Like its big brother, the 6000 is at heart a nice-sounding set of cans, particularly in passive mode (in fact, it sounds very similar all around, offering a comparable level of performance in a more traditional wired format, and at a far friendlier price point.
Though an attractive and well-built headphone, the 6000 doesn't quite have the fit or finish of the 9000; it does, however, fold up much more compactly, and ships with a soft zippered case that makes more sense for the average carry-on bag than the larger hard case that protects the 9000. Also, given a somewhat more plasticky construction, they're lighter and more comfortable than the 6000 as well — of the two, I definitely found the 6000 more wearable for long periods.
Sonically, the 6000 is very similar to its big sibling — so close, that if you like the sound, and don't need the wireless capability of the 9000, there's no reason to spend more. And as with the 9000 in wired mode, you can switch the mildly effective noise reduction in and out of service as desired.
Give its mix of looks, compactness, and generally impressive performance, the 6000 might be seen best as a budget competitor for the somewhat more expensive V-Moda M-100 and the Sennheiser Momentum. Like those headphones, it delivers a lot of good sound in a travel-friendly, good-looking package, and is likely to appeal to a wide range of listeners.
Popular Science mixology specialist and resident metalhead Martha Harbison found the 6000s quite well-suited to her listening habits. The extreme metal recordings Martha favors tend to be mixed a bit light in the bass, so she welcomed the low-end warmth the 6000 provided (yes, our tests indicate a darker headphone works well for metal…a shocker, we know). Checking out "In the Cellar," off To the Frontlines, the latest from Carbondale, IL retro-metal act Züul, she remarked, "Hello! I can immediately pick up the basslines I suspected were in there, but hadn't heard. The bass is overall more present, but it does not overwhelm the overall balance. Drums fill in nicely, and the cymbals have a decent level of sizzle and clarity. Soundstage is decently broad, but not fully immersive. The one slight downside is that the vocals get a bit lost."
To measure the UE6000, I used a G.R.A.S.43AG ear/cheek simulator, a Clio FW audio analyzer, a laptop computer running TrueRTA software with an M-Audio MobilePre USB audio interface, and a Musical Fidelity V-Can headphone amplifier. I experimented with slight differences in position of the earpieces to get the best seal of the headphone on the cheek plate and the most representative frequency response curves.
Frequency response measurements for the UE6000 in NC mode show a bass peak centered at 90 Hz, an unusually strong amount of energy in the midrange around 1.3 kHz, and in the treble around 5 kHz. My educated guess is that most people will find the sound lively. Response in passive mode is pretty light in the bass, peaking at 170 Hz in the right channel and 260 Hz in the left. Adding 70 ohms output impedance to the V-Can’s 5-ohm output impedance to simulate the effects of using a typical low-quality headphone amp has no effect in NC mode; in passive mode, it tilts the treble balance down by about -1 dB.
Total harmonic distortion (THD) at 100 dBA is mild at all modes and frequencies. Worst case, it’s 3% at 20 Hz in passive mode.
Impedance in passive mode runs from a max of 58 ohms in the bass to 37 ohms in the treble.
The NC function isn’t impressive, typically reducing noise by only an additional -5 to -6 dB below 200 Hz. The passive isolation of the earcups is pretty good in the midrange between 300 Hz and 2 kHz, and average at higher frequencies.
Average sensitivity with a 1 mW signal at 32 ohms rated impedance in passive mode is 95.8 dB from 300 Hz to 10 kHz, 97.0 dB from 300 Hz to 6 kHz. With NC activated, it’s 98.9 dB from 300 Hz to 10 kHz, 99.8 dB from 300 Hz to 6 kHz. — Brent Butterworth
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.