I was excited when i received the Ultimate Ears SuperFi 5vi. Knowing that Ultimate Ears are used by some of the top musical artists globally, my expectations were set very high from the onset. Of course the ones I have been using are not the same as the $3k+ custom models, but my expectations were still high.
(from time to time throughout the review I will compare the 5vi ($189) to the Shure SE210 ($179) as they are my daily go-to earphones).
Packaging: While one cannot argue that the 5vi packaging looks premium, there is a ton of wasted plastic, cardboard, and weight to pack a rather compact product. There has to be a better way to get shelf presence without all that extra garbage. C
Included Accessories: The 5vi comes with four different size rubber ear plugs (all of which I find uncomfortable). Shure on the other hand gives you multiple size ear plugs in two different styles (to be fair, I don’t like theirs either). Both offer memory foam plugs as well which are my preferred choice, but the 5vi are much thinner than the Shure and do not expand as much in my ear. B
Design: The earphones have a chrome plastic coating that gives them a very premium look and feel. I am accustomed to putting earphones over my ear, so I was surprised when these went in frontward. I wasn’t 100% if I was sticking them in wrong or they really couldn’t be looped around, but once I realized that the iPhone mic was behind my ear if I wrapped it around, I was sure that they must go in frontward. Finally, the 1/8” audio plug is a straight 1/2″ object the protrudes straight out of my iPhone/iPod. This is especially annoying when I want to type in landscape mode on my phone, while listening to music. B-
Functionality: I opted to review this model because i find the microphone module attachment integration for my Shure to be extremely clunky. The 5vi is the exact opposite, you can easily forget that there is a mic as well as a call/answer button integrated into the cord. But as much as it is not intrusive, i often forget that I have it, because I hardly use it – not because I don’t get calls, but it doesn’t do anything else (volume, prior track, etc). If Ultimate Ears went through the effort of integrating two items inline, why not add volume/track control as well? B
Features/Sound: In the end the way earphones sound are the most important part. The 5vi fell right in the middle, they were ok for daily commuting on a bus and walking around the city, but the sound quality really began falling short when I was in a quieter location. The earphones were light on the lows and a bit to strong on the highs. Further they sounded almost tinny at times.
Overall: For $189 I do not believe you are getting the sound quality or functionality that other similar prices earphones offer. While these are a ok, they just don’t cut it. The average user may not hear the imperfections I did, but then they don’t really need $189 earphones anyway. For those of you who do, I suggest you look elsewhere. B-