Before I even get to the sound quality, let me cover the design of the super.fi Pros. Unlike normal in-ear headphones, these don’t just push into your ear with the cable hanging straight down – instead you insert each headphone in what looks like an upside down orientation, the cable is then routed through a stiff, but flexible sheath which curves around the top of your ear. The result is a set of in-ear headphones that are not only incredibly comfortable, but that also have almost no chance of falling our – unless you’re Benny of course.
You’ll notice from the pictures that the super.fi Pros are larger than most in-ear headphones, but that’s because there’s more going on inside. There are actually two speakers inside the super.fi Pros, one for high range and the other for low. The upshot is that you get deep and full bass response without losing the clarity at the high-end. The result is nothing short of stunning, with the bass tones washing through your head but not at the expense of clarity; so much so that I was able to pick out delicate nuances in tracks that simply aren’t there with lesser headphones.
Obviously the super.fi Pros are designed to be used with an MP3 player and the white finish leaves no doubt which one – although they do ship in black as well. With that in mind I plugged the super.fi Pros into my 4th gen Apple iPod and was instantly blown away by what I heard – partly because I had left the volume very high from the previous headphones. The super.fi Pros are VERY loud, so please take my advice and make sure that your player is turned right down before trying them for the first time. Of course the manual warns you implicitly about this, but like any red blooded male, I didn’t bother to read the manual!
Listening to Angel by Massive Attack was a revelation – the heavy bass was everywhere, but I was still able to pick out all of the subtle percussion effects, while the vocals had that perfect haunted feel that I had previously not encountered when listening to this track as an MP3. Switching to the lighter jazz like tones of Corinne Bailey Rae impressed me even more – the super.fi Pros exhibited a level of clarity and subtlety that was, for want of a better word, beautiful. But I only really appreciated the super.fi Pros breadth of ability when I fired up The Rolling Stones. The choral intro to You Can’t Always Get What You Want sounds suitably angelic, while the switch to the acoustic intro is crystal clear to the point that you can hear the echo to Mick’s voice. Yes, this is it – plug in the super.fi Pros, throw on this track and just enjoy as the Mick and the boys build you up to a staggering crescendo, it’s what personal HiFi was built for.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review though, headphones are a very personal thing, and young Spode prefers the sound of the Shure e4c headphones that he reviewed recently. I found that the Shures lacked bass and sounded extremely thin by comparison – ultimately there will always be a degree of subjectivity involved.