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  #1  
Old 03-16-2009, 03:44 PM
Doggonit Doggonit is offline
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Default Ultimate Ears super.fi 5 Half-review

Do note that this is not really a full review, but more of an addendum to Martin's excellently written review of the same earphones that you can check out here: http://www.anythingbutipod.com/archives/2008/12/ultimate-ears-superfi-5-aka-new-version-or-v2-review.php

I got my super.fi 5's for 110 a few days ago, and so far I'm in love.

I've had a lot of Sony earphones before (EX71's, EX53, EX85, etc.) and while these weren't bad at all, indeed the 85's had more bass than I could shake a stick at, they aren't anywhere as exciting or fun to listen to as these super.fi 5's. Granted, the price difference is rather significant.

I was fortunate enough to be able to listen to and compare these at the store I bought them at. The other earphones I tried were the Shure E210 (which cost 80) and my EX85's (which were beginning to have troubles with the left earphone as all the other Sony's I've had. The asymmetrical cable design, whilst my favorite, is rather weak and the left earphone tends to eventually die because of the weak cable connections).

Simply put, the super.fi 5's had better bass than the Shure E210's and much better mids and highs and an incomparable soundstage. I was actually shaking with excitement whilst listening to the super.fi 5's! They are twice the earphones the Shure's were and those in turn were twice as good as the EX85's in all categories expect for bass.

I must note that while the EX85 has huge bass, it is somewhat "mushy" and will cause the rest of the music to suffer a bit. In comparison the super.fi 5 produce tight, punchy bass that comes together in perfect harmony with the rest of the music producing a lovely cross-frequency tone that I've never heard before. And the soundstage? That is what still makes me literally tremble with excitement when I listen to high-bitrate (or lossless) audio from a good source!

Speaking of which, I must emphasize that these headphones do not perform anywhere near their true potential when listening to music from a weaker DAP. As my poor, dear Sony S639F died, I cannot tell how they would've sounded. When I compared earphones in the store, my test reference was a Cowon S9 (which has a lovely sound, but is stupidly expensive in the UK market and the touch interface was infuriating to use, leaving me very much hating the S9 for not being user-friendly at all).

With my Samsung Q1, the sound is not bad. There is no hiss that I can hear from a computer output source or my friend's iPod touch (thanks to the stupidly low impedance that Martin mentions in his review). However, the earphones are clearly underpowered and the bass is nowhere as good as it could be. I have an old iRiver S10, which has some of the best sound (still) that I've ever experienced. These can power the super.fi 5's to almost full potential, and that's what I prefer to use now when I want to enjoy my music fully. However, the battery life is rather short and the capacity is just 2GB, compared to the 16GB of the Samsung Q1.

To conclude, I must say that despite my initial trepidation of buying earphones that cost 110, I do not regret that choice. These earphones have nothing but potential, and it is just up to the user to find an audio source that is suitable for them. I love the included case, which is nice and compact, and isn't as bulky as some others I've seen. The earphones are a lovely, compact size that makes for hour after hour of comfortable listening. The Comply foam tips that were included are now my eartips of choice for they fit securely, comfortably, and reduce outside noises very well. So I can only say that if you want to tremble with excitement like I still do when I listen to music with these earphones, then give them a good look and possibly a listen if you are fortunate enough to be able to do so.
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Sony NWZ-S639F in Black <- Screen broke, Sony repairs are prohibitively expensive
Samsung Q1 (16GB) w. Ultimate Ears super.fi 5's & FiiO E5
Backup: iRiver S10

Last edited by Doggonit; 03-17-2009 at 12:03 AM. Reason: bass, not base!
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  #2  
Old 03-16-2009, 03:47 PM
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dfkt dfkt is offline
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Great review, thanks for sharing.
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  #3  
Old 03-16-2009, 09:59 PM
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Nice review
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  #4  
Old 03-31-2009, 07:47 AM
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I love the brightness of the treble. Dunno why... i just do. It's not fatiguing either, so all the better!
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  #5  
Old 04-03-2010, 01:17 PM
Doggonit Doggonit is offline
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Update, one year and two weeks later:

I should begin by saying that I've very much enjoyed the sounds produced by these headphones. Yes, the bass isn't great, but I loved the good mids and sweet highs, and every second of that soundstage that the right music can really take advantage of.

Now for the huge downside:

The left channel died in June, and I sent them to Logitech, who promptly replaced them. Then the left channel died again in late November, and once again, Logitech replaced them. Now it is early April, and once again, the left channel died.

So, so far, every three to five months, I've had to get them replaced under warranty. The fact that they never accused me of abusing them leads me to assume that I wasn't the cause of their untimely demise. I took decent care of them, placing them in the included case when travelling, and generally making sure not to stress them in any way (wrapping cord around ears, pulling the plug out by the firm end, not the cable).

At the same time, I didn't treat them like museum pieces. I went running with them, wore them to work, and yes, a few times, the cable did get caught, and once or twice I did drop my MP3 player and thus the earphones were violently unplugged. Then again, that is almost certain to happen unless you only wear your earphones while not moving around too much.

I honestly cannot conscientiously accept that I was the cause. The frequency and somewhat regular interval at which all three pairs died leads me to conclude that Logitech didn't manufacture the UE Super.fi 5's as well as they could have, and that the cables and stressors (which I assume the problem to be) could and should have been designed better.

So I handed in pair Nr. 3 for replacement today. I'm sure that Logitech will send me a new pair. At least Logitech has always been fair with me in the past with issues concerning any of their products. If only they could make sure that their earphones are as good as their customer service.

Final verdict: Do not buy, unless you like waiting for replacements every couple of months.

Slightly off-topic: I've become a Comply addict. Sure, they aren't that expensive, but if you replace them every 2-3 months, they aren't exactly dirt cheap either. I bought two packs of larges, one in red, one in black, to match the coloring of the housings (red is right, black is left). The colored ones don't get discolored nearly anywhere as quickly as the stock gray ones. The black ones just slightly fade, and the reds turn orange (from sweat, I assume), but there isn't that unsightly issue of ear wax staining (yes, yes, even if you clean your ears regularly, you will have this issue with frequent use).

P.S.: If anyone has a bomb-proof alternative to recommend, do tell.
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Backup: iRiver S10
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  #6  
Old 06-30-2010, 11:33 AM
nuked nuked is offline
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I have these as well and my left died, i went to the shack bought a new plug and spliced open mine to find 4 tiny microscopic wires. 2 grounds and a red (right) and green (left) i soldered them to the new jack and they actually sound better it was well worth the 10 minutes of soldering; its got a new metal jack and it has been reinforced with shrink tubing to reduce tugging and pulling effects and works great. But I think im gonna save the extra cash and get the Triple.Fi 10 pros because they have replacement wire sets, you can just pop out the wires and put in new ones.
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