music with aplomb. High volume? No problem! The only slight distortion I ever detected was on some base heavy songs, and that could have come from the source material.
I have Philips SHE9850 In-Ear Headphones with Advanced Acoustics and Rockford Fosgate PP15mm Punch Plugs Headphones on hand so decided to do a comparison. The three headphones have very different characters and the 350s fell right in the middle. By comparison, the Philips SHE9850s are more immediate and emphasize the treble and higher notes, lacking much low-end bass. The Punch Plugs exhibit impressive deep bass but lose a bit in the highs and sound slightly muddy. The 350s hit a sweet spot, with excellent treble clarity that has a warmth that keeps them from sounding harsh. While they don't pack the bass the Punch Plugs do, they have more than any other earbuds I've used in this size and price range, and should be excellent for all but the most bass demanding users. What also sets them apart is they give the music a spacial quality lacking in the other two headphone.
The technicians/engineers at Logitech did an excellent job delivering premium sounding earphones at a price point that won't impact the average Joe or Jane's bank account too heavily. At the risk of sounding cliched, the Ultimate Ears 350 earphones are now my "go-to" pair. The only reason I don't give them a full five rating is that I'm always on the quest for that perfect set. These are pretty darn close though - 4.5.
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