Logitech|UE 4000 On-Ear Headphones
I wear polo shirts daily. Polo shirts keep things simple. Seven-time French Grand Slam tennis champion René Lacoste invented the “tennis shirt” in 1929 as an alternative to the traditional player’s outfit of white button-down and tie. The easy-to-wear “tennis shirt” rapidly expanded as official garb for polo players, golfers, and Homer Simpsons of America. Like the polo, the Logitech|UE 4000 on-ear headphone ($99.99) is accommodating to all in both fit and acoustic profile.
The Logitech|UE 4000s project music with impact and solidity. Bongos popped with body, as did tom-toms. Music emerged from dark, black backgrounds. Bass was humble but not absent. Everything was in control. The 4000s handle uncompressed and compressed recordings with equal consideration preferring midrange body and solid presentation to deep bass and presence.
“Those shirts are so dorky,” said every girl I've ever dated.
Admittedly, the Logitech|UE 4000s are equally unappealing as the short-sleeved, half-fancy excuses for fashion. In white, the 4000s looked like polar icecaps jutting awkwardly from my ears. The maroon and black colored versions are less obtrusive, but style-wise, the 4000s do not compare to the sleek and circular Beats, the too-cool-for-school Skullcandy Aviators and Navigators, or the elegant and reserved rectangles of the B&W P3s. But I don't care about fashion. I want ease of use.
In the trade-off for beauty and style, the 4000s offer outstanding ergonomics. Under the clunky ice caps are two soft memory-foam-filled octagonal-shaped earpads that perfectly matched the shape of my ears. The headband is flexible and fitted with a layer of comfortable squishy stuff. The 4000s lack moving parts, which meant I had no fear of throwing them in my backpack, and they are incredibly lightweight. The thick blue cable is detachable and includes mic and controls.
When the “tennis shirt” was invented, Lacoste ensured that its design would be aerodynamic and long-lasting. He used piqué weaving for enduring and breathable wear, and a soft collar for quick movement uninterrupted by the wind. The 4000s are no different. They are lightweight and sturdy, essential characteristics of a portable on-ear headphone.
Listening back and forth between the 4000s and other headphones revealed the strengths and weaknesses of the 4000s. The equally priced Skullcandy Navigators ($99.95; Footnote 1) had fuller bass with longer decay, but the midrange on the Logitech|UE 4000s was cleaner and more realized. Background vocals and guitars were all equally placed in the mix while the bass in the Navigators seemed to overwhelm these elements. Yet, the Navigators had a touch more presence giving the acoustic instruments a ‘live’ edge. By contrast, the 4000s recreated the body of acoustic instruments, gently rolling off that edge. Compared to the more expensive Skullcandy Aviators ($149.95), the 4000s exhibited less presence and weaker tonal definition in the bass but had a fuller midrange presentation. The Aviators were more relaxed and open. Listening to the much more expensive Logitech|UE 900 in-ear monitors ($399.95; Footnote 2), the 4000s obscured the mix and tonality of instruments. The 900s removed the veils, bringing me closer to the inner detail, instrumental tones, and three-dimensional shapes of the sounds.
The Logitech|UE 900s are a dependable and affordable headphone option. If you desire comfort and control, the 4000s make your choice simple.
Footnote 1: I look forward to spending a little more time with the Skullcandy Navigators and providing a full report.
Footnote 2: I do not feel comparing in-ears to on- or over-ears is a fair comparison. It’s like comparing floorstanding loudspeakers to compacttwo very different entities engineered to do two very different things. Yet, in this comparison, I just wanted to hear “better” headphone sound as a reference point.