Ultimate Ears has been a familiar name to musicians and other audio professionals for a decade, but the company has gained quite a following with its consumer line as well. Earphones in its various lines range in affordability and scale nicely, from discerning listeners to audiophiles. At the bottom end, you have the MetroFi line, which has recently enjoyed a refresh in the form of the 220 and 170 earphones, the latter being the subject of this review.
The MetroFi 170 Noise Isolating Earphones are the cheapest set in the Ultimate Ears family and come in two versions: a standard MP3 player model for $49.99 and the iPhone-friendly 170vi, which includes an inline mic and sells for $10 more. Either set is a great starting point for picky listeners who don't have a lot of cash to spend on replacement headphones for their MP3 players, but buyers should be aware of potential fit and durability issues.
The earpieces of the MetroFi earphones are the first cause for concern, though they do have a hint of style with their opaque, blood-red enclosures (it looks cool when the light shines through). Although the 'buds are quite small on the whole, we found that the squat, completely round design did not allow us to get a secure or comfortable fit. The earphones tended to push out of our ears frequently, and when they did stay in place, the plastic 'buds put a slightly uncomfortable pressure on the inner cartilage of the ear. Of course, everyone's ears are different, so you may not have fit issues. Ultimate Ears provides three sizes of silicone fittings to help in that area.