Ultimate Ears (UE) has released a new $449 set of UE Drops wireless earbuds that are custom-made and perfectly fit every person’s ears. And in fact, these might turn out to be some of the best mass-market wireless earbuds we’ve seen.
Ultimate Ears has been quiet for a while, so it’s great to see this innovative brand back to form. And it looks like Ultimate Ears has finally lived up to its name by creating headphones designed just for your ear canals.
UE Drops earbuds are available in three pearl colors, but that’s not the point. What makes them special is that after you order a pair, Ultimate Ears will send you a special FitKit. You use this kit to get 3D shapes of your ears from the comfort of your room, with step-by-step guide from the UE FitKit app for iOS or Android. Then you return the finished FitKit with the pre-paid label and wait for your tailored earbuds. Which, UE says can take three to four weeks after the company receives your forms. Once the UE Drops are molded for you and you alone, Ultimate Ears ships them completely ready to wear.
UE claims that if you already have a custom ear print (for example, for a pair of UE CSX or UE Pro in-ear monitors), you can save time and use the same molds for your UE Drops – provided the prints are less than five years old . But these pricier products (which start at $549) are aimed at professionals or dedicated audiophiles — and more importantly, they’re all wired earphones.
Targeting the wider music-loving consumer, UE Drops offer the convenience of true wireless listening – so it’s the product many of us have been waiting for.
Otherwise, you get a standard rather than excellent 22 hours of total battery life (8 hours for the buds, 14 hours for the case), and once the battery is dead you can recharge it via USB-C cable or wirelessly with every Qi-compatible charger. The earbuds are also sweat-resistant, and have a transparency mode, but no active noise cancellation.
The UE Drops come with a Bluetooth 4.2 which is quite old, and you only get support for the old SBC base codec (no aptX, no LDAC), which means that even with all the custom wizardry involved here, you won’t be able to stream high-definition audio.
As for the price, customization doesn’t come cheap. UE Drops cost $449 with free shipping. Are they worth it? Time will show. But if you’re willing to spend money on something designed specifically for your unique ears, Ultimate Ears should probably be the first item on your list.