Thus, the UE200’s sound is all about the midrange. Compared to Sennheiser CX500 ear-bud earphones (which have a similar street price), the UE200s have a far more natural presentation with a smoother, less peaky midrange and better low-level definition. While the CX500s have substantially more bass energy, their low frequencies are not as distinct as those of the UE200s, with the CX500’s bass quantity outweighing quality. Note, too, that the bass of the CX500s overwhelms the lower midrange, making it slightly muddy and thick. The UE200’s midrange is reminiscent of what I’m used to hearing through the Ultimate Ears In-Ear Reference Monitor custom-fit in-ear monitors (which sell at a much higher $999 price point). In short, the UE200’s midrange frequencies are clear, well defined, and make it easy to listen deep into the mix without having to strain.
Even when the UE200s are perfectly fitted with a complete seal from external noise for maximum bass output, the bass extension and intensity will be less than what many headphone users have come to expect from accessory earphones. In many ways the UE200s remind me of a decent limited-frequency desktop monitor—they give you some impression of bass, but they lack the impact, extension, and dynamic drive of a more full-frequency transducer. But like a good monitor, the UE200’s bass rolls off smoothly with no attempt to enhance the bass with a bump around 100 Hz.
For optimal bass through the UE200s, they must fit right. When they are seated properly the bass on the UE200s may not be overwhelming, but it is certainly sufficient to deliver fundamental harmonics and an even harmonic balance. It may seem counter-intuitive that earphones with less bass can sound more harmonically balanced than ones with more bass. But when you listen to them by themselves, the UE200’s harmonic balance comes across as remarkably neutral.