Microsoft and some of its partners gave us a couple of nice pieces of gear to evaluate at the Mobius Boston 2006 event and the last item given right at the end of the final day was a set of Ultimate Ears super.fi 5 Pro earphones. I accepted the box and packed it into my carry-on bag for the flight home to Seattle and didn't give them much thought since I just assumed they were another pair of earphones to check out when I had some time. I am not an audiophile and have been pretty happy with the RaceQuiet earphones I checked out back in December. I took second in the PDA throwing contest with my prize being an iRiver Clix that I loaded up with Yahoo! Music content the night before I was flying home. While waiting at Boston's Logan Airport I decided to see what these Ultimate Ears were all about and unpacked the small box. Inside the box you will find the super.fi 5 Pro™ Earphones, metallic storage case with rubber seal, 1/4" adaptor jack, sound level attenuator, cleaning tool, universal fit kit with 6 single flange silicone, two double flange, and 2 foam eartips, and a user guide. I placed the earphones in my ears with the double flange tips, plugged the jack into the Clix, and was BLOWN AWAY when the first song started playing. The Clix volume level goes up to 40 and I had to lower it down to 15 so I didn't completely blow out my eardrums. WOW, these things are awesome!
So after I pushed my jaw back up, I just had to go online and find out a bit more about these earphones. I found out that they use a dual driver technology to deliver such high quality sound with two precision balanced armatures in each earphone. I can't even tell you how good everything sounds in these earphones and while they retail for something around US$250, I have to admit I am actually willing to spend this kind of money for something that sounds so good. They fit very well in your ear and while on the plane they blocked out virtually all the sounds around me and I had to take them out to hear anything said by the crew or other passengers. The wire is thicker than what you find on other earphones so I imagine they will last for quite some time. The super.fi 5 Pro come with a 2-year warranty as well.
I made a fatal mistake when I arrived home and should have known better, I showed my wife the earphones and let her plug them into her Nano. I was able to keep them for a couple more days to evaluate them, but then I showed her my true love and let her keep the earphones. She uses them at the gym and while working on her Party Lite paperwork during the day so she is getting lots of use out of them. However, I am really missing them and will be buying a pair for myself for an early Christmas present. I would have said that someone was a bit crazy to spend this much on a pair of portable earphones, but they are so good that I will even be recommending them to anyone I talk to about mobile audio. James Kendrick and I talked about them on MobileTechRoundup podcast #71 and you can hear the enthusiasm in James' voice as he tries to describe the sound experience you get when you plug these into your ears.
UPDATE: I was just sent an email from my Ultimate Ears contact and he said that these super.fi 5 Pro earphones are their mid-tier product. I truly can't imagine better sounding earphones, but they just recently introduced their triple driver monitor called the triple.fi 10 Pro earphones. At this time, these are only available as a limited edition unit through one of their partners and if you purchase them soon from the Earphone Solutions site you will actually be entered into a contest where two people will fly to Vegas for the Vegoose Music Festival and get full VIP priveleges. The Limited Edition metallic blue triple.fi 10 Pros cost US$399.99 and include the Ultimate Ears name engraved on a roadie case, a limited edition number on the round carrying case, exclusive UE artwork, and a certificate of authenticity. I am very close to pulling the trigger on these earphones and if I do I'll have to make sure I don't show them to my wife.