15th March 2010
First off, I wouldn’t consider myself an audiophile but I dislike hearing music through cheap speakers. My HiFi consists of a pair of Bowers and Wilkins DM601s and I also have a pair of Sennheiser HD555 headphones. Whilst these are not the best on the market, they do sound exceptionally good. Usually I don’t listen to music on the go, but when I do the Senns aren’t suitable and as we all know the standard iPod earphones are simply terrible. For £17.99 I picked up a pair of Ultimate Ears MetroFi 220 from Play.com Ultimate Ears manufacture some of the most well respected IEMs on the market but the MetroFi are designed to capture to general consumer market who are looking for decent quality without breaking the bank.
Comfort and Fit
UE provide three sizes of eartip; small, medium and large. For me the medium were a perfect fit, however I can well believe that if none of the sizes are appropriate for you they may be quite disappointing. I wore the earphones on my train between London and Bristol which was about a 1:30 hour journey. They certainly did not block out all sound but they knocked out the sound of the train and attenuated people’s voices making the journey much more pleasant than it might otherwise have been. I was quite surprised at how noisy the carriage seemed when I took them out at the end of the journey. In terms of comfort, I found I very quickly forgot they were in and my ears did not feel sore at the end of the journey.
As I have already stated, I am no audiophile so my review is purely my uneducated opinion. The frequency response of these IEMs is quite reasonable for a cheap pair of headphones, most of the treble and mids appear to be there and whilst the bass doesn’t reverberate around your head, it is reasonably respectful. In fairness, when I tried the Sennheiser CX500s I felt they were too bassy and hence unenjoyable. For listening rock, they are relatively balanced; vocals are clear, the guitars don’t sound too harsh and the bass guitar can be clearly heard but is not intrusive. Mozart’s Piano Sonatas certainly showed up the flaws in the treble, the phones sound almost murky and certainly don’t make for enjoyable listening. Film music was handled was handled better; some energy is certainly lost but there isn’t too much to complain about. Dance, Trance and Hip-hop fans will probably want a little bit more bass however for the casual listener I think they pretty good. The soundstage is certainly improved with auto panning effects incorporated into these genres.
Overall I would say the 220s are very good for £17.99, they certainly do not compare to Sennheiser HD555 but it would be madness to expect them too. They are a huge improvement over the standard iPod earbuds and for many people will probably represent a vastly superior sound. If the eartips fit your ears, the sound isolation is good and they are not uncomfortable. If I were to lose them I probably would replace them with a more expensive model such as the SuperFi 5s however the are over 3 times the price.