The UCOTECH RE-1 is a Korean Made single 10mm CNT dynamic driver universal IEM featuring a 5-Axis brass housing. It is priced at $90.
Disclaimer: The Ucotech RE-1 was sent to us a sample in exchange for our honest opinion in this review. We thank the team at Ucotech for giving us this opportunity.
To read more on Ucotech products we have reviewed on Headfonics click here.
Note, this review follows our new scoring guidelines for 2020 which you can read up on here.
The Ucotech RE-1 is a $90 IEM that I received a few weeks ago. It is pretty good. We can stop the review there if you’d like. Not much else needs to be said.
However, if you want details on what the product actually offers in the way of an audible and design experience, make sure to read on!
Packaging & Accessories.
The UcoTech RE-1 comes with a small cardboard box, nothing fancy or amazing here. It doesn’t need to be. A box is a box at this price point, so long as it comes with a nice little case for storage and protection, which it does.
Beyond that, you get an MMXC plug cable and a few sets of ear tips to choose from. Thankfully, I have a UcoTech 2.5mm Balanced MMXC cable that came with the ESP-1 earbuds! So, now I get a nice balanced setup on the go for cheap.
I don’t mind if budget products don’t come with balanced cables or adapters, I do mind when very expensive stuff doesn’t give you what you need right out of the box. So, at this lower pricing tier, I am fine with it. Most of us aren’t going to run a $90 IEM balanced anyway. Well, at least not general consumers.
The RE-1 is made of brass, it feels very heavy in the hand and while wearing in the ear. I love this new era of no-nonsense plastic, 3-D printed or shoddy aluminum materials used. I love seeing great quality Brass and metal used.
Interestingly, the build feels a bit superior to the $800 Shozy Black Hole but not as good as the $200 Ikko Obsidian’s, which get my vote for the best IEM design overall that I’ve ever experienced.
This RE-1 is no slouch, so don’t be fooled. For this price, I expected far, far less in quality of the physical build exteriors. Thankfully, UcoTech has opted to etch this product with quality brass, so the IEM housings feel very, very dense, and weighted.
The cable is standard fair in the way of MMXC, I’ve been seeing tons of IEMs and portables offering cables just like this, so I consider this normal and acceptable quality for the 2021 season. The cable adapter head is solid and the connectors, which are detachable, feel sturdy as well.
Comfort & Isolation
This RE-1 is fairly small for a modern IEM, at least compared to the other IEMs I’ve reviewed lately. So, I consider the experience well suited for the majority, due to the housings being small and cozy.
Despite having an over-ear styling, I find they do slightly fall out of my ear every now and then and require an adjustment, but nothing serious.
I am thankful the cable has a guide for the looped area just below the connectors. This makes sure the cable stays in place and doesn’t fray outward like many other budget looping style IEMs tend to offer. So, chalk that up to a win in my book.
The IEM is on the very comfortable side and again, due to the high quality and heavy materials, they don’t move very often while I am walking around. They feel stationary, for the most part.
But as mentioned, every now and then they do slip out just a bit and require a gentle readjusting. This is far better than most other small IEMs out there that I’ve reviewed, so don’t take that as a negative. I’m fairly short, I think my ears are smaller than the average guy, and thus, the small ear + the small IEM housing = a moderate likelihood of becoming ajar after a while.
Yep, they have some! I would consider this a lower end of bass moderate in quantity offering. And I tell ya, I do require some boosting in my sources to get the most out of it. But then again, I am a musicality enthusiast and not a neutral or clinical listener. I want my bass and fun. But, as a reviewer, I consider that entirely subjective, of course.
What is there in stock form in the way of the physical quantity of the bass experience is less than ideal for me and my preferences. As a neutral listener, I would think this IEM would satisfy greatly the budget-oriented consumer.
In fact, for this price, I’ll be suggesting it likely for the entire 2021 year because I think the quality offered is sublime for the price. Yea, it is a little bass light for bass nutcases, comparisons with the Ikko Obsidian yield immense physical quantity differences in favor of the Obsidian.
They have the type of bass I desire and it only gets better when you boost. This RE-1 from UcoTech is completely different sounding and aimed at a different niche crowd, I think.
What I do receive in the RE-1 is a more neutral approach, more clinical and sterile, but a very pure and clean feeling in tonality. The physical impact is low, the IEM is easy to listen to for long sessions, and lacks a harsh dynamic kick factor. I enjoy that aspect a lot.
This RE-1 is a bit of a Biohazard (haha get it…meh) in a great way for other budget IEMs I’ve played within the last few years. When I received it, I thought it was the same price as the Ikko’s at $200, but I got the pricing confused.
After a few days, I went back to look at the specs and noticed the price of the RE-1 was less than half of the Obsidian from Ikko. I was shocked, as I thought for sure this IEM was playing with the big boys on the lower mid-tier, but in actuality, it’s a sub $100 IEM.
For the raw quality of the midrange, I found them to be quite an amazingly slick and effortless feeling. There is a sheen, a glistening effect, if you will, across the entire spectrum from top to bottom. It is more prevalent in the upper mid-range, nearing the treble area.
If you have ever heard of the AKG K267 Tiesto, you will love this IEM. It feels very similar in approach and I consider the K267 the king of budget slick feeling and stunning luster effect in a headphone.
This RE-1 is the first IEM to come along since that I’ve heard that replicated that gorgeous shiny feeling. The entire vocal experience is almost glittering and soft on impact.
When I say “slick”, what I am referring to is the physical impact factor being very low and easy to listen to. It lacks a harsh dynamic slam effect and it offers a very easy on the ear feel and experience indefinitely.
As far as quality goes, for $90? This is a steal of an IEM, probably one of the better sub $100 IEMs I’ve ever heard. Compared with the Flare Audio R2A, my pick for the best budget IEM ever made, this RE-1 is pretty much the same in fidelity.
However, the RE-1 was more listenable and enjoyable with long term sessions. It feels physically more effortless than the R2A. Do you like Jazz or Michael Buble/Sinatra? This is a great pick for you. The RE-1 is not overly forward, or lacking in a recessed manner of placement. It is mid-moderate in that respect and neither forward nor very physically distant sounding.
As mentioned, the IEM has a lovely sheen to it in every way. The top end is actually, at least in my opinion, the best quality offered in the entire experience. It glistens stunningly, almost as if lit only by moonlight outside in a garden or around a pond.
I really love treble like this, that lacking hostility and bite factor really brings this together nicely. For $90, I am very impressed by it. A low level of physical slam combined with a shiny and slightly bright treble response is ideal, almost an electrostatic in feel.
This is very similar to the Shuoer Tape IEMs, which are just a little more expensive. In that regard, if you are into the super ultra-smooth sound, the Tape’s would be the better option.
If you want something that plays better with comfort, something smaller and more easily driven, then the RE-1 is my pick. I’ve found the Tape’s to be more difficult to drive and get the best out of with treble response.
More power equals more fidelity in the Tape, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the RE-1, as I’ve found similar quality and impact with just my Hidizs DAPs, just my Ultrasone Panther and just my very expensive SMSL M400/SP400 combo.
If there is a weak link anywhere in this experience, it lay only in the Imaging experience….which is still above average to my ear. I don’t find the imaging prowess to be as nice as the Tape or the Obsidian in height, realistic feel, or depth of field.
What is here on the RE-1 is what you expect of a good budget IEM. What is great about this experience is the coherency factor, which is excellent. What does that mean? Well, when an audio product has good height, good width, good depth, good separation, and a good realistic dense feel, the experience summation to my ear ends up feeling immensely natural.
Your ears will pick up on a lacking feature in the imaging and this RE-1 does not have one to pick up on that feels more loosened than anything else, or out of place.
The Beyerdynamic T1 is a full-size headphone that gets my pick for being the most coherent feeling headphone on the upper mid-tier these days (sad that it is taken off the TOTL ladder and dropped down, but still, I digress) and that is really saying something about these RE-1s.
At 32Ω, the RE-1 is relatively easy to drive and as mentioned prior, doesn’t really require lots of power to sound stable. It only hardly improves in fidelity with more expensive products and I am just fine and happy using it with just my Hidizs AP80 Pro DAP, or just with my Ultrasone Panther DAC/Amp.
I don’t need to toss this into the Burson Conductor 3 or the SMSL SP400 to jack up the fidelity factor. Is it noticeable? Almost just barely to my ear. It is not a product I think requires anything else but a great DAP with a balanced output. The lower tier Hidizs DAPS and the Hiby R3 Pro will be amazing for it, even in unbalanced mode.
I do drop the UcoTech ESP-1 balanced cable on it though, but that’s just for me to feel like a real Hifi’er. Swapping from unbalanced to balanced doesn’t yield much of a result for me. I just prefer to run balanced at all times to really make sure enough juice is flowing and to maximize that power requirement.
You can also get great results out of the older xDuoo XD05 Plus, which I found to offer a nicer bass boost experience than expected.
Vs the Old School titans
In yesteryear, the Fischer Audio Eterna and Silver Bullet’s were the best sub-$90 IEMs on the market. And they vividly contrasted each other. The Silver’s were wide and lacking height. The Eterna was very tall, but lacking width.
This RE-1 feels like a fusion of both with everything scaled and resized the way it should be. It feels like equal portions all around.
When that happens in a soundstaging experience in a headphone or speaker, the coherency and physical realism feel skyrockets. That is because your ears are not constantly trying to adjust to one part of the experience that is drastically different from the others.
IE: my ears do not pick up and focus on extreme width and lacking height when all aspects of the sound stage are roughly equal.
At $90 this UcoTech RE-1 is a steal of a bargain. I have waited some time for this type of sound. I love my AKG K267, it is my favorite small portable headphone. And now to have an IEM that sounds similar, finally, makes me quite happy.
My gripes are two: the bass quantity and the lacking imaging experience. For a budget pricing like this, I can forgive the imaging experience being just normal for the price of most IEMs in this tier.
However, I felt like the stock bass quantity was just a few dB short of what I would want to hear. I require boosting at all times to even this experience out. But, when I do, just 2-3dB extra is enough to get it to a balanced sound for me.
The IEM is extremely well built, that solid brass feel is lovely. No need to super amplify this IEM, it plays well with budget sources. Overall, this is a solid IEM and UcoTech continues to impress me.
UCOTECH RE-1 Specifications
- Type: In-Ear Monitor
- Housing Material: Brass
- Driver Units: Φ10 CNT Dynamic
- Impedance: 32Ω±15%
- Sensitivity: 105dB/mW
- Frequency Response: 10 ~ 40,000Hz
- Cable Type: MMXC Detachable Type 120cm
- Cable Info: OCC 4N + Ag Coating 4core Y type with 3.5mm
- Weight: 6g (without Cable)