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UE700 or UE SF5?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I have an opportunity to pick up a pair of UEs at a discounted price and am trying to decide between the 700s or the Super.fi 5. Any thoughts on which way to go?

 

I've read this on the 700s: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/504529/ue-700 & http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/428700/ultimate-ears-700-ue700-review-comparison-vs-jays-q-jays 

Pro: I like that the 700s are dual drivers as well as the 2 year warranty. They are also really small which is nice.

Con: They are not currently available. Apparently Logitech has been setting up to issue a new version of these (although I am not clear on the details). Also, I've read that they are a bit harsh in the highs. This was something I experienced on my SF5Pros so this in itself is a good reason for me to avoid these.

 

 

Pro: I (think I) like what I read on the SF5 in this thread: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/348371/new-and-improved-ultimate-ears-super-fi-5-v2-0-huge-sound-in-a-tiny-package  - particularly the bit about the huge soundstage, the neutral sound, and not overly bright. Also, they're actually available

 

Con: Warranty is only 1 year. They are a single driver only. Given the positive review in the thread above though, this is probably not much of a con.

 

This will be a stand-by pair to my Shure 535 (which I have not yet listened to) for stuff like working out, mowing the lawn, commuting on colder days, etc.

 

I've had the SF5Pros up until last week and given the review hails the SF5 as a step up (despite it seeming a step down from a marketing perspective) I am leaning towards these.

 

What was your experience with either of these phones and which way do you think I should go?

 

BTW - because I am waiting for Christmas to open my 535s (I can hardly wait!) and my old SF5Pros are officially dead, I am not listening to anything decent right now so this is also influencing my decision.

 

 

Thoughts anyone?


Edited by hiplytragic - 12/7/10 at 6:44pm
post #2 of 15

I'm assuming by SF5 you are referring to the newer, flashier looking ones and not the old Super.Fi 5 Pro with replaceable cables?

 

Having owned the SF5Pro, SF5, UE700, and TF10, I say go for the UE700s. Some days I prefer them over the TF10s. And just by number you can tell they are a level above the 5s.

 

Other than Dual BA vs single BA, which makes a pretty distinct difference in sound, the UE700s are TINY. They are lighter, easier to handle. The new SF5s look nicer than the older ones, but still larger by comparison. 

 

Durability is still the UE standard of level-A crap. The cable and build are the same between 700 and SF5, so the 2 year warranty is definitely a plus.

 

Again, I don't think they are harsh on the highs at all. Just bright with nice extension. Very clean and clear sound. And the SF5 sound very similar to UE700 (so if you think UE700 have harsh highs, the SF5s definitely will sound harsh to you as well), just with everything downgraded a notch (clarity, soundstage, etc). 

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the quick reply - I am glad to hear that you've had the SF5Pros (as I did) plus the two models I'm considering (and yes I did mean the liquid silver version of the SF5 w/o replaceable cable).

 

Durability was one of my main issues with my UEs. I think I went through 5 or 6 replacements of the SF5Pros (they basically cracked/fell apart) in addition to 3 or 4 cable replacements due to stiffness. UE prior to the Logitech takeover were really good about that. They've cracked again and I am even though I'm well past my warranty period, Logitech has extended an offer for a replacement set at a steep discount which is actually nice of them. Sad to hear that durability is still an issue - I guess I will set my expectations low  (maybe, just maybe the new 700s will be an improvement in this area). Were there any particular issues you had with yours?

 

Getting back to the harshness I mentioned - I've realized that I more or less meant sibilance instead. I haven't heard either of the two models so I have nothing to go on except what I've read.  My source (your basic iPod Video 5.5th Gen using ALAC) may play a part in that sibilance but from your perspective how would you rate the 700s on this aspect?

 

post #4 of 15

Not sure how so many people go about breaking their cables on the UE series. I mean accidents happen, but so many make it so hard to believe they're really accidents. Proper handling and care goes a long way.

That aside, I haven't heard the SF.5's but I do own the UE700s. They are bright, but not bad in any way. Since I personally like my sound a tad on the brighter side, I enjoy them very much.

As for comfort/portability, they really are small. Half the time I don't even know I have them on. Lol.

I'm not sure how sensitive you are to sibilance, but I can barely detect it on my UE700s. 

 

Just my 2 cents.

post #5 of 15
+1 on the UE700 having a nice bright sound that you can barely hear any sibilance. It's very small and comfortable, and I hated selling them but had to because I don't need two pairs of portables. (jumped on the triple.fi 10's sale)
post #6 of 15

I still have my UE700s, small light, fairly durable and they produce very clear sound, but lacking on the low end if you're a bass head. I had the SF5 for a few weeks, they didn't stand out to me.  I say go for the 700s.

post #7 of 15

I've had the SF5Pro as well as the SF5 and UE700 (and the other UE models) and I don't agree that the new SF5 is an upgrade over the old SF5 pro. The SF5Pro is not a great earphone by today's standards and doesn't compete well at $250 but it covers a lot more of the frequency range with authority than the single-armature SF5 does. It also gives a better sense of separation between things in its soundstage despite being the smaller-sounding earphone. The SF5 is more balanced and more airy, plus the fit is more easy-going, but I wouldn't say it's the superior earphone (and I do not rate the SF5Pro all that highly to begin with). It's pleasant enough to use every day and the price is right at ~$65 (in the US at least).  

 

The UE700, on the other hand, is an earphone that bothers me every time I listen to it. Not because it's bad but because it's not as good as it could have been. It uses a TWFK dual armature transducer which is also found in my ATH-CK10 and a pair earphones I've owned (and liked) in the past - the JAYS q-JAYS and Fischer Audio DBA-02. However, it is as if UE specifically had the armature tuned for lower detail levels and poorer dynamics so that the UE700 wouldn't quite compete with the flagship TF10. Comparing it to any of the other TWFK-based earphones that was the gnawing sensation that I got every time - it just sounds that tiny bit less textured, less refined, less delicate. I would call it a 'shouty' earphone. There's still a lot to like about it - good sense of space, great clarity, great separation - but I really cannot recommend it at retail price (especially not when the TF10 can be had at ~$140). Plus with the wrong tracks it can be violently sibilant - unlike the ATH-CK10, the treble spike of the UE700 comes in early enough to cause issues with some vocals. The SF5 doesn't have any sibilance issues at all - it's got slightly forward upper mids but the emphasis stops before sibilance becomes an issue.

post #8 of 15

Maybe the UE IEMs require a different way of handling, because none of my other IEMs are this fragile. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ph4tandy View Post

Not sure how so many people go about breaking their cables on the UE series. I mean accidents happen, but so many make it so hard to believe they're really accidents. Proper handling and care goes a long way.

That aside, I haven't heard the SF.5's but I do own the UE700s. They are bright, but not bad in any way. Since I personally like my sound a tad on the brighter side, I enjoy them very much.

As for comfort/portability, they really are small. Half the time I don't even know I have them on. Lol.

I'm not sure how sensitive you are to sibilance, but I can barely detect it on my UE700s. 

 

Just my 2 cents.

post #9 of 15

Could be, won't try and argue about that. But I will say UE is somewhat aware of the mass amount of warranty repairs.

Not to the extent that they'd actually beefen up the build quality, but enough to leave a set of cautionary instructions in the included manual that no one ever seems to read.

Cue "RTFM"

Lol.

post #10 of 15

I would love to see that because I really like the UE sound. 

post #11 of 15

Yes I agree. It'd be even nicer if the UE700s came with detachable cables too.

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

I'm actually a bit offended at the insinuation my woes were my own doing to some degree. frown.gif

 

I've never actually broken a cable and UE did make attempts to beef up the build quality - prior to the non-Pro version of the SF5, there were actually 2 versions of the SF5Pro - v1 which was prone splitting at the seam, followed by version v2 where the casing was beefed up to prevent this. I had a 3 of the 1st release and it seemed that there was a particularly bad batch of these ending in the trash bin. At some point UE finally shipped me v2 and that problem (shell splitting at the seam) went away. On v2 of the SF5P, I had 2 cases where the shell broke at the cable connection point (same side oddly enough). The first time UE replaced them. The 2nd time was about 6 months ago but I was literally years beyond the warranty period (although the units were really less than a year old) and I resorted to super gluing them and they held for another 1/2 year.

 

Version 1 of SF5Pro (note the dullish color of the shell and black cable):

564_plugger[1].jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Version 2 of SF5Pro (note the metallic/glossy black finish of the shell and clear cable):

ultimate_ears_super_fi_5_pro[1].jpg

 

 

 

In regards to the cable, I've had numerous ones turn stiff and green. I've lost count on how many I've had replaced but this and it  is absurd that so many people have had this problem that it is notorious. Typically I could get anywhere between 3 to 6 months out of a cable before it went bad. The problem finally went away for me when I switched to the Westone cable.

 

Every time I spoke with UE, they were more than willing to help me out - no questions asked. Given the number of times I went back to the well, I can only presume that they were more than aware of these issues given their willingness (and trust me it did not take a lot) to replace my units over and over.

 

My point is no consumer should have to go through this sort of user experience, especially given the price point. Heck, I've had $30 jobs that lasted me longer than these and from a durability perspective, I've had original Senn HD-414s and HD-424s literally for decades without having to do anything but replace foams. I really enjoyed listening to my SF5Pros (my first IEM experience) but it seemed they suffered serious quality issues despite their (at the time) great design and engineerng.

 

 

post #13 of 15

Didn't mean to offend you in any way. Sorry if I did.

I feel my comments are taking this thread in the wrong direction as well. 

 

That aside, it looks like the SF5 cables resemble the TF10 cables, which are much thicker than the UE700 cables.

The UE700 ones are quite thin; I can see how the cable could snap at connecting points.

Also, the cable is a bit microphonic if that's going to be an issue. Of course you can go over-the-ear to avoid it.

post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ph4tandy View Post

Didn't mean to offend you in any way. Sorry if I did.

I feel my comments are taking this thread in the wrong direction as well. 

 

That aside, it looks like the SF5 cables resemble the TF10 cables, which are much thicker than the UE700 cables.

The UE700 ones are quite thin; I can see how the cable could snap at connecting points.

Also, the cable is a bit microphonic if that's going to be an issue. Of course you can go over-the-ear to avoid it.



 

ph4tandy - no worries!

 

To get this thread back on track, it seems like I should hold out for the new UE700s. Who knows, maybe Logitech will improve build quality with this new version.

 

PS: AFAIK, SF5P and TF10 share the same cable (which is why they still have problems and in part why there are so many DIY replacements).

 

 

 

 

post #15 of 15

I would also vote in for the UE700s

i've been contemplating buying them

to see what kind of sound signature they have

and what lies in between the SF5 & TF10.

UE is currently giving away (randomly) SF5 free just about

every day if u follow them  on twitter and the UE700 every once

in a while. crosses fingers*

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