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Ultrasone Edition 10

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #122 in Over-Ear

Posted

Pros: Comfort Comfort Comfort

Cons: Price, of course!

This is my 3rd full day auditioning these phones and the longest session had been a four hour Apple Lossless loop of various styles.

First, the unit arrived in near museum condition.  "Near" because of some extra adhesives on top of the butterfly pattern in the right side.  Everything else was polish and gleaming under redundant packaging.  Not unlike how the Sennheiser HD800 was presented.  Serial is 688, so this should have none of those pads issues people had been discussing.

 

Right off the bat, I connected the ED10 to my Grace M903 at level 60 and listened to Bach: Toccata & Fugue In D Minor, BWV 565 by Michael Murray at the First Congregational Church in LA.  I used the Grado GS1000i as well as the Sennheiser HD800 to compare.  The organs were illustrated differently with the ED10 than with the HD800, not as tight, but relaxed.  In fact, from my memory at the Church, siting some 3/4 down from the pipes, about center from the 2 naves, the intimacy of the winds is more like that from the ED10.  I got more facial tingling from the ED10 with the stronger passages and can recognize more of Bach's subtle timbres than with the HD800.  That is quite amazing as my HD800 had been my reference for Bach for some time.  Let's say the presentation from the ED10 is quite different and less congested.  It is now open for analysis.  Could I discern the organs from the opposite ends through the ED10?  No, not really.  Though opened, the imaging is still not out of my head.  Perhaps when I have the Smyth SVS Realiser set up I can start counting the feet distance between the naves, but for now, nadda.  The GS1000i is bright with the Toccata & Fugue, sounds exciting but not true.  I now have listened to this piece some two dozen times, the ED10 rendition is superior.

 

Next, I ran through the 500 tracks of Rolling Stone Magazine's Greatest of All Time.  With certain tracks like Stairway to Heaven, I switched to the HD800 and GS1000i for immediate comparison.  Vocals are not overbearing and isolated well from the instruments or electronics.  Very smooth in fact with the ED10.  I must have listened to Jimmy Page's guitar masterpiece a zillion times and the first pass with the ED10 was not revolutionary.  It was relaxed with the staging not unlike that from my studio Genelec 8050A speakers.  Very accurately placed without drama.

After about 100+ greatest tracks, I did not feel claustrophobic or hot with these exotic leather pads.  They did disappear even on my size 7.75 sized head.  They are as comfortable and forgettable as my GS1000i.

 

Then I listened to some bad sources, ranging from old RCA Horozitz monos to current RAP.  Ouch!  These recordings were bad alright but the ED10 did not pour oil on fire, almost making the tracks bearable.

 

I am letting the cans run 24/7 for a few days more, than I will compare with my other cans and sources.

 

Paul

 

Posted

Pros: Bright sound texture, beautiful string sound, nice sound stage, very comfortable.

Cons: Not very impressive vocal, hard to control.

Hi, I am new to the community and this is the first time I write a reviewregular_smile%20.gif
These are definitely not my first pair of headphones, I was struggling at first, but I found a website which sells it at a fairly good price, so I bought it.
And by the time I am writing this review, I gave it around 40 hours of run-in time. (Don't really want to listen to fresh new headphones, they give a bad impressiontongue_smile.gif)

 

700

Back to the review.

Source: Mac book air, itunes
DAC: M2tech hiFace series (with clock and interface)
AMP: SPL phonitor (thanks for my friend for lending me this amp
smile_phones.gif)
CDs: Esoteric remasters - ESSE90043 & ESSE90047

I tried the Brahms symphony first. The first impression was quite good, it's got a natural surrounding sound stage and a very natural string and woodwinds sound. The line of the strings was depicted very smooth and lyrical. The balance is not bad also. Though I think there can be a little more elasticity on the bass, can be a little more bouncy. It's got a nice tone on brass sound also, very resonating.

I finished the symphony along with the Academic festival overture. The large orchestrated places were very clearly depicted.

It didn't go so well for the Mahler though. The vocal sound is a little bit thrilling and it gave out too much consonant sound, quite irritating for my ears.

In short, these headphones are quite good, I quite like them. Though I think I might buy a new amp or a new DAC to get a better sound. Think I might get Woo Audio to get a softer and warmer sound, might help with the vocal.


 

Posted

Pros: Crystalline presentation

Cons: Stratospheric price

Right off the bat, I have to confess that I took the plunge on the Ultrasone Edition 10 with a bit of apprehension because of some less than enthusiastic comments from a few headphone connoisseurs. Thus my absolute surprise when some of these objectionable opinions felt off the mark by a wide margin. Instead, the Ed 10 offered a startlingly crystalline and delicate presentation, almost electrostatic-like, but with the punch of dynamics phones. It also managed to keep the precision of closed-back designs, but with the wider and deeper soundstage of an open-back. And we're talking about wide-open spaces here, an almost surround-like presentation in a very un-headphone manner. As an aside, the Ed 10 is also the most comfortable and lightest - for its size - of all the headphones I've tried.

These initial positive impressions got me wondering whether the basic issue with the Ed 10 might be that because of its stratospheric list price of US$2,749.00, Ultrasone voiced it specifically for listeners who fancy high-resolution recordings, more specifically, classical music on SACD. This assumption could also explain critical views expressed by some who favor electronic music, which is by nature highly equalized, compressed, and as such, unsuited as a source for evaluation. Actually, many popular headphones have been tailored to compensate for heavy equalization and compression. So, someone who listens to electronic music with emphasized mid to high frequencies, might prefer the wooden closed-back Denon AH-D7000 instead. On the other end, the Denon's bass tends to sound boomy and undefined with orchestral material containing a lot of distantly miked percussion and double-bass.

Regardless, the Ed 10 and classical SACDs work well together, and compromises by Ultrasone over its measurements were likely made with this kind of music in mind. For instance, one of my favorite SACDs is an Exton recording of Stravinsky's Petrushka and Pulcinella with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic conducted by Jaap van Zweden. Suffice to say that the orchestral landscape as reproduced by the Ed 10 is viscerally realistic - I can literally sense the texture of the strings across the vast soundstage. And the deep percussion parts on Petrushka sound gloriously thunderous but perfectly controlled.

Another favorite is a SACD of pianist Vladimir Tropp playing Schumann's Fantasiestücke, Träumerei and Etudes Symphoniques. This is a hard to find but trilling DSD recording by Acoustic Revive, a Japanese company known for their audio hardware. What sets this disc apart is the employment of different recording techniques for each piece. And through the Ed 10, one can precisely hear minute differences between the one-point and the Philips microphone systems, coupled with a sparklingly detailed presentation of the overtones and transients of the piano sound.

As for horns, certainly not an easy instrument to properly reproduce, they can indeed sound glorious on the Ed 10. The horn section in the first movement of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra, on a Philips SACD with Seiji Ozawa, displays the phones's absolute control and precision when handling those powerful metal bursts, on par with concert-hall realism. Actually, maybe the issue with the Ed 10 is that its presentation is more of a concert-hall perspective than of a headphone.

 

On to a superb PentaTone SACD of Stravinsky's Histoire du soldat and other pieces for small ensemble, conducted by Paavo Järvi. It contains a lot of percussion and plucked double-bass. And via the Ed 10, it sounds perfectly balanced, with no apparent emphasis over the extended frequency range, including cymbals. It's also worth mentioning that the soundstage is as expansive as one can get without a surround simulator.

 

I also conducted two rather informal comparisons between the Ed 10 and another Ultrasone model, the closed-back Edition 8 Limited. And for the sake of variety, I decided to go outside my familiar high-rez classical SACD environment on the first one, and used instead Mobile Fidelity’s RBCD reissue of "Yes Album." Specifically the track called "Your Move," with the two phones fed from a Luxman P-200 headphone amplifier.

 

I had to match volume levels when switching between them - the 8 is considerably louder than the 10.

 

  • The Ed 8 is smoother, while the Ed 10 is more detailed. But both are miles ahead of my fading memories of the Denon AH-D7000 in terms of transparency and soundstaging.

  • Right after the brief a capella introduction, there's a section with Steve Howe's acoustic guitar panned left and Jon Anderson's vocal in the center. And with the Ed 10, I could more clearly discern the detail and boundaries of the very low reverberation on the right.

  • Jon Anderson's voice sounded raspier on the Ed 10, but strikingly realistic. On the Ed 8, his voice was somewhat rounder.

  • With the backup vocals, it was easier to detect individual - and rather nasal - voices on the Ed 10, while the Ed 8 made the chorus more integrated as a whole.

  • Using video jargon, while the Ed 10 seems to offers a higher pixel count, it comes with a very analytical view of the analog masters' inherent limitations. OTOH, the Ed 8's more "poetic" presentation tends to reward this type of material.

 

For the second informal comparison, I went for DSD recorded SACDs with strings, including Ray Kimber's superb recording of the Fry Street Quartet performing Beethoven String Quartets (IsoMike) and Julia Fisher on Bach's Partitas for Violin (PentaTone). Two amps were used, a new SPL Phonitor in direct-mode and the Luxman P-200, both fed from a Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD player with VSE's Terra Firma Lite balanced upgrade. 

 

  • The synergy between the amps and phones was very dependent on specific pairings. The golden and fuller tone of the Phonitor added body to the very analytical Ed 10. OTOH, the silvery and clinical tone of the Luxman toned down the Ed 8's natural warmth.

  • The texture of individual strings instruments was stunning on both phones, but more so on the 10. You could literally feel the friction of the arch scratching the strings on the 10.

  • The attack of plucked strings had more punch and slam on the 8 than on the 10, specially via the Phonitor.

  • The 8 is smoother overall, while the 10 is more analytically detailed. But the Ed 10 surpassed the 8 in terms of transparency.

  • The details of the abundant reverberation on all recordings were more discernible on the 10.

  • While soundstage was deeper and wider on the 10, the boundaries of the studio recordings somehow felt more precisely delineated on the 8, maybe due to it's closed-back design.

  • Using video jargon yet again, I'd suggest that the 10 is like high-definition video, with a more realistic in-your-face presentation. The 8 is more like film, with a more velvety feel. Continuing with the analogy, for high-impact sports, go for the 10. But for softer movies, the 8 might be a better choice.

 

In another peculiar analogy between the 2 phones, it's as if they are like tigers and leopards, from the same genetic family, but very different animals altogether. Likewise, the Ed 10 and Ed 8 LE may share the same DNA in terms of timbre, but the overall balance and soundstage are as different as stripes (Ed 10) and spots (Ed 8). Personally, I prefer the stripes (precision) of the 10 over the spots (warmth) of the 8.

 

With all this in mind, it may be that a reason people feel so strongly about the Ed 10 is that it exposes flaws on favorite recordings. Personally, I would not audition it with either low-resolution (44.1 kHz/16 Bit PCM) material or with multi-generation transfers of analog tapes. Instead, the Ed 10 is more likely to shine with state-of-the-art (DSD and High-Rez 24 Bit PCM) acoustic recordings. Then there are those who dislike it out of resentment with the cost, although I actually purchased it for substantially less than the advertised price, possibly because of the negative publicity.

Summarizing, the Ed 10 are like top athletes, in need of a perfectly balanced diet to keep performing at top level. If you're going to feed them junk food, then you should expect junk to come out. Or to abuse of yet another analogy, it's like driving a Ferrari Coupe in New York City's rush-hour traffic and then complaining that it's a bad car because it doesn't go fast enough. Likewise, for those planning to audition to Edition 10, make sure to feed them a very healthy musical diet of milk and honey. The rewards will be aplenty!

Posted

Pros: Comfort, huge soundstage, beautiful

Cons: Some say they're too bright

Wow,
By far my favorite headphone. Once you adapt to the s-logic your world will change. Vey difficult to listen to other headphones now. These are all character and style. Be careful though because they are very " in your face"
Ultrasone Edition 10
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