The all new Ultimate Ears Super.fi 5 arrived in a new style of box compared to last generation Ultimate Ears products. One of the things I noticed right away was that Ultimate Ears has now dropped shipping their own foam tips with its universal style products and are instead shipping them with two sets of Comply T400 foam tips!
It is clear that Ultimate Ears is moving in a new direction with its earphone design. This newest addition to their line-up does not feature a removable cable, and the earphone body is completely redesigned.
The only other alteration to the bundle that I dislike is the fact that Ultimate Ears has dropped their aluminum case in favor of a flimsy plastic box. The plastic box is more compact but it is not nearly as sturdy as its aluminum brother.
Another small yet noteworthy change in the design of the product is the mini-jack. On the old Ultimate Ears products with removable cable the mini-jack is a right angled one. The Super.fi 5 has a slim line straight jack which seems rock solid.
Aesthetically the Super.fi 5s are very pleasing. The dark chrome colored body cover with the UE logo looks brilliant, its only real rival when it comes to looks is probably the Klipsch Image X10s. The chrome seems to be under a layer of acrylic coating of some sort so you will not have to worry about it wearing off the minute you begin using the earphones.
Small headphones and in-ears designers always have a hard time coming up with a decent place to put the left and right indication markers. Ultimate Ears has definitely made a good move with their smart solution. The inside of the body is red transparent on the right earphone and solid black on the left. It is easy to see even in low light situations. There is also a small letter on the body, but it is easier just to use the color coding.
The shape of the body is sort of organic, it is meant to fit your ears. The odd bend is there to make the cable curve around your ears hugging them when you have the cable running over your ear. When you wear them with the cable down, the bend pushes the cable forward making sure it clears the hard part of your ear lobe.
From the side you can see that the Super.fi 5 do not resemble any of the older Ultimate Ears earphones. The L-shaped structure is defined by the body and the over sized sound tube exiting it in a right angle. The sound tube is extremely sturdy and it is a part of the inner plastic piece of the body. Since the sound tube is bonded to the inner body in the molding process and not glued on afterwards, this part of the construction is probably much more durable than that of its competitors. The quality of the construction is incredibly good and the layout is great as well. Layout wise it is good because you do not grip weak parts of the construction when inserting and removing them.
At first I was skeptical about the move away from detachable cables, but I must say I have been converted. The cable on the Super.fi 5 is near perfect, it has massive plastic stress reliefs both at the jack and on the earphones. The new cable is a bit softer at least on the outside and is medium good when it comes to handling microphonic noise. With the cable looped over the ear the noise is cut down by a fair amount, not the least microphonic earphones I have ever tried but far from the worst. The Y-split on the cable is solid and it is easy to adjust the length of the split. The two cables become one after the split which means that it is perfectly tangle free compared to wounded styled cables.
Size wise these earphones are pretty big, but not in the wrong directions like the older Ultimate Ears. The L-shaped Super.fi 5 fits the normal ear perfectly, whereas the old Ultimate Ears design tended to be a bit too fat near the sound tube, at least that is my impression. Another noteworthy aspect of the design is that these earphones do not stick out that much from the ear once inserted correctly.
The dark chrome is quite reflective and gives the earphones a really nice look. Ultimate Ears has to my mind created rather good looking set of earphones that do not look dorky.