My take on E4C vs. Super.Fi 5 Pro
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PFRfan

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I've posted my experience in bits and pieces in different threads, but I thought I'd go over it in more detail while it's still fresh in my mind. The whole review is based on listening through my Rio Karma by its lonesome with FLAC files. Songs are basically things you've probably never heard of - fringe Christian artists and the like. Jazz, Blues, Rock, Rap, Big Band (actual orchestra), Acoustic Guitar, etc. A few you'd know: Bela Fleck, Norah Jones, Diana Krall (heard a few people reference her voice, so I tried it out... not bad!).

I've decided to call the UE Super.Fi 5 Pro by the SF5P acronym since it's shorter to type.

Bass: E4C has more detail, SF5P has more oomph. On my Karma, I end up adding +4 db to the 40hz (lowest) EQ band to get the E4C in the same zip-code in regards to bass power. With the E4C, I can hear the notes more clearly, but they're not way out front like with the SF5P.
Winner: E4C. But this is a VERY personal choice - it could go either way depending on your preference.

Midrange: E4C again has more detail, with the SF5P having more warmth. The SF5P is very pleasing and soothing, but the E4C "draws me into the music" more due to my interest in hearing details. The E4C is also very consistent throughout this range - everything seems to be equally apparent. The SF5P seem to be missing the top of this range (or the lower treble depending on how you look at it). It's not really missing, but it's more like it's in the next room... recessed. When switching back and forth, the UEs seem to sound very muddy. But after time, the mind adjusts, and they're very nice - never as detailed as the E4C, but nice.
Winner: E4C only because they're not hard to find in the onslaught of upper bass.

Treble: E4C is very consistent again. Mentioning the upper midrange or lower treble area again, it sound like the SF5P has turned down the volume on this area. I find it very bothersome when heard back to back with the E4C. But perhaps the reason for this tuning is that this is the section that usually becomes harsh and blaring as the volume goes up (based on my experience with the E2C, E3C, and SF5P). With the SF5P, no matter how low I went, I never felt like female voices and guitars were banging inside my head. Bass guitars were trying to push my eyeballs out, but not leads...
Winner: E4C. I like having all of the detail, even if it becomes fatiguing. Again it's very personal - I'm guessing that I could listen to the SF5P all day and never get tired. I doubt I'll be able to say that about the E4C.

Soundstage: SF5P has a wider sound. I suspect this has to do with the fact that they seal near the outside of the ear, and the sound hole are big and wide. This helped with instrument separation. Whereas I could hear individual notes better with the E4C, it sounded like I could hear more space between the instruments with the SF5P.
Winner: SF5P. Not much contest actually. E4C isn't bad, but SF5P are very good.

Comfort: SF5P are big, but very light. With the super-light wires, it's really easy to forget that they're on. REALLY comfortable. The E4C would be the same, except the cable is much heavier.
Winner: SF5P. Again, the E4C isn't bad - in fact it's quite good, but the SF5P are really good.

Durability: SF5P's thin cables are a double-edged sword. Mine had the left channel cut out from time to time and required me pressing the wire. I've read at least one other person who had trouble with a side cutting out, maybe 2 people. The memory wire on the right side broke in the middle. If I had kept them, I would have removed the memory wire all together, but it made it goofy to get right since the wire was there without being attached to the end. You can buy replacement cables, which I really like. I just don't like feeling like I'm going to end up spending a lot of money on them because I'm worried about their quality. You're not going to break the tips without stepping on them with boots or doing something deliberate - they're just really big.
E4Cs cables are very nice and rugged, and you can replace the tips (in fact they come with a spare set). This is good, because it was a broken tip that made me send in my E3C. That said, Shure didn't ask me how old my E3C were or anything. They gave me an address to send them to, and sent out a brand new sealed pair. GREAT service! I don't know about UE (heard different stories good and bad).
Winner: E4C. The cables make the difference - going to be hard to ruin them.

Looks: Toss-up. As long as it doesn't have Barney or Hello Kitty on it, I couldn't care less. My mantra is: "I look stupid wearing ANY canalphones, therefore the varying degrees of stupidness are irrelevant." Of course, I look stupid WITHOUT wearing canalphones, so I may not be the best judge.

Efficiency: SF5P are much easier to drive requiring about 20% less volume setting to get the same volume. Also, they sound great at all volume levels. E4C push my Karma more, and start to "blare" when I go too loud.
Winner: SF5P. If you're using a less powerful source, I can see the E4C not having enough bass.

With EQ: On the Karma, I'd add 2db at 10k, and 1db at 2.5k (sue me for adding instead of subtracting everything else). Sometimes I'd take away 1db at 40hz, since the bass was so strong. On the E4C, I add about 4-5db at 40hz. The SF5P sound real nice with that little EQ, but it doesn't really fill the void in that upper-midrange/lower-treble area. The E4C basically kick like the SF5P without giving up detail when EQ'd.
Winner: E4C. It needs it less (the SF5P are tough to listen to without adding a little treble), but when it's done, it matches the power of the SF5P without losing detail - REAL nice!

OVERALL WINNER: E4C. This is personal, but I prefer the E4C. I know others agree, and some disagree. Hopefully my analysis is correct, though, and you can see that they are good competitors, with the better phone coming down to the sonic signature that you like the best. If I'm correct, guys who like detail with solid bass with prefer the E4C, while people who prefer a smoother, less abrasive sound and/or more impactful bass will like SF5P.

AMPED: I don't have experience with amplification, but just got a Pocket Amp 2 V2 yesterday. I wasn't able to test it with the SF5P since I'd already returned them. It's a low-end amp, but it is just good enough to make me like them with the Karma and E4C. It adds a measure of soundstage that the SF5P had, and also steadies the bass. There are some bass notes that seem to slightly warble which become more solid with the PA2V2 in the mix. Also, I'd say it adds a bit of bass impact to the flat EQ, but not enough to keep me from still EQing it up a bit
.
 
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phong

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pfrfan,

nice review! i have decided to go for the e4's over the 5pros, it sounds like everything i want (i listen to a wide range of music genres) is in the e4s. sounds like it is good for all around. and when shure sent me a new package of e2c's a couple days ago after i sent them a 2nd pair of broken phones (they were actually out of warranty but they replaced anyways without proof or purchase) i again just praise their great service . . . so i will be sticking with them.
 
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crazyfrenchman27

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I liked this review.

I really don't think I'll know which one I prefer until I try the E4c, though, but isn't that the case for every headphone?


Hopefully this thread doesn't degenerate into childish name-calling.

-Matt
 
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some1x

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Good job on the review.
What tip did you use with the E4C? With a deep "inner-canal" seal, the foam tips sound amazing. Deeper, more impactful bass, and am overall sense of coherence that I've never felt in my portable setup before.

Too bad the foam tips are a pita to use in public.
 
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PFRfan

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Just to add a note: My experience is very limited here. I've not been exposed to a very wide range of headphones, amps, sources, etc. In fact, I've never even heard or seen in real life a pair of Ety 4S or 4P, the canalphones that get as much praise as any other. My previous pair was E3C, so this review is written from that perspective.

My comments would likely be different if I had heard some Etys, E5C, UM2, or custom IEMs. But I haven't, so I can't tell anyone whether they should spend the money on any other phones. I've had these 2, which are both great compared to the E3C, so I imagine it would only be usefull to those who are coming from lesser IEMs and only considering these pairs.

I'm eargerly awaiting folks with better ears, better equipment, better experience, and better presentation to give their thoughts.
 
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PFRfan

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Quote:

Originally Posted by some1x
What tip did you use with the E4C? With a deep "inner-canal" seal, the foam tips sound amazing.


Well, after whining about them in another thread, I've come to eat my words and start shoving white christmas trees in my ears. The triple flanges are great as long as I know how far to push them in. I've used the medium soft flex for the seal because it's practical (fast in & out, and don't gross people out when they come out - I don't mind looking dumb, but I don't like to induce vomiting). I tried the foamies, but can't get them into my inner-canal since I have small ears and the barrel is wide at the tip-end.

That said, you could seal it with hot wax and it won't have the bass power of the SF5P. Trust me - anyone else will tell you the same thing. It's not that it's not good bass, in fact, I prefer the E4C bass. But it can't knock your head around like the UEs can.
 
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Jmmmmm

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Very nice review, I think you did a very good job.

I have a portaphile v2 and the pocketamp v2. I switched between headphone out on the ipod and line out-> portaphile, and it made a pretty big difference in the bass. Almost to 5pro levels, imo.
 
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some1x

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Even knowing that everyone hears differently, especially in the case of canalphones, I cannot curb my enthusiam for the foam tips
I can happily retire my HD650s until summer ends (no aircon in my ghetto apartment
).

Actually, if I had the E4 before joining head-fi, I may never have bought all those other phones- HD600, HD650, HP2, RS1, PS1, Baby Orpheus, K1000, SA5000... bah what am I saying!
 
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solvexyz

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very nice comparison review. i am glad i made the choice on E4c already, and now waiting for it to arrive.
 
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PFRfan

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some1x, I'm with you on the foam tips, but I can't use them. The E3C have a small enough barrel for me to completely bury them like you're talking about, but the E4C are a hair too big. The only difference that the foamies made for me with my E3C was that the seal was consistent (therefore the sound was consistent) without the pressure that I got with the soft tips. I don't count myself to have audiophile ears, though.

Jmmmmm, with my PA2V2, I can't tell the difference between the line out & volume setting 29 on my Karma. Again with either sub-standard ears, or the headphone out of the Karma at 29 is a very good line-out equivalent. I may have a Total Bithead shortly, but I'm not ruling out a Portaphile or SM3. I think I would like the SM3 option switches as a toy, and would really like to know what the bass boost does to the E4C. BTW - You should condense (or at least collect) your thoughts since you have both phones.
 
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I went to guitar center and bought the last pair they had. Tried them in my car with my ipod and the left phone was dead. What a bummer... Now I have to drive to another GC tomorrow. I will say that only hearing the right side I was impressed with the bass compared to the e4c. I have a feeling I will be sending my e4c's back, seems that the superfi's are more ipod friendly, but I wont make my final decision till I hear out of BOTH phones(heh)
 
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boodi

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e4c look probably the most interesting midbudget canalphones..
waiting for more feedback and comparison before i try them
 
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zatara

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PFRFAN,
Great review I am still reading all I can before a deciding between the two.
How do they compare with your DT-770/80's?

Thanks
 
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PFRfan

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Quote:

Originally Posted by zatara
How do they compare with your DT-770/80's?


Mt 770's are for sale (sold actually, it looks like), so that might tell you something. I'm suprised by how much the SF5P sound like the DT770-80s - bassy, crisp on top, but the SF5P seem to have more presence in the middle of the midrange. The Beyers extend the bass farther down. I fully expect the Beyers to respond to better amplification, though.

Most guys will bug out over comparing regular headphones to IEMs. I'm not trying to do that, but there are certain similarities to my ears.
 
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