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Old 03-16-2009, 03:44 PM
Doggonit Doggonit is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Posts: 71
Default Ultimate Ears 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:

I got my 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 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 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 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 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 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.
Sony NWZ-S639F in Black <- Screen broke, Sony repairs are prohibitively expensive
Samsung Q1 (16GB) w. Ultimate Ears 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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