A few weeks ago, we reported that Ultimate Ears was releasing custom fit true wireless earbuds. Having reviewed Ultimate Ears UE CSX that were custom fit to my ears thanks to their innovative UE Fitkit, I was excited. UE FITS use slightly different technology, but they do indeed let you create custom earphones in just a few minutes.
You can read about my experience with the UE CSX here. The UE FITS build upon this technology but, unlike the CSX, where you create molds but then have to wait while UE’s craftsman creates the earphones, creating custom UE FITS takes less than fifteen minutes. There is no waiting or delay with the UE FITS, which means I had custom true wireless earphones as soon as the package was delivered. I’m getting ahead go myself, though.
The UE FITS are “the first-ever true wireless earphones with an instant custom fit,” and the technology behind them is pretty remarkable. As Ultimate Ears explain, UE FITS are,
the first-ever true wireless earphones with instant custom fit. Similar to fingerprints, each person’s individual ear is unique. No two prints, even on the same person, are the same. UE FITS mold to perfectly fit individual ears in less than a minute with its patented Lightform technology. This goes beyond the standard tip sizes of small, medium and large. From podcasts and playlists on morning commutes, to conference calls while working from home or rocking that evening run, these instant, fit-for-only-you earbuds will stay in place for all-day comfort and deliver an exceptional audio experience.
The box that UPS delivered was smaller than I expected. When I opened the box, I found the earphones themselves sealed in an opaque inner package. The reason for this quickly became clear.
Each of the earbuds arrives with a soft translucent ear tip attached. As you can see in this video, the process of transforming these “blanks” into custom earphones takes just a few steps. The first step is to download the UE FITS app to your phone. The app then walks you through the rest of the process. You place the tips into your ears and press them with enough firmness to force the soft material to adjust to the unique shape of your ear. It doesn’t take too much pressure, and, in fact, I was told by the marketing team NOT to press them too hard. That bit of pressure is, it seems, enough to make the ear tips conform to the shape of your ears.
The app then triggers small LEDs in each earphone that cause the material to harden. The company explains the app:
triggers the embedded LEDs, which emit a gentle purple glow of UV light. Lightform technology uses UV light to harden the gel-filled tips to the contours of each ear, transforming them into earbuds that perfectly fit the consumer’s ear in under 60 seconds. This personalized fit provides wearable comfort free of pressure, pain or irritation, even after extended use. UE FITS also offer superior passive noise isolation as the fitted tips create a natural seal that blocks ambient noise.
Here’s my walkthrough of the process and some initial thoughts:
And here’s a video from Ultimate Ears demonstrating the process.
During the curing process, the ear tips became a bit warm. I was told this is to be expected, but the heat is actually just a byproduct of the curing process. The LEDs are what causes the hardening to occur. However, the heat does serve a purpose in that it lets you know the process is working.
After a few minutes, the app lets you know the process is complete, and you are ready to start using your own personalized, custom true wireless earbuds.
As Jonah Staw, General Manager and Head of Ultimate Ears Custom Earphones, explains,
We are redefining wireless earphones with UE FITS. For the first time ever, we are bringing instant custom fit to premium earbuds. With the press of a button and in under 60 seconds, consumers can experience exceptional comfort and sound quality from earphones that perfectly fit the unique shape of their ears.
You can simply enjoy these earphones as you would any other pair of true wireless earphones from that point forward. At $249, the UE FITS sit at a mid-range price point. Sure, you can get true wireless earphones for under $100. And you can spend significantly more than $249 if, for example, you want a pair of Master and Dynamic MW07 PLUS. (Read my review.) But for the price, you get good-sounding earphones that offer something no other company currently offers- a custom fit. They are currently available in your choice of Cloud (Grey), Dawn (Lilac), and Eclipse (Navy).
Inside the UE FITS are 10mm drivers designed to “provide a sound signature that is full, warm, and detailed with deep, tight, and punchy bass.” If, however, you don’t love Ultimate Ears’ tuning, you can tweak the audio using the UE FITS app. I love the way UE tunes its products, but it is good to know the sound can be customized to your personal taste.
In addition, the UE FITS gets up to eight hours of playback on a single charge and an additional twelve hours thanks to the battery built into the included case. Dual microphones built into each earphone help reduce wind noise and make these great for calls or teleconferences. The UE FITS sport Bluetooth 5.0, so you can rest assured that the connection between the earbuds and your source device will be rock solid. And, since these are ideal for working out, they are even sweatproof.
The included protective case also houses a battery so you can recharge the UE FITS on the go. It also has a small pairing button so that, when you upgrade your phone as I just did, connecting the UE FIYTS to a new device is a simple process. That noted, the case feels a bit on the cheap side, and the glossy plastic collects fingerprints and, as I’m starting to see, scratches like nobody’s business.
The UE FITS have an unusual shape that, once you start using the earphones, makes sense. The oval bar that sits outside your ear when they are in place houses the electronics. The free UE FITS app lets you customize the controls, although they are, admittedly, a bit more limited than I expect from earphones in 2020.
You can choose what happens when you double-tap on each earphone. The options include: activating your voice assistant, play/pause, volume up, volume down, next track, and repeat track. I love being able to customize the controls, but each earbud is limited to just one function is less than ideal. I currently have it set so that a double tap on the left earbud plays and pauses the audio while the other earbud skips to the next track when double-tapped. I would love to have an additional option on each earbud, but that’s not the case.
The app also lets you know how much charge remains in each earbud and in the case. For days when you expect to be on the phone a lot, you might opt to use a single earbud and then, when it runs down, swap earbuds and use the one with the full charge.
Of course, the earbuds’ selling point isn’t just Ultimate Ears decades of experience creating amazing audio products but also the custom ear tips. Those ear tips make these particularly impressive, and that is the case for a few reasons. First, because the ear tips have been formed to fit your specific ears, they stay put better than any earphones I have tried.
They may feel a bit loose when you first put them in, but they stay put like nobody’s business. Trust me; I’ve tried to get them to fall out by running, jumping, and generally acting like a maniac, and… they didn’t budge. Also, the custom fit means they are among the most comfortable earbuds I have ever tried. They stay put without putting undue pressure on my ear and, as a result, they are just as comfortable after wearing them for a few hours than they are when you first put them in. Finally, the custom fit means that, even though the UE FITS don’t have active noise cancellation, they do an excellent job of blocking ambient sound. Honestly, the fit and seal is so good that I’m not sure how much benefit there would be in adding ANC. That noted, if the UE FITS had ANC, they would likely also offer a “hear through” function that lets ambient sound in even when you are listening to music. THAT is a feature I would love to see in the next version of these earphones.
As for sound… the UE FITS are a joy to use. Yes, they are comfortable, but they also sound great. I still put the MW07 Plus at the top of my list from the perspective of sound, but the UE FITS are pretty great. Plus, the ear fatigue I sometimes experience because the MW07 Plus exert pressure on my ears to stay put is nowhere to be found when using the UE FITS. So while the MW07 Plus is great for an audiophile experience, the UE FITS are probably among the best “all-arounders” I’ve reviewed.
I’m enjoying the hell out of the UE FITS. The comfort, stability, and excellent sound combine to create a terrific listening experience. In an overcrowded market of lookalike true wireless earbuds, Ultimate Ears has found a way to create something truly unique; I’m a fan.
The UE FITS sell for $249, and they are available directly from the manufacturer.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample of the UE FITS
What I Like: Create custom earphone in minutes; Comfort and fit are amazing; Sound is excellent and can be tweaked using the free companion app; Controls can be customized too; Good battery life; Custom earless create a comfortable but effective seal
What Needs Improvement: Battery case feels a bit cheap; Controls can be customized, but once one action can be set for ear earphone; No ANC or HearThrough