Review : Ultimate Ears (UE) 4 and 4vi (iPhone version 4 vi)

Review : Ultimate Ears (UE) 4 and 4vi (iPhone version 4 vi)

Listening Tests 

Initial listening tests left me feeling good about the earphones, they sounded warmer than I was expecting with excellent detail. The sound is well controlled but this control does tail off quite sharply for the low notes and high notes. The sound-stage is good and balanced, however I did find the sound signature to be biased towards the higher end of the frequency range. These are very bright earphones. UE Super.Fi 4vi - Earphones

Low frequency response is pretty good. Most bass notes are smooth and well damped, even the bass roll-off is very relaxed – I did find in more complex bass lines the earphones just lost control, and detail that is expected went out the window. The earphones are more than capable of producing a good thump for simple bass lines.

Problem areas are the highs, with the high frequency response coming across over sharp / crunchy and resulting in horrible high frequency ringing – very evident with lower bit-rate MP3’s. The high end problems are probably more apparent then they should be as the mid range lacks presence and can do with some EQ’ing to give it some lift. UE Super.Fi 4vi - Earphones Back

They have plenty of headroom, but once you start pushing the volume levels the high end is the first to give up – resulting in shrilling and tinny crackles, while the midrange is only beginning to come a life!


Quick listen of Paula Abdul’s Rush Rush intro and Jon Secada’s Just Another Day, showed off the bottom end ability with some good air movement. The complex bass lines were compromised but that did not detract too much from the listening experience. Bass was warm and smooth, not like the mid section which was non-existent. You need to EQ the mid range or the vocals are cold and left with too many artifacts from the poor high end.

High end was over powering for these typical 80’s tracks. The synthesized drums becoming too crisp and just too sharp, even the vocal suffered from being too crunchy.


Most of the pieces I listened to sounded ok, however tracks which had predominately mid range based instruments such as violins and cellos – really suffered to the point that I thought I was listening to another arrangement of this piece. EQ does help and some time spent improving the mid range is well worth it.UE Super.Fi 4vi - Earphones Top

Tracks which had symbols or other high frequency instruments became very difficult to listen to – these instruments just sounded out of place and after a while they became quite distracting.

On a track like Albinoni – Adiagio (Academy of St. Martin in the fields) the earphones produced good music. The lack of distracting high frequency helped make is listenable. The main body of the violin’s sounded good, but during intense sections the rich harmonics did sound harsh and over sharp. This is a case of sometimes you can have just too much detail.


I played Pink Floyd – Pulse CD and musically the earphones performed well, everything was present with the bottom standing out for me for its warm and smooth sound. As with the other genres, mid range needs help.

The highs again like the other genres, came across harsh and very fatiguing. Some tracks the guitars sounded great and on some they were harsh and crisp – it likes there is a very thin line which divided the frequency ranges the earphones do well at and the ones they do badly at. UE Super.Fi 4vi - Earphones Side

Vocals suffered due to the high frequency bias of the soundstage with the main vocals losing presence to the female backing vocals..

Pop / Acoustic / Metal

A very changeable sound quality from these genres with some songs sounding great and some bad. I think any song which is reliant on the top end to make the melody then that song will suffer. Songs which have the melody and rhythm placed around the low end and mid range will sound great.

For example, System of A Down – Chop Suey, had problems especially with the drums but you did not lose the anger or energy in the track. However, it did sound cold during the chorus. UE Super.Fi 4vi - Box


I gave Jean Michel-Jarre – Revolution album a play and I was surprised. Once the mid range was EQ’d the musical experience was very good – it was competent and well handled.

I did experience the odd track which did suffer from the poor high end response resulted upsetting the balance and became very fatiguing.

Rap / Hip-Hop

The lacking mid range left the sound very hollow. This was one genre where the limitation of the bottom end was clear to hear.

As usual tracks with high frequency components suffered.


11 thoughts on “Review : Ultimate Ears (UE) 4 and 4vi (iPhone version 4 vi)

  1. Jay


    Hope you changed your mind, I like you am partial to bass. I listen to allot of Reggae, and hip hop. That said I was disappointed with the 4’s I gave them a day trial, but I’m going to try and return them. Believe it or not my last pair of earphones (Ear candy – Smoking buds) were about quarter the price and sounded twice as good. They weren’t equipped with the microphone and I needed an adapter, but they sounded Waaaaaay better.

  2. Tarkan Post author

    If you like the 5EB bass and that is something you look for – 4 will come across too cold for you. I suggest looking at either the Metro.Fi or Futuresonics Atrio M5, both of which have better bottom end response compared to the 4’s.

  3. matt

    I love loads of bass, but i hated the 5EB’s midrange….far too unpredictable. with that in mind, would you recommend the 4’s to me?

  4. Tarkan Post author

    Kind of – but the difference is that 5EB midrange suffers from the over loose booming bottom end.

    I would say with the 5EB you do have the scope to push up the mid and highs obviously you cannot do much to the flappy bass response.

    Horses for courses – I personally do not like the 5EB but I have met a few people who love them – partly because of personal taste but also due to the types of music they listen to, and the experience they want.

  5. Matt

    From your review, they seem to lean towards the ‘unpredictable’ midrange that the 5EB’s suffer from! Although, i’m still thinking of getting a pair.

  6. Tarkan Post author

    That is why in my reviews I try and stick to the facts without adding my own preferences – some people love a crisp high end and some don’t!

    I tend to via for a good balance between detail and sharpness. I personally found the 4 to swing closer to the sharpness end of the scale.

  7. wh!telight

    Mine arrived via Parcelforce from the US this morning, these earphones really are superb for the price, and their aluminium casing makes them look even more stylish. When I get the chance, I’d love to compare these to the V-MODA earphones as these are both aimed at the ‘fashionable consumer’ with similar pricing..

    I have KRK RP6 studio monitors for reference, obviously the Super.Fi 4’s aren’t *quite* in the same league but they deliver exceptionally clean sound with a crisp high end, if you own Klipsch speakers or speakers with high end tweeters, this sound will be familiar to you.

    It’s personal preference, I love the high end on these.

    Anyone in the UK who wants to buy them, I recommend who are one of the few who will ship the UK..

    Great review!

  8. Pingback: IPhone » Review : Ultimate Ears (UE) 4 & 4vi (iPhone version)

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