Ultimate Ears Super.Fi 5 Pro

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Added Jul 2012

Details: Discontinued dual-BA model from UE’s pre-Logitech lineup
Current Price: N/A (discontinued) (MSRP: $249.95)
Specs: Driver: Dual BA | Imp: 21Ω | Sens: 119 dB | Freq: 20-16k Hz | Cable: 4′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Sony Hybrid
Wear Style: Over-the-ear

Accessories (5/5) -Single-flange silicone tips (3 sizes), Comply foam tips (2 sets), cleaning tool, inline volume attenuator, and crushproof metal carrying case
Build Quality (4/5) – The build of the SF5Pro is very similar to those of the lower-end SF3 and flagship TF10. The large housings are made out of thick plastics and the cable is detachable. The newer version comes with a softer plastic cable similar to the one now used by the TF10. Unfortunately the newer cable is terminated with the same wimpy 3.5mm I-plug as all other UE models. The older (clear) SF5Pro cable has more memory but feels much sturdier
Isolation (3.5/5) – Quite good with well-fitting tips
Microphonics (4.5/5) – Low due to over-the-ear fit but not absent completely. A bit poorer with the older (clear) cable
Comfort (3.5/5) – The shells are similar in shape to those of the TF10 but slimmer towards the front and a bit more easy-going in terms of fit. Maintaining a seal can be difficult with stock UE tips. Included Comply foams seal well

Sound (8.2/10) – The SuperFi 5 Pro is a two-way dual-BA setup slotted next to the bass-monster SuperFi 5 EB and below the TripleFi 10 in the original Ultimate Ears lineup. Now-discontinued but still available from several online retailers, the SF5Pro still performs very well next to its replacement, the SuperFi5. The subbass, for one, is stronger than that of the new SF5. It is still not as tight as that of the UE700 or TripleFi 10 but accuracy is very good on the whole. The low end is a bit soft in character for an armature-based earphone but impact is ahead of all of the other SuperFi models with the exception of the SF5EB.

The midrange derives a bit of warmth from the slight bass emphasis but for the most part it is smooth and competent. There is a slight drop in clarity compared to the new SF5, putting the SF5Pro on level with the SF4 and cheaper dual-armature setups such as the Klipsch Custom 2 and Apple In-ears. The midrange of the SF5Pro is more forward on the whole compared to the UE700 and TripleFi 10 but there is a dip towards the top of the midrange, which makes the earphones less than ideal for female vocals but gives them a softer, sibilance-free character.

The treble of the SF5Pro loses out to the brighter and crisper UE700 and TF10 in clarity and definition. The detail level is lower as well – something made extremely obvious in a head-to-head comparison with the TF10. The smooth treble presentation is quite easy-going on the whole and the SF5Pro has better extension than UE’s single armature models but there is a slight lack of air to the presentation and a darker overall tone. Aside from the lack of air, the sense of space is quite good – the width and depth of the soundstage are both just a hair behind those of the TF10 and the positioning and layering are quite decent. Interestingly, the SF5Pro does improve slightly with the Westone ES cable, which gives up a bit of bass for a cleaner midrange and better treble definition – things the SF5Pro needs to run alongside its modern competition. Unfortunately, the ES cable just adds to the SF5Pro’s already-steep price tag and requires a bit of modification to even fit the socket and the isolation is quite high.

Value (6.5/10) – The now-defunct SuperFi 5 Pro still puts up a good fight against the newer Ultimate Ears offerings, including its namesake replacement, not only in sound quality but also in fit and finish. Unfortunately, it is let down by its high price point – the new old-stock sets currently available cost about as much as a TripleFi 10, which offers better detail, more transparency, tighter bass, and crisper, livelier treble. Simply put, the SF5Pro would have to be sold at a very large discount to be worth buying today.

Pros: Nice carrying case, good isolation, smooth and competent sound
Cons: Potential fitting issues, TF10 can often be found for less


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

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