Ultimate Buds is company with an interesting business model: instead of making their own buds – and thus invest a lot of money on R&D – they combine existing hi-class headphones with Apple’s stock iPhone headphones. They pick the cable with mic/skip switch from Apple and sound drivers from the well respected headphones.
The most known product is headphones - UB7. They combine Apple’s cable with ER6i from Etymotic Research.
Which (ER6i) I happen to already have. I also have an iPhone and the stock headphones. I always hated the lousy ER6i cable, but the noise isolation and sound quality is so fantastic that I put up with it. From UB’s approach it’s obvious that the combination is doable and last weekend JeffB’s Flickr photo set gave me enough incentive to try it out.
The biggest benefit of this little exercise is that I now have fantastic buds combined with the best thing that Apple did on their headphones – exquisitely small microphone / switch white thingie. It’s used to answer a call, talk through it, pause or skip a song while playing. Brilliant and very well working.
It wasn’t hard. Jeff’s images are very good and show the process, here I wanted to give few impressions and important details.
You can’t extract the ER6i driver and save the plastic casing. It must be cut off, no other way to get inside. Thus you’ll to buy a shrink tube to enclose it later on.
To lift that hard white plastic that holds the ER6i driver, use a sharp knife and barely slide it under the top part then pull up. When it’s few millimeters rotated, do the same with bottom part and it will separate.
Separate the wires from the driver, unwind and pull them out.
To open Apple headphones, you need to separate the covered part. I used ordinary pliers and just twisted and pulled - it came off clearly.
You need to remember how are pins connected on the ER6i, so you can later connect the cable correctly. The orange wires from Apple’s cable should be connected exactly like ER6i orange wires. And also remember which one is left and what is right. Right cable has mic switch on it. :)
Here are both left and both right earbuds:
The most time-consuming part is push the Apple’s cable through the tiny hole in the Etymotic casing :) - it’s hard to go through. It took me at least half an hour for both ends. After that is easy.