Ultimate Ears ships these über-high-end in-ears in a case surrounded by packing foam inside a big box. As with everything that is a part of the Personal Reference Monitor experience, you get to customize your casing; right now, you get a choice between a small and a large carrying case. We picked the small one as that is a new model with just enough room for the in-ears and the wax-cleaning tool.
Even the carrying case is well-made. It is made out of aluminum and has a nice rubber lining. Personal Reference Monitors are part of the new reward program by Ultimate Ears. Anyone that finds a set can send them to Ultimate Ears, which will net them a small reward for the effort.
The cable system on the PRMs is every bit as good as that on the UE In-Ear Reference Monitors.
Your first experience with the PRMs takes place well before they are even made. At the audiologist's office, you get to dial in the sound signature with your own source and music. You can basically adjust the treble-, midrange-, and bass-response. The universal fit version of the PRMs used during the dial-in session is especially made and has two connectors on each ear piece.
Ultimate Ears gives you a lot of different options when it comes to the looks of your monitors. The craftsmanship for these is just as superb as on the Ultimate Ears In-ear Reference Monitors (IERM). The acrylic shell is perfect—no trapped air bubbles or any other shenanigans. For $1999, you can also expect aesthetical perfection, and Ultimate Ears delivers on the PRM shells. The fit was perfect straight out of the box thanks to the good work of Julie Glick at Musicians Hearing Solutions in New York; their specialty are custom in-ear monitors and musician ear plugs.
For this review, we decided to get an all-clear version that would allow us to show a bit of what is going on inside these state-of-the-art monitors. Compared to other custom in-ears, such as the JH-AUDIO JH16s, the cross-over system takes up a lot more room, which is probably due to the fact that they have to integrate a set of analogue filters in order to tune the sound to your liking.
This part has been carried over from the In-ear Reference Monitors, and it is absolutely brilliant in its simplicity. Instead of leaving the leads exposed and transferring all the forces through them, Ultimate Ears cast a small plastic extrusion on the in-ears to fit a neat little plastic plug around the leads. It is effective and doesn't influence comfort negatively.
The great thing about the styling options is that you get to decide. You can pick out of a pool of many different options: go nuts with different wood finishes and crazy graphics or keep things simple with a solid color or, as with these, a totally clear shell.
One major nuisance with this product is the memory wire cable. It is probably a good idea for a stage performance but is annoying for everyday use. You would expect a set of $1999 in-ears to include a non-memory wire option.
The PRMs have three sound tubes—a double armature for bass and midrange with a single tweet that sits in the canal portion.