Polk Audio UltraFit 500 Sports Headphones Review

Posted: Apr 19 2016, 6:26pm CDT | by , in Deals

Polk Audio UltraFit 500 Sports Headphones Review
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Polk Audio, best known for their high quality home and car speakers have entered into uncharted waters: headphones. With their recent introduction of four new headphone models, Polk is attempting to work their high quality, yet affordable magic into an entirely new consumer market. The model we are looking at today are the UltraFit 500, wrap-around sports earbuds. Polk claims these sports buds are two-years in the making (they even brought an audiologist on staff full time) and were designed from the ground up to cater to the active lifestyle. Will they live up to the Polk name or get forgotten in the already crowded headphone market? Read on to find out.

Main Features and specifications:

  • Tangle-Free Planar Audio Cables
  • StrainGuard Technology
  • Moisture Shield
  • 3.5 mm Connector
  • 18Hz-23Khz Frequency Response
  • 0.5oz (14gm)
  • 3 cable lengths included: 11.4 Round, 14 Flat, 41 Flat

What We Liked:

    • Design: Polk claims they spent a great deal of time researching what worked when it came to sports headphones and more importantly, what didn't. The UltraFit line was born out of this research and it is apparent. In the box you'll find not one, but three cable configurations. One is sized for an audio source clipped on the collar, the other for an armband, and the other for pocket use. The cable is flat and tangle-free -- always nice to see. The actual earbud is the wrap-around type, offering much more support for active use than a standalone earbud as it hooks over your ear. After moving up to the largest size earbud gel (three different sizes are included) the UltraFit 500's fit snugly in my ears. During a hour-long gym workout, they never budged.

    • Sound Quality: Given the small driver size (14.2mm) the sound quality is quite good. It's not bass heavy by any means, but it is full and balanced. Fans of rock and pop music will find the clear vocal reproduction and crisp highs delightful. If bass-heavy music is your thing, you may want to look elsewhere as these will not do rap or electronica justice.

  • Value: The UltraFit 500's represent the entry-level earbuds from Polk. For this, you get the headphones, three cords, three sets of ear gels and a carrying case. The sound quality is very good and for sports use, it doesn't get much better. Overall, this is $50 well spent.

What We Didn't Like:

    • Very Little Passive Noise Canceling: One of the inherent benefits of an in-the-ear headphone is the reality that by design, they should block out a fair amount of ambient noise. While the sound quality of the 500's was better than average, the noise canceling was not. We had to turn the volume up to about 50% on an iPhone 4 in order to achieve a comfortable listening level in a noisy gym.

    • No iPhone Controls: For $50 we would have liked to see inline iPhone controls. Polk does offer this functionality in their next model up, for an extra $25.

  • Weak Bass-Response: There isn't much of a bass response with the 500's. The sad truth is Apple's white earbuds offer up a better bass experience. Sure, they won't be as good on a run, but they are (for all intents and purposes) free.

Our Verdict:

While some would consider $50 on the higher end of sports earbuds, they do offer a high quality, balanced listening experience usually reserved for the $75+ high-end earbud market. The cord length flexibility and well fitting design shows Polk took their research into the active earbud market seriously. Compared to similar style earbuds from Sony and Philips the UltraFit 500's are a notch above in both fit and function. Polk's foray into the headphone market appears to be off to a good start.

Our Score: 4 out of 5


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Polk Audio UltraFit 500 Sports Headphones Review