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UE 500 Mini-Review

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Introduction

 

Hello everyone, I am rather new to this board. I recently bought the Ultimate Ears 500 and found that there are not many reviews of it around. So I decided to try my hand at reviewing it. Please forgive me if I have used / abused any audio terms.

 

General + Testing

 

The UE 500 retail for 99 SGD (around 78 USD), which pits it in the sub $100 market. It is a single dynamic driver earphone. For this review, I will be using the RE0 as my benchmark (since most Head-Fiers should know that earphone). Listening was done with about 20 hours of burn in and connected to a Sansa Fuze V2. Listened to mostly pop and some progressive metal.

 

Build Quality, Size and Fit

 

P1030089 (Small).JPG

Strain reliefs? Don't see any

 

The UE 500 are made with chrome-silvery plastic for their outer shell and have 5 sets of silicon single flanges. They also include a pair of comply medium. These things are incredibly tiny for their sound. The housing fits easily and comfortably into my ear with no issues. I found them much more well-fitting than the RE0 or the A-Jays One because they are small and do not press against the outside of your ear. The flat cables are decorated with some weird metro patterns on the outside, but are generally good for use. The only problem I had with the build quality were the markings on the earphones. The L and R indicators are white paint and they fall off easily. Mine faded off within a day of use. The chrome surface is too smooth. Also, without the markings, it's virtually impossible to identify which side is which, because the earphones are shaped the same.

 

Sound Quality

 

P1030091 (Small).JPG

The filter is actually very thin and like 'paper'. It is interesting.

 

When I compared these earphones to the RE0, I felt that they were balanced. What I mean is the frequencies are represented in equal proportions, resulting in a rather warm sound that is friendly to most ears.

 

Bass

 

The RE0 has great treble and extremely crisp detail, but does not do bass well. In contrast, the UE 500 has very deep bass (I could feel the thumping bass when listening to hip hop beats) which seems to rock your skull. The bass is strong when it is required. It is not fast enough to catch up to beats cleanly like the RE0 but it makes you feel like the song actually has a bass section. I felt that it reached to the lower (sub bass?) frequencies very much more than the RE0.

 

Mids

 

The UE 500 is not the best at mids. While female vocals turn out generally smoothly and sound natural, the guitar riffs tend to sound thin and 'unnatural'. They just don't sound like guitars on the UM3x. Sometimes I felt the mids were put slightly forward because they sound louder than the rest of the song and may be fatiguing to listen to for long periods of time. Snare drum beats and percussion instruments are rather well represented because they do not end up sounding like a 'sea of sound' but are clearly differentiated. The RE0's mids are more accurate and sharp. On the UE, there was no sibilance, while with the RE0s I could hear sibilance on the 's' and 't' sounds with female vocals if I wasn't using comply foam.

 

Treble

 

Treble is sufficiently differentiated from the rest of the song. I can hear cymbals and hi hats sounding very natural. While the RE0 has extreme accuracy and a very airy presentation of the treble, the UEs are less so. Some details are lost in the emphasis on bass and mids. Generally though, the highs are sufficient because they capture cymbals properly.

 

Soundstage

 

If I were to describe this, it would probably be a 120 degree arc around my head. It is definitely not as wide as the RE0's. When listening to orchestral songs on the RE0, I could more or less differentiate the positions where the different instruments were coming from, but the UEs didn't achieve that. They were more of a 'between your head' sound.

 

Concluding remarks

 

P1030092 (Small).JPG

Right angle jack makes it a relief to paranoid people

 

The presentation of the UE 500 is smooth. It is very easy to like the sound because it is both accurate and emphasizes the bass and mids. It is one musical package that is enjoyable to listen to for long periods of time, and among the clearer dynamic IEMs I've heard. These blow the UE MetroFis (the metrofi2 black with silver) out of the water because they are so much clearer. Fans who love a balanced sound that is friendly to listen to and a very easy fit will love these IEMs. 

 

 

Thank you for reading. I hope you find audio nirvana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 7
Glad to see you're enjoying them as well! Your experiences seem to parallel mine pretty well, except I don't have the RE-0s to reference... Also, a note on the build quality, the biggest issue IMO is the lack of a proper strain relief at the plug. Even with a lot of care to use the case and not stress the area too much, it's started to fail a little, and I've had to keep it there with a bit of epoxy. Other than that, I think they're pretty neat IEMs. biggrin.gif
Also, thanks for the very well-written review!
post #3 of 7

I just got my UE500s in and they are awesome! I bought these based on reviews here, to replace a pair of Triple fi 10s that I left on an airplane :(. I have to say that all around I enjoy the UE500s better. The triple fi 10s had more detail but I prefer the UE500s overall signature. I do miss some of the high detail of the triple fi 10s. I hated the way the triple fi 10s fit (or lack of fit) in my ear, it was really terrible with the rigid cable end. I am running these through my DACport currently and find the sound really fun and easy to listen to. The UE500s are more comfortable too.

post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by 50an6xy06r6n View Post

Glad to see you're enjoying them as well! Your experiences seem to parallel mine pretty well, except I don't have the RE-0s to reference... Also, a note on the build quality, the biggest issue IMO is the lack of a proper strain relief at the plug. Even with a lot of care to use the case and not stress the area too much, it's started to fail a little, and I've had to keep it there with a bit of epoxy. Other than that, I think they're pretty neat IEMs. biggrin.gif
Also, thanks for the very well-written review!

 

I've owned several UE earphones over the years and with all of them I had problems with cable breaks near the plug. So I'm surprised that they still haven't fixed this yet..

 

I first bought a pair of MetroFi 170 (with the I-plug), which broke after a few months, I started losing sound from one of the earpieces with every slight movement of the cable near the plug. So I returned them and was allowed to exchange them. Which I did, for a pair of MetroFi 220 (which cost the same as the 170 did at the time). A couple of months later, same problem. So I returned the 220 as well and decided to upgrade to a pair of 600vi, which had the new L-shaped cable. But, unfortunately, fate struck again, and the same thing happend, so I returned those as well, and got a new pair of 600vi. So far these have lasted quite a while, because I wrapped some tape around the part where the cable goes into the plug (home-made-strain-relief FTW) as a precautionary measure.

 

For the record, I didn't do anything strange or exotic with any of these headphones, besides keep my phone in my pocket with these plugged in, and ride my bike to and from work (which is what probably caused the strain on the cables). And I always put them away in the provided carrying case.

post #5 of 7
Quote:
The L and R indicators are white paint and they fall off easily. Mine faded off within a day of use. The chrome surface is too smooth. Also, without the markings, it's virtually impossible to identify which side is which, because the earphones are shaped the same.

 

Seriously? Impossible to identify which side is which? That's horrible! Surely there's a way! Is one earphone longer than the other?

post #6 of 7

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Edited by Louis8ball - 7/17/14 at 2:28pm
post #7 of 7

It's been ages since i last listened to my UE 500. UE has had a load of issues with their quality control. Every single iem that they have released sub ue 500 in my experience have had earpiece failures, where one side goes quiet. However, I've been longing to hear the sound sig. of the UE 500 for ages. Ever since they broke i was just not satisfied with the Mid range presentation on a lot of dynamic iems in the market.

 

IMO the UE 500 hits the hammer on the nail with its fun sound signature!

 

also yes, the markings will rub off due to the smooth chrome surface that they are printed on.

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