Customer Reviews: Polk Audio ULTRA FOCUS 6000 In-Ear Headphones, Black
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on March 18, 2013
The build materials feel and look nice. The tangle-free cords and choice of included ear tips are wonderful and make the earbuds comfortable enough to wear for hours. They sound great and they do a fair job at cancelling certain types of ambient noise (e.g. airplane cabin noise and miscellaneous office noises). The battery life is also surprisingly good.

I have no issues at all with the look, feel, and sound of this product when it functions correctly. However, there is a dark side...

First of all, the electronic build quality of the controller is awful. Apparently, the guys at Polk believe that using nothing but bare wire and bunching it all together within the unit is a recipe for success. It is not. This thing suffers from random shorts throughout its use and requires "wiggling" the earbud cable at the base of the controller to un-short it. Then, cross your fingers, remain motionless, and hope that it doesn't happen again...for a while.

Second, the controller also loves to randomly switch the microphone on. Imagine listening to your favorite song in a somewhat noisy environment. Then imagine being suddenly assaulted by an amplified version of that noisy environment. That's the Polk Audio ULTRA FOCUS 6000 In-Ear Headphones experience.

Third, sometimes, the microphone turns on when you turn the controller on without even touching the button for it. Again, I point to electronic build quality.

None of the things I've mentioned should be an issue for a ~$150 set of earbuds. Seriously, what gives?
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on April 21, 2013
I've only had these for a week, so the other reviews here that complain about durability may be right. But so far...very nice job, Matthew Polk!

First, the out-of box (OOB) experience. The packaging is like what you'd expect from Apple.

There are a lot of nice little extras included:

* Hardshell zippered case, about 3" x 4" x 1" with elasticized netting on both inside surfaces. It's too big for a pocket, but let's you carry around all the other included goodies.
* Nokia adapter and old-fashioned dual-prong airline seat headphone adapter. The standard 3.5mm jack is elongated a little to deal with Apple and other manufacturers who like to recess their headphone jacks (really, guys, I mean really?)
* A large assortment of ear-tips of various sizes and types. (More on that in a moment.)

Noise cancellation:

These are the first noise cancellers I ever tried (they were $70 on Woot last week, so I spun the wheel). I don't know how they compare to other cancelling earbuds or over the ear headphones, but they do a nice job of turning the external volume down by about half. That feels pretty nice. I got these because my office is next to some very noisy noisers. With the Comply tips (which give you better than 20dB of reduction all by themselves), bliss.

Sound quality:

Excellent. But, as someone else mentioned, the bass is almost too much, especially with good eartips. Yes, there are EQ apps out there to fix this. I don't listen to music most of the time on an iPhone. Most people don't have software control of music EQ. Next version of these earbuds, it would be nice to be able to turn the bass down 3db, maybe 6db. Other than the bass being too much at high volume (others may consider that a feature, not a bug) I love the sound. Classical music, no problem. Nicely balanced. Another reviewer complained that these headphones need a 3 to 5 dB treble boost. I don't want to start a fight, but we're all too used to listening to music with too much treble. Loudspeaker manufacturers deliberately boost the high end because it makes speakers sell better. Personally, I like the spectral balance here. Which brings me back to the eartips....

Instead of using the plethora of included eartips, you should go buy some Comply TSX-400 memory foam eartips.

These will make the bass louder. Bass for earbuds is largely determined by how good the seal is between your ears and the tips. Comply eartips seal very well and are very comfortable. I suspect Polk was trying to account for bad eartips, thus the too big bass issue.

If you don't know whether you are a small/medium/large eartipper, use the various types of Polk-supplied tips to figure out which size is best for you. Or you can buy a Comply pack that has small/medium/large and experiment directly. It's cheaper to buy a Comply pack that contains only the right size for you, but it's still not that expensive to get multiple sizes to find which you like. Most people are medium, BTW. Note that the 400 series Comply eartips are a tight fit on these earbuds, but they do fit. It will take a couple of minutes to get them put on right. Be gentle. :)

Other good stuff:

* The sensitivity is ridiculous good. Be careful about how loud your source material is when you connect. There's a 0/-10 switch to lower the sensitivity. I expect it will drain the battery more if you set it to -10. Seriously, turn the volume down.
* The "your captain is saying something" button. Mutes the music and boosts the outside sounds in case you want to hear your captain or your boss.

Bad stuff:

* if your battery runs out, no worky. There's an on/off switch. You should probably remember to turn it off. And keep an extra AAA battery on hand for when you forget to turn it off. I don't know if the earbuds turn off after a period of time with no music--but if they don't, in the next version, they should.
* noise cancelling can't be cancelled. Don't jog or walk around the city with these earbuds. You will get hit by a car.

Update after 4 months:

Nothing more bad to say. I bought a set for my wife a couple of months ago at full price (love you, honey!) and she loves them too. She is, shall we say, not a person who usually uses most of the technology I get for her, but she went all in on these.

Battery life is excellent. I use these with rechargeable NiMH batteries for several hours a day to drown out my loud colleagues, and batteries last more than a week. I was perhaps even ungenerous about the level of noise reduction in my original review. With Comply eartips (which give you 20dB or better of quieting on their own) loud co-worker conversations become background cocktail chatter. Put on a little Bach and suddenly you hear them not and are productive and happy.

Maybe these will break next week, as others have complained, but so far with all kinds of office and airplane action, they're great. I just bought another set to put in the cupboard, since they're half price at Amazon at this moment. Even if it turns out they're fragile, which I have not yet seen, I want another one right now if mine breaks!

God Bless You, Matthew Polk.

One more suggestion to the Polk people: how about putting the control module about 6 or 8 inches away instead of 18 inches away from the plug? Unless someone buys the Apple version, you don't have track controls on the control, and the extra cord just has to be coiled up in your pocket or next to your computer. It gets in the way of my mouse unless I arrange the excess just so.

6 months later: the durability seems just fine. No issues or problems yet and I use these every day at work, pack them up to take home and take them to work the next day.
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on September 26, 2013
I have these and a pair of Shure e215. I like to use these on flights and the Shures everywhere else. They Polk's have good sound and I like them a lot. I just don't like how they fit in my ear. They are susceptible to getting knocking out because of how large they are.

They case is great and I use it to keep a few extra batteries. I just had a replace my first battery after a round trip from LA to Europe and then a one way to Boston, so the batteries probably last 30 hours or so.

In my opinion, they are better noise canceling headphones that the Bose. I doesn't get the pressure feeling on my ears that I got with the Bose.
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on December 7, 2013
I have the Polk Ultra Focus 6000 and the Audio Technica ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint. I bought the Audio Technica in the airport for $80. Amazon has the Audio Technica for $50 and the Polk for $100.

The Polk has a richer sound at every level. I am not an audio file, so it took side by side listening. The sound will be fuller at lower volume and your ears will feel better listening to the Polk for longer periods.

On a plane, I want noise canceling and often read without music. The Audio Technica cuts more ambient sound out. It seems like almost twice as much noise canceling with the Audio Technica. The Polk is fine for noise canceling and in ear baffling, but the difference is noticeable.

Since I have them both, I will keep and travel with the both. I have a jacket splitter to share movies.
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on January 30, 2014
I was hoping these headphones would block out more of the outside sound than they do. They're fine at the gym, but on an airplane, I think you'd really have to crank up the sound. They do come with several styles of ear adaptors, and I've tried most of them. Maybe I'll try another style and see if that helps.
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on May 13, 2014
I have had two sets of these earphones - on both the battery door fell off which makes it a hassle to use (the battery then falls out unless you tape over it). I travel a lot and I do like the noise cancellation (even though it is not as good as Bose) but I cannot live with the price point considering this issue.
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on December 18, 2012
They sound great, they have lots of different ear pieces to let you get a good, comfortable fit, and the wires are made to reduce tangling. I travel a lot and really appreciate the noise cancelling in a small package. The only downside is they they don't work with a dead battery. Just carry a spare. I just bought another set for a gift.
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on November 15, 2013
Not the best noise cancellation headset. I did an extensive search on bose quite comfort, sennheiser, and polk. I decided to settle on polk ultra focus 6000 cos of the following reasons:
Value for money
Awesome sound clarity(better than bose, hands down)
Passive sound cancellation is good enough
Not the best white noise cancellation device.

I feel its worth the money and a really good sounding headset.
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on May 31, 2014
I have had these earbuds for about 1.5 years now and will need to go with a new set in the very near future due to issues with the earbuds. It is nice to have an option of active noise canceling at a price much lower than Bose but really isn't worth the money. Issues with battery life and shorting out started to develop after about 9-10 months of use in my case.

Relatively cheap active noise canceling earbuds
Base levels are great
Multiple earbud tip options
Listen-through capability
Buying parts for the earbuds through the Polk site is pretty easy to do though you will have to call in your credit card number
Tangle free cords are nice
Look good

Noise canceling box has a lot of issues. Will listen through at times for no reason, will short out and now my right side is failing.
Noise canceling is great for low frequency but in some cases amplifies high frequency.
Too short, could really use ~0.5-1.0 ft of additional cord.
I have contacted the company twice about getting the headphones replaced or repaired. No response!
Shorting out started less than 1 year after buying (which means they should have been replaced... but once again no response)
Really most of the earbud attachments are completely useless.
Battery life decreased significantly as shorts started (as to be expected I suppose)
Noise canceling box/device is pretty awkward in shape/weight.
Battery cover is easily lost and name wears off over time.

Overall they start out and seem to be really nice. Just simply not durable enough, and don't let the durable looking wires fool you. The weakness is between the wire and the noise canceling unit (where the short starts to develop). Such an expensive pair of earbuds should last a lot longer and the company really should respond to their customers about a faulty product. I would probably bump this review to three stars if I even had a response from the company telling me how much they would charge to fix the product.

I would say that the active noise canceling isn't really as beneficial as one would expect. The active noise canceling really is not much better than simple noise reduction (blocking the sound by inserting the earbuds).
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on August 5, 2013
I was a little concerned about the effectiveness of earbud style noise canceling headphones, but these are very good. Not as good as some the higher priced over ear (Bose) models out there, but still very good.
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