My demo sample was of the retail iPhone version but in the realm of this review – the earphones, the business end are the same across both models. Of course 4vi has some extra parts to aid integration in to Apple’s iPhone stratosphere.
Prices are $130 (~£75) for the normal version, and $160 (~£85) for the iPhone version, which brings them into direct competition with the Shure SE210. We will see how they compare later on…
The earphones are based around a single armature driver, similar to drivers used in UE’s other earphones such as the super.fi 5 pro and triple.fi 10 pro. The form factor follows the Metro.fi introduced last year, however they are smaller and have opted for an anodised and turned aluminium housing for the drivers, with the air tube (port) end piece sporting a highly polished finish.
The fit and finish is excellent and it has gone some way in lifting Ultimate Ears in to the same design league as Shure. The current UE range like the Super.fi 5 pro, Studio 3, and Triple.fi 10 pro – just do not make the style statement that modern consumers yearn for! I hope the Super.Fi 4’s are the first of many stylish new products from Ultimate Ears.
The cable is good and flexible, not too thick like the early Super.Fi’s. The cable length is good at 115cm (~46 inches), it is terminated in a straight moulded 3.5mm jack. The big improvement here is that the jack is now of a slim design, so it will fit players which have slightly recessed sockets.
The iPhone version (4vi) has the addition of a microphone on the cable which goes to the right earphone, and the call button approximately at the half way point. The call button can be used as a rudimentary remote control for the music player application with various click combinations as well as answering and hanging up calls. The call button is tiny and some may find it hard to actuate and resort to using finger nails.
The 3.5mm jack has an additional 4th connection used to carry the signal from the microphone and for the call button. Generally it is not a problem using the iPhone version on any other music / video player but be warned that some do use the fourth connection for wired remotes – this can cause sound issues if the wiring configuration is different.
I tested the 4vi version with no problems on my PDA, and iPod Video (5g), however the connection on the Archos Gmini 220 was not supplying any grounding to the earphones, which could be overcome by pressing in the call button. So be warned!!!
I did not have a iPhone handy so I was not able to test the quality of the microphone.
In the box
UE have decided not to include foam tips which is surprising. I personally prefer the foam tips, so I did attempt to fit some – the opening in the Foam tips are too large and they would not stay on the earphones – I did get round that by wrapping the sound port on the earphones with some micropore tape.
Finally, finishing off the package is the airplane attenuator, this goes someway towards stopping you going deaf whenever the cabin staff make an announcement when earphones are used on airplane entertainment systems.
The earphones fit well and they stayed put for relaxed listening, I did find with the silicon flanges you do need to push them in to your ear quite hard if you want them to stay – so expect to feel some pain!!! I opted to use the foams for my testing which go as deep but without the pain. Generally they are comfortable and the small size means they do not protrude from the ear.
I normally like my earphone cables to go up and over my ears as I think that provides a more secure fit during periods of activity. The Super.Fi 4 cannot be used like that as the cable has just too much spring, also there is no cable tension to slide up to hold the cable in place. Obviously, you cannot considering doing this if you intend to make phone calls as the microphone would end up behind your ear – anyway.