Ultimate Ears SuperFi 5 Headphone Reviews

Manufacturer Ultimate Ears Model SuperFi 5
Headphone Type Canal Headband Type None
Weight (g) 17 Driver Type Dynamic
Enclosure Material Plastic Isolation (dB) 20
Impedance (ohms) 21 Cable Length (cm) 122
Frequency Response (Hz) 20 - 16000  
Connector 3.5mm Street Price US$99
Buy from Amazon.com  
Average reviewer scores
Bass Extension 6.8 Bass Impact 6.4
Bass Quality 7.1 Mids Quality 7.2
Highs Quality 7.2 Soundstage 6.3
Detail 7.1 Portability 8.3
Isolation 7.9 Comfort 6.2
Durability 4.9 Improvement With Amplification 4.8
Value for Money 5.4    
Overall Score 6.8 Total Reviews 9

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Reviews by our members

Review by Lead Reviewer commando on 28 Jan 08  22:50
Individual review
Bass Extension4
Bass Impact3
Bass Quality5
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality8
Detail8
Comfort8
Durability5
Value3

I tried these headphones for a week. The detail and clarity of the mids and highs are superb, some of the best i've heard, however the bass was disappointing. I had a good seal, but the bass just was neither deep nor strong. In the end I returned them for that reason, and happily went back to my cheap but good creative EP-630 IEMs, which have better bass and cost $170 less.

Edit Jan 08 - the Super Fi.5 EB has most of the clarity and WAY better bass than the Super Fi.5's, they're well worth considering.

Review by Senior Member edinburghphoto on 12 Mar 08  04:48
Individual review
Bass Extension6
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality8
Detail7
Comfort2
Durability4
Value3

After reading a range of reviews I bought these as an upgrade to Sennheiser CX-300's.

I can summarise my opinion of these as follows: When I can get them to fit properly they are great for canal phones.

However when I take them out to answer the phone etc, they never seem to go back in properly and then they sound tinny. If I'm going on a trip and bring just one set of phones then I revert to the cx300. But if I can be bothered fiddling with them - I'll use them.

I've tried all the supplied buds - the ones that work the best for me are the large silicon ones. The foam ones that came supplied in the box fell apart the first time I used them: I pulled the buds out but the foam bit stayed in my ear! An email to UE got a quick response and they sent me a pack of replacments which arrived in the UK a week later.

Swapping from the cx300 to these (when I can get them to fit) makes the sennheisers sound very muddy with a woolly bass.

When fitted properly they sound really good: but nowhere near as good as a set of over-ear cans - eg my Grado SR60's or Sennheiser HD650's.

Overall I must say I regret spending that amount of money on them.

Review by Senior Member mattie1972 on 21 Apr 06  07:44
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact8
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality6
Detail7
Comfort4
Durability1
Value4

I bought these to replace a pair of Westone UM1's and my first reaction was WOW! They are so much better it is almost embarassing the difference in price in England was only £40.
The bass is the first thing you notice, it is well controlled but can impact as if someone smacked you on the back of the head! The mids and highs are not left behind, and there is a really good overall balance to the sound. There is even a proper soundstage, all be it not like proper headphones. It is involving, and so much more dynamic than the UM1's. The quality of sound is only added to with an amplifier; but they are more than capable without one.

But, and it is for me two big buts: Firstly, I could never get on with the way they fit (or don't in my case). I read a review which compared them to shoving two baby carrots into your ears...which I have never tried but can now imagine! The sound hole is much bigger than with Westone or Shures, and so they don't go anywhere near as far into you ear canal. While they never did fall out, it always felt like they were about to. And because they don't go in as far the isolation isn't as good.
But the biggest but it the build quality. After only 2 weeks there were big cracks on the casing, and one had begun to fall apart. I found a long thread on Headfi.org where many owners have suffered the same, so this is not an isolated problem. Despite the amazing sound quality, this has been enough to put me off and I have taken my money back to get some Shure E5c's, rather than a new pair.

Review by Senior Member Doug Greenberg on 27 Mar 06  10:10
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact8
Bass Quality8
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality7
Detail7
Comfort8
Durability5
Value8

The UE Super fi 5 Pros have been designed to provide clear, balanced sound in a highly portable and comfortable product. As of this moment I think they represent a kind of "best buy" for iPod owners seeking to upgrade from the stock white earbuds supplied with their music players.

A key to optimal enjoyment of these IEM's is selection of the appropriate ear tip from the several provided, including a compressible foam version and several types and sizes of rubber tips. Once a proper in-ear seal is achieved (yes, moistening the rubber tips is helpful), the resultant sound quality is excellent. Since the Super fi Pros don't require deep insertion into the ear canal, wearers can avoid the potential discomfort associated with some other high-quality IEM's.

The over-the-ear design of the earpiece wires ensures that these UE's will fit securely even during exercise. The cord, however, is very thin and appears delicate. These UE cords are also more prone to tangling than any I have ever encountered. It's a good thing that the supplied metal storage case includes a winder.

The balanced two-driver design produces good musical detail, decent but not spectacular treble, and excellent bass reproduction. Those seeking the very best in musical detail, however, should consider instead the Etymotic ER-4 in-ear models. On the other hand, the bass response of the UE's is far fuller than that of the Ety's. For any kind of music in which bass slam is essential, the UE's are an excellent choice.

The use of an auxilliary headphone amp tightens up the sound quality a bit, but these IEM's are so easy to drive that an amp is not necessary. This model, in fact, seems well-suited to produce high-volume output with any portable. I suspect, in fact, that the sonic signature of the Super fi 5 Pros was designed with Apple's bass-shy iPod models in mind.

Overall, these earphones produce clear, detailed sound in a tiny, highly portable package. The sound is not as "big" or full as can be achieved with top-quality full-sized headphones, but for on-the-go use, the Super fi 5 Pros will not disappoint.

Review by Senior Member mariowar on 29 Oct 05  18:34
Individual review
Bass Extension9
Bass Impact8
Bass Quality9
Mids Quality10
Highs Quality8
Detail9
Comfort10
Durability10
Value8

I have been in love with headphones and headphones for a very long time. I've had Grado, Sennheiser, AKG, Beyer, Sonny, Koss, etc....... Also I've had Headroom amps, and I curently have an Emmeline Xp7.
In addition to that I'm big on portable electronics, first I tried several discmans, then I moved to and Ipod and finally I stick with an Iriver flash player, which I found awesome in terms of sound, portability and battery life. I usually listen to progressive rock, electric jazz and hard rock so I wanted good bass. First I tried the Sonys 71 ans 81 which I found sounded good with some music but congested with others, specially in complex passages. I addition to that , vocals usually tended to be in a little distant, unless they were recorded up front in the mix, and in this cases sibilance was an issue. Therefore, I tried the Etys 4P an to my ears there was no bass....., then I moved to the 6is, and they suffered from the same problem, a hint of bass plus the highs were very rolled off to my taste. Finally I tried the Shures E2cs (horrible, muddy sounding, plus they were so uncomfortable), the E3C (too bright with only a hint of bass), the E4C (Not that bright, but the bass still was not enough...) and the E5c( excellent bass, with very rolled off highs and a little uncomfortable). Obviously, I sticked with my sonys, knowing that even though they were not the best sounding headphones, at least I was familiar with them, sonically and in the comfort department.
Being target of the claims of brands like UE, I thought in giving one more chance and got the UE Superfi 5pro and since the moment I sticked them into my ear channels I knew they were a different beast. The comfort was great, incredible isolation and the sound was absolutely spectacular. The bass was there, the mids as liquid with any top of the line regular headphones and the refined high were there. No sibilance was detected. A factor that really amazed me was the intimacy of the music since the isolation is one of the best I've heard and I've just used the medium silicone tips, I still have to try the double flanged ( are they designed for more isolation or just comfort??) and the foamies. Comparing the sound of the Sonys 81s to the UEs I could say the UEs sound way louder at the same volume, just think about it, with the Sonys I usually listen at 20 (volume) in my Iriver for a pleasant sound not too loud sound. With the UEs I usually listen at 14 and sometimes I have to turn it down. The bass on the Ues is as noticeable as on the Sonys but clearer and much better controlled and defined. The vocals are SUPERIOR, not recessed at all plus no sibilance. The highs are more refined without being too rolled off, you can clearly notice these are audiophile in-ear phones. The UEs comfort is excellent and the isolation is as good as with the Etys.
I you can afford them and still looking for the perfect in ear phones, don't think it twice, give them a try, you won't regret it.

Review by Member shaygiven on 14 Nov 15  15:00
Individual review
Bass Extension5
Bass Impact4
Bass Quality5
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality6
Detail6
Comfort3
Durability2
Value3

The bass was just okay, it was reasonably accurate but it did not have a large presence. I knew that this phone was not going to have a lot of bass, and that was not why I got them. I got them for mids and highs and they did not disapoint. The mids and highs were good, clear and detailed, fun to listen to. I really appreciated the detail, I could hear little details that the creative CX-3000 just didn't pickup.

What makes me mad about these headphones is that they broke very easily. I bought a pair a while back and they broke after about a year and a half of regular use. I bought another pair (thinking that the pair breaking the first time was due to my abuse) and those broke after about a year and a half. I emailed them and they told me I should take better care of my headphones. I expect headphones that cost more than a hundred dollars to last at least 3 years.

I would totally recommend these headphones if they had not broke so easily.

Review by Member MJBolduc on 19 Oct 06  07:43
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact8
Bass Quality8
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality8
Detail8
Comfort8
Durability9
Value7

By now you may have noticed that a lot of i-Pod users are using different earphones. I went through the decision process a while back and decided on an ‘in the ear’ design. There are a number of advantages to this style and of course a few negatives. Some of the pluses include a reduction of outside noise, vastly improved listening quality, and comfort. The largest negative is probably the same as one of the positives, the reduction of outside noise.
If you are familiar with UltimateEars you already know that these folks are no newcomers to the earphone game, only to ones that you and I can easily obtain. They have been making custom molded earpieces for musicians for years. So if you have read my review on the UltimateEars Super.fi 3’s you are aware of my praises of the sound quality there. Well, let me tell you here that the Dual Driver Super.fi 5 Pro’s are AMAZING in comparison. I recommend either of the two depending on your budget, but if you can skip lunch a few times and forego the occasional night out, it is far and away worth purchasing the 5’s, the sound quality is amazing. No brightness here, right out of the box the basses are thumping, the mids are tight and the highs kick. Whether your listening preferences are heavy hard driving rock, a la Metallica, & Godsmack, or Jay-z and 50 cent are your speed, you will immediately notice the difference here and be glad you took the plunge.
As with the rest of the Super.fi line all of the thoughtful design elements still exist, the plenty long 46”cords; the slide to tuck up under your chin or behind your head to take the weight off of the earpieces themselves, and replaceable cords. The addition the 5’s come with an awesome ‘bulletproof’ case that holds not only your headphones but the ¼ and ½ inch adapters and the cleaning wand. Thanks again to UE for the ingenuity.
In conclusion, these earphones will blow your mind and are well worth every dime spent on them. You can read more about UltimateEars and their products at www.ultimateears.com.

Review by Member Cantello on 18 Sep 06  17:48
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality7
Highs Quality7
Detail6
Comfort4
Durability0
Value5

I bought these as a replacement for my MDR-EX71LP, and after trying them at a friend's, I was convinced that they would be the right thing for me.
Well, the sound is great in comparison to the Sonys, rich and detailed, no muffling and not a boomy bass as in the EX71. They have a wide soundstage and very detailed mids and treble.
However, all of this appears only when they fit exactly in your ears, which has been the biggest source of troubles for me. If they sound well, they will begin to be uncomfortable after ten minutes, and if they have a looser fit, they don't sound as good. I tried all three provided flanges without much improvement.
Short summary: Great sound but uncomfortable and not very practical to wear.

Review by Member donaldekelly on 25 Mar 06  09:09
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality8
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality7
Detail6
Comfort9
Durability8
Value8

I was comparing the UE 5s to the Westone UM2 - pretty close in my ears. The UEs had slightly better treble, but also a slightly "canned" sounding midrange. But it was very close. Bass seemed fine in both.

I also tried the ER4-p (very clear but little bass)

The UEs were great but not better than the UM2s which I already owned - so the UEs went back.

Also tried: Sennheiser hd280s, Audio Technica AT900s, Various Sony subpar stuff.

Ultimate Ears SuperFi 5
Ultimate Ears SuperFi 5