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on 2 August 2006
These are expensive but well worth it in my opinion. They are very well made but some might object to the cables which are thicker and stiffer than the cables on Sony units, for example. However I guess it is to improve the sound quality which is what these are all about.

The ear pieces are slightly larger than the Sony Fontopias I am used to and a bit fiddly to plug into your ears at first but a bit of patience and careful choice of rubber plugs will pay dividends. The cables don't help at first as they are a bit heavy as well as being a bit stiff and tend to pull the units out at first. Like a lot of people I am a bit nervous about sticking strange things in my ears so was a bit cautious and shaky at first as well but once you get used to them they are a great fit and stay in well.

Other minor issues with the cables are that they are coated with sort of clear plastic whereas the ear units are black which looks a tiny bit odd. I really would have preferred black cables. Also they have a slight rubbery smell which I hope goes off with time as I am getting odd "rubber fetishist" comments from work colleagues !

Now to the sound. These things rock !!! Truly mobile high quality sound that never ceases to amaze. I am just loading CDs onto my player that have sat in my collection unplayed for ages just to hear them again.

I have yet to find any music that does not suit them, classical (both "purist" and "New Age - Bond etc."), rock, electronic, dance all sound awesome. Anything modern with complex sonic qualities just sounds so clear and detailed (try Chicane - Far From the Maddening Crowds) and they make older stuff sound fresher and more exciting. Even maximum compressed (128 kbps) MP3s sound good but 320 kbps is the way to go if you have a hard drive player or you refresh the music regularly on your player.

One often heard complaint about the player I use (Sony NW-A3000) is about the alleged EU imposed volume limit. When I first got my player I found about the hack and applied it - but still needed high volume settings (20 and above with a top volume of 30) to get any reasonable sound level with my old Sony Fontopias. But these puppies are pushing out fantastic sound at 10, which is a third of the volume the Sony player is capable of. The handbook that comes with these does mention starting to use them at low volumes and they even include an attenuator. I am guessing that lower player volumes = slightly longer battery life but not 100% sure. It does seem a reasonable assumption though.

I know they are expensive but couple these with a decent player (Sony NW-A3000 in my case), load up your music at 320 kbps and enjoy !!
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on 28 September 2007
I'm fussy when it comes to audio and prepared to pay to get improved quality but there is a greatly diminishing return when it comes to price.

I owned a pair of Etymotic 6i headphones for over two years (£70) which I found excellent at blocking external noise (I commute via an old & noisy train with screaming school kids). The 6i sound reproduction was even, giving crisp / fresh high notes; but they did lack bass (my favourite ear tips were the foam).

The Ultimate Ears (UEs) are broadly similar in design yet deliver three noticeable differences versus the 6i. The UEs are not discreet, the phones are angled to 'fire' the noise better (apparently) and generally have bigger drivers in the ends which makes them stick out a bit.

This comes on to my second point, the bigger drives make a great deal of difference to the quality of the bass; the 6i do not sound as rich as the UEs and the bass is simply incredible - it puts uber expensive hi-fi speakers to shame. Conversely the delicate highs are not lost in the UEs but I'd say in my subjective opinion and by a *very small margin* the 6i were better performers at this audio range.

I found the 6i sensitive to the output volume levels on the listening device but the UEs are twice as sensitive again. I'm operating at less than a quarter of the volume these days - you have to be so careful to turn the volume down before plugging in. The UE "user guide" goes so far to have a diagram of how a volume knob looks when it is set to low! (p13)

Overall the UEs do have it over the 6i but if you not so fussed about your bass (I'm guessing that's the minority of listeners) then spare the cash and go for the 6i. (There are also UE 5 Pro with extended bass but I simply can't imagine getting on with it, these UEs seem to be ample).

The Sound Level Attenuator is a great inclusion for in-flight entertainment use (I've experienced a painful transatlantic mishap with the 6i a week after use when a mic-happy pilot kept interrupting).
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on 7 September 2010
Still running these in after receiving them but so far Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Rodrigo y Gabriela all are an aurally outstanding experience. And it's like what everyone else says, there are instruments and sounds you don't hear with other headphones. I've gone through years of Sony's mid range (~£50) headphones but always end up with broken wires. I had Shure eC3s (~£80) but one of the headphones came apart and to be honest didn't find them a huge leap in fidelity over the cheaper Sonys I was used to.

For me this was a move for lastability, I was more interested in having headphones with a replaceable cable and almost settled on the Super.Fi 3s. But the sound from these with their dual drivers is out of this world. My last headphones were the well rated(in their price bracket) Sony MDR-EX500LPs. The step up from those is like the step up from the default headphones that come with devices to the Sonys. If you can warrant splashing out on these, do it. You won't regret it.

Edit 30/03/2012:
Have now had to replace cables once, even though most of the time I've had these on sat at a desk the cable went near the Y split. Bought replacement cable via Amazon which has a 90 degree headphone jack and is generally a little thinner/more flexible. So far so good.

Edit 2015:
On second replacement cable since 2015, but the phones themselves are just as good as they were originally.
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on 18 July 2007
I was looking for a high quality set of in-ear headphones for use at the gym. After much research I settled on these, even though at £130 they were well above what I wanted to spend.

I bought the clear ones, which look the coolest to me.

Unpacking. A funky box with the earphones, a nice strong case for them, spare rubber teat expanders, a cleaning tool and manual. A 2 year manufactors warranty comes enclosed (register online).

Looks. They do look cool, much better than plain white or black and once fitted correctly in the ear with the wire going over my ears then, behind my neck then under my gym t-shirt are hidden and more importantly out of the way.
Build. Excellent build quality. The wire, although it looks thinner than usual is strong and tough. It is also replaceable, which is handy to know. The earphones are encased in strong plastic and should survive daily (ab)use.
Fit. They take some getting use to. Firstly to learn to fit properly and which rubber teat to use. Once in properly they are comfortable and have never fallen out or even moved. Although after a session (1-2 hrs) I am glad to take them out.
External noise. This very good. All other headphones I have tried fail to block as much background noise as these. In the gym I can hear nothing of the (rubbish) background music, tv's or other people. Walking beside a major main road it used to be virtually impossible to listen to music. With these I hardly know the traffic is there. You can turn the volume down from previous levels, which is good thing as its saves both excess sound potentially damaging your hearing and battery use on your device.
Sound. Superb. Deep and bassey, guitars, keyboards, percussion all sound top notch. I am not a big audiophile but I think the sound from these is fantastic, far superior to bundled (Apple I'm looking at you) headphones and a cut above the CX300's I used to use.
Value for money. They are faultless and do everything I want. Worth a £130, I'm not quite sure. I would've happily paid £100 or less.

I still give them 5 stars as the noise blocking and sound quality are the best I've ever heard.
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on 6 March 2007
When i read the reviews on this and other sites i was at first extremely sceptical. i didnt believe that a set of headphones would make that much difference to my music. I have to say now that i own a pair i am truly converted. the sound is crisper, clearer. unfortunately for me the music now sounds better through my headphones than my hi-fi speakers. These headphones are worth every penny i paid for them.
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on 29 March 2008
I'd begun to think that I'd started a new hobby, searching for the perfect earbud for me. I'd been gifted a pair of Shure E2C's which started it all off.. and After having to replace them twice because of breakages in the protective cover to the wires, I'd bought a pair of Bose Triport IE's, which when/if you could get them to stay in sounded good, as long as you wanted whatever you were listening to to be mixed with the sounds surrounding you.

I however didn't want that on a daily basis. I was after a cocoon of rich, deep, delicious sound that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up on a regular basis. Not too much to ask, is it?

I'd tried a pair of UE metro.fi 2's before, and was incredibly impressed with the sound. That had me wondering what an 'expensive' pair could do for my music.

So I bit the bullet, and bought a pair of Super.fi Pro 5's, all the while thinking that I was mad spending that amount on earbuds. How very wrong I was to think that.

They are absolutely worth the money. I'm going around wanting everyone I know to listen to them. (though not wanting them to touch them, or use them for hygene purposes... and also that look of horror on their faces when they realise that they too won't be happy until they have a pair)

Every type of music I've listened to on them suits their capability. What the extended bass versions must sound like is beyond me, as Pendulum's Slam is enough to make our eyes water as it is!

Without wanting to sound too fanboy-ish, these have changed the way that I listen to music. I now want to hear everything I own again, as the detail I've missed before is a real eye-opener.

If only I could give them a ten stars, I would.

The cable is a bonus to me. It is thick, but very pliable and the ear loops (little wires in the cables that you can mould to a shape that keeps the buds exactly where you want them) shows a real understanding from UE of what's needed to make them perfect.

Verdict: Worth the cash? Er, yes. Totally.
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on 11 October 2008
After much deliberation, and hours spent reviewing in-ear monitors for my 32Gb Ipod Touch, I finally took the plunge and bought the Super.Fi 5 Pro in black, and boy am I happy I did.

I had narrowed my choices down to Shure SE420's, UE's Triple.fi 10 and a new brand called Sleek Audio who have released a model called the SA62's. I am not an Audiophile, but really appreciate clear, vibrant and powerful music so I had to fold up my Sennheier PX100's and make my choice.

Naturally these models each hit a different pricepoint, and therefore I chose on the bang per buck basis. The previous reviews on Amazon kind of reaffirmed what I thought, and that was that UE's range offered studio quality, great customer service and although not a budget model, their Super.Fi 5 Pro's seemed to be the best match.

Everything you need comes in box, with a wide range of different sleeves, and foam covers, 3.5" jack etc. I tried the pre-fitted mid-size sleeves and thought I had the best fit possible, that was until I replaced them with the foam sleeves, which although they feel cheap do a much better job, as they expand to fit your canal and completely remove any outside noise. The choice is yours.

So, the million $ question, how do they sound?

Well after just an hour of listening to various types of music, from Ian Brown to Faithless, Radiohead, Elbow and Foo Fighters I am lost for words, they are truly stunning and I will never look back. I can only imagine what their custom IEM's sound like.

Don't worry about not having enough bass, as there is bucketloads. I will update this review once I have tried them with my Arcam Solo Movie to see whether there is any difference from 256kbp Mp3 over CD - I expect there will be :)

These IEM's are streets ahead of my admittedly high expectations, buy them now and see what you've missed out on.

Thanks for reading,

Chris
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VINE VOICEon 1 February 2008
I've used many different makes of canal phones before now(Sony, Creative, Shure to name but a few) and have never paid anything over £30 for a pair, but I decided to go crazy with the Ultimate Ears Super.Fi Pro 5's to see if there really was that much difference in sound quality.

So upon arrival I carefully opened the parcel and unwrapped the phones and plugged then into my Creative Zen 16gb and WOW, I was blown away by the shear sound quality of these headphones, yes it is true what other reviewers have said, you CAN hear EVERYTHING on the Pro 5's, the bass is strong and tight but without be bloated and flabby even at very high volumes. The mids are very clear with vocals a guitars raising the hairs on the back of your neck, the treble is nice and clear without harshness, the superb sound keeps coming no matter what volume levels you throw at these canal phones, form the lowest levels to the highest levels every detail can be heard without any distortion being present, this is all down to the dual driver system, one for the lows and the other for mids/highs.

Another point to make about the Pro 5's is you don't have to have the volume way up high to enjoy you music, you cannot hear anything from the outside world when you insert these phone, this could be dangerous when crossing roads or riding a bike, common sense must be used here as when you have the music pumping you can't hear ANYTHING form the outside world.

The Pro 5's are nicely packaged, if not slightly over packaged, you get a nice aluminium case for safe keep of the phones, you get a selection of ear tips ranging from small to large and also foam tips. You also get a 3.5mm to 6.25 inch adaptor for home audio connection also included is an attenuator for reducing output from an unknown source, aircraft ETC. A cleaning tool is also provided.

As other reviewers have said, the cables can be a little annoying and are not flexible enough, but I can live with this as you can replace the cables when needed(how many other earphones can you do this with??)

If you want true hi-fi quality in you head then get the brilliant Pro 5's , yes they are expensive but if you love your music then you will love the Ultimate Ears Super.Fi Pro 5's.
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on 25 March 2008
These are the fourth different make of 'phones that I've tried and they are by far the best (the others being Bose, Sennheiser CX300's and Etymotic 6i's). The sound quality is amazing; warm, engaging and revealing - you're really drawn into the music and absolutely hear layers and details that you've never heard before.

Canalphones aren't for everyone due to the isolating nature of their design - they cut out background noise by blocking it out rather than cancelling it out, which can result in some annoying side effects. With some 'phones users may experience footfall feedback (especially when walking on a hard surface wearing hard-soled shoes) or friction transmission (the sound of the cables rubbing against clothing or even the wind blowing over the cables when standing in a breeze).

I have experienced both of these problems badly with the Etymotic 6i's (maybe because their design intrudes quiet a long way into the ear) which made them unwearable for me (dreadful waste of £80). However, the UE pro 5-s suffer very low (hardly perceptible) levels of these two major irritating effects - but don't try eating when wearing them, is all you'll hear is your own chomping!!

The isolating is so effective that you can hardly hear a tube train pulling into the station when you're standing on the platform, even when listening at quite low volumes, and you're quite likely to miss any announcements from the driver about station closures or delays. Even your fellow passangers will appreciate them as there is absolutely no sound leakage.

I know that £115 may sound like a lot of money, but I really wish I'd bought these in the first place, I can't fault them at all.
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on 19 July 2010
There is no doubting that these earphones are a serious upgrade from the Sony EX500LP which at the time of purchase were superb. The UE however have considerably tighter bass, superior separation and greater soundstage. You can really hear the difference. There's a huge array of eartips available but I struggled to get a great fit. I frequently need to twist and fiddle to get them to sit right. But maybe that's just my ears! It's a great idea to have a replaceable cable as it's seems that this is the most vulnerable part of most earphones. However I have replaced them twice in just over a year so that's an extra £40. The straight jack is far too week. There is an L-shaped version which is a little more expensive but the reviews don't bode well for them either. The only alternative now is to buy an extension cable so that the UE jack sits outside of my pocket. I'm sure it'll be fine if you sit your ipod in your shirt pocket otherwise you can start collecting airmiles more frequently if you buy these.
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