Logitech Ultimate Ears 350vi Noise-Isolating Headset

R. Matthew Ward
21 August, 2012
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Logitech Ultimate Ears 350vi Noise-Isolating Headset

Logitech, logitech.com/en-au/


Inexpensive; in-line remote


Big bass may put off some listeners



Ultimate Ears is one of the veterans of the in-ear headphone industry, having helped popularise (or, in some cases, created) product categories such as custom-fit in-ear monitors, universal fit in-ear canal headphones (also known as canalphones), and “canalbuds,” which are a hybrid between earbuds and canalphones. Ultimate Ears was acquired by Logitech in 2008, and the current product line—which falls under the UE by Logitech brand—includes new models equipped with an Apple-style three-button remote and microphone module.

One of the new UE models is the $79.95, canalbud-style Ultimate Ears 350vi Noise-Isolating Headset, which sits between the $59.95 200vi and the $99.95 400vi. The 350vi was designed with a focus on deep bass—a design goal that I’ve found can hinder headphones about as often as it can enhance them. Logitech also offers the 350vi in an Android-compatible version, the $79.95 350vm, which features a one-button remote, and a non-headset version, the $47.96 (0n sale) 350.

Canalbud design

As mentioned, the 350vi is a canalbud-style headset, and as such splits the difference, in both design and price, between traditional earbuds and true in-ear-canal (canalphone) models. Since they fit partially in the ear canal, canalbuds block some external noise, and they’re designed to form an acoustic seal that improves bass performance. However, canalbuds don’t block as much sound as true in-ear-canal models, and, as with those models, getting a proper fit can be tricky, the cord can produce unwanted microphonic noise in a listener’s ear, and using the headset function can be weird due to the occlusion effect of having your ears plugged while talking.

The 350vi looks a lot like a typical canalbud design: The earpieces are roughly spherical, with a protruding stem for the included eartips (one pair each of extra-extra-small, extra-small, small, medium, and large sizes), and a cable exiting the earpieces at a 90-degree angle. The cable for the right earpiece features an inline three-button (play/pause/send/end, volume up, and volume down) remote and microphone module, and the cable terminates in a 90-degree, 3.5-mm stereo miniplug that’s worryingly short on strain protection. The earpieces are a restrained-but-attractive combination of matte-black plastic, a glossy-black Ultimate Ears logo, and a metallic finish.

I particularly liked the design of the remote, whose central play/pause button features a recessed hint, making it very easy to distinguish the three buttons by touch. The buttons are relatively easy to press, although their action is somewhat spongey. The 350vi’s microphone sounds slightly distant and thin compared to the iPhone 4’s impressive internal microphone, but still sounds clear and produces comprehensible voices: slightly above average performance, overall. A hard plastic clamshell case is included in the package, and provides good protection for the headphones, although its relatively small size makes the headphones a bit hard to pack in the case. A shirt clip rounds out the selection of included accessories.

Abundance of bass

The most obvious feature of the 350vi is its big bass, which dominates the sound. The overall bass reproduction is of decent quality, but due to some bloating in the low- and mid-bass regions, and the relatively higher volume of the lower frequencies, I find the 350vi’s bass overwhelms midrange frequencies.

Speaking of which, the 350vi’s midrange isn’t bad, although the midrange frequencies have less detail and sonic texture than I would like to hear. The 350vi’s presentation of high frequencies fares much better, exhibiting impressive detail (albeit with occasional harshness) as well as sufficient volume—perhaps a little too much volume—to not be overwhelmed by the bass. In passages with less bass content, the 350vi does portray a good sense of silence between the notes, but at other times, the bass emphasis makes the 350vi sound crowded. Overall, I had some pleasant listening sessions with the 350vi, but I kept thinking I would enjoy the music more if the bass were reined in.

Macworld Australia’s buying advice

The Ultimate Ears 350vi’s $79.95 price tag makes it an attractive buy, especially given its three-button remote and headset functionality. However, the 350vi’s domineering bass makes it difficult for me to recommend it for many listeners. Still, overall audio performance is good for the price, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this model to fans of big bass who listen to hip-hop, dance, or electronic music and are looking for thumping, club-like bass. These listeners will find the 350vi to be a great budget alternative to expensive, celebrity-endorsed, big-bass headphones, or pricier bass-heavy models such as the Bowers and Wilkins C5.

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