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Old 03-06-2011, 08:12 AM
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kredig kredig is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Berlin
Posts: 505
Default Ultimate Ears SuperFi 4

There wasn't really a need for new headphones but when I went into the local electronic store recently I was really surprised when I saw the UE SuperFi 4 for only 20€. I had two pairs of UE before and I was quite satisfied with them (MetroFi 170/220). I was checking them like a hundred times if those are really original because I couldn't believe that the price was 80€ below the normal retail price.

The Boxing:
The silver/blue shining box is quite nice. Finally a package where you don't have to destroy the whole box. Of course the is a small manual and a warning description. Beside the headphones is a small carrying case (plastic) and three different sizes of the silicon ear-tips (one small, two medium and one large). Also there where two foam-tips in the package (one was hidden in the carrying box).
Also there was a little pin in the box. At first I couldn't identify it but the manual said it is a cleaning pin to clean the canals of the tips and headphones. A really nice tool!

Design/Building Quality:
The cable is compared to other brands thicker and in my opinion harder to break (the MetroFi 170/220 have the same cables). Though you have to be really careful with both ends of the cable. The jack is really small and I had a loose contact with my MetroFi 170 before. Also if you pull the cable to much it is possible to rip out the contacts at the side of the headphones. That's the only problem with the building quality.
The phones itself have a really nice build. The material is a blueish-silver metal but is still really light. There is some little problem though: the phones have an little “l” and an “r” for the sides but the print is really light. So sometimes I cannot really decide which phone belongs to the right side.

The comfort in wearing is really dependent on the tips which are used. So I am putting them into two categories:
Silicon-tips: The silicon is really hard compared to other in ears. At first the phones don't feel comfy at all (I could not really listen to music with them for a long time because my ears began to hurt really much) and they need a lot of “burn-in-time”. But after a while you get used to it. I needed to play around with the sizes and for myself I decided to use the smallest size (usually I use the medium size at in-ears).
Foam-tips: Those are really different. They are much more comfortable to wear and they don't need a “burn-in-time”. This is my first experience with those tips but I am not sure if I like them or not. Okay, they are comfy and isolate much more than the silicon-tips but beware that you have to have always clean ears if you are planning on wearing them. Otherwise they get really dirty and that looks really nasty
When I did some research on the internet about those tips I always found that they isolate more and the overall sound is better. As I mentioned before the first point is right but I didn't really notice a big difference in the sound.

The isolation is really good. The Specs say that the noise isolation is about 26dB. The foam-tips isolate a bit more but for me the isolation of the silicon-tips is good enough.

Sound Quality:
Now it comes to the most important thing about headphones: the sound quality. I have had different experiences with them: From awesome to “meh, the sound is crap”. It really depends on the ripping quality and on the quality of the recording. Songs which have a thin production sound really bad. So if you like older music (60's,70's or 80's) those can sound really bad. This is because the UE SuperFi 4 have not much bass. When it comes to parts with a lot of bass the sound is still really balanced because they are never oversteering. The mids and highs are really fantastic.
A good example where I got an awesome feeling of the sound is the new Iron Maiden album. I could never hear so many details from the music which I didn't notice before. Also I noticed that live albums sound much better with those headphones. Especially when you turn on the "X-fi expand" technology (sound enhancement to give the listener a better suround sound) from my player. Those are the first headphones which sound actually good with this option.
The overall sound is quite nice though. They have a nice “warm feeling” and mostly it makes really fun with them to listen to music. The sound is mostly really balanced even though a bit bass is missing sometimes.

Also the tips are also really important for the sound. Sometimes it is enough to change the tips when you are dissatisfied with the sound. I needed over a week to find the right ones. Also I played around with the EQ of the player a long time.

Here are some albums where the headphones sounded really bad for me:
Blitzkrieg – A time of Changes (a real thin production), Judas Priest – Sin after Sin (the 70's albums in general), the old Led Zeppelin albums, W.A.S.P. - The Crimson Idol
Albums which sound really good:
the last 4 Iron Maiden Albums, Avantasia – Angel of Babylon (the wicked Symphony as well), Black Sabbath – Paranoid (surprisingly), Ayreon – 01011001, Bee Gees – BestOf, Blind Guardian – At the Edge of Time, Dream Theater – Black Clouds and Silver Linings

I decided to use mainly rock or metal albums for the examples because in my opinion there is much more complexity than on pop or hiphop.

A little Note: I have read in another review that the sound-quality got better with tips from a different brand. Maybe I am going to give it a try. But for now I am good with the tips which came with the headphones.

Building Quality of the Phones
Really Good mids and highs
Overall Sound
Much accessories

The comfort is not for everybody good for long listenings
Sometimes not enough bass
Cable connection to the jack and the phones

So...I am not really sure about those headphones. Okay, I got the for a really nice price and I am satisfied with them but I think I would go for different pair of headphones for a price-range of 50-100€. The sound CAN be really good but also not good at all. If you like to hear many details of your music then you will be satisfied with those headphones. But when you are a bass-head then don't put your hands on those.

I tested them with my Creative Zen X-Fi 2.
I would have taken some pictures because most people like visual things for a review but my camera just died...RIP
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