Headphone Review: Ultimate Ears 500vi

A tiny, vibrant, shiny body that can definitely turn heads. A flat cable. These are specific little things that add together to make this IEM a unique one. Recently Logitech bought Ultimate Ears, and many feared it would create a negative impact on the brand. Here at iFans, I have reviewed two models of UEs, the MetroFi 170vis and the SuperFi 4vis. Both of these proved to be of great quality. Did Logitech’s impact on UE go up or down. The UE 500vis have a stunning design, however, looks don’t say anything about audio, build, comfort, and overall value.


  • Driver Type: Dynamic, unknown size
  • Impedance: 16 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz-20 kHz

In the Box

  • UE 500vi headset
  • Protective Hard Case
  • 6 Sets of Ear Tips
    • 5 pairs of silicone tips (XXS, XS, S, M, L)
    • 1 pair of Comply Foam Tips (M)
  • Shirt Clip
  • Documentation

These headphones come with a lot of extras that will be very useful in the long run.


When you first see these, the box is really basic. UE chooses to go with a cardboard box instead of the more elegant plastic ones that they had before. The box is well designed with lots of information. When you open the box, you are given another box. This one is a box similar to that in which the iPod Touch 1G came in. The top of the box has the Logitech logo silk-screened on it. The overall presentation of the interior box gives the design as a whole a more luxurious feeling to it; one of good quality.

UE sticks to a really simple design scheme when it comes to the headphones. However, they keep a good level of elegance to the overall presence of the IEMs. The housings are tiny, but do take the form similar to that of an over the ear set of IEMs, however, it doesn’t go so deep that you can only wear them over the ear. These IEMs can be worn both up and down depending on your preferences. The IEMs come in a beautiful polished silver color. However, it does follow in the footsteps of the iPod Touch’s backside. It is easily scratched and a great fingerprint magnet. On the bottom side of the earpieces are the left and right markers that are silkscreened onto the headphones. On the opposite side, the ue logo is there. The ue logo isn’t placed on it firmly enough as I found that it rubbed off after 2 weeks of use. With or without the ue logo on them, these housings are still beauties of their own. The cable also has a nice line design on it where the cable meets the housings.

The design of the UE 500vis are aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but there are some minor downsides.

The Ultimate Ears branding is also marked all over the headset and its accessories. The remote has the ue logo on the flip-side. The cable has the words Ultimate Ears printed clearly near the headphone jack. Ultimate Ears really wanted you to know these were UEs, and nothing else. In a refreshing fashion, the Logitech logo is embossed into the case.

Design: ★★★★½


A beautiful design doesn’t always lead to a beautiful sound; we’ve learned that the hard way with many headphones. The UE 500s offer a really pleasant, inviting warm sound to them with lush, full mids and softer treble to create a really relaxed sound signature, even more relaxed than the Moshi Moonrocks that I reviewed months back.


The bass is the main story of these UEs, which is odd as UE is normally known for its great treble. The bass is impactful, powerful, and has a huge presence in the spectrum. Yet, everything is beautifully controlled and set to the background where it belongs. It’s really something that I rarely see with bass-heavy phones. The lows on the 500s are really relaxed, but can definitely dig deep. The texture the bass offers is just stunning; allowing listeners to not only feel the bass, but also know what it looks like as well. The bass rarely overpowers and the warmness is just inviting and a joy to listen to.

Bass: ★★★★½


As we head up the spectrum, the mids come in. The mids are the worst part of the audio since they were lacking. The vocals were OK, but really didn’t have the life that I needed. The vocals are recessed as well. The mids in general lacked the dynamics that are needed to add the special effect to the mids. However, they are rich, full, and lush allowing a nice amount of thickness to them, but never too much. The trade off here is that you do lose some details from the mids. The warmer mids are good, but needed that extra dynamic to really make them great.

Mids: ★★★★


This is the area that UE is well known for. The highs on these don’t disappoint, but aren’t entirely perfect either. UE did a good job with the highs, especially when the signature as a whole is relaxed. The highs are there, but well recessed. Natural, that would be one word to really explain the highs out. They aren’t overdone, and just fade away naturally in the background. However, many things that plagued the mids also become problematic in the highs. The treble lacks dynamics, and high-end extension. The clarity is stunning, even with the highly recessed high-range. The details are good, but could be much better. Overall the highs are actually quite enjoyable to listen to. The clarity and details stick around while being able to keep a relaxed warm signature.

Highs: ★★★★

Noise Isolation

UE is known for testing noise isolation with all their headphones to give you an idea of how much everything isolates. These have a rated 26 dB of isolation. Now, the numbers don’t always play out correctly but in this case, they do. The isolation is similar to that of the Apple IEMs which have great isolation. Are they earplugs, er, I mean Etymotics? Not even close, but they don’t need to be. They still isolate well overall.


The microphonics on these headphones is actually quite bad when worn down, the clip helps, but doesn’t entirely fix the problem. Wearing them over the ear almost rids of all microphonics, but there still is some left over. They aren’t as bad as the RE0 microphonics, but they are not great either. Music can cover it up well though, thankfully.

The clip included can help position the remote where you need it or fight against microphonics. It too is stamped with the ue logo in a deep blue color.

UE puts a warn, lush, and well-bodied signature on these that is just inviting and pleasant to listen to. They are good pair of headphones if you absolutely hate expressive treble. If you love your bass, this would be a nice idea to go too due to the beautifully textured, well-powered bass that doesn’t intrude anything at all.

Audio: ★★★★


The UE 500s have a stunning design, inviting audio, but what about the build? Unfortunately, this is where the headphones take a turn for the worst. UE has never really impressed me with their build quality, each pair of headphones I’ve owned lacking one major component to have a good build quality. The 500s turn up being among the scariest builds I’ve ever seen!

Let’s start at the headphone jack. The headphone jack is a 90 degree angled jack. That’s no problem at all, I actually prefer angled jacks since they are better at ensuring a long life. However, UE decided not to include a single strain relief on the there, which just makes the angled jack useless.

The headphone jack is angled, but the missing strain relief makes the angled jack’s efforts in vain.

As we go up, we have the cable. The cable has a unique flat design on it and really doesn’t tangle at all. A huge plus since tangles are generally bad for the cable in general. However, the goodness stops there. The cable feels really cheap and brittle due to the flat design used.

The housings are actually decently built and have the best build of the headphones. The housings are built of plastic that feels really light. However, they do have that solid feeling to them that finally brings quality into the build. There is a filter on the opening of each housing to block dust and debris from entering the driver’s chamber. However, the housings lack strain reliefs, which is really disappointing.

The case that comes with the 500vis is actually really strong, contrary to how I felt about the 500vis themselves. The hardcase is enclosed in plastic and has a rubber-like purple interior that also reminds you to wind up your cable instead of just shoving it in the case. The case has a nice design on it and is small enough to fit in pockets and bags.

I recommend to anyone using IEMs to use the supplied cases and bags, I emphasize this message for the UE 500vis!

The overall build quality is etchy, UE does some things right, but totally forget about others and just ignore them. The headphones lack strain reliefs everywhere there should be one, which scares me to death. The cable seems very brittle. The housings and tangle free cable helps the build score, but can’t really hold up the entire score on their own. The case does also help out to keep the build score up as well.

Build: ★★★½


Unlike the build of the headphones, the 500vis offer amazing comfort. I couldn’t be more pleased with the comfort. The light housings allow the headphones to be worn for hours. The tips included, even the silicone ones, are among the most comfortable ones I’ve ever used. I didn’t have any fit issues whatsoever either. The comfort is definitely an A+ in my books. I could even use these headphones lying down, they’re that comfortable.

The included tips are standard UE tips that fit better and are very comfortable. The Comply foam tip takes that comfort to the next level.

Comfort: ★★★★★


The UE 500vis will set you back around 70-80 dollars, which isn’t too far from their 80 dollar MSRP. So buying online won’t really save you too much. For this price, the blindingly brilliant, beautiful design along with the good audio and amazing comfort are all pluses. However, the build quality really brings down the value as I don’t see these lasting too long (Use the case!). The build really scares me, but the sound, design, and comfort allow me to recommend these to anyone needing this inviting sound signature.

Value: ★★★★

Final Thoughts

The UEs 500 do deliver in the sound category keeping the quality in mind when tuning the drivers. However, the build has suffered a huge blow with the design aspects of these pair of headphones. Overall, the comfort, design, and audio still hold this IEM up and allow me to actually recommend them to people. It’s just a shame that the build has to be the black sheep here. If you can get over the build, and love smooth, textured bass that has heavy impact mixed in with a fully relaxed signature, these really can’t be beat.

I’d like to thank Justin for the review sample.

Overall Score

† 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 accessory, product, or app was received as a sample. Thanks Justin for the product sample.
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