We often get inundated with the options available to use when purchasing a suitable set of replacement earphones. Some cost a lot while some are a pretty decent all around deal. Today, we'll be checking out something from one of the top names in custom earphones, Ultimate Ears.
These guys make some pretty astronomically priced custom earphones for top musicians, but they have also started to make more reasonably priced earphones like the MetroFi 220 Noise Isolation Earphones. Let's see how the trickle-down effect benefits mere mortals with smaller budgets.
Construction and Design
Probably one of the things that set cheap and chintzy headphones apart from good ones is the build quality. From the gold plated 3.5mm headphone connector, chrome coloured buds with perfectly silkscreened logos, to the white silicon earpieces, they seem almost crafted. Even little details like the red coloring of the right earpiece allows you to fumble less to get them into your ears. Red = Right as they say on the features list.
Even the earphone cord was employed for the particular purpose of resisting the knotting and tangling that destroys a good set of earphones. The cord is thicker and resists tangling in such a way that it's nearly impossible to keep them coiled, as illustrated above. This is why the hardshell case is so handy as it not only offers protection, but it serves to keep the lively cord under control.
Comfort and Fit
With the assistance of three sizes in soft silicon earpieces, the MetroFi 220s can be made to feel quite comfortable for most people. Once placed in your ears, they provide up to 16 dB's of passive noise isolation that is effecive in blocking out a fair bit of noise. More than enough to make outside noise nearly inaudible when listening at a reasonable volume, but not enough to drown out your neighbour directly next to you.
The MetroFi 220s are secure even during spirited headbanging sessions. The documentation does suggest an over the ear style of wearing them for a more secure fit, but I only found orienting them in this fashion inconvenient. They do give that "pro musician" look however when worn that way.
Given Ultimate Ear's background in constructing high end studio monitoring earphones for musicians, I wasn't the slightest bit surprised by what I heard from the MetroFi 220s. Like any good monitor, they present what is there and try their best not to exaggerate anything in the mix.
MEGATechie Good or MEGATechie Awful?
If you're someone that enjoys lots of sloppy bass for rap or pop, then the MetroFi 220s may not be to your liking (I can recommend the Radius Atomic Bass earphones for you). The MetroFi 220s lend themselves to being more enjoyable with acoustic rock, jazz and other instrumental music where good separation, detail and accurate bass are needed. In other words, they simply hold true to their studio monitor roots.
Despite their pedigree, the MetroFi 220s didn't murder any poorly ripped MP3s which some high resolution earphones tend to do. This shows that Ultimate Ears did tune these to work with sources that people are using today like iPods and other MP3 players.
The Ultimate Ears MetroFi 220s retail for $79.99 US and come with a 1 year hardware warranty.