Ultimate Ears, also known as UE, has had over 15 years of experience specializing in and manufacturing headphones and their accessories. Up until 2005, Ultimate Ears had only been manufacturing high end custom IEMs. Later that year, they decided to expand and release 3 high end universal headphones. In 2009, UE released a lower-end IEM that included a remote and microphone for smartphone use. This low-end IEM became known as the MetroFi 170vi. The UE MetroFi 170vi offer a sleek design, respectable audio quality, ample build quality, a comfortable fit, and a big bang for your buck.
- Driver: Dynamic driver
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20000Hz
- Sensitivity: 103dB/1mW
- Impedance: 18ohms
In the Box
- Ultimate Ears MetroFi 170vi
- 3 Sets of UE Silicone Ear Tips
- Small Plastic UE carrying case
The MetroFi 170vi headset comes with the headset itself, 3 sets of silicone ear tips, and a plastic carrying case.
Ultimate Ears used a really beautiful approach on the design on these headphones. This includes everything from the choice of material, all the way down to smallest detail, UE really took it upon them to create a design that looked nice, but also worked nicely.
Each earpiece is crafted of a thick, translucent plastic. The plastic is glossy and really adds a pleasant appearance to them when viewed up close. From far away, they won’t turn heads. From a distance, they actually just blend in and look like normal black headphones. The two headphones have some small differences to them. One of them has a red plastic area on them instead of black. This allows you to quickly differentiate the two. The red one is the right earpiece while the full black one is the left. The design is not flashy, but still looks gorgeous when looking at them up close.
The MetroFi offers an elegant, glossy design.
The cable is extremely tangle prone and has kinks in it from the start; this makes it hard to wear over the ear since the cable always comes loose around your ear. The instruction manual says you can wear them over the ear though. The microphone and remote are placed in the same places as the SuperFi 4s remote and mic. The remote is in a bad place if you hide your cables underneath your shirt like I do.
These UEs have a really deep insertion and can be inserted over the ear or under.
Overall, the design on the MetroFi 170vis is really lovely up close. From a distance, they camouflage into the surroundings and look like any other old pair of headphones. Containing only a few miniscule things to improve on, the 170s definitely have an attractive design that also works well.
When I first got the headphones, they sounded really poor in quality. The bass was muddy, but not overwhelming; controlled. It was definitely the dominant part of the spectrum with plenty of impact. The mids were actually smooth and well played out. The highs… What highs? After about an hour, the treble started coming in. I let the 170s continue burning in for 50 hours, listening to them constantly. The signature was very warm.
The headphones continued with the warm signature, so the bass would end up being a step above neutral, a little forward in the spectrum. The bass is punchy and direct with its hits. There is plenty of bass impact, and even with all that impact, the bass is still very well controlled. However, in some songs, the bass can become much. You can really feel the bass, which is always a nice feature. The bass didn’t wow me, but it was fun and entertaining, they were definitely the high point of the headphones.
The mids are pleasant and smooth with plenty of clarity to them. Vocals sounded really natural and sweet as well with these. There was a tad bit of harshness, or distortion, in stringed instruments though; this rarely occurred though. The bass never intrudes with the mids which is something that I am used to with UE. The details is really nice as well in the mids. The separation is OK, but could use a little more work. The mids were good, just not great.
The treble on the 170vis aren’t the best, but they also aren’t bad either. The treble does have some extension, but could use a little more. The highs are rolled off and do find themselves without a voice sometimes. Even if they are in the background, they still shine and glimmer. There was a small lack of details in the highs. They also seemed to mush and clash together, but this happened rarely. Overall, I still liked the highs because they had a good amount of detail to them along with decent extension and good sparkle; the treble seemed to be in the back seat the majority of the time though.
The noise isolation on this pair of headphones is a little above average. On paper, UE states that it gets around 16dB of isolation. I’ve had headphones that do worse and some that do better. They definitely aren’t astounding and can definitely be better. They block out most noise, but not all.
Noise Isolation: ★★★★
The cable is microphonic, there is no doubt about that. They are actually pretty bad when wearing them down, I wouldn’t do this myself. Fortunately, the design does offer the ability to wear them over the ear. UE actually states this in their instruction manual no one ever cares to read. When wearing them over the ear, they are livable. I have heard, or better put, not heard, better microphonics though.
The MetroFi 170vi headset is a warmer pair of headphones to listen to. They have great bass quantity, and don’t lack in quality. The mids were nice and smooth, but could have used a little refinement. I would have enjoyed the highs if they weren’t recessed. The MetroFi 170s do have good audio quality, but definitely not the best. Nothing in the 170s really gave me the wow factor, it seemed like it was missing a little something.
Sound Quality: ★★★★
The build quality on these headphones is poor to average depending on how you look at it. There are some good spots, but most are just not that great. I was disappointed with this lack of build quality.
Each earpiece is composed of plastic; this isn’t the bad part either. The plastic is actually really durable and strong and does not look like it’ll crack or crush easily. It does have a tendency to collect earwax inside the nozzle. While UE supplied the SuperFi 4s with a cleaning tool, they decided not to include one for the MetroFi 170s. Instead, they suggested using a cotton swab, which most likely won’t fit in there, and in most cases make it worse. Adding to the small wreck they have going, the stress relief connections between the headphones and the wires aren’t existent.
The cable itself is probably the best part of the headphones. They use the same cable thickness as the SuperFi 4s, a little thicker actually in some spots. However, these tangle up. They have a mind of their own and bend how they want to be, not how you want them to. They have many kinks in them that I just can’t get out. I didn’t like this aspect of the cable; however, it is still thick and strong. The cable terminates at a headphone jack.
The headphone jack is the same one from the SuperFi 4s. It is straight and thin, two really bad things to have when it comes to build quality. It seems flimsy and cheap. The gold-plated jack does help a little though.
The headphone jack on the UE MetroFi 170s are the same ones found on the SuperFi 4s.
However, most of the negatives can be avoided if you simply use the included case that comes with these headphones. The case is strong and will protect your headphones from most of the problems above. Every owner of the MetroFis should always use their case.
These headphones come with a case that I suggest any owner use, it’s small and portable.
Build quality definitely wasn’t a strong point for the MetroFi 170vi; there were just too many things wrong with them. They might be able to last a while if you take care of them, but the build quality doesn’t seem to be top notch.
Build Quality: ★★★½
These headphones were a joy to wear. After putting the 170vis in, they just disappeared. These are one of the most comfortable IEMs I’ve ever worn if it wasn’t for a couple minor things. The cable seemed to have a mind of its own when worn over the ear, and the ear tips may not be the most suitable for people with small ears at first, but you get used to it. The headphones are still comfortable though
The silicone tips were a little too big for comfort, but did create a good seal for optimal sound quality.
Comfort Quality: ★★★★
These headphones go for about 30 dollars on Amazon and are no longer sold by Logitech or Ultimate Ears on their respective websites. They may still be able to be found in stores for around the same price. Checking Google Shopping, it seems that only KMarts seemed to have them in stock for 30. The MetroFi 170s carry with them a scary and weak build, thank goodness it came with that nice case. The headphones were comfortable and the sound quality was good for its price, but there are better headphones that deliver more for the same price. They do offer a remote and mic for smartphone and iPod use, so that does bump it up a bit if you are one who is looking for that feature, I know I am. The MetroFi 170vi are a good value for your money, but there are better things around.
The Ultimate Ears MetroFi 170vi model comes with the same remote and mic found on the SuperFi 4vi
Ultimate Ears is normally a well-trusted brand when it comes to sound quality. However, in the low range market, they do offer good sound quality, but not great, even for their price. These Ultimate Ears are a normal pair of headphones with plenty of bass and good mids, but really don’t have anything special that separates them from the crowd.
- Design: ★★★★
- Audio Quality: ★★★★
- Bass: ★★★★
- Mids: ★★★★
- Highs: ★★★½
- Noise Isolation: ★★★½
- Microphonics: ★★★★
- Build Quality: ★★★½
- Comfort Quality:★★★★
- Value: ★★★★
† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
This product was received as a product sample. Thanks, Meg!