While it’s easy to get lost in the near constant release of high end IEMs and forget the level of sound and performance you can find at lower price points, UCOTECH RE-2 is here to remind you of exactly how big of a value you can get from inexpensive IEMs. We brought RE-2 to CanJam NYC 2023, and were overwhelmed by the community’s response to this $109 IEM from a virtually unknown Korean brand. What makes the RE-2 stand out in a field filled with budget and “Chi-Fi” IEMs that claim great performance for the price?
Build and Design
RE-2 has a simple brass shell that hits the trifecta of attractive, durable, and comfortable. While there are certainly some inexpensive IEMs that have a similar build level, it’s worth noting that the build greatly exceeds some of the budget offerings from major brands. While I didn’t love the fit with the stock tips, any number of upgraded tips like Final E-Series, SpinFit, or Dekoni Bulletz provided an excellent fit for me.
The IEMs come in a simple, no-frills package with all the essentials. In the compact package you get the IEMs, a surprisingly nice silver-plated copper cable, a case, and some clear silicone eartips. The cable is definitely the highlight here, with a look, feel and performance that I’d expect to pay $150-$200 for as a standalone cable. Just from the perspective of a functional IEM package, RE-2 provides a solid value, but it’s the sound where it really sets itself apart.
RE-2 makes excellent use of its single beryllium coated driver design and delivers a fast, accurate, detailed sound that leans towards a reference tuning while remaining musical and dynamic. In a sea of inexpensive IEMs with bass-boosted tunings or neutral but inarticulate deliveries, RE-2 stands out by nailing the basics.
The bass has a tight, well-controlled feeling of impact, with a small roll-off into the subbass. It’s a largely accurate bass delivery, with an impressive level of texture in the low end. The mids are a highlight, with strong detail and a good sense of layering between instruments. RE-2 also has a very natural timbre, which is another way it stands out: many budget IEMs with reference tunings tend to struggle with timbre under more critical listening.
The treble is another point that isn’t just “good for the price,” but good for any price. It delivers a sense of presence, air, and extension – without introducing fatigue – in a way that IEMs several times the price sometimes come up short in delivering. Now, is RE-2 going to provide the level of definition and separation that you get on the Noble Viking Ragnar or Empire Ears Odin? No – but it’s positively mind-blowing for a $109 IEM.
The imaging and soundstage are likewise very good, offering a wide, three dimensional soundstage and strong positioning within the space. RE-2 isn’t truly holographic in the imaging, but provides a largely cohesive image, with a good sense of blending and connection between the instruments.
All this makes RE-2 highly versatile, and it demonstrates its chops with a variety of music. While it doesn’t get the lowest parts of the rumble, it provides an impactful delivery of the drums on Daft Punk’s “Contact” along with a crystal clear presentation of synths and cymbals at the top. Switch genres and bring it back 50 years, and you get a crisp, natural presentation of the acoustic guitar on “Here Comes the Sun” along with a highly personal vocal delivery. Somewhere in the middle you’d find Nirvana’s “All Apologies.” The guitars hit with more thickness – and Kurt Cobain’s vocals are a touch more nasally than George Harrison’s – but the balance and dynamics and lifelike, natural presentation remains strong.
Compared with the similarly priced Kinera Idun, RE-2 offers both more detail and a more engaging sound. Idun succeeds in providing a neutral, reference signature, and offers some strong imaging characteristics, but doesn’t match the energy and dynamics of RE-2. Strictly for critical listening, you could go either way, but RE-2 offers a better balanced more natural sound for your money.
The Noble DXII is significantly more expensive and offers a more typical single dynamic driver IEM tuning, with a more “fun,” bass emphasized W-shaped tuning. While DXII provides a great sound for pop, hip-hop, and EDM, RE-2 provides a more natural timbre, more weight in the midrange and a stronger treble delivery. DXII has good upper treble and resolution, but the treble feels a bit thin, while RE-2 offers a more complete balanced treble. DXII is great as a genre specific IEM, but RE-2 makes a strong case at one-fifth the price with a more natural sound that fits in with a larger range of genres.
The Bottom Line
UCOTECH RE-2 keeps it simple, giving you a balanced, neutral tuning that doesn’t lose sight of musicality and engagement in its pursuit of accuracy. The result is an IEM with a lifelike, natural sound that absolutely blows away your expectations for the price, and gives you a versatile IEM that makes for a near perfect daily driver for any budget.