Gear, Reviews

Ultimate Ears Sound on a Budget: MetroFi 220 Earphones (Review)

May 2, 2010 | | 4 Comments Share thison Facebook Ultimate Ears Sound on a Budget: MetroFi 220 Earphones (Review)on Twitter

A couple months ago we reviewed the flashy Ultimate Ears 700 earphones. While they’re an amazing pair of earphones, we understand your hesitation when considering their $199.99 price tag. Well, Ultimate Ears still has you covered. Their MetroFi line was developed specifically for listeners on the go, with the 220s being their top of the line set in the MetroFi family. Oh, and they’re only $79.99.

So, with such a difference in price, what exactly do you miss out on with the MetroFi 220s?  I can tell you right out that they still sound great, and many of my favorite design choices from the Ultimate Ears 700s carry over into this set, but of course there are some drawbacks well.

Find out if the Ultimate Ears MetroFi 220s are the right choice for you in our review after the jump.

The first thing you’ll find with the MetroFi 220s is they look a lot different than the 700s.  While the 700s were, let’s say, petite, the MetroFi 220 earbuds are much larger, and perhaps even chunky, which I actually appreciated given A) my big ear canals, and B) my tendency to be rough with my audio equipment.  Still, in terms of physique, I understand that some people will prefer the more elegant look of the 700s. Both sets feature a metallic titanium finish that sets them apart from some of the lower-tier models that are encased in black plastic.

In the box you’ll find the earphones, the same plastic carrying case that comes with the 700s (which I wasn’t all that impressed with, although the compact design is growing on me), and a set of silicone ear-cushions (small, medium, and large).  No Comply foam with this set, but they’re still customizable to get that perfect seal, which actually boasts 16 dB of noise isolation. There’s also no sound level attenuator with this set, which I’ve found useful for my laptop and on airplanes to cut out the background static, but hey, you’re getting a good deal here!

In terms of what’s most important (the sound), the MetroFi 220s are surprisingly crisp, handling both highs and lows amazingly well compared to the more powerful 700s. In fact, I was listening to “Snake Eater” from Metal Gear Solid 3, which sports some deep jazz grooves along with some deafening heights in the vocals, and there was no clipping or distortion.  A pretty good test in my mind! These will definitely blow any standard pair of earphones you might have out of the water, including the terrible earphones that Apple products typically come with.

Remember those design elements I gushed about in the Ultimate Ears 700 review? Well, the MetroFi 220s also feature the red ring around the right earphone, making it easy to distinguish which earbud goes where without having to look for the microscopic font inscribed on each.  The cables themselves are also just as thick as the 700s, which I appreciate, as, again, I’m pretty rough on my gear.  However, I did notice a tug on the cables when I had my iPod in my pocket, and I wish they cables were just 6 inches longer.

The bottom line is that you’re looking at $79.99 versus $199.99 for two great pairs of earphones.  Of course the 700s sound better, but if you’re on a budget, the MetroFi 220s would seem adequate for most music enthusiasts’ needs. There are certainly fewer bells and whistles  with this pair, but they’re also $120 cheaper.  You can learn more about the MetroFi 220 earphones and find a purchase link at the Ultimate Ears website.

What would be your number one consideration when looking for a pair of earphones?  Does price beat out quality to some extent in your book?

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