Not too long ago, I got a request to like the UFOEar’s Facebook Page. I shot them a message that I don’t like pages for which I have no point of reference and that I would be happy to review their gear and then like the page if indeed I did like what they were producing. They asked for an address and I we exchanged formalities and I more or less forgot about it. You do this a lot as a reviewer, sometimes gear arrives, sometimes not. When I arrived the other day a curious box sat on my desk, I recognized the paperwork on it as one of the Chinese vendors, but couldn’t attach it to any known outstanding order I was waiting on, so with all the caution of a 10 year old at Christmas, I opened it to see. And now I have the UFOEar UFO-112 to review. The 112 is a hybrid with a single dynamic driver and two balanced armatures and carries the UFO theme throughout.
Unboxing / Packaging:
Normally I debate whether this section of a review ever does anybody any real service and if I should just drop it entirely. In this case, the unboxing is definitely part of the experience and the theme. The outer box shows the UFOEar logo with some details of what hides inside although I suspect they use the same package for several models as the one we are reviewing is a corded model and the box has several references to bluetooth. Inside the box, a heavy foam protects the contents which are all neatly tucked into a 4 piece UFO shaped metal case. In the overall the feel is that of a 1950s toy. The outer shell is sheet metal and fairly thin and somewhat flexible This shell holds an extensive selection of tips. The central section is a much more solid case and contains a foam holding the earpieces and cable. This central metal case makes for a very sturdy travel case for the iem itself (easier with the foam removed to get everything in it) but is just slightly too large for pocket carry in a jeans pocket comfortably. Overall, it is obvious they have spent a lot of time and energy developing the brand and packaging. The kit includes the earpieces, cable (3.5mm single ended/bi-pin), and the selection of tips (discussed later) so relatively standard.
The earpieces are either hard plastic of some form or ceramic as I can find no information on the composition. Shells are cast as a single piece and polished well enough that no seams are evident. I’d love to see this process in action as casting a one piece shell on a dynamic is a neat trick. They continue the UFO theme with a disk shape and logo emblazoned on the outer face and for ACG on the inner. L/R indicators are prominent immediately below the bi-pin connector. They are designed for tip-up wear and the bi-pin connector exits the top of the earpieces at the rear while the nozzle exits the inner side at the lead edge of the disk so the tips over hang the side of the earpiece and all of the earpiece sits to the rear of the ear-canal. Nozzles are longer than standard, slightly oval in shape. and sport two sound bores. Standard tips fit and the selection of provided tips is quite good. The disks themselves are roughly 17mm across and may be large for some with small ears. Two small vents can be seen in the 2nd photo below at the 12 and 6 oclock positions (these vents are at 3 and 9 when worn). No venting to the inside is present so no risk of blocking the vents depending on fit.
The UFO-112 has a single dynamic driver per side with some references showing it as a 12mm model. In addition two balanced armatures per side handle the mids and highs. The 112 has a listed impedance of 14Ω and a Sensitivity of 109dB so was easy to drive from most phones and low powered sources. It does scale some with better sources but is obviously targeted toward cell phones as a primary source as it can be easily over driven by higher powered sources. I found it problematic to pair the 112 with things like the Walnut F1 as it over-powered the 112 and left very little usable volume range.
The provided cable is a 3.5mm single ended with a straight jack. The jack itself is knurled stainless steel with a short strain relief. The cable as it exits the jack is a 3 strand braid of silver plated copper. At the stainless steel splitter, the cable exits as two twisted pairs to the earpieces. A clear chin slider helps hold the 112 in position (This can be easily missed as it blends in extremely well). The cables terminate with pre-formed earhooks and bi-pin connectors in black (to match the earpieces). Each connector has a color band to identify L/R easily and quickly.
The tip selection provided with the 112 is better than most. It comes with 3 sizes of rounded Silicone tips, 4 sizes of squared silicone tips, and two sets of Foam tips. All except the tips on the earpieces are stored on posts in the outer shell of the case. I found the largest of the squared tips to give the best seal while the largest of the rounded tips were a bit more comfortable for longer periods of wear.
I prepared all my sound notes using the large rounded silicone tips. I will admit to having to lookup what ACG music was as these say they are tuned for ACG. Not being a big fan of Anime, Comics, and Games, I cannot speak to how well they perform in that arena so my notes are using my standard review tracks.
Sub-bass is not emphasized and roll-off below 100Hz is very evident. The mid-bass climbs from the sub-bass and is emphasized considerably. I found myself using EQ to pull the 100-250 range back between -2dB and -4dB depending on the track to get a more linear presentation. Mid-bass also tended to get a little congested on busy tracks.
The lower mids are recessed mildly and have some mid-bass bleed that obscures some detail. Upper mids are pushed forward considerably and give higher range vocals a nice push that makes them seem more intimate than lower range vocals which can seem a bit more distant and at times slightly hollow.
Overall, the 112 is treble forward and has good extension at the top end. The issue for me is the treble while forward is not linear. A spike at 4kHz and a larger one at 7-8kHz dominate the signature. At times, this brings a bit of extra air, and pushes vocals a bit forward, but if the track is at all treble forward to begin with, this push is a bit too much and pushes it over the top and into sibilance. This same spike also makes cymbals and some percussion sound overly metallic and sharp. A bit of EQ helps with toning down the 8k spike and brings things back into focus some.
Soundstage / Imaging:
Soundstage is wider than deep by a considerable margin and had little sense of height. Imaging was good with spatial cues being easily placed. I can see how this could work as a gaming earphone as it does give good dimension and direction to movement and other cues.
Thoughts / Conclusion:
I found these for sale on Taoabao at $2499 Yuan ($369 USD at the time of this writing) and will admit a bit of sticker shock. (After checking with the vendor, the $369 is indeed the asking price). These could be considered a reasonable investment at a lower price point, but when put in the category with the likes of the Flc8n, Mee P1, iBasso IT03, etc, they simply cannot compete. Overall, the packaging is entertaining, but the IEM falls far short of performing at the level the pricing suggests. For those that don’t mind to tinker with EQ, the 112 can be coaxed into sounding good. For those that prefer not to tinker with EQ, unless you like a really bright and energetic signature, the 112 is probably best avoided.
- Bass - 5/105/10
- Mids - 4/104/10
- Treble - 5/105/10
- Soundstage - 5/105/10
- Imaging - 5/105/10
Pros – really cool idea for packaging and marketing
cons – more gimmick than audiophile headphone