How often does your tech teach you something completely new about your physicality? For me, rarely – especially when said revelation pertains to the very thing that earns me the bulk of my income these days, my ears and testing the best wireless headphones on the market. But today was not a normal day.
The illuminating product (and I mean that literally as well as metaphorically) is UE's Fits earbuds, which have been available in the US for a little while but just arrived across the pond in the UK.
UE, also known as Ultimate Ears, is a loveable Californian audio giant that can lay claim to some of the best Bluetooth speakers we've had the pleasure of testing – see the Wonderboom 2 as a fine example.
Now, the need-to-know info here is that these earbuds involve a custom-fitting process, but they do all of the tailoring while you wait – no audiologist, no two-part silicon kit, no shipping off impressions, no long wait to get your earpieces. Remember ideas like Avery's custom ear-tips to solve your terrible AirPods fit? This is nothing like that.
What you do is: download the UE Fit app, take the earbuds out of their slightly intimidating, sterile-feel packaging, put them in the case, and follow the prompts. The whole thing takes about three minutes. And the results blew my mind.
It wasn't a great start. Upon inserting the earbuds into my ears, the translucent tips (which actually cover the whole of the driver housing proper) were far too big for my ears. However, the app reassured me I could hold them in place while the magical fitting sorcery happened.
This is the part that'll really wow you. The app warns you it's about to happen, but still, I'll wager you've never experienced anything quite like it. You only get one shot at this, but the parts of the earpiece that rest inside your ear heat up while you wear them. Almost immediately, I could feel the thermoplastic moving, slimming down, caressing and assimilating with the folds of my ears.
At the end of it all, UE asks if you'd like to snap a selfie (at which point you notice they're illuminated purple), and although I usually balk at the very idea of that, on this occasion I took the plunge. And so help me, I posted it above…
A lesson in physics: achieve an optimum fit, reap the rewards
It almost makes me sad that in one set of UE Fits' lifespan, they will probably only be required to perform this transformative heat-up dance once.
It seems a shame when you ponder the considerable effort that must have gone into squirreling those powerful heat elements away inside the driver housings! I'm almost tempted to order more tips (which is possible and presumably offered in case you messed up first time around) for $30. As I decide if I want to buy them just to do the test all over again for fun, I should note that they're light-sensitive, so UE warns you to keep them in their pill packet until you're ready to go for it.
Nothing I've tried before, not even the best true wireless earbuds, has boasted this particular feature. I'm honestly flabbergasted more hasn't been made of it.
As any audiophile will tell you if you let them, only when a decent seal betwixt ear-tip and ear canal is achieved can the sonic talents of any earbuds or in-ear monitors truly shine. And that's what happens here. Now Fontaines D.C.'s Bloomsday sounds especially angry, somber, brooding, and downright dissonant and jagged. It's a lesson in physics: get the fit right, reap the rewards.
This is not a full review of the UE Fits (that will take time) but other features worth noting are a single dynamic 10mm driver in each earpiece, up to eight hours of continuous listening on a single charge, and "over 20 hours of playback" using extra juice from the case. You can play/pause music and answer calls directly from the earbuds, and you can customize the earbud control buttons using the UE FITS app to activate your voice assistant, skip tracks, or control volume.
With strategically-positioned dual microphones, UE tells me that the earphones are designed to reduce wind noise and enhance call clarity in any situation.
What I know so far is they fit so well I never have to fiddle with them during use, which is unheard of. OK, I'll say it: I'm shocked at how oddly small and sort of squished my right custom tip looks compared to the nice oval left one. This isn't a complaint, though; I love how they fit. I just… never knew that's how dodgy my right ear looks inside.
Anyway, nobody sees that once it's in my ear, right? Best to put them back in then…
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Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.