Hands on with Polk Audio UltraFit sports headphones -- and a trampoline

With their new UltraFit line of sports headphones for iPhone, iPad, iPod and other devices, Polk Audio is really putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to their SecureFit, "stays in place" promise. Rather, they're putting Olympic-calibur athletes on a trampoline smack-dab in the middle of Macworld 2012. There are several different sport-optimized headsets in Polk Audio's UltraFit line. All of them share iPhone, iPad, and iPod compatible 3.5mm connectors, tangle-free, planar audio cables, and Strainguard moisture shields, along with 41-inch cables for those who want to keep their device on a belt, in a pocket or otherwise further away, and 14-inch cables for those who want them on an armband, or clipped or stowed closer to the collar. Here's the breakdown:

  • UltraFit 500 are in-ear, lower end headsets in black/red, black/gold, white/gray, and white/orange with 3 pairs of StayFit tips. They go for $49.95.

  • UltraFit 1000 are in-ear, mid range headsets in black/red and white/gray, with the iPod-style remote control and three pair of StayFit silicone tips. They go for $69.95

  • UltraFit 2000 are on-ear, mid range headsets in black/red or white/orange, with the iPod-style remote control, two pairs of foam ear pads, and one pair of cold-weather pads. They also go for $69.95.

  • Ultrafit 3000 are in-ear, high range headsets black/red, white/gray and white/orange, with iPod-style remote control and 2 pairs of StayFit, 3-flange silicone tips, and three pairs of memory foam tips. They go for $99.95.

If the trampoline demos at Macworld were any indication, where the athletes jumped, flipped, spun, and otherwise shot themselves across the sky -- with and without snowboards -- are any indication, when Polk Audio says these new UltraFit headsets stay in place, they mean just exactly that.

As someone whose ears have been mangled by years of grappling, and whose standard headsets continuously fail to stay in place, I'll definitely be checking them out.

[caption id="attachment_94345" align="aligncenter" width="620" caption="Polk Audio's new UltraFit athletic headsets will make you jump"]Hands on with Polk Audio UltraFit sports headphones -- and a trampoline [Macworld 2012][/caption]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Hands on with Polk Audio UltraFit sports headphones -- and a trampoline

8 Comments

Looks like a good design, but, of course, the main thing with head/earphones is the sound. So, can anyone comment on the sound quality? I'd like to see them compared to top earphones as a baseline etc.

@Martin - I worked for Polk Audio in new product development for 6 years in the 90"s. Unless they've changed greatly, they would not put out a product unless they thought it sounded better than the competition. I would trust them.

full disclosure, I have family that works for Polk, but I have a pair of these (the 3000's) and I love them. The sound great and they stay put.

Pointing the microphone at the speaker won't do, you NEED to put it near the source of sound, in this case, his mouth.

I have the 500s. I'll comment first on design and ergonomics. For me these are great. Te cable design works as described. I like having the options for cable length but honestly, I mostly use the longer since I run with a shuffle on my waistband.
Comfort for me has been great.... First, I was worried about anything this style since I have glasses and I was worried about "crowding" around my ears. But the material works great and once I set them in place I don't know they are there. The other fit point for me is winter running. With standard earbuds, I would sometimes feel like my running beanie was pulling them right out of my ears. The ultrafits stay closer to me in a more natural position.
Fit for me is perfect.
Audio.......if you read a lot of online reviews you would possibly not want to buy these. Many reviews talk about being heavy in the midrange and not a lot on the high and low ends. Many folks also voiced general displeasure with a respected company like Polk for the sound quality.
But I think they are darn great for me. First, they are an improvement over standard ears buds. I get where people are concerned about the sound. But I think some of the low highs and weaker low end come from a very important feature....these are not noise canceling but instead are noise reducing. They do not create a total seal, which would boost sound quality. But by not creating a total seal they still let sound in, which for me is VERY important when running.
To me, the benefits of the cords, noise reduction, sweat proofness, comfort and pliability of the ear wraps, all combine to outweigh a slightly reduced overall sound quality. Now, I run 5Ks, so I am never out very long. Someone who is on the road for an hour plus might want a slight uptick in quality of sound. But for me, it was a very good purchase.
If you go for the 500s, please search. I found mine for $10 less in the hawt Crackberry Orange and White.
If you run with an iPhone, you might want to consider stepping up to the 1000s which are basically the same as the 500s but add the online mic and volume control.
As long as you go into these NOT expecting Beats, you should be quite pleased. I was, but every person is different.

Most know, but just in case you do not, under settings/music, there are basic EQ choices. You can boost treble, or bass to suit you. It really is basic, but better than nothing.

How are the 3000s with sunglasses? I'm concerned about all the stuff behind my ears and if it will be uncomfortable.