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New and Improved Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 5 v2.0 - Huge Sound in a Tiny Package.

post #1 of 325
Thread Starter 
I've had the privilege to try out the new and improved Super.Fi 5. It is the successor to the original Super.Fi 5. I'll post pics later and edit them into this post when I can later, but until then, read on...


DEVICES USED WITH

Used with Laptop and Desktop computers. Standard headphone output and via HeadAmp Pico USB DAC Headphone amp. Also used with iRiver H-120 DAP via headphone out and with external headphone amp. Used them with my Canon HF100 HD Camcorder as monitors for the Microphone. Also used them playing games on the XBox 360.


LOCATIONS USED IN

Home, Office, in a Trolley/train, and in a Car.


PHYSICAL DESIGN

Pros: I love the small, compact size. The transluscent back half is a nice touch so you can see the drivers inside. Also, they are color coded. The right side is a transluscent Red, and the left side is a transluscent Blue.

Cons: Overall styling is not very interesting, but otherwise, it's a nice minimalist design, I suppose anything more would just make them larger. Vacuum metallization is overused these days, but it's nicely done without looking too much bling bling.


FIT AND COMFORT

The newer rubber eartips are the same as the Super.Fi 4. And are less comfortable than the older style (like with the Triple.Fi and previous generation Super.Fi 5). Makes my ears hurt a bit after wearing for a few hours. I could wear the older style practically all day long without it hurting. But it is more comfortable than the Super.Fi 4. Of course your experience may be very different from mine, as my ears are pretty small and sensitive. Overall, I did find I could comfortly wear them for about 3 hours which is very good.

The Comply tips were pretty much worthless, they provided a poor seal, and as a result the sound quality suffered, especially the bass.


NEW CARRY CASE

Same case that saw it's debut with the Super.Fi 4. Hands down, best hard carry case for earphones. Very convenient and compact. Reminds me of a Zippo lighter in when it's opened. Can actually pocket carry easily. Only concern is the living hinge in the plastic will fatigue and break over time. I would like to see cheap replacement cases should be made available for purchase. Perhaps offered in different colors.


PACKAGING

The new packaging looks great and is easy to open. Looks sophisicated and doesn't make the product inside look cheap, but not overly done so as to make me think they spent as much money on the packaging as the product itself. The Product and Accessories are easily seen and showcased. Makes the product look more expensive. Never have a product that costs more than $100 in a blister pack.


CABLES

Do not like that the cables are non-replaceable. Especially since the thinner cable looks to be more fragile.
The cables are a bit more microphonic than the older type. They are more prone to tangling, but not overly so. Glad to see static noise problem I heard in the Super.Fi 4 is not a problem in the new Super.Fi 5 here.
Overall, the thinness is a good compromise since if it were thicker it wouldn't fit into the sleek new case otherwise.


SOUND QUALITY

Soundstage -- The biggest, instant impression I heard was the HUGE soundstage. Very wide and very deep, impressively spacious soundstage for IEM's.

Detail -- excellent amount of detail and instrument separation, great improvement overall older Super.Fi 5. Excellent clarity.

Frequency Response -- Very good, could be improved. High frequency could be extended more, sounds a bit dull/soft. Midrange is excellent. Low Frequency Bass could be improved. Mid bass in general is a bit lacking. Sounds like there is a "hole" in the bass as well, where a small part of the mid to low bass is recessed. But overall, the sound is very neutral. A little laid back for my tastes, but I think it's a good compromise. Won't be overly bright to some, and not too dull for others. The bass goes deep, but is not boomy.

Dynamics -- Could use a little more "Oomph", particularly in the high and low frequency. When watching movies and playing video games, sound effects like gun fire and explosions didn't have as much impact as they should.

Overall -- Very enjoyable listening experience, huge sound in such a tiny package. It excels at all genres of music I've listened to. I tried it with everything from classical -> Rock -> Electronica -> Metal -> Smooth Jazz


CONCLUSIONS

An excellent and worthy successor to the original Super.Fi 5. Improved in just about every way, better sound in a much smaller package. And with a $169.99 MSRP it's an awesome value as well. It's already up for sale on Ultimate Ears Website:
- Store - Ultimate Ears Earphones Headphones Personal Monitors

As for the name, I think it deserves some kind of difference in the name so it is not confused with the original Super.Fi 5 when mentioned online, particularly in forums like this one. Something like "Super.Fi 5 v2.0" "Super.Fi 5 mkII" "Super.Fi 5 rev2", "Super.Fi 5.2", etc. etc.

I like what I am seeing and hearing with the new Super.Fi 5. I hope this change is a trend that will make it's way to the next version of the Triple.Fi 10. One of the biggest complaints I've heard about the Triple.Fi is it's physical size.

-Ed
post #2 of 325
Thread Starter 

Pics.

Very Clean and Excellent Packaging Design




Shiny!




I love the subtle color difference between the two sides. Translucent Red for Right side, Translucent Blue for Left side. Very easy to tell the sides apart, without having to hunt for a tiny molded "R" and "L", which are there as well, for those that are color blind.


Overall Size Comparison, from Left to Right: UE Triple.Fi 10 Pro, UE Super.Fi 5 (v2.0), Sleek Audio SA6. (HeadAmp Pico up Top)


Most comfortable ranks from Left to Right, UE Triple.Fi is the most comfortable, followed by UE Super.Fi 5, and lastly, the Sleek Audio SA6. Although the UE Super.Fi 5 is the only one where I could lie down on the side of my head with. *UPDATE - Have the SA6's with Shure's Black Olive Foamies now, so the comfort level is on par with the Triple.Fi.


Sleek Audio SA6 has the best cable out of them all. It is the most flexible, and is replaceable, not to mention the mini barrel connector looks to be very durable.

-Ed
post #3 of 325
Woah, what a change in every way imaginable!

BTW, UE calls it the "super.fi 5" notice the "Pro" part is missing. Maybe this is a stop-gap for one step below the super.fi 5 Pro instead?
post #4 of 325
Awesome Edwood! Thanks for this lightning quick review. A few questions...

Could you comment a bit more on the microphonics? I'm assuming you were wearing them with the cable over the ear. Do you think the microphonics comes from a lack of memory wire on the new ones? Have you tried any Westone earphones, and if so, how unfavorably do the microphonics of the super.fi 5 compare to those?

How comfortable is the new design? Do the corners irritate your ears? Do they sit flush enough to be worn in bed with your head on a pillow? Did you have any problems with them coming loose or unsealed?

You say the bass goes deep but the midbass is a bit recessed. Do you think it's enough to make them a poor choice for bassheads or people using them on noisy public transit or airplanes?
post #5 of 325
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMarchingMule View Post
Woah, what a change in every way imaginable!

BTW, UE calls it the "super.fi 5" notice the "Pro" part is missing. Maybe this is a stop-gap for one step below the super.fi 5 Pro instead?
I think they're just simplifying their naming scheme. They did it with all the custom earphones, calling them the "UE-5 Pro," "UE-7 Pro," and "UE-11 Pro" whereas there used to be the UE-5c or whatever. I imagine for the consumer lines they'll just be using "triple.fi," "super.fi," and "metro.fi" with a simple numbering scheme, and suffixes like "vi" or "EB" to denote different variants of the same model.
post #6 of 325
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMarchingMule View Post
Woah, what a change in every way imaginable!

BTW, UE calls it the "super.fi 5" notice the "Pro" part is missing. Maybe this is a stop-gap for one step below the super.fi 5 Pro instead?
Yes, except these sound much better than the original "Pro", ironically.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rhythmicmoose View Post
Awesome Edwood! Thanks for this lightning quick review. A few questions...

Could you comment a bit more on the microphonics? I'm assuming you were wearing them with the cable over the ear. Do you think the microphonics comes from a lack of memory wire on the new ones? Have you tried any Westone earphones, and if so, how unfavorably do the microphonics of the super.fi 5 compare to those?
Microphonics are much more reduced when worn over the ear style. It only really bothered me if I was walking around with no music playing. And yes, the lack of memory wire is probably what helps contribute to the added microphonics. That said, memory wire would make the new Super.Fi 5 more difficult to handle and put away into a small case. So it's a bit of a compromise. The microphonics are not a deal breaker to me.


Quote:
How comfortable is the new design? Do the corners irritate your ears? Do they sit flush enough to be worn in bed with your head on a pillow? Did you have any problems with them coming loose or unsealed?
They are greatly improved over the older design. My ear shape will be different than others, but since it's so small, I don't forsee a lot of people having issues with the corners or other parts of the housing irritating outer ear parts. I prefer my eartips to seal the outer part of my inner ear, and even then they are comfortable to lie down on the side of my head. They definitely improved them for "side sleepers".


Quote:
You say the bass goes deep but the midbass is a bit recessed. Do you think it's enough to make them a poor choice for bassheads or people using them on noisy public transit or airplanes?
More for people on airplanes. They sounded fine on public transit to me. My comment on Mid Bass was more about the dynamics. They lack the "punch" that Mid Bass offers. But I think I'd rather have recessed Mid Bass than boomy distorted Mid Bass that was too much.

The low bass is great. It goes very low. Not quite as low, strong, and detailed as the Triple.Fi's. But the Triple.Fi's cost more than twice as much.

-Ed
post #7 of 325
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhythmicmoose View Post
I think they're just simplifying their naming scheme. They did it with all the custom earphones, calling them the "UE-5 Pro," "UE-7 Pro," and "UE-11 Pro" whereas there used to be the UE-5c or whatever. I imagine for the consumer lines they'll just be using "triple.fi," "super.fi," and "metro.fi" with a simple numbering scheme, and suffixes like "vi" or "EB" to denote different variants of the same model.
That does make sense. Thanks for the thought.
post #8 of 325
Hmmm. So it's equal or better than SFP?

I wonder if they will drop SFP? It would seem silly to have two similar iem's at same price point.
post #9 of 325
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwood View Post
I've had the privilege to try out the new and improved Super.Fi 5. It is the successor to the original Super.Fi 5.
Is UE really marketing it as the improved succesor to the Pro? To me it just looks like a completely new segment in their line, being a single driver unit and having a much lower msrp...
post #10 of 325
Single driver, non replaceable cable, much lower price, no "pro" name? Can't be a replacement - more something between the 4s and the pros.
post #11 of 325
Nice impressions Edwood! Good to hear though not as pricey, they seem to have performance near or better than the other 5's.

Beat me by a day as I have missed the Fed-ex guy the past two days. And the guy didn't even leave notice the first day.

They were very intriguing. Was not able to resist. When the soundstage leader talks about a phone having a wide soundstage it is tempting.

The phone has the second best freq. range behind the Triple.fi at 15-15. Also tempting.

I also know those specs(13Ohm, 115 sens.) respond well to an S-adapter to fill in some oomph and texture without adding too much bass. Could they approach the Triples unamped with the S-adapter? Not out of the realm of possibility.

The new case is for sure more usable than either the leather pouch or metal tin designs were.

The look and ergonomics leave the old designs in the dust. I'm surprised to hear they are more microphonic but they won't unseat themselves and they couldn't possibly be as bad as far as bone conduction since the cables are not as stiff. i have had version 1 and 2 cables and footsteps are much quieter with the thinner cables.

Let's see if my impressions match.

I think UE may be lowering price and not performance. They see the competition and their pricing. I think they are gonna undercut the Westone 3 and others and launch a Triple.fi 10 replacement for $299. Since the market has opened up they should be able to go for more sales at lower prices then a couple years back when serious earphones weren't as popular and they had to go for more profit with less sales volume. Everyone is making serious stuff now (AT, Senn, Klipsch, Sony, etc.) so now is a good time to come out with some hot looking stuff that performs well and is a good price and grab hold of that market share. Though the lack of detachable cables is probably a strategy to make people buy them again instead of just cables and will make them a few more bucks.
post #12 of 325
Its principle competitor would be something like the SA6's I guess.
post #13 of 325
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by paseawright View Post
Single driver, non replaceable cable, much lower price, no "pro" name? Can't be a replacement - more something between the 4s and the pros.
Looks like two drivers to me, I can see two of them crammed in there. I could be wrong, though. Could be one large armature.
*Edit, I shined a really bright flashlight in there. I can only see two wires going in, so it does look like one large driver.

Sound-wise, these are a step UP from the original Super.Fi 5 Pro. In some ways the new Super.Fi 5 v2.0 sounds better than even the Triple.Fi, believe it or not.

-Ed
post #14 of 325
Thanks Elmer...Eddie!!!
post #15 of 325
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwood View Post
Sound-wise, these are a step UP from the original Super.Fi 5 Pro. In some ways the new Super.Fi 5 v2.0 sounds better than even the Triple.Fi, believe it or not.

-Ed
Now you have my attention. If you will, please explain some strengths the Super-fi 5 v2.00000~ has over the Triple-fi. Does this indicate that the new triple-fi could also receive some sonic tweaks?
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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › New and Improved Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 5 v2.0 - Huge Sound in a Tiny Package.