The Ultimate Ears 400vi earphones take over from the SuperFi 4 buds as a middle point in UE's IEM line-up. Can't afford the Triple.fi 10s but want a high-end sound? These earphones could be just what you're after. Retailing for around Â£75, the Ultimate Ears 400vi compete directly with Apple's higher-end iPhone-ready earphones and Sennheiser's CX880s - tough competition.
There's currently only one finish available for these earphones, chrome with a black arm connecting the bud to the cable - its predecessor the Super.Fi 4 was similarly shiny, but this new model is sleeker, curvier and smaller. Ultimate Ears's 'phones have been described more often as odd-looking than gorgeous, thanks to pairs like the Super.Fi 5 Pro, and it's good to see the audio-obsessed company give its earphones' looks more thought.
The buds are shiny, but they're not made of metal. The 400vi body is plastic, and seemingly made up of three main parts - there's a seam just before the bud tapers into the speaker outlet, and naturally another to allow for the black cable connector. The construction isn't as immaculate as the similar-looking UE 700s, but then these earphones are on sale for less than half the price.
Although less expensive-feeling to the touch, the tough plastic used instead of metal is a perfectly fine replacement - we have no qualms about the strength of the 400vi's build. The construction helps to keep the weight down too - at 15g they're light enough to sit in your ears for long periods without causing fatigue.
Ultimate Ears has re-thought its cable design with the 400vis, using a flat cable instead of the round one found in the Super.Fi 4s. It claims that this is intended to reduce the tendency to tangle that affects many earphones. Whether it's down to this or the non-rubbery material used in the cable, we're happy to report that the cable remains mostly tangle-free. It tends to lie a lot less straight than a round cable, but we'd much rather deal with kinks than tangles.
Five sizes of rubber tips are included, although there's only one pair of each size so you'll have to buy a new set to regain the perfect fit if you lose any. There's also a single pair of comply foam tips, plus a plastic carry case that's lined with purple rubber.
Thanks to the wide range of supplied tips, we found it very easy to get a good in-ear seal with the 400vis - and two different sizes performed perfectly well. Ultimate Ears's rubber tips have an unusually soft finish too, which is easier on the ear canal than some rougher rubber tips.