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There's Something About Ultrasone… - Page 3

post #31 of 5935
First questions to answer, yes the earpads on the pro 750 and the pro 2500 are different. The inside of the pads on the 2500 has a series of small dimples on it that contributes to the overall sound. Plus the shape of the earpads is slightly different with the PRO 750 earpads being somewhat thicker which helps them get a better seal since they're closed.

As far as auditioning headphones, especially in a noisy enviornemnt. Thats really difficult and next to impossible. Especially open ones. But, the Ultrasones do need a good long audition time, especially the higer end ones. There are some subtleties to the headphones that just can't be experienced quickly. Mostly this is cuased by the natural listening experience created by S-Logic. Becuase this is very different from conventional headphones, the effect can be somewhat disconcerting at first. Hence the impression that it sounded really muddy. It really does take some time to get used to the sound, and then once you do its hard to go back to regular headphones (at least for me). I know from experience that people's first impression with the Ultrasone line are usually about 50/50. For this same reason, its also hard to go back and forth between a conventional headphone and an Ultrasone headphone. It would be like comparing how a car and a motorcycle handle. They both get you where your going, but use different methods to accomplish that. So its difficult to compare the two. Anyways, I digress, use you ears. That's what I always tell people.
post #32 of 5935
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your insights, themick!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dexdexter
I managed to spend a couple of hours in the company of both the PROline 2500 and HFI 2200 ULE yesterday.
So I went to FNAC, sort of Belgian/French hybrid of Virgin Megastore and Barnes And Noble (with perhaps just a dash of Circuit City) armed with the following CDs:

Johnny Cash - American IV: The Man Comes Around
Jane Birkin - Arabesque
Emmylou Harris - Stumble Into Grace
Saint Etienne - Tales From Turnpike House
Serge Gainsbourg - Comic Strip
Teenage Fanclub - Man Made

Currently, FNAC carries only 3 models from Ultrasone: PROline 750, PROline 2500, and HFI 2200 ULE. They have a freestanding headphone display "tree" populated largely by upper-range Sennheiser cans (all the usual suspects). At the bottom two rungs around the rear of the stand were two Ultrasones: the PROline 2500 and the HFI 2200 ULE. Unfortunately, the PROline 750 was not available on open display.

Now, I'm guessing that this headphone stand is generally for use in demonstration only with the assistance and supervision of a member of the FNAC sales staff, as all the headphone lead wires terminate and disappear into the base of the display, presumably connecting to their demo rig while serving additionally (if rather, naively) to discourage theft.

But out of the dozen or so headphones on this display, only the Senn HD650s had any music flowing out of them. So I initially thought I'd have to beckon a member of the FNAC staff to flip whatever switches necessary to get me into the Ultrasones and effectively hold my hand whilst I demo a few tunes, obviously a logistical nightmare.

My concern, however, was short-lived, when what to my wondering eyes should appear...hello!...upon closer examination, the leads to the two Ultrasones were not hard-hooked into the stand at all, but rather, dangling innocently alongside the abutting end-cap!

As there were no sales people around (this is Europe, after all; nobody is on commission, so nobody gives a sh*t), I casually retrieved one of the Ultrasone leads and gently inserted it into the headphone-out of a neighboring Marantz CD5001 OSE.



I was in!

Much more to follow in my next dispatch this evening.

Best, Dex
post #33 of 5935
Great story Dexter!

Written like a cliffhanger too, keeps us coming back for more.

Did Dex get busted by the staff? Did he find the sound he was looking for? Was the Marantz up the task at hand?

You have this reader at least eagerly awaiting your next dispatch from front lines!
post #34 of 5935
Thread Starter 
Glad you're enjoying my little yarn, Ralph!

Our next installment will follow shortly.

Rgds, Dex
post #35 of 5935
Thread Starter 
Now then, where was I?

Ah, yes, I had infiltrated the audio section of FNAC, my local big-boxer, and had seized upon the opportunity to spend some quality time with two higher-end Ultrasone models, the PROline 2500s and the HFI 2200 ULEs. Sadly, the PROline 750s would have to remain ensconced in their factory-sealed enclosure.

But one question lingered: would I be able to execute my mission while remaining relatively unmolested by the presumably cans-unenlightened sales staff?

After all, here I was, in a mega-volume music store dipping into my rucksack and extracting six CDs (all of which they most certainly sell), plugging-in leads that are obviously supposed to be lock-wire tethered into their fancy-pants headphone stand and firing-up a CD player that normally resides on static display. And there's just gotta be security cams mounted everywhere in this place.

Still, I was determined to press onward and go about my business and I steeled myself to accept whatever consequences might ensue. Now, exactly what is French for I must see my lawyer? Ah yes, Je dois voir mon avocat!

I had just about two hours until the store would close, so I determined that, if at all possible, I would spend about a half-hour with each pair, acclimating myself to their respective presentations before attempting any direct track-by-track comparisons.

I began with the HFI 2200 ULEs simply because they are so very fetching in all their milk-chocolate brown, gild-padded, That 70's Show-glory. Although I remained standing and ever on the lookout for disapproving glances, I tried to imagine myself reclining in a basement rec-room Barcalounger, mesmerized by my new lava-lamp as the tunes began to pour forth.

The fit of the 2200s was comfy enough, to be sure, and I was surprised by how light they felt upon my head despite the solidity of their build.

Initially, I found myself quite taken aback by the sheer weight and fullness of the sounds I was hearing. It was rather disorienting at first and it reminded me of early sessions with my Heed Audio Enigma omnidirectional loudspeakers. As with them, here the soundstage was broader than I had anticipated and the presentation more diffuse, certainly far more so than my PX-100s.

But after a good fifteen minutes, I found myself able to cease questioning and (over)analyzing and I began to hear music and just submit to the flow. So make no mistake, Disco Citizens, there is an absolute learning-curve gauntlet to run before properly experiencing these cans!

Once I allowed the possibility of acceptance, the 2200s no longer seemed strange, but rather silken, organic, and just about as groovelicious as they look. Clearly, my experiences with my omnis stood me in good stead. And I had just enough time left to play one track each on my remaining five CDs before swapping over to the 2500s.

Strapping-on the 2500s was somehow rather different. While I've read here that the headbands in the Ultrasone range are all exactly the same, this pair was decidedly less forgiving with my own handsome head. So they seemed slightly heavier and I was more greatly aware of the presence of the pads.

Over the next half-hour, I played an entirely different set of tracks than I had for the 2200s in order to avoid any direct comparison and allow me to concentrate on the 2500s for what they were.

Having conquered the offset driver presentation hurdle during my time with the 2200s, I was freer to experience the 2500s unencumbered by doubt or unfounded expectation. Initially, they seemed somewhat dry, yet they were absolutely controlled in a way I hadn't noticed during my time with the brown-bombshells. In fact, they appeared to have as much of a vice-grip on the music as they had on my noggin!

So if I were to summarize this round using the one-word review paradigm found in another popular thread hereabouts, it would be as follows:

HFI 2200 ULE - lush

PROline 2500 - authoritative

Part the Next: Ultrasones Head to Head or Careful With That Axe, Pierre!

Dex
post #36 of 5935
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dexdexter
I began with the HiFi 2200 ULEs...after a good fifteen minutes, I found myself able to cease questioning and (over)analyzing and I began to hear music and just submit to the flow.
Interesting how you were able to acclimate yourself to these so completely within 15 short minutes, when both Sovkiller and the Ultrasone rep have denounced negative impressions after much longer listening sessions (with better associated sources and amps, btw), insisting it takes days or even weeks to deprogram your brain from the standard headphone experience. You must be exceptional.

This is starting to read more and more like a shill thread.
post #37 of 5935
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpelg
This is starting to read more and more like a shill thread.
Of course, there is always the possibility that not everyone has the same opinion on the Ultrasone sound that you do.
post #38 of 5935
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpelg
Interesting how you were able to acclimate yourself to these so completely within 15 short minutes, when both Sovkiller and the Ultrasone rep have denounced negative impressions after much longer listening sessions (with better associated sources and amps, btw), insisting it takes days or even weeks to deprogram your brain from the standard headphone experience. You must be exceptional.
Interesting how you have failed to understand my years of experience with non-traditional loudspeaker presentation or bothered to notice that my home CD player is essentially a tube-output modified Marantz (but not insofar as the phone-out circuitry, with basically the exact same topology as the one in the shop) of which I am also intimately acquainted.

Obviously, I haven't owned many cans, and I do not yet even have a dedicated headphone amplifier, so yes, I suppose 'round these parts that, indeed, I am exceptional.

And your final accusation is simply so deliciously paranoid that I need not comment further upon it.

Best, Dex
post #39 of 5935
Nice read. Please don't let other people's opinions bother you, this is your story.
post #40 of 5935
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpelg

This is starting to read more and more like a shill thread.
I liked the HFI2200 very quickly as well. Am I a shill too? Do you have an eyeroll for me?

I think that part of the reason I liked them so much was because my ears has gotten used to the HD595. I haven't heard the crazy expensive headphones you guys talk about, and I'm pretty sure that I'm simply not a Sennheiser guy.

Your accusation is irresponsible and uncalled for.
post #41 of 5935
Thread Starter 
Well, seein' as how the people have spoken (well, three of them anyway, thanks, chaps! ), I'll resume my Ultrasoneic adventures this evening.

Cheers, Dex
post #42 of 5935
x
post #43 of 5935
Thread Starter 
So following an hour's worth of casual orientation into the Ultrasone presentation, it was time get down to business by pitting the HFI 2200 ULE against the PROline 2500 in track-by-track comparison in order to determine if one of them were worthy of my hard-earned Euros.

I began with the title track from Johnny Cash's final album to be released in his lifetime, The Man Comes Around. Beginning with a static-y, disembodied spoken biblical-verse intro before busting into a veritable barrage of acoustic guitar strum, and then cascading into emphatic punctuations of astonishingly deep piano chords, this is an ideal cut with which to demonstrate the rhythmic mettle of any system, so very rich and unforgiving are its textures.

Heard through the 2200s, the intro sounds more pronounced than I am accustomed to when I listen to this track through loudspeakers. When the guitar finally enters, holy crap, this is mighty powerful stuff indeed! And the first strike of the bass piano chord indicates that the 2200s can get down and dirty with some of the better loudspeakers I have heard.

Cash's singing voice, however, sounds more rounded-off than it should, as if the 2200s are presenting The Man In Black in his amphetamine-fueled '60s heyday, as opposed to the infirmed septuagenarian knock knock knocking on heaven's door that he was when these sessions were recorded. On the rhythmic front, the HFI 2200s appeared to favor fullness over precision.

Switching over to the PROline 2500s on this same track, the spoken intro demonstrates far greater restraint, and its juxtaposition with the acoustic guitar becomes more nuanced than jarring, yet by no means well-mannered. With regard to the piano chords, the 2500s play deep, to be sure, but without calling attention to itself as the 2200s had.

And Johnny's vocals here are absolutely correct, a heartrending dose of dryness and rasp laced through with a steely determination just to get on with it all and have-at with the Grim Reaper. Rhythmically, the PROline 2500s better capture the propulsive drive of the tune without being all showy about it, yet, at the same time, I'm already kinda missing some of the fun-factor of the HFI 2200s.

Next up is "Milk Bottle Symphony", the second selection from Saint Etienne's superb recent album, Tales From Turnpike House. This wonderful pastiche is a cornucopia of sonic delights woven together in loving homage to the Beach Boys' unreleased 1967 masterwork, Smile! all done-up aspirational London-bedsit stylee.

Sarah Cracknell's vocals kick off this track set against the pulsating throb of sampled organ bass notes before being joined by soaring harmonies ripped straight from the Brian Wilson playbook. Snare-drum comes to the fore, followed by some tinkly piano figures, guitar, sampled violin, etc., etc., layer upon layer adding still more complex vocal harmonies until the song screeches to a halt at the bridge amidst the rhythmic clatter of, well, glass milk bottles (you were expecting maybe plastic cartons?) before resolving itself into a slick house groove of more minimal instrumentation. Various sound effects pan left-to-right and back again throughout, topping off a very challenging track.

Once again, the HFI 2200s have the honors. Since we're running kinda long here, I'll boil it down this time to a single phrase: Party Central!

Back to the PROline 2500s, then, and I'm just beginning to notice that they are sneaky fast. Notes commence and decay with a decided abandon holding sway over the proceedings, a mixture of clarity and control.

So on it went, through the lilting but powerful vocals of Emmylou Harris, to the Scottish power-pop of Teenage Fanclub, the avant orchestral chanson-cool of Serge Gainsbourg, to the sparse, middle-eastern flavored tribute to the late Gainsbourg from his former wife and singing partner ingénue, Jane Birkin.

The 2200s continued to make themselves known, while the 2500s seemed to disappear.

Summing up my brief encounter with the HFI 2200 ULEs, I'd hazard to say that while they are far from paragons of neutrality and accuracy, there is unquestionably a seductive quality to what they do. Anyone who is predisposed toward hip-hop or techno just might enjoy spending some time with these gangstas.

But for overall balance combined with their uncanny ability to play from strength to strength, for me, the PROline 2500s effortlessly carried the day. Transparent, yet refined, their numerous charms continually crept up on me throughout my time with them, their subtle rightness simply better replicating the aspect that I enjoy with my loudspeakers.

So I happily parted with my cash for them, and I'm almost embarrassed to reveal here the price that I paid.

On second thought, I am embarrassed to say how much they cost. So let's just say that I scored myself a very nice deal and leave it at that.

And yes, they sounded like crap when I first got them home and plugged them in. But they've been burning-in continuously for the past 4 days now, and they appear to be coming around rather well, thank you very much.

But that will have to remain fodder for a more formal review after I get my very first dedicated headphone amp, expected sometime toward the end of this month.

Cheers, Dex
post #44 of 5935
Quote:
Originally Posted by superman's ears
Again:
The Proline 2500 sounded bad to me - new out of the box

But after a burn-in they have changed in a way I never thought it will be possible.
I don't know how that burn in process was done, but if you were listening them frequently or along the process, IMO it is very possible, that the burn in was mainly in your head, you got used to that sound, the heapdhones themselves do not change that much overtime IME, the differences are minimal, I recently have the chance to listen to a relatively new pair, and the sound of my old pair, was not so different from that one, a little more focussed would be my best decription, the new sounded a little like a camera out of focuss a little bit, highs are lows were "a little blurry" in comparison...but nothing else...
post #45 of 5935
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dexdexter
*** snip ***

Cheers, Dex
Nice review, Dex. Thanks for taking the time to share your impressions, ever so colorfully, with us.
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