Ultimate Ears is no stranger to the wireless audio market. On top of developing the best portable speakers (everyone should own a set of Wonderboom speakers (opens in new tab)), they’ve also released some of the most advanced earbuds available. In fact, some even come with their own at-home Fit Kit to capture your earprint and fit to size. Pushing the envelope once again, UE just launched its first-ever true wireless model, and it's quite the doozy. Introducing the UE Fits, wireless earbuds that self-mold to your ears for a tailored fit.
- Our expert picks for the best wireless earbuds, per budget and style
- Check out our Apple AirPods Pro review
- …and our Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 review
Sounds like something out of a sci-fi flick, right? Well, these buds are real. The Fits use bright purple LEDs to heat up the accompanying gel tips and harden them once molded to your ear shape. While this feature garners top billing, the steady battery life and lively sound these buds produce deserve attention as well. The same goes for the Fits’ drawbacks, in particular, the buggy and confined control scheme and lack of extras.
- UE Fits for $249 at Ultimate Ears (opens in new tab)
UE Fits: Availability and price
You can purchase the UE Fits for $249 exclusively from UE (opens in new tab). These buds are sold in three colors: Cloud (Grey), Dawn (Lilac), and Eclipse (Midnight Blue). Bundled with the purchase are the ear tips, a charging case, and a long USB-C charging cable.
The Fits have the same MSRP as the AirPods Pro, placing them in the sub-luxury category. If you seek a more affordable option that promises great comfort, sound quality, and extra features, Laptop Magazine recommends the $129 Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro. The $199 Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is another solid choice and one of the best noise-cancelling headphones that give you plenty of bang for your buck.
UE Fits: Design
Who isn’t copying the AirPods’ long-stem design these days? At least UE got more creative, having the stems occupy the front of the ears instead of dangling from them, also positioning the driver closer to the ear tips. The overall look is contemporary and more discrete than Apple’s buds. I also like some of the minor touches they added, including the UE logo that lights up when in pairing mode. The different colorways are cool too.
The Fits feel more durable than the AirPods Pro. The rubberized plastic casing won’t break if you step on the buds by mistake or drop them from a high distance. The material doesn’t chip or scratch easily either, though I would be mindful of scuffing; brushing these up against certain surfaces may create a mark. In addition, the tips are made of photopolymer, a material that is both light and malleable, but pretty tough to damage. These buds do come IPX3 rated, which is fine for sweatproof protection, but falls short of the AirPods Pro’s IPX4 water resistance.
UE’s pebble-shaped charging case resembles some of Anker’s cases. The only differences are that the Fits case doesn’t have LEDs on the front to indicate battery levels and has a flip-top lid versus a sliding door. It is a bit larger than the AirPods Pro case, though incredibly light and compact. Certain colorways (hello, Dawn) also make the case pop. The inside houses a pairing button and a unique charging station to dock both buds when not in use.
UE Fits: Custom-molded fit
What makes the Fits such a one-of-a-kind product is its “instant custom fit.” UE employs patented Lightform Technology to heat and mold the ear tips to the contour of your ears. That’s crazy. Now, what if I told you the process takes no more than 60 seconds? Facts. The companion app makes this process = simple to execute, and the warming sensation that occurs won’t hurt your ears.
You might be thinking, “well what if the included tips don’t fit my ears?” Good question. Don’t sweat it because not only will UE send you a new pair of tips for refitting, but they also have a perfect fit guarantee with a 30-day risk-free trial.
Now, let’s talk about the actual fit and comfort that you get from these buds. Overall, I was pleased with the in-ear seal and stability they provided. When properly adjusted, the buds remained locked in, so I could exercise with them, granted they aren’t designed for fitness. I would say to limit activities to simple cardio and weight training should you choose to use them this way. In any case, the optimal fit these buds offer is more reassuring than the AirPods Pro.
As for comfort, the Fits serve well for casual listening, but I wouldn’t go longer than 2 hours with them on your ears. The photopolymer tips are not gentle on the concha and can cause fatigue when worn for long stretches.
UE Fits: Controls and digital assistant
UE went with a double-tap control scheme – no single-tap, triple-tap or long-press gestures. On-ear detection to automatically pause music when removing the buds is also MIA. As if that weren’t disappointing enough, the touch sensors aren’t very responsive and will have you performing double taps a few times before executing intended commands.
One positive is that UE programmed several functions into the buds, including play/pause, next/previous track, digital assistance, and even on-board volume up/down controls. The latter is greatly appreciated, especially since not many models have that as an option. It’s just unfortunate that with all these functions, you can only assign one to each bud
Google Assistant met my voice command needs and was a joy to use when my hands were occupied carrying a baby. UE’s dual-positioned mics demonstrated great speech recognition, picking up every syllable and interpreting long-winded requests with precision.
As far as Siri, well, the results were dismal, at least on macOS. The first time I enabled Apple’s AI bot, the Siri pop-up box appeared, but it was blank. After a minute of waiting, it offered assistance, then froze when trying to register a command. That somehow caused my other media programs running in the background to freeze as well. This led me down a troubleshooting rabbit hole that I regretted exploring because the buds wouldn’t reconnect to my MacBook Pro, not even after removing them from my devices list and adding them again.
I was successful in connecting the buds to my wife’s MacBook Pro, but Siri still didn’t operate as smoothly I would have liked, misinterpreting basic inquiries. Performance was much better on iOS.
UE Fits: Audio quality
UE’s sound profile leans towards the warm end of the audio spectrum, meaning you’ll get energetic, and at times, overly aggressive bass that can be altered in the companion app. Be mindful that all feedback is based on the default EQ, which is labeled UE Signature in the app.
Records like Busta Rhymes’ “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See” put the Fits low-end performance on full display. The staggering percussion from the tribal drum pattern knocked hard, delivering the punchiness I often desire from ‘90s hip-hop tracks. Most warm-sounding wireless earbuds have a tendency of veiling mids and highs, but the Fits are slightly more fine-tuned to bring attention to them. Busta’s nonchalant rhymes were crisp, while background instruments like the tambourine were transparent.
Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Let’s Groove” had a vibrant bounce to it that stimulated rhythmic head-nods. Handclaps were impactful and the horn section was compelling, but what garnered my attention most was how clean the synth effects sounded. To hear the record play without any distortion was satisfying.
It’s worth noting that the Fits support AptX, AAC, and SBC Bluetooth codecs to get the best possible wireless audio experience possible from compatible devices.
However, not all records sounded enticing on these buds. Some Jazz records didn’t hold up well. The reverberation on Alice Coltrane’s “Turiya & Ramarkrishna” came on too strong, diminishing the presence of other key instruments. I noticed highs were recessed as well. This was a similar problem on The Weeknd’s “The Hills,” as the throbbing 808s increased the distortion effect already present on the singer’s vocals.
Thanks to the tight seal created by the tips, you get quality isolation to keep external noises from entering the soundscape. The Fits did such a great job of keeping me immersed in my Spotify playlists, I missed the majority of NBA trade deadline announcements that ESPN reported live on TV. On the flip side, it was a sigh of relief to block out my newborn’s whimpering and other distractions during testing.
UE Fits: App and special features
UE joined the rest of the crowd and developed its own app for the Fits. It’s a serviceable offering that extends functionality in a few ways. The app is also easy to navigate and looks clean, plus it has a Dark Mode to switch the background from white to black, which is pretty cool.
On the home screen is an EQ with six different presets: UE Signature, Bass Boost, Bright, Hi/Lo Boost, Loudness, and Spoken Word. You can create your own sound profile or edit these presets, though you’ll want to leave them untouched because each one is well-engineered and works great for their suited content. Loudness was perfect for lo-fi recordings, while Spoken Word emphasizes vocals to hear dialogue clearly. Bright made instruments shine on Jazz records and Bass Boost did the trick for hip-hop tracks.
Hitting the menu icon presents a drop-down list with pointers on how to mold the tips and the option to run the mold test again for proper assessment. Besides that, the app gives you battery level indicators on the front screen for both buds and the charging case, along with control customization and firmware updates, something the Fits could benefit from should UE plan on offering more extras in the future (fingers crossed for more tap gestures).
UE Fits: Battery life and charging case
At 8 hours on a full charge, the Fits have some of the steadiest battery life in the category. Playtimes will vary based on what volume levels you set, though I only noticed a 30-minute drop when listening at max volume. Even then, this is 3 hours more than what the AirPods Pro (4.5 hours) gets you and right up there with strong performers like the Klipsch T5 II (8 hours). A 10-minute quick charge generates an hour of use.
The charging case isn’t as generous with playtimes, only holding 20 hours in full. It’s short in comparison to the AirPods Pro (24 hours) and T5 II (32 hours) charging cases. Do the math and that is about 2.5 charges you’re allocated, which isn’t much. Wireless charging isn’t available either.
UE Fits: Call quality and connectivity
Don’t expect great call quality out of these buds. Calls were fairly acceptable indoors, as my wife noted on several occasions when out on grocery runs, but also sounded bad whenever I was outside. A few friends said that my voice was muffled to the point they couldn’t hear my words. The mics also pick up lots of ambient sound, everything from airplanes to crying babies to keyboard clatter. Wind resistance was poor as well, creating a whooshing noise when taking calls in drafty conditions.
Connecting the Fits is slightly different from other wireless earbuds. Instead of turning on pairing mode and having both earbuds connect simultaneously, UE makes you pair each bud separately when first setting up the product, which leads me to believe that they independently hold their own connection for stronger wireless performance. Whatever the case may be, connectivity was on point, resulting in zero dropouts during calls and extending range up to 40 feet. Re-pairing to my Google Pixel 3XL and MacBook Pro was instant every time. The pairing button is also clutch when Bluetooth starts acting up. If only multipoint technology came as part of the package.
UE Fits: Verdict
From a technological standpoint, the UE Fits are arguably the most innovative wireless earbuds out there. The concept of self-molding eartips is ingenious and helps set the product apart from the competition. UE makes the fitting process both simple and pain-free, and the personalized fit they create is trustworthy. Battery life is dependable when the buds are fully charged, and sound, while very warm, is nicely balanced for the most part, and can be customized in the UE Fits app.
However, the Fits have performance issues that need to be addressed. By that, I mean the controls. Having only double-tap gestures is impractical, especially when other models offer much more extended functionality. Also, the UE Fits app needs more features, specifically a Transparency Mode and maybe a call experience mode to enhance call quality, similar to what the Jabra Sound+ app has.
These all seem like problems that could be fixed with a firmware update, or so I would hope, but the pros still outweigh the cons in this scenario, making UE’s true wireless debut a success.