The first pair of Ultimate Ears headphones I have the opportunity to give a real trial run is the 400vi/500vi.
The name differs slightly depending on where in the world you encounter them. Europe has the 400vi, and the US has the 500vi. The price is what matters with these, as you get a budget audiophile set of earphones at around $80. The sound is remarkable at the price point with a clear sound image, and good source dispersion. The bass lacks a bit of punch, and feels almost lost in the mix when listening to heavy metal. For popular music, jazz and classical this is a better fit. Audiophile is a big statement, but considering the pedigree of the brand it is almost there. Logitech acquired a brand with a focus on creating high end earphones, and much of that knowledge has been used but mass-produced at a lower price point.
The flat cord is a bit too long in my opinion, and transfers some noise when rubbing against clothes. The three-button microphone is found about five centimetres below the chin, and that is a bit off in my opinion. Still it manages to pick up my voice good enough when just sitting, or standing still. Walking, or riding a bike the microphone needs to be held closer to the mouth to avoid my voice being drowned in noise. The buttons are responsive, and work really well.
Strength with the 400vi is the passive noise cancellation that works really well. The thick silicone tips, and the housings themselves blocking the ear do this. I had no problems listening to podcasts, and audio books while riding my bike alongside heavy traffic.
The design is really good, and the 400vi looks cool. It has a snub-nosed stubborn kind of attitude to it that stands out from a lot of other in-ear headphones. Branding is limited to a UE found on the top of the housings. I think more could be done with such a cool brand name.
With five pairs of soft silicone tips, and a set of foam tips there is quite a lot to select from. I found the silicone tips in particular to be really comfortable, and several sizes worked for my ear canal. The foam tips on the other hand did not work at all, and felt like a poor attempt at the popular Koss Sparkplug tips. A handy hardcase is also included that can protect the earphones, or hold all the tips when not in use.
The Ultimate Ears 400vi/500vi is an affordable set of earphones that are comfortable, has good noise isolation and at the price a balanced clear sound. The bass response is a bit hit n miss, and to me the only real drawback. Most audio sources sound good though, and only hard rock and metal gets the treble too high in the mix compared to the bass. If you are looking at a good set of earphones that won’t take too much from your wallet these come highly recommended.